PARIS in 10 STEPS

PARIS in 10 STEPS

There is A LOT to do in this city and when planning a visit it can be overwhelming. Here are 10 things you must do during your visit. The rest, well, set it aside for another visit or longer stay.

Dan and I super-duper lucky in the we live only a few hours from The City of Light. In 5 hours we can be from our front step to the Eiffel Tour, it is pretty darn fantastic. Since arriving we’ve cut away a few weekends to the glorious city and concocted, in my opinion, the PERFECT checklist for anyone with a few days to spend in Paris.


 

1 | Stay in St. Germain.

This is hands-down my favorite neighborhood – convenient, fantastic shops and restaurants, and perfectly Paris. There are millions of options in Paris, but there, I’ve taken out the guess work and told you exactly the district to stay in.

Want to make your visit even better? Get a place with a balcony for people watching – my favorite memory from Paris was sitting on our airbnb balcony, sipping wine, tearing off generous pieces of baguette and eating fantastic cheese with our dear friends. People-watching in Paris is the best. We found a fantastic cheese assortment at Fromagerie Saint Charles at 77 Rue Saint-Antoine.

 


 2 | Eat.

There is no question that Paris is culinary destination. Go on an absolutely yummy food tour with Hidden Paris tours. I found that Hidden Paris to be the most reasonable and highest rated option on TripAdvisor. Check out our tour in St. Germain. Our guide, Eglantine was the best!

 


3 | Visit Musee d’Orsay.

With the extensive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist work (think – Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, Sisley, Renoir) it’s hard not to be blown away by. Dan and I lingered here for hours, mesmerized by all the famous work that we’d seen in books so many times before. This place is the real-deal and absolutely worth a visit. If you don’t remember to make reservations online, arrive at opening to minimize your wait time. Sorry, pictures are prohibited within the galleries but we sure did love the main hall and cute cafe on the 5th floor.

Imagine seeing this piece in real life, it’s spectacular.


4 | Relax.

When it’s sunny head to Hors d’Oreuvres in St. Germain for a crepe to-go and scoot over to the Luxumberg Gardens for a picnic. Hors d’Oreuvres is my absolute favorite creperie, serving as the to-go stand for one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the city, Le Comptoir, it’s no wonder they know exactly how to turn out the perfect crepes. I had the crepe du jour with egg, chicken, fresh cheese, salad and artichoke for 6E. It’s not just the toppings, the magic is in the crepe mix itself. It’s just so darn delicious. The Luxemburg Gardens are just around the corner and a beautiful place to relax right in the city center.


5 | At dusk pick up a bottle of wine and hike the steps of Sacre Coeur.

The steps are the spot to go for spectacular views of the city as it twinkles to life. After you’ve head your fill, stroll Montmartre and get your sketch made by one of numerous artists that call Montmartre home.


6 | Tour the grounds of the Eiffel Tower.

As charming as it sounds, taking the elevator up isn’t worth the wait. After all, there’s not a whole lot to see on the Paris skyline aside from the Tower itself. The grounds are a fantastic place for a picnic and take a few classic shots. Don’t forget, in the evening the tower SPARKLES on the hour!


7 | Buy macarons. Not just any macarons, Pierre Herme macarons.

Hands-down the best sweet I’ve EVER had in my entire life. Each time we visit Dan and I scoop up 5 or so of these delicious bites and try our best to split them, believe me, it’s not easy. Our favorite flavor on our most recent visit was Pistache & Compote de Framboises (Raspberry Compote). As we learned on our food tour, Pierre studied in Japan for awhile and became a master at mixing unique flavors. It’s not your normal chocolate and vanilla show here – image Rose-Litchi-Raspberry, Olive Oil-Vanilla, and Milk Chocolate-Passion Fruit, to name a few.

 

8 | Celebrate your love!

Hubba-hubba. Grab your travel buddy (friend, spouse, parent, whoever) and hop over to the love lock bridge. Street vendors sell locks nearby (3E) and provide markers to doodle. Grab a lock, your sweetie, and find a special spot on the bridge to lock-away your love forever. Turn your backs to Seine, give the key a quick KISS and toss it over! It’s a classic Paris tradition that you need to take part in!


9 | See Notre Dame.

The sheer size and architecture are a sight to behold. The spectacular history makes this the most interesting and beautiful church in all of Europe. If the lines aren’t too long, head inside to gawk at the stunning stained glass.

