Travel Log: Paris, France
Thank you again to everyone who entered my Birthday Giveaway! Check back on Friday for the winner to be revealed. =)
Today I am sharing the final chapter of my fabulous fall vacation: forty hours in Paris. We took the train from Nice to Paris and spent the last day and a half in the City of Light before flying home. Even though we only had a short amount of time, we made a plan to see all of the major sites. We covered as much ground as most people see in one week! If you find yourself in Paris for only a day or two, check out my recommendation below on how you can tackle all of Paris' major sites in this short amount of time.
Sweater: "Factory V-Neck Sweater" in navy, $29.50 (on sale!) at J Crew Factory here
Shirt: J Crew Factory (old), similar "Polka Dot Chambray Shirt" in chambray and white dot, $23.99 (on sale!) at The Limited here
Boyfriend Jeans: Joe's Jeans (old), check out the "Brady Slim Boyfriend Jeans in Vintage Wash with Rips," $67.63 at Asos here
Flats: "Ashley Bow Ballet Flat" in leopard, $98 at Banana Republic here
Crossbody Satchel: Dooney & Bourke (old), check out the Halogen "Colorblock Crossbody Bag" in vachetta/black (available in three other colors), $76.80 (now 40% off!) at Nordstrom here
Scarf: Purchased in China, I am loving this Diane von Furstenberg "Hanover Wool & Silk Scarf" in fleur landscape blue, $98.98 (now 40% off!) at Nordstrom here
Watch: Marc by Marc Jacobs "Henry" in gold, $250 at Piperlime here
We boarded the train in Nice around 12:30 Friday afternoon, and arrived at the Gare de Lyon around 5pm Friday evening. Gare de Lyon is much more convenient than Gare Nord due to its central location, and we waited in the quickly moving line for a taxi to our hotel. Our hotel was in the 7th arrondissement, the district on the left bank of the Seine River that holds the Eiffel Tower and military buildings Les Invalides and L'Ecole Militaire. We didn't want to waste any time, so once we arrived and checked in, we dropped our bags and started walking toward the Eiffel Tower.
We skipped waiting in line for hours to go up the Eiffel Tower on a Friday night, and instead headed to the river for a Bateaux Mouches dinner cruise. There are other, more exclusive dinner cruise options, but Bateaux Mouches is perfect for dropping in without a reservation. Boarding starts at 7:30pm, the boat departs at 8:30pm, and returns around 11pm. We enjoyed a wonderful meal with champagne and a couple of bottles of wine during the cruise, and it was the perfect way to relax and enjoy the lights of the city at night. If it is your first time in Paris, definitely try to visit the observation decks of the Eiffel Tower on a weekday evening for a shorter line.
Saturday was our one full day in Paris, and we made the most of it. We were in the breakfast room of our hotel just after 7am, and out the door heading to the Metro (the Paris subway) about 8am. We purchased one day, 3-zone passes for the day for 12.90 euros. The 3-zone pass gets you anywhere within the downtown area of the city (if you want to go to Versaille or the airport, you will want to get the 5-zone pass instead) and is the most efficient way to get around. First stop: Montmarte and the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. The Sacré-Cœur Basilica is a Roman Catholic Church perched at the highest point of the city. I've heard that watching the sunrise from here is absolutely gorgeous on a clear day if you have the chance! For us, it was cloudy but still revealed an amazing view.
After admiring the view and walking in and out and below this beautiful building, we walked back down to the Metro and headed for Place de la Concorde. We stepped out by the Obelisk, a gift to France from Egypt that was placed on the site where the guillotine was located during the French Revolution.
From the Obelisk, we walked through the Jardin de Tuileries from end to end all the way to the Louvre Museum. The garden is so beautiful in the fall with the multicolored leaves, and the garden was almost empty at 9am.
The Louvre Museum opens at 9am, and on a Saturday it is wise to go early. There was only a short line when we arrived right after opening, and we pretty much walked right in. We spent about three hours covering the major sites of the museum, but you could spend weeks trying to see everything (especially with how often they rotate closing exhibits for restoration or cleaning). Even though this was my third trip to the Louvre, I was still amazed and overwhelmed by the collections.
After three hours in the Louvre, we were ready for lunch before moving on. We stopped for sushi a couple of blocks away from the museum, a random pick that turned out to be quite tasty! After that refreshing meal, we hopped back on the Metro and headed for the Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs-Elysees. The Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile stands to honor the soldiers who fought and died for France in both the French Revolutionary War and the Napoleonic Wars, and holds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
There are 284 steps to climb to reach the viewing deck at the top of the Arc de Triomphe in a dizzying spiral, but the view is so worth it! You can see all of the major monuments, all of the way out to Montmarte and the Sacré-Cœur Basilica.
After admiring the view and soaking in the sunshine that had finally peeked out, we walked back down to the bottom of the Arc de Triomphe and headed for the Champs-Elysees. We walked down this famous street of luxury shops, stopping here and there to browse the car dealerships, watch street performers, and of course pick up macarons at Laduree.
Before reaching the very end of the Champs-Elysees, we took a left and walked in between the Grand Palais and Petite Palais to cross the Pont Alexandre III. The Pont Alexandre III is arguably the most beautiful bridge in Paris, with its ornate sculptures and lamp posts. I love the view from this bridge looking over the Pont des Invalides toward the Eiffel tower.
On the other side of the Pont Alexandre III is Les Invalides, with military museums and Napoleon's tomb. Instead of going into the museums, we took a moment of repose on the lawn! By now, it was about 3pm and we had covered quite a bit of ground, so a few minutes' rest was welcome. We didn't stay long, however, because our next stop was to take the Metro to Notre-Dame.
Notre-Dame Cathedral is another iconic Catholic church in Paris. The line on a Saturday afternoon was horrendous, and since I'd already been inside before we opted to walk around it and purchase a "love lock" for the nearby Pont d'Archeveche instead. Imagine our surprise when we ran into two friends from Seattle waiting in line to enter Notre-Dame who we did not plan to rendezvous with in the city! We were able to meet our friends later on in the evening for a wonderful dinner and toast to Parisian serendipity!
It amazes me that the French police regularly cut tourist "love locks" off the city bridges, but yet they reappear at such a rapid rate! There are just that many people who visit this amazing city every year. We added our little contribution, complete with an engraved "A <3 E." It will always be a special memory, no matter how long the little lock lives there.
As our afternoon wound down, we took the Metro from Notre-Dame to L'Ecole Militaire at the end of the Champ du Mars garden. This garden provides a fantastic view of the Eiffel tower, and has more room than the Trocadero on the opposite side for photos. A couple of jumping shots, a walk through the park, and then we headed back to our hotel to get ready to meet our friends for dinner.
I completely forgot to take photos of our dinner near the Champs-Elysees, but I remembered once we returned to Laduree for dessert! My last photos for you are of delectable macarons, ice cream, and drinks at the Laduree bar. Dinner and an evening out with our Seattle friends made the perfect final night of our trip.
I have been so blessed to be able to travel as much as I do, and this was my third time in the City of Light. Each time I visit Paris, I become enchanted all over again with this city and I hope you can see a bit of why I love it in this post. Thanks so much for reading and I hope you have a great week. Check back for the winner of my Birthday Giveaway on Friday!