I’ve finally accepted that Fall has arrived, but not without first reminiscing on a great summer 18. Not all of summer was stellar, but the first few weeks absolutely were!
In early July, a long 10 hour flight landed my 3 favorites and I in the city of lights. Paris, France! I remember peeking out the window of the airplane and literally pinching myself as we began to descend. There was plenty excitement as we made our way through Charles de Gaulle Airportt and even more on our way to our home away from home.
We stayed in a small boutique hotel called Ares. According to our booking agent, our room was to offer a view of Eiffel Tower, however upon arrival we discovered there was no view in sight. Additionally, our room was quite cramped and barely fit the 7 luggages we brought along. But on the bright side, we were only about a 15 minute walk from Eiffel Tower.
We were lucky to stay in Paris for 11 days. Initially we planned to take a day trip over to London, but changed our minds so we could spend more time exploring. It’s hard to explain how much there is to see in the city, but it’s nearly impossible to cover it all in such a short length of time. It didn’t help that we came at such a busy time! The World Cup finals were happening and we were there just a few days before Bastille Day. Surprisingly the population jumped from 8 million to an astounding 22 million during our stay!
We saw the Eiffel Tower up close and personal and even took the elevator to the top. This was a once in a lifetime experience, but I personally enjoyed seeing the tower more when it was lit up at night and sparkling from afar. We chose to visit the tower in the evenings to avoid the crowds and went back on 3 occasions while on our trip.
A few tips. If you’re planning to go up in the tower, get there first thing in the morning or late in the evening. Be prepared to wait in a long line either way. Also be prepared for your feet to get dusty and dirty. No one ever shares this part, but it’s true! All of the trails to the tower are made of dirt and the grass is not for walking on. They are also doing construction in the area and we saw quite a few rats. Keep this in mind and remember to wear the correct shoes.
Don’t miss the tower lighting up at sunset or seeing it sparkle every hour on the hour for 5 minutes.
Place du Trocadero
Just a 3 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower is Place du Trocadero. This park location has a fountain and tall stairs, situated perfectly for tower images from a distance. It’s a popular blogger photo shoot location. In fact, I bet you’ve seen insta shots from here on the gram. We arrived first thing in the morning for photos to avoid the crowds.
Quick outfit change and a few more photos on our second visit to Trocadero. It was much less busy this time.
Seine River Boat Cruise
We loved seeing Paris by boat! The weather was in the 90s while we were there, so it was nice to feel a breeze while traveling down the Seine River and learning the history of this beautiful city. While on the cruise I happened to look to my left and saw Tracee Ellis Ross mid photo shoot right on the riverbank. That was such a cool moment to pair with all the historical sights around us.
Open Air Farmer’s Market
If you have the opportunity to check our one of the many authentic open air market’s while in Paris, do it!! The selections are vast and the aromas TDF. Visiting Marché de Grenelle was one of the highlights of our trip. We picked up fresh baguette, fruit, herbs, vegetables and flowers, perfect for a picnic in the park. We also tasted some of the samples which were all so fresh and flavorful.
The tomatoes and basil were by far the best I’ve ever tasted, like they had been pulled straight from the garden.
Open on Wednesdays and Sundays until 2:30pm.
Big Bus City Tour
The hop on, hop off tour was an easy convenient way for us to see all the main sights in Paris. We used the tour over the course of a few days and sat on the top deck for the best views. I managed to get pooped on by a bird while we were sitting up there (what are the odds) but it was worth it to see so much. This was the best way for us to travel the city and explore with our girls without them getting too tired.
We visited this spectacular Opera house in Paris, which was made famous in the novel Phantom of the Opera. This place is dripping with beauty and opulence around every turn. From the stunning architecture to the painted ceilings, and the brass and crystal chandelier.
Picasso was on Exhibit while we were here, which just added to our overall excitement of the the tour!
We visited Louvre on our second day on the Big bus tour. Where do I even begin?! It’s the largest art museum in the world and you will literally get lost in the exhibits. We did, many times throughout the day, walking a solid 10 miles while discovering art around each corner.
Seeing the Mona Lisa was one of our favorite moments, but we also enjoyed the Ancient Greek and Egyptian exhibits.
Surprisingly the Mona Lisa is much smaller in person, but still an amazing sight!
Maybe being on a gluten-free and dairy free diet while traveling to France was a bad idea. I did not get to indulge in the pastries the way my husband and girls did, but I snuck little nibbles here and there and they were more delicious than I ever imagined. Flakey and lightly sweetened. Actually, many of the pastries were almost savory, which I much prefer. I also had my first taste of Brioche bread. Omgggg, now my life is forever changed!
Champs Elysées is Paris’ shopping district, near Arc de Triomphe. We spent a lot of time in this lively location, filled with shops and restaurants. We ate dinner here often and experienced the excitement of the locals during Paris’s win in the finals of the World Cup. This is also where Louis Vuitton’s Flagship store is.
Arc de Triomphe
We didn’t get to go inside of Arc de Triomphe, but we took pictures. In order to get a photo right in front of the Arc, you have to wait in a long line that happens to be right in the middle of the street. Though it is a stunning sight, we passed and took our images off to the side, on the sidewalk.
Ladurée & Pierre Hermé
Part of my infatuation with Paris has much to do with the French macarons. I’ve tried Ladurée all over the US, but this was my first time trying macarons in Paris. They were even more delicious than what I’ve had in the US!
