Paris is for lovers… and baguettes and cheese and wine and so much more. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world and also one of my favorites. It has an inherent romanticism about it unlike any other place on earth – you walk around feeling like you’re in an old time movie and can almost hear a vintage french melody in the wind. And that’s just the way it feels… the way it looks is even more breathtaking. The French Baroque architecture is stunning to look at and you can endlessly wander around Parisian streets gazing upon beautiful blue doors and buildings. It’s like stepping into a different era, one where everything is made magnificent and artistic.
Though this was my third time in Paris, I fall more and more in love each time I visit. Each time I go back I feel like I appreciate its beauty even more. This trip to Paris, however, was especially exciting because I got to go with the love of my life, and Paris is for lovers, after all. I’m so excited to share our trip with you (finally!), I made sure to document every where we went and what we loved so keep reading for my American Girl’s Guide to Paris.
Where to Stay
I already wrote a blog post about Cobblestone apartments here, but I wanted to include it in this post as the best place to stay as well. They have amazing locations that are quiet and in walkable areas, which can truly make or break a trip. Not only are their places authentic and Parisian, but they have great customer service and you will most likely have more room that a hotel.
What to Eat
The Ritz Bar
You cannot go to Paris and without having lunch at The Ritz. The Ritz in Paris is not simply ‘a’ Ritz, it is ‘The’ Ritz. The first and original Ritz where Earnest Hemmingway drank early into the morning, where Coco Chanel lived, and where they invented the Bloody Mary. Not only is this place wildly historic, but it is also incredibly beautiful. Alex and I had lunch at The Ritz Bar where I highly recommend asking to be seated outside and ordering a Bloody Mary as it was the best I’ve ever had (and totally different from the standard brunch classic). We also dinned at Bar Vendome, but The Ritz Bar was my favorite of the two. I got the salmon and Alex got tare tare, which were both divine. Aside from the food and stunning architecture, the service at The Ritz is absolutely exceptional, from the moment we walked in we were greeted with smiles and felt so welcomed. I am so happy we went here to celebrate our engagement and this will always be one of my favorite places in Paris.
American designer Ralph Lauren recently opened a restaurant on St. Germain Boulevard and it is the place to be at the moment. If you wanted to be seated on the patio, which is recommended, you need to make a reservation two months in advance. If you don’t though, you can always go at an off hour and be seated inside. Either way, this place is a must and make sure you try their caramel popcorn which they serve with the coffee.
On the Go and Groceries
For a quick bite to eat go to Paul’s and for groceries got to Monoprix. Paul’s is basically their (more French) version of Starbucks where you can pop in to get some coffee, fresh orange juice, a baguette etc. We ate here almost every morning grabbing something for the road. We usually got the olive bread, which I still haven’t stopped craving. Monoprix is their ‘on every corner’ grocery store, it reminded us a lot of Bristol Farms. We went grocery shopping here throughout our trip to grab cheeses, fruits and of course, wine. Our Parisian habit was: every morning tea and a baguette at Paul’s and every night wine and cheese at the Monoprix.
We also loved Eric Kayser which has the most delicious baguettes. We only saw locals there so if you happen across one, definitely stop inside for a fresh 2 euro baguette!
What to do
There are a whole host of blogs that will tell you all the amazing things to do in Paris, so I’m just going to list my favorite things.
Jardins Tulleries and The Louvre
The Louvre is definitely a worthwhile stop to make in Paris, not only to see the Mona Lisa, but also just to walk around. It is a massive museum though, so unless you are a major art buff, I recommend just casually walking through the sculpture rooms and then stopping by the Mona Lisa (which will inevitably be packed). Another must see is the Winged Victory of Samothrace, it is entirely breathtaking and you shouldn’t leave without seeing it.
