After the new year, my heart started yearning to return to Paris. Roger and I had never been together, and both of us had not experienced it as adults (I know, right?) When I get an idea in my head, it is hard to stop me, so I started researching multiple country trips in Europe to get the most bang for our buck. The problem with that was the multiple travel days that would be wasted getting from country to country. I thought to myself, why not just rent a little apartment in Paris and do some sightseeing, but most importantly feel what it is like to live as Parisians do.
We bought our tickets, and my god-sister who had just been recommended that we use A la Carte Paris as an apartment rental instead of Airbnb. This site offers only 50 centrally located apartments in Paris with all of the amenities. The apartments are only rented to travelers, so you do not have to stay in an apartment with someone else’s stuff. Our apartment was stylish, clean and fully stocked. We opened the door to a bottle of wine, chocolates, and a binder to tell us everything we needed to know about the area, and how to work everything in the apartment-they even had Sonos speakers. We will only be using them when we visit Paris, nuff said.
We both had not been since we were teenagers, so we did one touristy thing every other day. Here are some tourist hacks that help skip the lines, and throngs of people, as well as our favorite details about all of these places.
Make sure you buy skip the line tickets in advance, and arrive before 9am to get in line. My god-sister also told us to Uber there, and it was so quick and easy. We ended up using Uber throughout our trip to get to dinners when I was wearing heels, and places too far to walk.
The palace is as breathtaking as it had been when I visited as a teen, definitely walk through and see the Hall of Mirrors. My bucket list item on this day was the “Hameau de la Reine” a country hamlet that Marie Antoinette had built behind her palace, that I saw depicted in Sofia Coppola’s version “Marie Antoinette”. It is one of the farthest destinations on the grounds, so if you walk there, you get to take everything in on foot, and discover secret walkways and gardens you would not see on a trolley or golf cart.
The weather is so unpredictable in Paris, who doesn’t love Paris in the rain though? One rainy morning we stopped by Angelina for chocolat chaud, and headed of to Le Louvre for some culture. Get skip the line tickets, and arrive early to miss some of the crowds. Make sure to find Gericault’s “Raft of the Medusa” and go say what’s up to Mona Lisa.
Le Tour Eiffel
We were hesitant to go up on the Eiffel tower because of the crowds. Then I looked back on my trip as a teenager, and remembered that I stayed on the second level with my best friend who is afraid of heights, instead of going to the top. No question that I had to get up there on this trip. You can also purchase skip the line tickets, and at the cafe on the 2nd level, get a glass of wine or champs to sip on while waiting for the lift to the top.
Home to one of my favorite time periods in Paris, this is where writers like Ernest Hemingway, and artists like Picasso lived in a time of creativity in decadence. We walked all the way to the top from our apartment which was a perfect way to burn of the french food and wine, and allowed us to see every little detail about this city. Place Des Abbesses is a great place to stop for an espresso, and people watch. Sacre Coeur is a tourist attraction, but nonetheless a breathtaking place fraught with history, and you will not get a better view of the city unless you are at the top of Le Tour Eiffel. To finish off our day in Montmartre, we headed to Hotel Terrass to watch the sunset with panoramic views of the city, and have a cocktail before diner in the 4th arrondissement.
George Brassens Book Market
This is the least touristy of our adventures in Paris, and a nice relaxing Sunday activity. Roger is a huge literature nut, so we headed over here on a Sunday afternoon to peruse through the treasures in this open air book market. It is open Saturday and Sunday from 9-6 without exception. Be sure to stop across the street at Max Poilâne for fresh bread and pastries. We devoured a whole baguette while walking around the market.
On a final note, walk anywhere that is less than a 30 minute walk away, unless you are wearing heels. There is no better way to experience this magical city.
Stay tuned next week for the real reason we took this trip, food and tax free shopping 🙂