I also recommend strolling the grounds of the Lourve. No, do not go inside- I don’t think it’s worth the time. There are too many tourists and the art gets old quickly, your time is better spent at the Orsay. (Yes, I really just said to skip the Lourve.) Sure, the Mona Lisa is always interesting to see, but she’s tiny and a little disappointing. The ‘beware of pick-pockets’ signs warning the mob of visitors are larger than Mona herself.

If you look around, you’ll see that EVERYONE takes pinch-pictures by the Lourve.

10 | Stroll the Rue Cler in the 7th District.

Perfectly Paris, this is a go-to spot for shopping and charming restaurants. A great place to pick up fresh fruit, cheese and wine for a picnic at the Eiffel or relaxing in the hotel.


AND IF YOU HAVE MORE TIME –

Throw going inside the Lourve in the mix.

Head up to Porte de Clingnancourt metro stop to the amazing Parisian flea markets. Expect beautiful antiques, art and nicknacks. Here are great instructions on how to get there.

For a quick 100E see Moulin Rouge. Lots of singing and cleavage but it’s make for a wild, perhaps touristy, uber-Parisian memory.

Stroll the historic district of Le Marais. Perfectly Paris, this is a go-to spot for shopping and charming restaurants.

  • Thanks for sharing these amazing tips on Paris Margo! There is something so special about Paris, it’s the kind of place you can go to as often as possible and still discover something new…

  • I agree! It IS such a special place, lucky for us it’s not too far of away! 🙂

  • I absolutely love Paris, and totally agree with all of these suggestions!! Although sadly my only encounter with Pierre Herme was actually in London, where they were imported and therefore not very fresh – and not super delicious. Amazing flavour combinations but not as good as others I’ve tried. I’ll have to give them another go when I’m in Paris next month (YAY!).

    Also, I checked out the Carnavalet Museum (http://www.carnavalet.paris.fr/) in Le Marais last time I was in Paris and it was GORGEOUS – not to mention free!! It’s not nearly as packed as other museums but there is sooo much to see. Highly recommend a visit 🙂

  • This is a really useful guide, and I love all the pictures. I visited Paris last year, but really want to go back as there is so much I missed!

    Emma x
    Writing Essays With Wine

  • It’s been ages since we went to Paris. I’ld like to go back one day. We’ll see! Lovely photos, as always!

  • this is such a great guide – thank you! and thanks for your suggestion to my last comment – that crepe definitely looks worth trying, i’m putting that on my to-do list. also Musee d’Orsay is one of my favourite galleries in the world, but my top one in Paris is probably the l’Orangerie – that oval room with the Monet paintings is something I’ll always want to visit over and over.

    of course, Pierre Herme macarons! E is on a mission at the moment to make his macarons from the cookbook. it’s a tricky business! x

  • Thanks for these amazing tips. I have never been to Paris (only to Disneyland Paris as a child but I guess this doesn’t count 😉 but would love to go there. Would also be a great opportunity to fresh up my old school french again 😉

  • Srsly great tips. I’ve been to the Lourve twice and was overwhelmed by it…. twice. I probably won’t go again unless dragged 🙂 So I agree: Orsay and also Musee l’Orangerie are my museum favorites. I hear everyone raving about Laudree but I will have to check out your macaron joint! Sitting on the Sacre Cour steps are quite a must! And that food tour? Just put it on my list. Thanks for your great post…. I’m all ready to hop a jet right now! (uh-oh)

  • Girrrrrll, your pictures are making me miss Paris! I hope to make a trip back while we are here… It’s been six years since I’ve been and we are only three hours away! What are we thinking?!

  • Wow! Your pictures are amazing. I’ve always wanted to go to Paris, but haven’t had the chance. After seeing your pictures, I may just have to get there soon!

  • Gorgeous! I just got back to London from Paris a few weeks ago and would have loved these tips. Oh well, next time 😉

  • Great tips, I’m on a Paris kick (again) and reallllllly want to go. You just made it worse. 😉

  • Great pictures and great tips! I went to Paris when I was a teenager and would love to go back as an adult!
    Stop by and say hi!
    ~Ashley @ A Cute Angle
    acutelifestyle.blogspot.com

  • Oh I am sitting here scheming about how I can get to Paris now. Sitting on the steps of the Sacre Coure with a bottle of wine at sunset? Genius. I am craving macaroons and will be dreaming about Paris all day. Looks like you had such a lovely time. Great post! I am going to use this is as soon as I can convince my husband to buy tickets!

