For some reason Paris was never on my bucket list. I’m not sure if it was because the French have a snooty reputation, or maybe because I always pictured Parisian women as high fashion models, dressed to kill to go grocery shopping and that idea just exhausted me. For a hopeless romantic like me, it always struck me strange that I never had much of an interest in the city of lights.
I wanted to take my yearly solo trip somewhere new, and I saw that direct flights to Paris were only $400.00. Checking my bank account, I knew it would be stupid to pass this deal up. And thank God I didn’t. Because what ensued shortly after were 9 days of complete bliss, relaxation, discovery and new found friendships. I fell in love with Paris. It was like an 80s rom com when the girl realizes her best friend was the love of her life the whole time. I would come to fall deeply in love with a place I never knew I wanted to venture to.
I would wake up every morning with no clear plan. I just wanted to walk around and see where the day would take me. Here’s a break down of my adventures and what I recommend!
Climb the 422 steps to the top of Notre Dame (About 12 Euros)
This is one of the oldest and most prestigious churches in France. At 800 years old it is absolutely stunning with it’s Gothic architecture, stained glass windows, and detailed carvings and sculptures.
Interesting fact: Every first Friday of the month at 3pm, Jesus’ crown of thorns is put on display. (Insane! )
The 422 stairs lead to the very top of the church where you can overlook the entire city, and even spot the Eiffel tower. You may have to stop and catch your breath a few times, even if you’re in good shape. I did this fresh off my transatlantic flight with no sleep so if I can survive it you can too! The view is glorious and so worth it, ESPECIALLY at sunset.
The line to climb the stairs is usually very long, so hit up the kiosk right by the church, get a ticket, scope out the inside of the church (free) and come back at your designated time to climb.
Visit A la Croix Patisserie
This beautiful coffee shop is situated right across from Notre Dame on 11 Quai de Montebello. My air bnb was around the corner so I stumbled into it on my very first day. What a wonderful place to feast your eyes on all the beautiful and carefully crafted pastries! It was hard not to smush my entire face against the glass case, and gaze in awe at all the brightly colored works of art. I wanted them all every day. And did. The word ‘calorie’ completely vanished form my brain and I lost myself in a new creation each morning. Lemon tart? Dark chocolate mousse? Croissant? Macaron? YES. YES. YES. GOD YES. On my last day I got to see the master himself, whisk in hand, whipping something in a bowl and I felt like I was watching Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel. Such a thrill!
When you leave, head across the street and peruse the stands lining the river (La Seine- pronounced Sen). They sell books and art for cheap prices!
Treat yourself to a Berthillon Ice cream and take a stroll
Is there anything more enjoyable than getting a cold ice cream on a hot day, and walking around one of the most charming cities in the world? The original Berthillion brick and mortar is over half a century old, located on 29-31 rue Saint-Louis-en-l'Ile - 75004 Paris.
This ice cream is so knock your socks off heavenly that there are now pop ups all over the city. The family run business keeps their recipes a secret, but we do know that their ice cream and sorbets are made using only natural ingredients with no added sugars or preservatives. Grab an ice cream and walk along La Seine, across bridges, through quiet streets and listen to the music of the city. Literally. There are passionate musicians everywhere and at any turn you can hear an accordion solo or a quartet playing with fervor. Every step I took felt like I was sucked into a French film as music accompanied me wherever I walked. And that ice cream. Took the experience next level.
Picnic at the Eiffel Tower
Seeing the Eiffel Tower up close was a bit emotional for me! It’s beautiful and historic and located on the Champ de Mars, a public green park. Pack some cheese, meats, a baguette and of course a bottle of Rose, and relax in front of one of the most iconic monuments in the world.
Montmartre, located on a hill, is a more quiet and quaint section of Paris complete with winding cobblestone streets and adorable shops. Pop in and out of stores, climb the steps to see the famous basilica Sacre-Couer with an overview of the entire city, and enjoy some AMAZING food. I came across Pain Pain, a lovely blue painted patisserie and had the BEST eclair of my life. I wanted to cry in the middle of the street from joy. It was a pillowy cream filled chocolate covered delight. I could have eaten ten and I will truly never forget that moment.
See a show at the Moulin Rouge
Dress up in your finest, and head to the cabaret. The theater itself is nothing like I’ve ever seen, decadent, drenched in red lights, high ceilings, streaming curtains, and small table tops with glowing lamps and candles. Order a bottle of champagne and enjoy the show!
