In January I spent a very nice weekend in Paris, France. Simply put, Paris is magical and beautiful.
This was my first time in both Paris and France. I went with rather low expectations. Here is why: Despite having always wanted to go to Paris and France, I part of me in recent years developed a notion that Paris was overrated and overhyped, especially here in North America. But how I was so in the wrong. There is a reason people rave about Paris, fall in love with it, and keep on returning. I feel even some who dont necessarily like it, find something about the city to like.
Getting around Paris is extremely easy, the metro is affordable and get you everywhere, if not, take an uber or walk! I recommend getting a day tourist pass that works for both subways and buses (but not for the Airport train, or it can for an extra fee). Walking this city really lets you soak in its aesthetics. There are plenty of options for accommodations as well, from the ultra-luxe to the budget friendly hostels.
- Arrival just past noon on Saturday into Charles De Gaulle Airport, took the express train into the city.
- Got off at the Saint-Michel-Notre-Dame station, without quite realizing it was in fact the station for the Notre-Dame. With my average expectations I unknowingly walked out an exit only to have my breath taken away by clear skies and the Notre-Dame staring down at me. That was it, I was sold, Paris was beautiful.
- With only so much time, I chose not to line up to enter and walk up the cathedral, instead I just admired the building and began walking along the Left Bank of the Seine towards my hotel all the way at Tour Eiffel.
- First stop for me was to buy macaroons and croissants at Pierre Herme Paris. Pierre Herme makes my favorite macaroons, and while I was hoping to get some winter Hazelnut White Truffle macraroons, they were sold out but I still bought lots of other wonderful flavors. I also bought some chocolate and Pierre Herme’s famous rose and raspberry croissant.
- Onwards I went along the Seine, passing so many famous Parisian sights: Lourve, Muse D’Orsay, Grand Palais and the Museum of Contemporary History.
- The late afternoon sun gave the entire city a golden hue, the famous golden hue that seems to capture everyone’s heart in this city. It was breathtaking.
- As I turn a large corner along the bank, the buildings and skyline gave way to my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, it truly is a remarkable and beautiful landmark.
- I walked around and by the tower, and opted not to go up.
- I finally arrived at my hotel located next to the tower (some higher priced rooms have direct views), Hotel de Londres Eiffel.
- I then went to The Peninsula Paris for a sunset drink at their aviation-themed rooftop bar and restaurant, L’Oiseau Blanc. The drinks are pricey but the views unparalleled, especially with the true to life scale of the L’ Oiseau blanc bi-plane perched over the courtyard flying towards the Eiffel Tower. My personal vote for the best and most romantic view of Paris, it felt straight out of 1920s Paris.
- Just down the street from The Peninsula Paris is Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysees. At night both were spectacular.
- I then took a subway to my first dinner spot at the Passage des Panoramas, one of the few remaining covered walkways and shopping areas of Paris. The restaurant was Canard & Champagne (duck and champagne). I had a very affordable three-course menu with champagne pairing. The champagne served here are local small-batch bottles, all quite tasty. The Duck Breast with a side of carrots puree was excellent and profiteroles were the cherry on top.
- I then walked to a speakeasy of sorts called Le Syndicat, for a very delicious cocktail made primarily of Cognac and Beer, a combination I would have never thought of. The bar is cool, but popular and crowded on weekends, thankfully the bartender was very friendly and attentive.
- I then decided to have a second dinner seeing as I would barely have time the next day to have lunch (one must take advantage of the food in Paris!)
- I took the subway back to St. Germain on the Left Bank for dinner at Les Antiquaries. Had some escargot, French pumpkin soup, and beef tartare (very tasty) paired with a fine glass of red wine.
- I then took the train back to Tour Eiffel, and upon walking past the tower I was given a Eiffel Tower light show when the clock struck midnight, talk about midnight in Paris experience!
- Returned to the hotel for a good night’s rest.
- Next morning woke up early, before the sunrise. Caught a bus to go have breakfast at Cafe de Flore in St. Germain. The breakfast was a tad pricey and tasted ok, the pastries were of course delicious though, it was nonetheless a nice morning Parisian cafe experience with a good mix of locals and tourists.
- The main reason I got up early was to beat the crowds and arrive at The Lourve right when the doors open at 9AM. With it being winter, I also caught the sunrise over the Seine and Lourve.
- The Lourve is massive, of course most people come here for the Mona Lisa, which is tiny but coming early means no crowds surrounding the barricade the separates everyone from the glass framed painting. I was able to enjoy it and not be as disappointed as most people are. But there are plenty of other wonderful and historically significant works of art at the Lourve, Winged Victory of Samothrace, Liberty Leading the People, The Sitting Scribe and The Venus de Milo.
- After my whirlwind walk through the Lourve, I slowly made my way back to my hotel along the Right Bank, taking on different views and perspectives of the city.
- Returned to my hotel, checked out, and took the subway and express airport train to CDG airport for a mid-afternoon return to Atlanta.