Author: Ruthie Pollard
If I could think of a motto for this vacation it would be, “Did my dreams just come true?!” In Paris every day brought a new surprise, and around every corner was beautiful place to discover. We happened to go during a heat wave in April so it was sunny skys and warm weather the whole week through. I did my dream trip and it was worth it. I was given a lot opinions about Paris but I looked forward to forming my own. I went with my friend Moria who has been to Paris twice before and knows her way around the city.
In this post I will lay out the itinerary of my week. We did some planning in advance but while traveling you always need to leave a little room for adventure.
Day 1: Arrival
The hour ride from airport Charles de Galulle to the hotel was not far off from a typical traffic commute on the Mass Pike. It certainly did not feel like Paris until we reached the old streets in the city. The taxi ride was our first glimpse at the Eiffel tower as we crossed the Siene River. Our small hotel Val Girard was located in the 15th Arrondismont a residential part of Paris. Staying in a non-touristy area was a great decision, throughout the week we enjoyed visiting our local creprie and restaurants away from the buzz of the city center.
Day 2: Musee d' Orsay and the Arch of Triumph
Our first full day in Paris we hit the ground running. It was highly recommended by friends that we get the Paris Pass, a card that offers fast track access to museums, sites, and unlimited metro rides. We bought a three day pass which meant we really had to pack the days in order to make it worth our while. Our first stop was the Musee d' Orsay, which some would argue is best museum in Paris. This former railway station is home to the works of great French artists Van Gogh, Degas, and Renoir. After a morning of exploring the museum we walked to the ferris wheel and started our journey down the Champs-Elysees (aka a long street lined with shopping and food). After a full day of walking I could not resist stepping into Laduree for some coffee and macaroons. We ended the day with a walk up the Arch of Triumph for the best views of Paris.
Day 3: Louve, Musee de Orangerie, Notre Dame, Shakespeare and Company
One must always visit the Louve when coming to Paris. Although, after experiencing it once you might be all set. The biggest museum in the world also happens to draw the biggest crowds in the world. I was looking forward to seeing the Mona Lisa (along with everyone else and their mother). I couldn't believe how packed the room was just to snap a shot of the beloved painting. Things got slightly intense after some pushy tourists tried to make their way to the front. After getting my fill of the worlds most famous artwork and sculptures we headed to Musee Orangerie. This peaceful and small museum felt like a welcome retreat from the crowds. It was lovely to see the impressionist works of Picasso, Matisse, and most importantly Monet’s Panoranic Water Lilies Painting.
For dinner we headed over the the Notre Dame area. When people ask me my favorite part of the trip I think of Square Jean -XXIII a garden to the right of Notre Dame. When we rounded the corner I saw a sea of cherry blossoms beside the cathedral. It was the most magical moment thus far as golden hour had just touched the city. I walked over the bridge and and headed to Shakespeare and Company one of the oldest and most iconic bookshops. For dinner I tried escargot for the first time at Le Parvis, it was surprisingly delicious!
Day 4: Palace of Versailles, River Cruise on the Seine
When we arrived at Versailles the ticket desk informed us that the palace was closed due to strike. Which can apparently happen at any time. Despite this disappointment the palace gardens were open, and it ended up taking a full day to walk around. Next time I visit I will definitely rent a bicycle for the day as the grounds are extensive. Marie Antionette’s estate in the garden “The Petit Trianon” was open for exploring and free with the Paris Pass. Walking in sunlight for hours during a heat wave can bring on quite the appetite and we were overjoyed to discover the cutest cafe called Angelina’s.
We heading back to Paris and arrived just in time for a Siene River cruise at sunset. The river boat guide explained the history of each bridge we passed under. As we traveling up the Seine it was beautiful to see the famous landmarks in evening light. The cruise ended perfectly under the Eiffel Tower just as it twinkled for the first time that night!
Day 5: Eiffel Tower
“Eiffel Tower Day” was spent doing all things Eiffel. It was the perfect day to go to the top of the tower as the skys were clear and the crowds were low at mid-morning. After taking in the grand view of the city we joined the masses on the green space “Champ de Mars” in front of the tower. The path along the grass was lined with happy picnickers and blooming lilacs. For the best pictures of the we walked to Jardin du Trocadero and took pictures with the Eiffel on the stairs. At this spot you get a full view with the tower from a distance.
On our way to the tower we passed several quntiesstial parisain cafes. The kind where locals casually people watch while sipping their coffee. Cafe Gustave was the perfect spot to stop for a refreshing meal in the warm sun. After a relaxing day we decided to forgo public transportation and walked 45 minutes back to the hotel. We topped off the night with a nutella crepe from our neighborhood creperie!
Day 6: Disneyland
We started the morning bright and early for the trip to Disneyland Paris! The local florist on the street greeted us with a bonjour as he tended to the flowers. I felt like I had my own Disney moment starting off the morning greeting the neighbors like Belle.
To get to the park we had to take the Metro and connect to a train (RER) that went an hour outside of the city. To paint the picture accurately I must say that my experience on train ride and the general surrounding of Disneyland Paris was very unpleasant. We ran into some shady characters in the Metro that made our entrance into the Disney park feel like more of an escape then arriving at the happiest place on earth. The stark contrast between the safe bubble of Disney and the outside world was a bit unsettling. I felt overall “safe” in Paris but the Metro is a different story. If you are a young girl traveling always be on your guard in and around this city. The Metro system is at the beginning stages of tackling it’s wide spread problem of harassment.
However, I was not going to let that experience ruin one of my most looked forward to moments in the trip. After we got past the morning it was delightful to discover that Paris Disney holds the same magical joys of childhood and the rides I know and love. It is much smaller then the other locations but with a sweet french charm. I was most excited to walk up into the castle which is an opportunity not experienced by park goers in Florida. One of the highlights was going on my favorite ride “Space Mountain” which transformed into to “Hyperspace Mountain” with a Star Wars theme.
Day 7: Montmatre and the Palais Royal
We had planned from the beginning to go to Montmarte on our last full day. Out of all the places we traveled these streets felt most authentically French. The wysteria cascaded over buildings like purple waterfalls and musicians serenaded passers by with the lulling melody of a harp. The Sacre Cour church peeked out from all angles of the surround streets and walking the steps up to the church felt like a scene from the movie “Midnight in Paris”.
In Montmartre we met up with Rachel, an American traveling Europe. We had lunch at La Maison Rose, this blush pink cafe was even more beautiful then the pictures. It was like walking into a fairytale! After lunch we strolled the streets and scouted out the best baguette in Montmartre at Le Grenier a’ Pain. Palais Royal was next on our agenda, we hopped on the Metro and headed to Buren's Columns. This highly instagramable spot was on my bucket list for pictures. Rachel happens to be a talented photographer and we did a fun artistic photo sesh by the columns. Following along with her adventures @thegirlandtheidea
Then it was on to Berthillion known for the best ice cream in Paris. On our walk to ice cream I couldn’t help but notice all old men painting and sketching along the Seine River. When I was a child this was exactly how I pictured Paris from all the picture books and movies. For dinner we had the best Ratatouille!
My trip to Paris was an unforgettable dream. Let me know if you recommend any great spots next time I visit!