Paris had always been on my list of places to visit. It’s just one of those places you should visit, especially when you live a couple of hours away! The incredible monuments, sweeping avenues, the picture perfect architecture and of course the food. It ticks every box for me when it comes to a holiday destination, so it’s actually ridiculous it took me 29 years to visit!
I have been sharing some of the 2000 photos I took (I kid you not) over on Instagram (@bonjourbride) but wanted to put a little post together too. There is so much to see and I feel like we managed to pack a lot in. If you’re planning a trip to Paris I hope our itinerary and tips are helpful. If you have any specific questions get in touch, I’d be happy help.
Where to stay
Location is a priority for a city break. You don’t want to waste time travelling when you could be exploring. But then of course cost, and what you consider important comes into play. Are you going to want to go for fancy meals, or maybe you want to be near clubs and pubs? Or… like me, you could consider none of those and just look for a really cool hotel! I stumbled across the Vice Versa Hotel during my search. It is most definitely unique on google maps it didn’t look too far out into the sticks so I booked it!
Vice Versa Hotel is in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, near the edge of zones 1 and 2. Two metro stations were about a 10-minute walk away, one through a very pretty park. It felt a little more residential and was about 20 minutes away from the main tourist attractions. However, the nearby patisseries full off breakfast goodies more than made up for it.
The hotel has 7 floors, each floor based on a deadly sin. As soon as we walked in I was in love, and literally in heaven! I think the designer crawled into my head when she thought it up. It’s got angel wings, fluffy rocking chairs, cherubs a soft cloud and oh yeah UNICORNS!! We got the choice of which ‘sin’ we wanted to stay in and chose Pride. This was complete with a marble-carpet floor, velvet curtains and a gold tiled bathroom. While we didn’t make use of it, they do offer treatments and private hire of the spa facilities in ‘Hell’ i.e. the basement. Oh, and the ‘gluttony’ themed breakfast room is so cute.
If we were to visit Paris again I would most definitely stay at Vice Versa again. Otherwise, I’d try to find a hotel in Montmartre. I fell in love with the cobbled streets (not so much the hills, but I thought about the glutes the entire time, and the snails and ice cream at the top!) and the street art dotted around the streets. More on Montmartre and it’s treasures a little later on…
How to get around Paris
While there’s Uber in Paris, we decided to keep it real and travel around by Metro. We were there for 3 and half days in total and The Paris Visite Pass you can buy come in 1, 2, 3 and 5 days (typical!) You can buy these at any station on the green machines.
We decided to buy a day pass for the first half day (costing 7euros each) and then a three-day pass for the remaining days (around 25euros each) A day pass allows unlimited travel on the day of use up to midnight on that day. With the three-day tourist pass, you get 25% off some of the cities attractions, which did come in handy for us. If you’re going to visit the sites, I would definitely recommend buying a multiple day travel pass for your stay.
Paris is most definitely a walking city, and if you’re lucky with the weather I really recommend walking away from the tourist spots to get a real sense of the city. Nothing was ever that far away, the metro system is great (if a little smelly in places, and there aren’t as many seats as the London underground) and super-fast. Once the doors open they stay at stations for about 30 seconds, and then they’re off, so you can travel a long way in a very short space of time.
The Eiffel tower
A trip to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower is impossible (forget the two trips to Disneyland I’ve made!) We made a beeline for the Tower on our first day and so began my obsession with staring at taking selfies with Her! If you haven’t seen her IRL all I will say is she is big and in the best light looks golden. Magical.
Unlike lots of tourists, we didn’t climb up. Dan had been up on his previous trip and was underwhelmed, and personally, I don’t see the point of having a view of Paris without the Eiffel Tower in it! If you have enough time, try and see her in the day and also the night. There is a sparkly show that happens as daylight starts to fade. It begins on the hour for five minutes – head to the Trocadero for the best view.
So if you want a view of Paris with the Eiffel tower in it, I highly recommend taking a trip up Montparnasse Tower. It’s 56 floors high and another two floors up is an open-air observation deck. You’re guaranteed a spectacular view of the city. With your Paris Metro ticket, you get 25% off this attraction, so it was only £11. We spent a good hour and a half up there, so it totally worth it. Looking across the city as a toy town was incredible and makes you appreciate the large trees that line the avenues of the city.
If you’re looking to treat yourself there’s a champagne sky bar on the observation deck. It says you can’t sit in the seats as they are reserved, but they don’t enforce it at all, so have a seat and take in the view to your hearts content!
