Kim and Paul had traveled quite a bit before – but usually to the Caribbean. This time they were looking to head across the pond and enjoy the city of love and lights: Paris! We knew we wanted to make their first Parisian experience seamless and packed with all the best sites. Here’s how they spent a week in Paris:
We are first-time travelers to Europe so this trip to Paris was both exciting and daunting. I quickly found there was no reason to be daunted. From door to door, our trip went off without a hitch, and for that we are so grateful. Everyone we encountered in Paris was pleasant and helpful and of course, smiled at our poor attempts to converse in French and fortunately, most knew enough English to communicate with us.
From the first day we arrived, we were out and about exploring the city. Our hotel was in the 6th Arrondissement located on the Left Bank with easy access to many sites on our list. We walked all week long, using the Metro once and Uber twice.
Ann had booked tours that included a half-day visit to Versailles Palace, Skip the line tour of the highlights at the Louvre, and a Skip the line tour of the Eiffel Tower. Those tours were at the end of the week so I filled the first few days with places to visit with the help of our goddaughter who came over from the UK for two days to sightsee with us.
Monday & Tuesday
Monday afternoon, we visited Montmartre, ate our first crepes, and walked through the neighborhood and the Covered Passages. It was raining that afternoon so we went back to the hotel to take a rest and then went back out to Montparnasse where we were staying and walked through the streets and found a place for a light dinner.
Tuesday we had plans to meet our goddaughter at the Catacombs. We purchased tickets in advance for the first entry at 9:45 am. There was a small line and we got right in and really enjoyed the audio tour.
After visiting Ile de la Cite, we strolled along the Seine and stopped for hot chocolate and a pastry on our way to see the Eiffel Tower in full view, lit up and sparkling on the hour — it was an impressive site. We found a restaurant about a block away from the Eiffel Tower and sat outside like Parisians and enjoyed dinner and a plate of macarons for dessert.
Wednesday started off with a visit to the Orsay Museum, where we strolled through the artwork, found the Clock, and got a picture taken. In the background, across the Seine, I kept seeing a Ferris Wheel in the distance and decided we should go for a ride.
We walked across the pedestrian bridge and headed through the Tuileries Garden by the Louvre and reached the Ferris Wheel which was part of a Christmas Market. Then, bought lunch and headed back to the Gardens to enjoy a picnic on this sunny day. We strolled through the Christmas Market after eating and then took a ride on the Ferris Wheel and enjoyed wonderful views of Paris.
After the Ferris Wheel ride, we headed to the Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysees. We climbed the Arc de Triomphe and were rewarded with more stunning views of the city. We headed back to the Eiffel Tower to find “The American Library” which was the location of the historical fiction novel “The Paris Library” that I read recently with my book group and I had to take a few pictures. It turned out that the library was literally right around the corner from the restaurant we had dinner at the previous night. We also had another beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower all lit up, it was pretty magical.
Thursday morning, we enjoyed a guided tour of Versailles Palace. The tour guide was wonderful and I would highly recommend a visit. We also had time to walk around the gardens. At this time of year, they aren’t blooming but they are still very impressive to see.
We arrived back in Paris around 12:30 p.m. and decided to go to the hotel to relax before our dinner plans that evening. This was Thanksgiving Day and we booked a River Seine Dinner Cruise to mark our “holiday.” On the way back to the hotel, we were passing Musee L’Armee and Sainte Louis Chapelle where Napoleon’s tomb is located. We had purchased multi-day museum pass, so we popped in to see the Chapel and some of the museum on our way back to the hotel. I’m a history buff so being able to pop in to see different sites even for a short time was worth it to me.
The dinner cruise on the River Seine was fun, the food was good and the views were again spectacular. The Louvre, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and the “mini” Statue of Liberty were all lit up.
We toured the Louvre with a “Skip the Line Two Hour Highlights” tour guide. Our guide Adam knocked the tour out of the park. He was informative, engaging, and incredibly knowledgeable and made the tour very memorable. He is a professor at University and had previously worked at the Louvre for two years researching artifacts, he clearly loved his work and I still remember what he “taught” us rather than “told” us.
After the Louvre tour, we found a café to have lunch near the Latin Quarter. I had an audio tour that I downloaded to tour the Latin Quarter, so that is how we spent Friday afternoon, starting at the “Shakespeare and Company” bookstore and ending at the Pantheon near the Luxembourg Gardens. We saw many sites, including where Ernest Hemingway lived, the Sorbonne University, Musee Cluny, jazz clubs, markets, and St. Etienne du Mont church where the famous steps from “Midnight in Paris” was filmed. When this tour finished we started back to the hotel and it was such a beautiful night we continued to walk through the streets watching the people and enjoying the Christmas decorations that were beginning to appear on storefronts.
Saturday was our last day in Paris, we started the day by walking to Musee Rodin and strolling through the gardens viewing all the Bronze statues, and then going into the Museum to see all the artwork. It was breathtaking to see so many pieces of art that I’ve read or heard about my entire life. To see them in person really brought them to life.
Saturday afternoon we had a “Skip the Line” tour of the Eiffel Tower. We enjoyed time on the second level and then went to the Summit. It was overcast that day but so worth going to the Summit. We hung out there for a bit and then took the elevator back to the second level and decided to walk down the two levels. So we could spend time on level one before descending all the way.
After the tour, we made our way back to the hotel, stopping in a patisserie to enjoy a sandwich. Then walked around Montparnasse for another hour or so, soaking it all in because we were leaving early the next morning.
Au revoir Paris, until next time. There is still so much to see! Many thanks to Ann and her team for helping make this vacation exceptional.