Planning a Trip to Paris in May [Paris Guide and Recommendations]

Day 1-16

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?

Day 7-10

Getting there:

  • 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:

Places to eat (al fresco guaranteed):

A glimpse at our week in Paris by the day (for an overview of the experience, check the highlights here):

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. DAY 3 – Monday: Bucketlist Item Complete. 1st day of Roland Garros Pre-qualifiers. Cheered for our hosts, the French players, and obviously the Americans 😉
  4. DAY 4 – Tuesday: A Family Affair. Sister’s Graduation at Théâtre de Paris and swanky after party at Cercle de l’Union Interalliée
  5. 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
  6. Day 6 – Thursday: To All the Glories of France. Day trip to Versailles
  7. 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.
  8. 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!

x,

Valerie

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Always a Good Idea [A Week in Paris: Highlights]

The week before our flight to Paris, the weather couldn’t seem to make up its mind which made for an interesting packing and planning process. That is, we were prepared… to wing it. So imagine our surprise when, instead of a wash out, we had a radiantly glowing city until ten o’clock every night, captivating our already enamored hearts the way only Paris can.

In the al fresco capital of the world, that’s all you need. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever make it to Paris the first time around, and now I was headed there for my third. It was about to be my first Paris springtime and Alex’s first time flying out of the country altogether (seriously!), so we were beyond excited on so many levels.

What brought us to Paris was primarily a family affair. My sister had been living in Paris for almost a year and was graduating with her Master’s. We were determined not to miss the event, nor pass up the opportunity to see the city with our very own Parisienne.

We stayed in Le Marais district close to Hotel de Ville in an A La Carte Paris apartment (a local apartment share site), close to the action and apparently a very desirable neighborhood among the locals. We were welcomed with a bottle of wine and local chocolates and awoke to the smell of freshly baked pastries and espresso from the boulangerie downstairs. You bet I had a flaky, buttery croissant for breakfast every day. We were hooked. There are worse ways to start the morning if you ask me.

Getting around by walking, the metro, or the RER was incredibly easy. It allowed us to maximize our time in Paris with plenty of room for family get-togethers, day trips, and spontaneous moments – everything that we had hoped for this trip and then some. We explored our neighborhood plenty, which was an easy walk to Centre PompidouNotre Dame, and Sainte Chapelle (one of my faves!) and an easy distance from the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens. Obviously, viewing the Eiffel Tower from Champ de Mars and from Trocadero are a must, both during the day and at night. Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe can be a nice walk with shopping stops. For a bit of a trip, Montmartre and Sacre Coeur takes very little effort, while Versailles and Giverny are well worth the journey for a day or two. As a bonus, the French Open started its qualifying week while we were there. Making it to Roland Garros was one thing off my bucket list and now I’ll always remember it as the same year that Rafa won his 10th French Open. Wish we could have seen him too, but perhaps another time.

Really, I could go back to all the major tourist attractions and my favorite spots in Paris over and over and over again and still feel like there’s never enough time to soak it all in. Spending hours waiting in long lines everywhere didn’t seem like the greatest use of our time or it could have been motivating to get museum passes in the colder months. Because of how nice the weather was that week, we couldn’t peel ourselves away from roaming the streets of Paris during the day and winding down with a bottle of wine along the Seine with a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower light show at night.

Day 6-3Day 6-1Day 5-3Day 5-9

Day 3-1Day 7-8Day 5-6Day 5-8Day 2-7

I’d say the best part to come out of this trip is Alex’s newfound (love) appreciation for all things French. I’m trying to ride this wave and get ourselves back there ASAP.

What’s your must-do/favorite part about Paris? I’ll share my recommendations combining my Paris experiences in its own post soon, including some perfect al fresco opportunities you have to try. Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or check out the Official Paris Tourist Office website and the Consulate General of France in Boston for my fellow Boston residents out there. Feel free to link up with your post or favorite related links in the comments as well!

Thanks for reading!

x,

Valerie

Day 3-2

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