After 5 weeks of travel… the Pièce de Résistance! Paris!
We’d arrived, and as we drove down the boulevards lined with beautiful architecture, endless cafes and world famous monuments I was struck by just how much I love this city! Having checked many of the city’s biggest tourist attractions off on a previous trip, I decided this visit would be about new experiences. Taking it one step further, we threw guidebooks to the wind, and decided to wing it!
We spent a lot of our time wandering and in doing so found ourselves enjoying the unexpected. I noticed golden details on many of the buildings and wondered if they’d always been there? We marveled at how every street corner is something special. We hunted Pokemon and sailed tiny boats in the Luxembourg gardens and had the best time. Why hadn’t we done that before?! We saw the Water Lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie, marveled at Sainte Chapelle, climbed the bell towers of Notre Dame de Paris, and so much more…
La Madeleine was commissioned by Napoleon and is located on the Rue Royal in the 8th arrondissement. The church is beautiful both inside and out, and provides a fabulous view of the Place de la Concorde. We wandered in just in time to hear a choir singing, and it was simply amazing. Louis XVI was originally buried here before his body was moved in 1815.
Tip: To really get a feel for just how many and how big the columns are, consider walking the colonnade. La Madeline is a popular place for weddings and you just might see a bride!
Have you ever been to a place and were so surprised by its beauty that your mouth literally fell open? This is exactly what happened to me when I visited Sainte Chapelle. I was completely surrounded by jaw dropping beauty. This is a place I firmly believe deserves to be on everyone’s must-see list when visiting Paris. No photo can really do it justice, you’ll just have to go and see for yourself.
Tip: To skip the line at Sainte Chapelle purchase your tickets inside the Palace of Justice, which seemed to be less crowded.
The Palace of Justice
Adjacent to the Sainte Chapelle and beautiful in its own right is the Palace of Justice. Once the Palais Ile de Cite, it was home to French royalty until the 1400s. Later it became a revolutionary prison, at which time Sainte Chapelle became a place of final confession and prayer for those condemned by the tribunal. One such person, was Marie Antoinette and there is a memorial to both her and Louis XVI in the Palace.
Notre Dame de Paris
Notre Dame is one of the few places we visited on this trip that wasn’t new, however we’d never climbed the bell towers, so we made an exception. To say I loved our visit to Notre Dame would be an understatement! Some places just deserve repeat visits, and Notre Dame is on that list.
Tip: The entry to visit the bell towers is located on the OUTSIDE of the Cathedral, on the left side of the West façade. This is separate from the entrance to the Cathedral’s interior.
Musée de l’Orangerie
If you’re short on time, or even if you’re not consider a visit to the Musée de l’Orangerie. Monet’s Water Lilies, given to the museum by Monet himself, as a symbol of peace, are probably the museums most famous pieces, but there are many other wonderful artists on display. The museum’s layout was very efficient and we were able to see everything before our little one lost interest. Afterwards we enjoyed ham sandwiches in the cafe gift shop!
Tip: Go early! If you’re one of the first to enter you’ll have a few moments to enjoy the Water Lilies before the room fills up.
No visit would be complete without time spent in one of the city’s many famous gardens. So much more than just a pretty backdrop, surrounding some other famous place, they offer a welcome respite from the bustle of city life, or if you’re a traveling family a great place to relax and regroup.
Jardin du Luxembourg
The Jardin du Luxembourg, located in the 6th Arrondissement offers something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to relax or something a little more active. We loved sailing the little wooden boats on the pond, but also enjoyed the playground, and the many statues and fountains throughout.
Tip: You’ll find the wooden boats just next to the pond. They are available to rent for €3.50 an hour.
Jardin des Tuileries
Due to its proximity to the Louvre, the Jardin des Tuileries might just be the most famous garden in Paris, so there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself here. If you’re visiting in the summer look out for the Fete des Tuileries which takes place every very summer from June to August. I loved seeing the stark contrast between the carnival rides and the centuries old gardens. Lots of fun photo ops here!
Tip: Entry to the Fête des Tuileries is free, however there is a fee for the rides and attractions.
The City of Light
On our last night in Paris, knowing that it could be many years before I return to the City of Light, I had a sudden desire to see the Eiffel Tower lit up one last time. Having no car, we decided to hire a taxi and asked the driver to take us somewhere we would have a great view. I guess he decided the best view was just under the Tower itself! The Tower was red, white and blue to honor the victims of the Nice terror attacks, which took place earlier in the week. Other monuments we drove by included, Les Invalides, the Arc de Triomphe, and Montparnasse.
Tip: Don’t miss out on one of the best parts of Paris, the city’s lights! Our taxi fare was around €40, which included the time we took to get out for photos at the Eiffel Tower.
Chateau de Versailles
What better place for those “life of royalty” daydreams than the Chateau de Versailles? Even on an overcast day the golden gates of this world famous palace can be seen shinning brightly in the distance. As you wander through the palace you’ll find yourself surrounded by opulence.
A stroll in the almost 2000 acres of Gardens features among other things a Grand Canal, which is over a mile long, groves, the Orangerie, and at least 50 different fountains.
Tip: Purchase your tickets in advance online. Arrive early! The gates open at 9 am. If you can, be there before they open.