I squealed when I saw their pink pastry cart situated right outside the main entrance in Champs Elysées. We waited in long lines, but went back 3 times while in the city. Now I’m craving macarons as I type this.
My friend Ha suggested we also try Pierre Hermé macarons while in Paris and I’m so glad we did. They’re located across the street from Ladurée in Champs Elysées. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I enjoyed the freshness of Pierre Hermé macarons more than I did Laudurée. I also loved their flavors, like Lychee Rose and Mango. They were soft, tart, chewy, creamy and some of the best macarons I’ve ever had! If you visit Paris, be sure to make a stop at both to compare and decide for yourself!
Saint Germaine De Pres
Exploring Paris is much more amazing with a tour guide! My wonderful and talented photographer friend Ha (visit her website here) and I met through blogging on WordPress roughly 4 years ago. We’ve stayed connected on social media and were able to meet up in Paris, where she resides. We enjoyed a chat at Café de Flor, one of the oldest and most famous cafés in Paris and then walked around the area for a quick stop at Pierre Hermé and Notre Dame.
Our visit was not for as long as I had hoped, but it was still lovely to meet in real life! After exploring much of Paris we quickly discovered how much we loved Saint Germaine de Pres for shopping, dining and a less touristy authentic Parisian vibe in the city.
Notre Dame is simply a must see while in Paris. It’s free to enter and the building’s Gothic architecture and stained glass makes for beautiful photographs and a memorable experience. We walked the inside of the Cathedral but skipped out on the 387 stairs to the observatory. It wasn’t convenient for us with our girls. Adding it to the list to-do next time.
Ile Saint Louis
A short walk from Notre Dame is Ile Saint Louis, one of the main islands surrounded by the Seine River right in the center of Paris. We thoroughly enjoyed exploring this area of the city. The candy and trinket shops and glacier on every corner made it a must visit! Especially famous Berthillon. The lines were long but worth the wait. I cooled off with apricot and cassis sorbet in a cone and it was easily the best I’ve had!
Tuileries Garden is located right by the Louvre. We discovered quickly when visiting the garden that the grass is not for walking on. We thought the grounds were beautiful, but were somewhat disappointed by the dusty walkways. Similar to the Eiffel Tower however it’s a great location for photos with the fountain in the heart of the garden.
We were fortunate to visit during the summer while the fun fair was happening and were mesmerized by the freshly made churros. Of course had to give them a try!
To finish out our time at the gardens, we hopped on the ferris wheel to experience the sweeping views of the city. This was nothing short of incredible and really gave us a feel for how huge Paris really is.
Towards the end of our trip, we rented a car and drove a little ways outside of the city to DisneyLand. It’s about 45 minutes by car but you can easily travel there by train. Since our daughters were with us, it just made more sense for us to rent a car so they could rest there and on the way home. After all the walking we did, I’m so proud of them for keeping up and being really great sports.
To start, Disneyland in Europe is much different from California. It’s smaller, with fewer rides but still has that fairytale like feel. The lines were very long and no fast passes were offered in the main park. We waited an hour on a Tuesday morning to go on Pinocchio, which was quite a short ride. It’s A Small World Paris was my favorite! I enjoyed the architecture and exterior (pink) more than Disney California.
This area of the main park has plenty of pink as you can see.
Somehow my family convinced me to t go on Hyper Space Mountain. This is the roller coaster that’s in the dark, which in my opinion, was the scariest.
Park pricing is similar to the US. We bought park hopper tickets and walked over to Walt Disney Studios, which is similar to California Adventure. We took advantage of the fast passes and got to go on more rides on this side of the park, however the area is geared more towards smaller children. Ratatouille was without a doubt our highlight. My oldest daughter also enjoyed Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
A few things that we noticed. The crowds were smaller than anticipated. It’s still busy but mostly in the main park. There are far less sweets and restaurants options but the bathrooms are well maintained and clean. The weather was quite chilly even during July. About 15 degrees cooler than the city of Paris. Buying tickets in advance will help with line times for entrance to the park. Their hours are not as long so it’s best to arrive first thing in the morning.
The light show and fireworks in the main park at the end of the night are wonderful! It reminded me of the world of color show from Disney California with fireworks. So worth sticking around to see.
After our trip home from Disneyland, we had one more day to explore Paris. We stopped by the oldest libraries in the city, situated along the Seine River. I found a print for my shop and a few souvenirs.
We also placed a lock with our initials on the new lock bridge, Pont-Neuf and had a great dinner out. This was a lovely way to cap off our trip and leave our mark on our new fav city.
A stop for tea.
Parisian architecture with Juliet balconies.
A few more notes about Paris. We felt pretty safe traveling here with our kids. Next time we’ll stay in the less touristy areas. Cigarettes were over the top bad and the city was quite dirty with lots of garbage but that’s to be expected. After to speaking to others who have traveled to Paris, I knew not to have too high of expectations. The food honestly was not my favorite, but the scenery and overall vibe of the city completely made up for it. Next time, my hubby will go back alone so we can go wine tasting and experience the city from a different perspective.
Have you traveled to Paris or Europe before? If so I’d love to hear your experience. What was your favorite place and why? I loved Saint Germaine de Pres the most, because it was such an authentic area of the city. I also cannot get over the sparkling lights at Tour Eiffel.
Recapping more from our trip in a video below.
Paris, Je t’aime <3
Until next time!
Paris was seen first on Posh Little Designs. All Rights Reserved 2018.