Well hello there! It’s been a while since our last post. Our weekend in Paris was amazing and SO busy – we’re both still catching up on sleep and getting back to normal!
Claire has been to Paris a number of times, but for me, this was my first trip and boy, did it exceed my expectations. Luckily, I was with a Paris regular, but it’s such a huge city and there’s just so much to do. I reckon you could spend a week there and you still wouldn’t get to do half of what this beautiful city has to offer. We were blessed with lovely weather and we packed so much into our four days there, so we want to share some of our favourite spots for sight-seeing, eating, drinking and of course, SHOPPING! So this and our next post will be dedicated to this beautiful city, and follow on from Our Ultimate Girls Guide to London in our Travel Series!
What to See and Do…
The Eiffel Tower
Paris is probably the prettiest city I’ve ever been to. I could blissfully wander the streets all day, taking in the relaxed and super-chic Parisian atmosphere, but for those of you who prefer an a more action-packed holiday, Paris would be equally suited to you. There are tonnes of world famous landmarks, museums, galleries and day trips to take that will keep you busy all day long. For me (and it’s a pretty obvious one), my top attraction to see in “The City of Light”, is the Eiffel Tower. Recognised around the world, this monument is truly magnificent. I first glimpsed it as I distractedly turned a corner on a quaint Parisian street, near where we were staying the 7th Arrondissement (Paris is divided into Arrondissements, much like postcodes. This one is very central without being too touristy and expensive, and it’s where Claire always stays when she’s in Paris). The sight of the Eiffel Tower, soaring above trees and buildings literally took my breath away. From a distance and up-close, it is magnificent and one of the most striking things I’ve ever seen. It sits in an otherwise undisturbed skyline so you can see it from everywhere in the city, but it never gets old! Once it gets dark, it sparkles for 5 minutes on the hour every hour, which is truly spectacular to see.
We spent an evening at the Eiffel Tower. If you book far enough in advance, you can pre-book your tickets, allowing you to skip the queues. These sell out pretty quickly though so if you don’t have tickets booked and you’re planning to go up to the top of the Tower, expect to queue for a while. Claire and I went on Saturday evening and were queuing outside for around an hour. It was so worth the wait though, when you get up to the top. You’ve got a 360 degree view of Paris. When queuing and while up in the Tower, it gets really chilly so pack warm clothes for this, but don’t worry, we’ll be doing a whole post on what to wear in Paris.
If you’ve got some time to spare, chill out in the Champ de Mars, a park area at the foot of the Tower. Enjoy a few drinks here (and some bread and cheese if you’re being totally French), and bask in the wonder of the Paris’ biggest tourist attraction. Just be wary of pickpockets and be firm the persistent souvenir sellers in the area, and they will leave you alone!
This is another well known Parisian spot. Situated in the 18th Arrondissement, in the north of the city, this area offers a cool and relaxed vibe with loads of funky bars and restaurants. Take the funicular up to top of the hill (or walk…but beware, there are A LOT of steps) for a stunning view over Paris and take in the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. When you’ve taken a few panoramics, stroll through the bustling hilltop streets of Montmarte, where you can watch artists at work and pick up some authentic artwork, if you’re that way inclined. The Place du Tertre is a fantastic place to stop for a crepe and hot chocolate, and watch the laid back artists showcase their work.
It’s every kid’s dream to go to Disneyland but you don’t have to be a child to enjoy it. Young or old, Disneyland is a magical place and the second you step through the gates, you’ll completely forget what age you are. With two parks, you’ll be kept busy for the day, going on roller coasters and rides, seeing your favourite Disney characters and eating Disney-themed, over-priced and delicious snacks.
Claire surprised me with tickets to the theme park a couple of weeks before we went and I was so excited! We got passes for both the Disneyland Park and the Walt Disney Studios Park, costing €74 for the day. This seems pricey, but again, it’s well worth it. Unless you’re Claire, you’re probably only going to go to Paris a couple of times in your life so if you have a day to spare, take the trip out to Disneyland. You’ll have a ball!
For the bigger kids (adults), don’t miss Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain and Indiana Jones Temple of Peril rides in the Disneyland Park and The Tower of Terror and the Aerosmith Rock’n’Roller Coaster in the Walt Disney Studios Park, for big thrills that will leave you giddy and a little bit dizzy. Again, prepare to queue for the more popular rides but you can get Fast Passes for some (make sure to get these early in the day) that’ll let you skip the queue.
When the rides close at 9pm, stick around to watch the evening show. Dance and sing along to all your favourite Disney songs (if you’re not too cool), while the magical Disney Castle is illuminated under a sky of fireworks. If you’re looking for a day of real, old-fashioned fun, then you have to head out to Disney. You’ll be grinning from ear-to-ear after a day at the park. Get there by taking the RER A train from Paris and arrive early, preferably when the park opens, to get in before the crowds.
Like us, if you don’t have nearly enough time to see everything in Paris, jump on a boat tour which will take you down the Seine. For only €14, you can take an hour long river cruise, taking in the sights of the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum, and the oldest part/original city of Paris as well as all of Paris’ beautiful bridges (including the one that everyone and their mother puts locks on). This is a great way to get your bearings and see some of Paris from a distance. The tours leave every half hour from Port de la Bourdonnais, very close to the Eiffel Tower. Make sure to arrive early, as the queue can build up!
