I recently had the privilege to travel to Paris with my mom and sister! We spent a week exploring, eating, museum hopping, shopping, and taking photos of everything along the way! This was my second time in Paris and it truly solidified my belief that Paris is the best city in the world and it really is always a good idea!
If you’re planning a trip to the city of lights here are some of our recommendations and a sample week long itinerary. We went for a week and hit the ground running as soon as we arrived; however, two days get taken out for travel so there really were only 5 main days left to explore the city.
When you’re planning your trip the first decision you need to make is where you want to stay. We picked a hotel that was centrally located to most of our activities and in a great neighborhood and was walking distance to lots of food, shopping, and attractions.
The Grand Hotel Du Palais Royal
The staff was amazing, the bed was comfortable, the room was spacious, and the location was superb! We felt completely safe and comfortable walking around at night close to the hotel. It truly was the perfect hotel for our girl’s trip!
Also, they have a wonderful complimentary breakfast included that we took full advantage of every morning!
Flying to Paris is always a little bit extreme, because there really is no way to avoid that red eye flight.
Our flight left Atlanta around 11 pm and got into Paris (we flew into Charles de Gualle Airport) the next day around 1:30 pm (Paris time). I’m not one that can sleep on a plane, so that means the first day is always a little rough, but adrenaline (and lots of coffee) kick in and it’s totally worth powering through until a decent hour to go to sleep for the night. Even though your entire body wants to climb into bed as soon as you arrive… I’ve found it is best to stay awake and switch over to Paris time as quickly as possible!
The first thing we did after getting through customs is walk over to the metro (it’s attached to the airport – so it’s super convenient) and purchase a week long pass. The pass costs about 23 euros and is good for unlimited swipes for a week. A taxi ride to the airport is 50 euros alone so you can imagine how quickly travel costs could start to add up paying for ubers or taxis everywhere you want to go. I’ve found that the most affordable, easiest way to get around Paris quickly is by using the metro system. It’s simple to navigate and a welcomed break for your feet when you’re walking 10 miles a day. I’ve always felt safe and feel like it’s part of experiencing the city like a true Parisian. They say to keep your bags zipped and all of your belongings packed tightly away because pick pockets tend to be a problem during busy tourist seasons. I’ve never had an issue, but I can only imagine how a stolen wallet or passport could ruin a trip… so better safe than sorry! I purchased this travel backpack from Amazon that had a zipper on the back of it and found it was the perfect solution for feeling at ease wherever we went.
After we purchased our passes we hopped on the metro and rode about 45 minutes into the city to our hotel. (By time time it was all said and done it was about 4 pm when we arrived.) We were all pretty wiped, so we went up to our room, freshened up and unpacked our bags. Our room had an amazing balcony with a great view of the Louvre and Palais Royale… so we stepped outside to take it all in and snap a few pics.
Once we felt somewhat human again, we grabbed our backpacks and headed out to explore the neighborhood. I had a pretty good lay of the land from the last time I was in Paris and from studying google maps like a crazy person the weeks leading up to the trip. Our hotel was located directly across from the Palais Royale courtyard and gardens so we walked over a groggy photo shoot and the excitement of being in Paris quickly set in.
After walking around a bit we stopped in to a nearby cafe for an early dinner before heading back to the hotel to get some rest.
I don’t speak French by any stretch of the imagination, but I have found that a smile and a cheerful “Bonjour!” go a long way with Parisians. We never had a rude encounter, so I’m really not sure where that stereotype comes from… maybe some Americans don’t remember that we are guests in their country and should respect their culture and language as much as we would hope they would respect ours when they’re visiting the US. Everyone in France does not speak English, so don’t assume that they do or that it’s okay for you to start rattling off English to a French waiter or shop owner without first greeting them in French and asking politely if they speak English.
Luckily for us my sister, Brandi, speaks French and was our translator in most of our social interactions.
However, when I visited France last fall with my husband Michael, we learned a few key phrases and were just fine – so don’t let not knowing the language hold you back!