  • Um, yes to ALLLL of this! I did a semester in Paris when I was in college and fell in love with pretty much everything on your list–especially finding those magical little spaces where you can just relax and enjoy the fact that you are in Paris 🙂 I adore. St. Germain too!

  • Phew! If you spent a semester in Paris and agree with my suggestions then I’m completely relieved to have your approval! 🙂 It must have been such a great experience – perhaps this is what stemmed your love for cooking?

  • Ha – you’re free to use this post as you wish, especially if it’ll assist in getting a European vacation! “But we haveeee to go and try these macaroons…” (but in a non-whiney way) 🙂

  • Hi, Ashley! I hope you make it back someday VERY soon, actually. I feel like I could visit once a week for the rest of my life and still find new places to explore. 🙂

  • Uh-oh, sorry, gal! I swear I didn’t mean to! 😉 Hope you satisfy your Paris kick soon!

  • Yes, exactly, just some more reasons to go back! Did I miss anything? Aside from Pierre Herme I tried to steer clear of restaurant recommendations because there are so many, but perhaps you have a favorite?

  • I really hope that you DO get to go there soon! It may very well be my favorite place in all of Europe. 🙂 Wine, cheese, macaroons… those Parisians know what’s important.

  • WHAT are you thinking?! That’s bonkers, I tell ya! Yes, I command you to get on the train and hop down to Paris this very weekend!

    (too aggressive?) 😀

  • Ah, GREAT suggestion. I haven’t been but did read a ton of fantastic reviews on Musee l’Orangerie. I’ll definitely pocket your suggestion for next time. Also, I’m so glad you’re in the same over-the-Lourve camp, it really is just too much! 😉

  • Oh, I love that idea! Old school french style – as in chic black outfits and beautiful handbags? Yep, sounds pretty fantastic.

    In my book, Disneyland Paris counts as Paris, we don’t have to tell anyone. 😉

  • Oh boy, now I’m going to need to brace myself for your post on E’s Pierre Herme macaroons. That man (E, that is), I tell ya, he’s a real king in the kitchen! Great suggestion about l’Orangerie, I’ll definitely pay a visit next time. 🙂

  • nahhh.. I’m a tough cookie!

  • Thanks, dear! I hope you can make it back some day soon too! 🙂

  • Great steps!!! Love them all and so so true! FYI… the Parisian macarons are spelled with just 1 “o.” I didn’t know that until I started learning French and how particular the French are that they make Macarons and not macaroons 🙂

  • Thanks, Emma! Was there anything you think I missed?

  • Hooray for your visit next month! I imagine that Paris in May will be a real treat! Yes, pretty please give Pierre’s (first name basis now) macaroons another shot. I think you’ll be quite pleased. If not, feel free to send me your leftovers. 🙂

    I will absolutely pay a visit to the Carnavelet Museum – free and beautiful? Yes and yes. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Oh boy – thank you, Casey! I’ll quickly make an update. 🙂 Phew!

  • Haha, well actually I was refering to my language skills 😀 But I guess this expression doesn’t exist in the English language. I shouldn’t translate directly from German to English 😀 You can’t go wrong with chic black outfits and beautiful handbags in Paris though! 😉

  • The friends we went with came up with two restaurant recs that really panned out, for both food and killer ambiance. In case you get back soon, heartily endorsed by me!

    http://smalldog.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/first-night-in-paris/

    http://smalldog.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/saturday-night-in-paris-a-short-trek-and-sean-penn-seriously/

  • I want to be back in Paris 🙁 Yes to all of this! I think St. Germain is the place to stay. It is so centralized you don’t waste so much time going from one side of the the city to the other. We stayed at Hotel Odeon Saint-Germain on the last trip and I would stay there again. I have an almost identical picture of le Comptoir 🙂 We actually got to dine one night at one of the little outside tables, it was a really fun experience and GREAT people watching. I didn’t want to waste time standing in line for anything while we were in Paris…there is too much to explore!!

  • Hi! Just came over from the tea party link up. This is a great post! I’ve just made a similar list recently and most are the same. And your pictures are really breathtaking! Beautiful 🙂

  • Yes, please. Paris has never really enchanted me like it does everyone else in the world, but this list really sold it!