Take a boat cruise during the day and in the evening (14 Euro per ride)
The one hour boat ride takes you up and down the Seine and right up close and personal with the Eiffel Tower. I’m so glad I took this tour on my first day because it gave me a general idea of where everything was located, which made it a lot easier when exploring the city by foot. When you exit the boat, climb the nearby stairs and lock your love for eternity with a lock on the love bridge. (The original love bridge, located elsewhere, collapsed under the weight of all locks) I also recommend taking the cruise at night after dark. The Eiffel Tower lit up at night is even more beautiful. You can catch a glimpse of it sparkling every hour on the hour starting at 9pm. Magnifique!
Eat macarons from the MASTER Pierre Herme'
You haven't had a macaron until you've had them from Pierre Herme'. This is no exaggeration and a definite must. Forget Laduree. The freshness, texture and exotic flavors made here take the macaron experience to new heights. There are a ton of flavors such as the familiar chocolat and caramel, but he also created gems like hazelnut oil and green asparagus, and white miso with lemon. You will never look at a macaron the same again I promise!
Visit La Marais and get falafel!
Walk around this historic Jewish quarter and feast on some damn good falafel at L'as Du Fallafel. There's competitors all around but this is the best and worth the long line. If you can manage to not scarf the whole thing down immediately, walk to the nearby square, Place des Vogues, and enjoy it in the beautiful park with a bottle of Rose. Another one of those moments where everything is perfection.
Take a private bike tour with April in Paris!
This tour was magical! April took me around the entire city of Paris by bike and I got to live out all of my Parisian dreams! She showed me a lot of hidden gems I would have missed and she's extremely knowledgeable and passionate about her city. Not only did I get the greatest views on two wheels, but I now know that Thomas Edison installed the first street lights in Paris, and that Napolean's penis is now in New Jersey.
Buy a book in Shakepeare and Co and relax in Jardin du Luxembourg
When I walked into the shop, I asked if they had any Hemingway. The salesman pointed me to the correct section, I picked up a book and saw that it was 187 euro. Juuuust a tad out of my price range. He then told me I was in the antique bookstore. (A small space with really old copies of classic books!) The newer shop was next door and there I grabbed my copy of “Farewell to Arms” at a much more reasonable price of 20 euros. I also bought a book on the French revolution and made my way down Boulevard Saint-Michel towards the Luxembourg gardens. Jardin du Luxembourg is a gorgeous green park, with tree lined promenades all surrounding the biggest fountain I have ever seen. I sat at the edge of the fountain, listening to the relaxing flow of the streaming water and reading my book as the breeze blew through my hair. I stayed for hours reading, writing, and enjoying the vibrant flowers and greenery. It's the perfect place to channel your inner Golden Age author.
Visit the famous sites
Hit the Louvre and take your most famous selfie with the Mona Lisa. (Buy tickets with a designated time) After viewing the 38,000 pieces of art, relax in the nearby Jardin du Tuileries where you can grab a seat by the fountain, put your feet up and take in the sun. If you are a history buff don’t miss Versailles, the sumptuous palace of Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI. Indulge like the olden days with macarons and a delicious lunch in the gorgeous gardens. You can bring food or enjoy the outdoor cafe. (Make SURE you buy your ticket for Versailles with a specific time on it, cost about 7 euros more but it’s the difference between walking right in and a 2 hour wait!) There are around 130 museums in Paris so do your research and pick depending on what you are interested in!
My favorite restaurants!
I know there are tons of amazing places to eat, but these are the ones I had the pleasure of dining in and I have gone back multiple times!
1. Le Potager du Pere Thierry
16 Rue des Trois Frères, 75018 Paris, France
2. La Robe et le Palais
13 Rue des Lavandières Sainte-Opportune, 75001 Paris,
3. Le Reminet
3 course lunch special for 17 euros because the chefs are students in training. What a deal!
3 Rue des Grands Degrés, 75005 Paris, France
4. Le Zinc d'Honore'
36 Place du Marché Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris, France
It's impossible to capture the magic of Paris, you just have to go see for yourself! Sit on the terrace with a glass of wine and people watch, eat escargot and foie gras! Take it all in. And don't be afraid to venture there alone like I did. I am so glad I took a chance on this amazing city. Now put on your beret and get ready for a Parisian adventure! Au revoir!