Paris – City of Love!
I’ve seen a few articles about couples (mainly from the East) travelling to London and Paris to take wedding photos. I’d never seen it myself, but on our first day in Paris, I saw three brides – two just taking photos, one real life bride!
They were like royalty it was amazing and of course, I had to stop and take photos. They had their own personal make-up artist and veil/train wafter – tres jealous!
I’d heard about Montmartre before we headed to Paris. It was described as arty and a good place to find dinner. In my opinion, it wasn’t raved about enough! Montmartre is possibly my favourite place in Paris. The cobbled streets, the market square full of incredible restaurants and artists cutting silhouettes, selling paintings and caricaturists was incredible and perfectly European. There is a big hill or a lot of steps to walk up, but it is totally worth it.
The star of the show in this part of town is Sacre Coeur. This Basilica is beautiful and I would recommend heading there for sunset. It’s the French version of the Spanish Steps, so expect crowds, but you can sit where you want and just soak in the awesomeness. Of course, it’s full of touts and people selling beer. We bought an ice cream and just politely say no each time. I didn’t feel pushed or hassled at all. The view of the city is lovely and the atmosphere is second to none. Make sure you pay a Montmartre a visit.
You will all know by know that I love my food and it just so happens French cuisine is one of my faves. We made a deal, and said we would only eat French food while in Paris. If you’re gonna do it, do it right!
We did not hold back at all. There were multiple cheese platters, so many baguettes all the pastries, snails (try these, they taste the best mushroom you will ever have covered in garlic and butter), oysters, duck, frogs legs (really bland chicken wings – I will not be ordering them again) marrow… I’ll stop. I’m getting hungry. The French do French the best – obvs! We didn’t have a rubbish meal and every last crumb eaten. It was a little expensive (meals with wine came to about £50-60, so it’s on par with London) but it was all so delicious, I regret nothinggg!
If you book a hotel that includes breakfast then great, if not, don’t pay the extra. Just head to one of hundreds of fantastic Boulangeries (bakers) or Patisseries and take your pick for a fraction of what they cost over here in a chain shop, plus they taste 3789562 times better.
I’ve not seen the Hunchback of Notre Dame, but anything worthy of basing a book and Disney film on means I’m going! I wasn’t interested in going inside, the queue was mahoosive, it was a sunny day and once you’ve seen one church you kinda get the gist. The outside was pretty damn spectacular and that was more than enough for me.
We were entertained by a super talented and fun brass band in the courtyard. I’m putting together a little video of our trip and you’ll be able to see a little snippet of what they performed. If anyone knows who they are, I’d love to find out!
Oh and if you find yourself peckish and near Notre Dame there is an incredible Artisan Bakery very close. The Fruit Tart was to die for, and their quiches, oh and the Camembert baguette! The Pompidou is round the corner if you’re in the mood for some contemporary art. We debated going in but instead planned something much more exciting… all will be revealed in part two.
Louvre & Jardin Du Tuilles
It wouldn’t have felt right not paying a visit to the Louvre while in Paris. Ex-art student guilt is strong! Also, I wanted to see the amazing building and the famous pyramid with my own eyes. I wasn’t disappointed, but what’s even more beautiful is the Jardin Du Tuilles. We got off at Concorde (another monument type thing) and walked through the gardens before getting the Louvre. This was my birthday day and we saw a fun fair so of course had to go on them. Them views of the city were so great, and it was obviously a lotta fun!
We should have pre-booked tickets. As one of the two major tourist things we did, we wasted about 40 minutes in a queue to get in and then purchase a ticket. The Louvre is full of old classics, so if you’re into contemporary art this is not the place for you. Think super ornate rooms full of marble sculptures and fancy old paintings.
Of course what everyone goes for is The Mona Lisa. I have no shame in saying this was the only reason we went. On our way to see her we saw some Egyptian things, a famous Michelangelo and some other stuff. As soon as we got to the Mona Lisa room, well we knew it. A sea of people all holding up smartphones, tablets and video cameras greeted us. I hadn’t wasted over an hour to get a shit blurry photo so I waited (pushed only a little) to get to the front. We got the best view you could from about 5 metres away. Ridiculous. Also, she might as well be in a room on her own because no one cares about anything else in the room!
Being the super tourists we are, of course, took a selfie and immediately lost interest in being there! On our way to the exit, and to make the most of the 30euros we subsequently face swapped and filtered with as many marble busts as we could!
So that’s part one. In my opinion part two is a good one, so hopefully, you’ll be back tomorrow.