  • This is an exceptional list! I agree with everything! I hope to make a return visit sometime next year and spend a little more time in the Montmartre area and maybe check out the Louvre this time. It was at the end of our to-do list on our first trip and we just didn’t have enough time. I love how close we are to Paris, too – only 2 hours on the Eurostar!

  • As always the most breathtaking pictures! My favorite macaroon is from Paris as well and its the pistachio and raspberry flavor, so good.

  • You were busy! Musée d’Orsay is one of my favourite places on earth – and I definitely second you on eating!!

  • These were a lot of my favorite things to do too, though I am now super bummed I did not know about the cafe on the 5th floor of Musee d’Orsay!

  • Good. I’m really glad we’re on the same page, I knew I liked you! How was the meal at le Comptoir? If the 6E crepe I had next store was any indication, I’m sure it was to die for!

  • Thanks for stopping by Camila! I’m glad we’re in agreement about Paris’s highlights – there are so many! I can’t find a link to your blog in your Disqus profile, what’s the address?

  • Perfect! How about after your stint in Central America we meet up for a macaroon tasting?!

  • Oh wow, you definitely have me beat in terms of convenience of getting there. Is the Eurostar pricey? We thought about taking the high speed rail from Mannheim (a city near Heidelberg) but were dismayed to find that tickets were 150E per person, ouch. I’m glad we’re in agreement about the list, great minds think alike, right? 😀

  • How about we make a deal that whoever visits Paris next must eat 5 pistachio-raspberry macarons in honor of the other? Deal? This will not only be delicious but give me a solid excuse not to share them with Dan.

  • Oh, no! What have I done? Well, at least you own the cutest hat in the world! 😉

  • Elle, this is perfect – now you have a reason to go back to Paris this very minute. 😉

  • We were quite busy, weren’t we? Orsay really is the best art museum in the world, how lucky are we to have been able to visit!

  • Yikes – those tickets are steep! All three of us were able to get round-trip tickets on the Eurostar for under £200 combined. I was really pleased with how fairly priced they were! Our tickets to Amsterdam weren’t quite as cheap, but we were going a lot further for that one.

  • It was quite good but huge portions. I was offering our fellow diners some of the paté we ordered, it was the size of a loaf of bread. Luckily, they took me up on the offer…I hate to waste such good food 🙂

  • The Musee d’Orsay was my favorite museum in Paris, too! And as much as I loved the Eiffel Tower, I think my favorite spot in the city is on the steps of Sacre Coeur. Ah, I miss my time in France so much! I was there for a month and loved how I could always grab a fresh pain au chocolat for breakfast 😉

  • Hmm, I like big portions so now I’m even more interested. 🙂

  • done and done. i’ll let you know how it goes next time! 🙂

  • I bet spending a month there was spectacular! I agree, the steps of the Sacre Coeur are the BEST. Were you studying there?

  • Margo, wouldn’t that be perfect if Paris made me fall in love with cooking? Alas, I still had no idea how to cook when I lived there (though I did love to eat). But I do like to try and recreate some of the food I ate there, now that I know my way around the kitchen a little more 🙂

  • I’ve fixed that, thanks for telling me 😉

  • I think I always say this on your blog…but I need to bookmark this for our trip! It always makes a different to choose what you MUST see in a location because sadly you can’t always see it all! I haven’t been to Paris yet but it looks kind of perfect. Thanks for sharing!

  • Amazing post!! Definitely bookmarking this one!! And I adore those gray hunters!!

  • wow! paris looks so different in the spring! i went last year for new years and it was all clouds and rain! beautiful photos 😉
    Travel Blogger: vanillaskydreaming.com

  • Now you know how to do Paris right!

  • Great 10 steps in Paris. Will definitely use these on my next trip.

  • Gorgeous pictures! Looks like you had a great time. N loving the food pictures, wish there were more! 🙂

  • Kari Guastella

    Would you mind sharing which Airbnb in St. Germain you stayed in that had a balconey? Heading there in a few months and would love a recommendation! Thank you!

    • Hi Kari, I actually haven’t stayed in St. Germain during my visits because of there’s such limited availability. If you can find a place with good reviews definitely go for it! I recently stayed in Montmartre and liked it a lot. It’s convenient to the metropolitan, has huge windows that open up to a courtyard and really reasonable: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4217008 🙂

      • Kari Guastella

        Thanks for sharing! I’ll check it out!

  • When do you believe is the best time of year to visit?