With its steady stream of tourists and unmistaken popularity among travel wish lists worldwide, planning a trip to Paris can be exciting, and easily overwhelming. Every time I visit, there’s something new to discover, draw inspiration from, or rekindle a mix of emotions.
On my last trip to Paris, I was finally able to share it with the hubby. The expectations were certainly stacked high with this being Alex’s first international travel destination. I’m happy to report that it was well worth the hype and Alex, most surprising of all, is officially hooked.
If you’re planning a romantic/family-centered getaway to the City of Light, the City of Love, the fashion, art, and culture capital of the world, here are some tried and tested recommendations for you! And if you’ve been before, what would you add/second from this list?
- Kayak.com – as a gauge for prices, airlines, and good dates to go
- AirFrance/Delta – this worked out well for us to and from Boston and, as airline partners, they offered an excellent SkyMiles rewards program
Where to stay:
- Le Dokhan’s – a beautiful boutique hotel close to the Trocadero area that can be a destination in itself for its Champagne Bar and gorgeous LV-themed elevator
- Radisson Blu Hotel Champs Elysees – right in the heart of the shopping center that is Champs Elysees and a few steps away from the Arc de Triomphe
- A La Carte Paris Apartments – Paris apartment rentals you can match with your travel needs
Places to see:
- Sacre Coeur and Montmartre
- Notre Dame – Sainte Chapelle – the Latin Quarter and Pont des Arts – Jardin du Luxembourg – the Pantheon
- Louvre Museum – Jardin des Tuileries – Place de la Concorde
- Champs Elysees – Arc de Triomphe
- Jardins du Trocadero – the Eiffel Tower – Parc du Champs-de-Mars
- Invalides – Pont Alexandre III
- Grand Palais and Petit Palais
- Palace of Versailles
- Seasonal in May: Long Night of Museums, Roland Garros French Open
Places to eat (al fresco guaranteed):
- Restaurant Le Tresor – quaint tucked away location with interesting decor and potential to bigger groups
- Les Philosophes – excellent food at a corner spot in a lively neighborhood
- Les Vieilles Vignes – no-frills pit stop restaurant toward the Eiffel Tower
A glimpse at our week in Paris by the day (for an overview of the experience, check the highlights here):
- DAY 1 – Saturday: Getting Our Bearings. Exploring the neighborhood and leading with our noses. For us that meant brunch at Boulangeries Saveurs de Pains right beneath our apartment and exploring Les Marais. Place de Georges Pompidou was a short walk from there with lots of dinner options. We continued on with a family stroll to the nearby Notre Dame area, to the Louvre, before making our way back with our first metro ride of the trip.
- DAY 2 – Sunday: Take Me to Church. Appreciating grandiose architecture and history. We took an early stroll around Notre Dame and Saint Michel in our excitement for our first full day in the city. We toured the interior of Notre Dame before attending mass with their Gregorian choir. Sainte Chapelle was next – my favorite discovery on this trip! Then we headed to Sacre Coeur and Montmartre.
- DAY 3 – Monday: Bucketlist Item Complete. 1st day of Roland Garros Pre-qualifiers. Cheered for our hosts, the French players, and obviously the Americans 😉
- DAY 4 – Tuesday: A Family Affair. Sister’s Graduation at Théâtre de Paris and swanky after party at Cercle de l’Union Interalliée
- Day 5 – Wednesday: Relax and Recuperate. Window shopping along the Seine, Exploring the 7th arrondissement, Assemblée Nationale, rue de l’université, Champ de Mars and the Eiffel Tower, Bateaux Mouches River Cruise at night
- Day 6 – Thursday: To All the Glories of France. Day trip to Versailles
- Day 7 – Friday: The Possibilities are Endless. While the parents met with old friends and took a trip to Claude Monet’s Garden in Giverny. I took Alex around the Latin Quarter, Jardin du Luxembourg, the Pantheon, then much later, Champs Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe, and Jardins du Trocadero.
- Day 8 – Saturday: Do as the Locals Do. Visited my sister’s apartment and school. Got a sneak peek at a day in the life of a Parisienne, ending with a picnic at the neighborhood park around families and children playing pick-up football before bidding her au revoir.
It is so easy to keep coming back to favorites in Paris even when there’s so much more to say. In the spring time, it would take a rainy day and/or a lot of convincing to stand in lines for indoor monuments and pass up Paris glistening in the sun with all its appealing patios to try. There really isn’t a “wrong” way to do Paris if you do enough research and follow your heart (or your nose and hungry belly). It’s all about finding the balance to make it memorable for you and the company you’re with.
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or anything to add. I referred a lot to the Paris Tourist Office, Time Out Paris, Fodors Travel (c/o our local library) and a variety of people’s recommendations (as well as my tested faves) over the years in planning this trip.
Thanks for reading!