All of us had a little bit of a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep because of the time change. Thankfully, I packed Melatonin and kept it on the night stand so we could take it to fall back asleep every night when we would wake up at about 2 am.
We woke up, ate breakfast, and got ready to head to Eiffel Tower. I think the best place for viewing the tower is at Trocadéro Gardens. This is also where the steps are that you’ll see so many people take photos on. It is an absolutely jaw dropping view, so wear something you feel great in, because you’ll want to take a million photos.
After posing a bit and taking some pics, we headed over to Cafe De L’Homme for our lunch reservations. This restaurant was beyond perfect! If you’re looking for a dinner or a lunch with a view in Paris, this is it! The food was a bit pricey and the portions are small, but we all felt like it was completely worth it!
Be sure to book reservations online ahead of time – especially during busy tourist seasons!
After lunch, we headed towards the Champs-Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe (a must see for your first time in Paris). The walk is relatively short (a little less than one mile) and a great way to take in the beautiful city! Make sure to stop and smell the flowers along the way. 🙂
There is plenty of shopping to do along the Champs-Elysées. Make sure to check out the flagship Louis Vuitton store there! You can also purchase Louis Vuitton items for up to 40% less than in the States, just talk to a sales attendant and they will explain how!
After the Louis Vuitton store, we went to the Ladurée cafe across the street for tea time and it did not disappoint! I would highly recommend this to anyone. It was such an enjoyable experience in a beautiful atmosphere. Make sure you get a seat in the sunroom downstairs for optimal picture lighting!
After tea time, we took the metro back to our hotel to freshen up before dinner. For dinner we made reservations at Lou-Lou‘s, which is conveniently located along the Louvre. Again the food was pricy, but totally delicious! It was also a lovely environment to enjoy dinner in.
We woke up and enjoyed breakfast at our hotel. They have a delicious buffet spread and will make eggs cooked to your preference (all inclusive). After breakfast we headed towards the Louvre, which is just across the street from the hotel we stayed at. We didn’t purchase tickets ahead of time, but thankfully the line wasn’t too long to get into the Louvre. In order to have an even shorter line you can purchase tickets ahead of time!
Make sure to check out the Petit Galerie (which is where we snapped these pics!) it is a beautiful open space filled with gorgeous sculptures.
After the Louvre, we wandered around the neighborhood in search of a quick and healthy place to grab lunch. We found a small marketplace that sold fresh juices and quinoa bowls! Wandering the streets is the often the best way to discover new places!
We went back to the hotel to enjoy our healthy lunch and rest before going shopping! Since it was a bit rainy we decided to do our indoor activities today. We took the metro to the Galeries Lafayette (a gorgeous shopping mall with every store imaginable). I think this mall is a must do while you’re in Paris. The architecture is jaw dropping and like no mall you’ve ever seen.
Also, on the top floor there is a glass overhang that you can walk out on to experience the interior design in all of its splendor! Not going to lie, I am afraid of heights (as you can see by my facial expression) and my legs were shaking just stepping out on it, but this was an experience I will truly never forget and would highly recommend!
Don’t Look Down!
After this terrifying experience, we decided it was time for a coffee break! There are a few restaurants inside of the mall, but we opted for a smaller cafe with a view since we were just getting coffee.
After shopping for the rest of the day, we headed back towards our hotel on the metro. We decided to go to Angelina’s for dinner, which was highly recommended to us! We were told we HAD to try the hot chocolate, which my sister and mom ordered. I didn’t have any but they both said it was extremely sweet and rich, and tasted a bit like chocolate syrup! With that being said, although the food was pricy, it was definitely delicious!
We woke up and had breakfast at the hotel, before heading out for a full day of shopping and sightseeing around Le Marais – the cutest little district in all of the land!
Our favorite shop was called Merci. It was the coolest little concept store with a little bit of everything! The perfect place to buy authentic French clothing and accessories!