Where to Eat and Drink…
Paris is full of restaurants and bars, with so many to choose from. There’s a huge range of prices too. Most places in the centre of the city are extremely expensive. Paris isn’t like your typical, cheaper-than-Dublin European city. A nice dinner and a few drinks will cost you so definitely don’t go to Paris on a tight budget. There are some more affordable places though, if you look around the residential parts of the city.
This busy little bar and eatery is located on Rue Cler, a street off the beaten track but very close to the Eiffel Tower and other attractions in the 7th Arrondissement. This restaurant is a firm favourite of Claire’s. She takes everyone and anyone here when in Paris (I think she might have shares in the place!). But I can see why she loves it; the menu is simple, with a no frills and entirely Parisian approach to dining; eating alfresco where the atmosphere is enchanting and the food and wine are just really, really good. It’s the kind of place you could sit for hours, and it’s a great place to spy on locals and check out the laid-backbut oh-so-chic Parisian street style. Take a seat outside and watch the world go by, while munching on their mouth-watering Duck Confit dish and devouring a bottle of wine. Whether or not you have a sweet tooth, the homemade profiteroles are not to be missed. This is one of those places in Paris that won’t break the bank either. €50 will get you dinner, desert and a drink for two people – a bargain by Parisian standards!
A gorgeous French brasserie in the lively Montparnasse area. Opened in 1858, this restaurant is oozing with French character. Although it’s been redecorated since opening (hopefully a few times), loads of original and authentic features remain in the decor. Remember some of the restaurants Carrie Bradshaw ate in when she was in Paris? This is exactly that! The menu matches the typical Parisian interior – fois gras, snails and steak tartare are all on the menu but there are plenty of safer options to chose from if you’re not feeling adventurous, like lamb, salmon, cod and even Irish rib-eye steak. This is really tasty, well presented French food, without being pretentious and stuffy. A bit pricier than Café Du Marché, a two-course dinner and bottle of wine (between two people) will set you back around €50 each, but this is still quite inexpensive in Paris. When you’re finished your meal here, you’re just a hop, skip and a jump away from….
Book a table on the 56th floor of the Montparnasse Tower for mesmerising views of Paris. This swanky restaurant and bar is PRICEY! You’ll easily blow €100 each on dinner. Claire and I didn’t eat here (we chose Le Montparnasse 1900 instead for their, ehem, more conservative menu). We just went for cocktails after dinner but we both decided that the next time we go to Paris, we’ll be saving to eat here. The cocktails were yum (although at €19 a pop, they kinda want to be), but the service was most impressive. We were treated like queens, given complimentary crackers and mini desserts, despite only spending €40 between us. This definitely works in the staff’s favour though – after one delicious and very strong cocktail, we were showering our extremely attentive waiter/personal photographer with a very generous tip and compliments!
Apart from the Eiffel Tower, the views from Restaurant Ciel are unrivalled. It’s particularly magic at night when you can fully appreciate the hourly twinkling, light display on the Eiffel Tower. If you’re being a bit fancy, or even just want to pretend to be and get one drink like we did, this is definitely one to visit!
Part of the Experimental Group which has cocktail bars in London, New York, Paris and Ibiza, this is a very hip and cosy little cocktail bar in the cool Saint Germain area, which again oozes Parisian chic. If you’ve been to the Vintage Cocktail Club in Dublin, then you’ll know roughly what to expect (albeit in a more Parisian setting!). This place takes shabby chic decor and ultra cool to the next level – think bearded bar tenders and bowler hats as light fittings.
If your cocktail of choice is a Sex on the Beach or Woo Woo then stay away from this place. You won’t find any typical girly cocktails on the menu here. Old school, boozy mixtures in couplet glasses is what you’ll get. Browse the menu or tell one of the bartenders what kind of flavours you like and they’ll rustle up something for you. Drinks here were surprisingly inexpensive (or maybe we had just acclimatised to Parisian prices at this point), with cocktails priced at around €13 each. This is definitely the place to go if you want some really nice, sophisticated drinks and a good natter with friends or locals.
How to get around
Using the underground Metro system is the easiest and cheapest way to travel around Paris. It’s a huge city so walking from A to B is sometimes just not an option and taxis are expensive. The first time you use the Metro, go to the information desk and find out the options for rambler type tickets. We were there for four days so we availed of a 5 day ticket which cost around €60. This was great value though as we used to to get from the airport, to and from Disney and all around Paris everyday, usually using it at least five times a day. The Metro is like the London underground or the New York Subway – confusing! There are loads of different lines so I’d advise printing off a good quality Metro map or having one on your phone or tablet so you can check out which line you need to be on and where you need to swap over.
Do you have any suggestions of things to do in Paris? If you’ve been there before, what are your favourite restaurants and bars? We just have way too much to say about Claire’s favourite, and my NEW favourite city, so stay tuned for our Ultimate Girls Guide to Paris – Part Deux post on where to shop and including what we bought, including our Sephora and Kiko haul!