Visiting Paris has always been a dream of mine since I was a little girl reading the Madeline books filled with images of the Eiffel Tower, elegant buildings with black iron balconies, and historic bridges floating over the Seine river. I talked about it more on the blog post of our Paris portraits by L’Amour de Paris, but there are no words that can explain the way Paris captivated me.
Before visiting France, Michael and I absolutely fell in love with the UK. Scotland is our favorite place we’ve ever been so far, which is where this month long trip through Europe started. We spent almost 2 weeks traveling through Scotland and England before taking the high speed train from London to Paris. It only took about 2 hours and then we were in the most romantic city in the world!
We stayed 8 nights at an AirBnB near the Champs de Mars that we both really loved. It was on the first floor of a very Parisian apartment building filled with French speaking locals that really added to our experience. We could walk only a few steps down the street and see the Eiffel Tower in all her glory. We made it a point to walk through the Champs de Mars every night to see the Eiffel Tower lit up and sparkling.
French cuisine was even better than I dreamed. I know most chefs travel to France for culinary training, but it’s much more than the technical skills. The French are so intensely passionate about food that it’s easy to be inspired and awed by the food there. Every single thing we ate was incredible! The food is simple and perfect.
We also took a day trip from Paris to the champagne region of France and spent an afternoon in Epernay drinking champagne and having lunch. It was as amazing as it sounds! Our last stop in France was in a small town called Strasbourg in the Alsace region. It’s right on the border of Germany and has German influences in the architecture. The town is built along a river with cobblestone streets and tiny shops to explore. It felt like Beauty and the Beast!
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-We loved staying in an AirBnB near the Champs de Mars. Our apartment had a small kitchen, bedroom with a seating area and clean bathroom. The other apartments in the building were filled with French speaking locals. It really added to our immersive experience and we would highly recommend it!
-Trocadero is a park on an elevated platform across the river from the Eiffel Tower. It’s definitely the best way to view it! If you get there early in the morning around sunrise, there will hardly be any people there (mostly just photographers!) and you can see the sun rising behind the Tower. It’s worth it!
-If you do nothing else, get the hot chocolate at Angelina’s near the Louvre. The famous “African” hot chocolate is composed of three carefully selected kinds of African cocoa from Niger, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. They serve it with an unsweetened whipped cream that makes it even more decadent. It’s truly an experience!
-We loved getting crêpe from street vendors. It’s a quick and inexpensive meal that’s portable. We would get ones with fruit and sugar or a savory chicken and cheese crêpe, then walk around along the river enjoying our light lunch.
-Paris at night is a totally different experience. It’s magical. Make sure you walk along the Seine at night, taking in all the lights around the city.
-A good day trip from Paris (if you’re there long enough for it to make sense) is the champagne region. It’s a peaceful break from the city and feels like an even more authentic French experience. We took the train to Epernay in the morning, walked around the town for a bit, had lunch at a cafe and then walked along Avenue de Champagne. There are several champagne houses where you can have a free tasting, or buy a few glasses to enjoy. We also took a tour of Moet and Chandon’s cellars, which concludes with a tasting. A lot of champagne was consumed that day… I think I had about 8 or 9 glasses! We took the train back to Paris in the evening.
-The Louvre is a jaw-dropping, gorgeous museum. Even just the architecture of the building is amazing, and then it’s also filled with incredible pieces of art. We spent a whole day there but you could easily spend 3-4 days if you want to see everything. We got a map and tried to prioritize what we couldn’t live with out seeing and made sure to do that first, then we took a break for lunch. After lunch we just wandered and tried to see as much “extra” stuff as we could. The sculpture gardens are particularity beautiful. There is a huge garden in front of the Louvre called Jarden les Tuileries. We walked through it so many times! The tree lined lanes, sculptures and fountains are just wonderful. You can also catch glimpses of the Eiffel Tower in the distance as you wander around.
-PASTRIES! The French have this down. I mean really… I have never tasted a croissant as good as the ones we had in Paris. It’s ruined us forever. Our favorite bakery was Blé Sucré. Their croissants are made with all butter and fresh every morning. The pain au chocolat will change your life. Get there early, the croissants sell out around 10 am!
-Strasbourg was about 3 hours from Paris by train. We stopped there for one night on our way to Germany, which was the last part of our trip. It’s a quaint, adorable town with German influences and cobblestone streets. We stayed one glorious night at the Regent Petite France Hotel and Spa. The spa is on the rooftop overlooking the city with a gorgeous jacuzzi!