Enjoying the local cuisine is an important part of any city visit! Here are three of our most memorable all located within close proximity to some of the most famous places in Paris.
Minims, the brasserie version of the famous Maxim’s de Paris, is located on the Rue Royal. We enjoyed, not only the food, but the restaurant’s Art Nouveau style. Eating here felt very Parisian!
Tip: Minim’s is located on the same street as La Madeleine.
We enjoyed everything about our meal at Invictus. A cozy restaurant with only a handful of tables, the chef personally took our order! The food was excellent and we had a lovely evening!
Tip: Invictus is just blocks from the Jardin du Luxembourg. A reservation if recommended.
Cave La Bourgogne
Cave La Bourgone, recommended to us by a local friend, is located at the end of the Rue Mouffetard, one of the oldest streets in Paris. We enjoyed this traditional, tasty and reasonably priced brasserie so much , we’ve been twice!
Tip: First wander the Rue Mouffetard, a pedestrian friendly market street, and end at Cave La Bourgogne where you’ll enjoy a quintessential Parisian meal while you gaze out at the lovely square along with all the locals.
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I always enjoy reading your blog. It is well done, easy to read, informative and I like your selection of pictures. Thank you.
Thank you!! I really appreciate you saying is! What a kind thing to say!
Well deserved I would say.
I just started my blog a few weeks ago but I know how much time it takes to come up with a good post and to just get it right. Well, you got it right. 👍🏻
Thank you for letting me know… obviously I’m not French, and did my best to work out the titles using a translator, however it was intended to be in good fun, that is all.
fifi + hop
Beautiful post! I know what you mean about not wanting to be on an agenda and just walk around and notice (though looks like you covered a lot). Last time I was in Paris was three years ago on a girls trip and all we did was stroll around and eat and go into galleries and shops. We went to one museum – L’Orangerie – but really felt like we knew the city more than ever after that trip.
Thank you! A girls trip in Paris, sounds so fabulous! My husband’s favorite thing to do in any city is wander around for hours, and by now, thankfully, the kids are used to it. I think because this was my third visit, I was able to feel less urgency about getting to all the main attractions. That doesn’t mean my list for things yet to do in Paris isn’t still a mile long…
beautiful photos! Thank you for reminding me of my Paris trip;) #citytripping
Phoebe | Lou Messugo
Your photos of the Eiffel Tower in bleu, blanc, rouge are superb (just so sad the reason it was lit up that way – I live near Nice and I can tell you we’re still feeling the effects of the attack). Paris is very special to me and I love doing just what you’ve done, just moseying around without an agenda. It looks like you had a great visit. I’d love it if you’d link up to my monthly linky #AllAboutFrance with one of your Paris posts. Next one is 2 March.
Thank you so much! Such a sad reason, and so senseless. I really loved our most recent visit to Paris and hope to find my way back in the next few years… My France list is quite long, so it’s a strong possibility! Thank you for the invitation to link up… I’d love to participate!
revisiting to thank you for linking up to #AllAboutFrance, very happy to have you on board!
Your posts are making my wanderlust symptoms worst! I really feel like going to Europe at this moment (will have to wait till May). Paris was grey and gloomy when I visited (and it was summer). Would like to visit again when it is sunny and filled with flowers. #FarawayFiles
I’m making my self crazy as well!! LOL! I’m hoping to get there in 2017…
Paris is always a good idea and thanks to you Hilary my husband is under extreme pressure to book some work appointments there ASAP so we can tag along. I am sitting here with my cousin who is studying in Paris (I know!) and she is longing for those gorgeous blue skies. Hope to see them soon over the most beautiful city in the world. Thanks for joining us on #FarawayFiles
Parisian Perfection! I really love winging it when I’m travelling and it’s easier to do that in a city you’ve already been to a few times because then you’re not worrying about missing out on something! I agree that the Musée de l’Orangerie is perfect for kids – mine loved it and it’s such a peaceful gallery. I’ve been to the Cave la Bourgogne restaurant too – had a wonderful Boeuf Bourgignonne there last year. Great to share your experiences on #farawayfiles
Really enjoyed reading your post Hilary and seeing some other elements to Paris. I love to wander around a city without too many fixed plans and Paris is a great place to do that. It must have been quite an emotional place to be when the Nice attacks happened. Thanks for linking #citytripping
It was quite a shock and of course all the added security everywhere was a stark reminder.
Ah this is making me want to return to Paris – I haven’t been for three years and I do miss it. I had a string of trips with people visiting for the first time who all wanted to see the same main attractions so I love wandering and enjoying the city, hitting the parks too last time #citytripping
Wonderful post! Looks like following your instincts and not using a map worked great for you guys. What a nice family trip. I have been living in Paris for a little over a year and have not tried those restaurants. Thanks for the recommendations! I love this city and I know I won’t be able to live here forever, so taking photos will always serve my memories 🙂
Living in Paris! Sounds so lovely!! There’s so much to discover!
Girl Gone Gallic
A very complete visit to Paris! Great photos and commentary, and your family looks like they are having so much fun – very sweet… thanks for sharing 🙂
Thank you! We had a lovely time!!