Once you’ve made it though the Louvre, don’t leave the area without walking through the Tuilleries garden and stopping at the Grande Bassin Rond. The Tuilleries garden is lined with stunning 17th and 18th century sculptures, blooming flowers and trees. It’s one place that really gives you that laissez faire French lifestyle vibe. You can sit back around the pond watching people feed ducks, joggers pass by, and the light twinkling off the water. Alex and I sat for 30 minutes just ‘taking it all in’…. it was lovely… we really don’t have any thing like that in America.
If you are in Paris you must take a day trip to Versailles. Every time I go, I am in awe all over again. It is the massive and grand palace of Louis the Sun King where you can walk through his various room and then out to the garden. It really transports you to a bygone era of French monarchy, just walking through the halls where Marie Antoinette lived is a surreal feeling. (Versailles also happens to be the perfect place to stop at Angelique, which is within the palace, for their world renown hot chocolate.)
The Palace, however, is not the only thing Versailles has to offer, it also has a massive and elaborate garden that is wonderful to explore. To fully experience the gardens I recommend renting a bike (at the bottom of the gardens near the lake) and exploring it that way. You also have the option to bike 5 minutes away to Marie Antoinette’s personal homes, The Trianons. Keep in mind however, the estate is massive and closes at 5, so I really recommend arriving early and making it an all day event.
Another day trip I recommend taking is to Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny. This is my favorite place on earth and not only because it’s where Alex proposed! It’s a charming little home with eccentric decor within the most floral and whimsical garden you will ever see. Part of it’s allure is also the fact that most of Monet’s painting were of this very garden, so if you love his art, it’s particularly wonderful to walk through the painting in real life. It is quite a small place however, and draws large crowds, so I recommend getting there as early as possible.
*All below photos by Molly Carr Photography
Place Vendome and Rue Cambom
Place Vendome and Rue Cambon are the Mecca of all things designer and jewelry – basically the Rodeo Drive/Golden Triangle of Paris, but more historic. It is actually where the Ritz is located, so if you lunch at The Ritz Bar you will inevitably end up in this square. Make sure to take a photo with the iconic blue column in the background as Place Vendome is one place you can’t leave Paris without a photo of. Right around the corner from Place Vendome is Rue Cambon, which is where the original Chanel store is located. If you like the iconic fashion house, or really fashion at all, stopping by is a must. And if you are traveling internationally, plan a head to make a purchase that will be tax free if you can. More on buying my first Chanel and why I purchased it in Europe here. (coming soon!)
Wine and Cheese at a Patio Cafe
One thing I love about Europe that I wish we had more of in America is the cafes with patio seating. I love how the tables and chairs extend to the sidewalks and you can sit with wine and cheese people watching to your heart’s content. I highly recommend enjoying this type of relaxed dining while traveling.
Other notable things to see:
Pont Alexandre III – Such a beautiful bridge! A must see.
The Eiffel Tower – I mean, obviously. It’s definitely worth while to go to the top, just make sure you wear flats and either shorts or pants…
Trocadero Plaza – Probably one of the most photogenic places in France, it’s one of the best places to get a photo of the Eiffel Tower in the background.
Musse D’Orangerie – If you are a Monet fan, this is the best kept secret in Paris. It’s a tiny little museum in the Tuilleries Garden (by tiny I mean about 4 rooms), that houses Monet’s wall to wall 360 paintings of his water lilies pond. It’s unlike any other museum I’ve ever been to.
Musee D’Orsay – This museum houses the famous Monet painting ‘Blue Water Lilies’ as well as various Van Gough, Manet and Degas. It also has the giant clock that is one of those quintessential I’m-in-Paris photos.
*My reccomendation is doing The Louvre first thing in the morning, stopping for coffee and a baguette in the Tuilleries garden, walk to the Musee D’orangerie and then head across the bridge to Musee D’orsay. Depending on how fast you are in museums, you could do all this in one day.
Thank you for reading my Paris Travel Guide! Paris is one of my favorite cities and if you decide to visit, I’m happy to give more recommendations! Italy Travel Guides and photos coming soon, stay tuned!