We had the privilege of visiting Notre Dame Cathedral this day, and we were so saddened to hear the news of the fire there. The area around Notre Dame is absolutely beautiful though, so definitely be sure to check it out. There are plenty of shops and restaurants, and of course the stunning Seine River. Our thoughts and prayers are with Paris during this difficult time, and we pray that what is still left of Notre Dame can be restored to its original glory, although it will never truly be the same.
The Seine River right next to the cathedral is another perfect Photo Op!
You can also do the most fun souvenir shopping on the opposite side of the riverbank! The little French souvenirs are absolutely adorable.
After souvenir shopping we headed to lunch at Cafe de Flore. The walk was not too far from Notre Dame (about ten minutes). The walk is also a great way to see the Latin Quarter of Paris!
Cafe de Flore is an absolute MUST SEE while you are in Paris! We enjoyed the most delicious lunch (and of course amazing Cappuccinos) while taking in this idyllic Parisian atmosphere.
After lunch we grabbed a cab and headed to our Macaron baking class. We were unsure at first of which type of cooking class to book, but we decided to go with the Macaron baking class through La Cuisine and it did not disappoint! We all agreed that this class was a highlight of our trip. We also took home about 20 macarons each which made for a great midnight snack at the hotel. 🙂
Right outside of La Cuisine is another perfect Photo Op! The restaurant Chez Julien is also featured in the opening scenes of Gossip Girl season 4 (for all of my Blair and Serena fans)!
After this we headed back to our hotel and got ready for dinner. We decided to try a cafe that was near our hotel called Cafe Blanc. Not only was the food delicious (I would recommend the Croque Madame) but we had the most amazing dessert I’ve ever had in my life. Our waitress recommended the “Brioche French Toast with Salted Caramel Ice Cream” to us. We felt pretty hesitant about it at first, but she talked us into it and it was seriously the BEST dessert we have ever had. So good we went back to get it again the next night!
The picture does not do it justice, but seriously take our word for it. You will not be disappointed!
We used this day as kind of a flex day. It was our last full day in Paris, so we took the opportunity to explore the neighborhood around our hotel and check off any stops that we missed over our stay in Paris. The Palais Royale gardens were right across the street from our hotel, and absolutely breathtaking. In these gardens is also the adorable Cafe Kitsune where we enjoyed our morning coffee!
After coffee we strolled around the neighborhood for the rest of the day. Since it was Saturday there were Crepe carts outside of the Louvre so we had to stop and get some!
We actually ended up doing quite a bit of walking this day, and ended up back at the Le Marais shopping district. We stumbled upon this great juice place near Le Marais that was the perfect late-afternoon pick-me-up! I would definitely adding Wild & the Moon to your itinerary. They have many locations across Paris!
After the juice bar, we walked back towards our hotel and stopped at another cafe for dinner. This particular cafe was crowded every single night that we walked by it, so we decided we had to try it!
Le Nemours is definitely one to add to your list for dinner and people watching!
The best part about Paris is wandering around the side streets. This city literally feels like you walked into a dream world where everything is beautiful and all of the people speak in poetry. Be sure to pop in to le Village Royale to get a picture under the famous umbrellas!
We couldn’t leave Paris before trying both Laduree and Pierre Herme’s famous macarons! We have our opinion on which we think is better, but we’ll let you be the judge when you try each of them for yourself!
Our flight departed from CDG at 2:00 pm and with the hour long commute to the airport. We decided it was best to have a slow morning at the hotel, eating brunch and getting everything packed up. We had the concierge call us a taxi and left the hotel around 11:00 am to arrive at the airport at Noon to prepare for our long flight back to the states.
I hope this itinerary serves as an inspiration for your trip to Paris! My best advice is to always be flexible because not everything will go according to plan. Traveling abroad is an adventure and just being in Paris is an amazing experience in and of itself, so go to as many cafes as you can, drink all of the cappuccinos, and most importantly, forget your diet for the week because who knows when you’ll be in Paris again and you can go back to eating gluten-free when you get home. 😉
Be sure to enjoy an extra french macaron for me and let me know if you try any of our recommendations!
Happy travels pretty people!