Paris is a very likeable city with loads to do, see and eat. However, its size can be overwhelming and I understand you might not know where to begin. Hopefully this post will point you in the right direction during your short stay.
Paris-Charles de Gaulle.
Although the flights were a bit more expensive, we were only a 35-minute train ride from the city centre. People who are on a short weekend trip might find that it is worth the extra bit of money, as it will give them more time for exploring.
Where we stayed:
St. James Albany Hotel and Spa is located under the arches of Rivoli street, just minutes from the Louvre and directly opposite the ‘Jardin des Tuileries’. The hotel is fully equipped with a pool, spa, and what it claims to be a ‘fitness centre’. It has a restaurant which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as brunch on the weekends. The hotel has an outdoor patio in the centre of the hotel which I would imagine is gorgeous during the summer months.
I underestimated the size of Paris, although our hotel was ‘central’ it was still at LEAST a 20-minute walk to a lot of the areas we wanted to see and the restaurants we had been recommended. For this reason, I don’t think where you decide to stay will have a huge bearing on the enjoyment of your trip. I would advise you to make a list of the places you want to go to and then pick your accommodation accordingly.
Where we ate:
From what we saw, you could spend a month in Paris eating out for all three meals a day and that would only be the tip of the iceberg in what the city has to offer from a food point of view. I just wish my stomach could have handled more. Each restaurant we passed looked better than the last. Here are just some of the places that we ate in and feel are worth sharing:
– Claus Palais-Royal: You would walk by this little place if you didn’t know about it, or if you didn’t wonder why there is a line of people down the road. Claus is a cute and intimate breakfast location with some lovely food. I will say, on the weekend they only offer a few variations of a set menu, which includes a few ‘courses’. If you want to save money or just don’t have a very big appetite I would recommend either sharing one of the set meals or going one day during the week.
– Holybelly: Okay so I am trying not to be dramatic here, buuuuuut this was hands down the best breakfast I have ever had. Apparently, there is normally a wait for this place, and rightly so. I would probably give up my first born to eat here again. We went on a weekday around noon and we walked straight in. The menu is simple, with just the perfect amount of choice and the décor is one of a kind. I really could not recommend this place any more. I had the ‘Savoury Stack’ – TRUST ME PEOPLE!!
– Verlet: This one is for the coffee lovers. I wouldn’t call this a ‘breakfast place’ as it doesn’t necessarily serve breakfast. It does have loads of delicious pastries and some sandwiches that you can order from around noon onwards. This quaint café offers its customers a selection of multiple different types of coffee from all over the world. There are no tourists here, so the majority of the menu and information about the coffees is in French. The staff were really nice and could recommend a coffee bean that best suits the type of coffee you drink (Espresso, Flat white etc.)
– Le Jules Verne: This is a once in a lifetime experience. Le Jules Verne is a Michelin Starred Restaurant on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. It was the most incredible meal setting I have ever experienced and the food and wine were just stunning. After your meal, you can go out onto the 2nd floor balcony of the Tower and look over the whole city. It was an amazing experience but it comes at a hefty price. For this reason, I would only recommend going here if you are a die-hard foodie with a lot of disposable income or for a special occasion (I got a gift of the meal as a birthday present).
– Pizza Popolare: This restaurant was very appropriately named. It doesn’t take reservations and there is no way you will arrive and walk straight in. You will have to wait, and once you have been served you will realise it was worth the wait. I promise. This place has a brilliant atmosphere and even better prices for the top-quality food it serves. It was one of the nicest pizzas I have ever had. We had to wait for an hour to get a table, so if you don’t want to wait long I would recommend you arriving 20-30 mins before the restaurant opens to ensure you are in the first sitting. Having said that, we went on a Saturday night, so it might be less busy midweek. This is not to be missed. P.S. There is a free photo booth in the toilet.
What to do:
Citroen tour: This was one of the highlights of the trip, not for the reason you might think (see my Instagram ‘PARIS’ Highlight to see what I am talking about). It is a brilliant way to see the city, especially if it is too hot/cold to walk around or if you aren’t there for very long. As I mentioned before, Paris is such a big city and a lot of the things people want to see are quite spread out. This tour gives you a great snapshot of the city through a local’s eyes. I would recommend doing this early on in your stay so you know what areas you want to revisit in your own time. We did the 1 hour tour and it only cost 70 euro, which we thought was a good deal for what we got. Avoid rush hour traffic times for your tour to ensure you get to see as much as possible in the hour slot.
Arc de Triomphe: The Arc de Triomphe is a great way to see the city in day light or night time. Its height allows you to see a lot of the main landmarks of the city in one go. Although a lot of people might think to go up the Eiffel Tower to see Paris, when you are up the tower, you obviously can’t see the tower itself. That’s why we loved the Arc de Triomphe. Tip 1: I know this might seem obvious but there is a tunnel to allow pedestrians into the centre of the crazy roundabout. Use this to avoid death, you will also get your ticket in this tunnel to allow you to get to the top. Tip 2: Bring your ID, if you are under 25 you can go to the top for free. Prepare for a loooot of stairs. Tip 3: If you go at night time, make sure you are there on an hour, as the Eiffel Tower sparkles for a few minutes every hour.
Eiffel Tower: Going up the Eiffel tower might seem like a good idea, however as I mentioned above you can see similar things from the Arc de Triomphe, including the tower. Having said that the views were spectacular, especially of the gardens in front of the tower. We were granted admission with our lunch in Le Jules Verne, and therefore didn’t have to pay or line up for it. If there is a massive line or it is expensive, it wouldn’t be top of the list for me.
Latin quarter/St. Germain: From what I gather these seem to be similar areas, I easily could have got that wrong so don’t quote me. These areas are full of small restaurants and bars, and is definitely worth strolling over to in the evening to grab a glass of wine and people watch. You can find close to every world cuisine on the windy streets of Latin quarter.
Montmartre: Montmartre is home to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The area is known for its artistic history and gives its visitors a great view of the city. It was a nice activity to do, however it was a bit of a walk from the 1st arrondissement where we were staying. If you are pushed for time and still want to see it, I believe there is a shuttle bus that goes up to the Basilica. There is also an option to do a 2 hour Citroen tour that includes going up there. From my experience I don’t know if it would be worth the extra money doing a second hour to go up there.
Overall, we both adored Paris and by no means even saw or experienced the half of it. It is the perfect weekend break and I couldn’t recommend it enough. If anyone has anything to add please feel free to include it in the comment section below.
The Girl on the Go xx