Not once, not twice but THREE times!!
This is a city we can’t seem to keep away from! Each time we visit Paris, we find a little bit more of the city to fall in love with that we didn’t discover the first time.
We first visited Paris in April 2010 and were blown away by the city, although it was a whirlwind visit, only focusing on the typical tourist attractions and the famous Moulin Rouge. The second time was in December 2013, which was a little more relaxed and just in time for the Christmas Markets, and the most recent time being June 2014 where we enjoyed Paris, in the summertime! We were able to enjoy Paris at our own pace with no pressure to see and do everything, instead we wandered through the back streets, in and out of the Latin Quarter, stopped in at local cafés and just relaxed!
Tips and Tricks!
Eiffel Tower: I would highly recommend you pre-purchase your tickets and include a skip the line option if possible! We were luckily enough the first time to be with a tour so jumped right into the lifts and up we went. Others must have waited in the line for hours and when you have limited time in the city, you don’t want to waste a single moment.
When it gets dark – the tower lights up with thousands of lights. It is the most amazing sight, magical even!! You can sit down on the grassed area, buy some beer or wine from the guys selling them and take a picnic!!
The Louvre: We went in to the museum as part of our 2010 tour, mainly to see the Mona Lisa. All I can say is don’t expect too much – the painting itself is so small, and for some reason we were expecting quite a big picture! The rest of the museum was fairly good, but if you’re stuck on time just visit the outside of the museum and get a photo!! The building itself is gorgeous!
The Arc de Triomphe: Well, the first thing that comes to mind is the traffic! How on earth do you know when to go and when to give way! You can stand and watch the traffic for hours and it will keep you entertained! Secondly, you can get to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and get spectacular views from the Champs-Élysées to the Basilica. Just be careful not to overpay for the pictures the guy sells you at the bottom!! You can get them cheaper from other tourist places throughout Paris!
Latin Quarter: What a fun, hip place to see! There are so many narrow walkways, cafés, restaurants – you can spend ages here just taking it all in. It is an area of Paris that is outside the normal touristy places, but absolutely well worth the visit if you have the time! We ate at one restaurant for two of our visits – it was as good the second time round as it was the first! A trip to Paris, or the Latin Quarter is not complete until you’ve had Moules & Frittes! Absolutely delicious!!!!! If you get a chance, stop by Le Sainsev’.
Notre Dame: You can’t visit Paris without checking out Notre Dame! We haven’t actually gone in, but just to see the cathedral from the outside is great. It is fairly close to the Latin Quarter so you can do both of those in the same morning or afternoon!!
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica: This for me is a must see when you’re in Paris! We only got around to it on our third trip and wished we had of gone up sooner. There is a bit of a walk to get up (or you can take the tram), but the view from the top is incredible! On a fine day, you can climb to the top of the church for even better views. Unfortunately the day we went was overcast so didn’t worry about going up. There are lovely little restaurants in the village to grab a bite to eat if you have the time.
Where to stay: We stayed at two different locations on our three stays. Twice at the Eiffel Tower and one in Opera. Our first stay, which was part of a tour group was at the Hotel Mercure Paris Centre Tour Eiffel. The second time we stayed at the Hotel Pullman Tower Eiffel. Both hotels were close to the metro and you can see the Eiffel Tower from some of the rooms. Our negative with staying near the Eiffel Tower is that there is nothing else around that area!!!
We learnt after the second time and on our third time we stayed in Opéra. The hotel we stayed at was Le Stendhal Place Vendôme Paris – MGallery Collection. The hotel itself was absolutely perfect and next to a lovely restaurant with fantastic food and staff!
We found the hotel was in a perfect spot for exploring the city. We walked pretty much everywhere we wanted to go.
Where to eat: We ate at Le Cap Bourbon a couple of times when we stayed at the M Gallery Hotel as this restaurant / bar was next door!! Not only was it convenient, our waitress Sarah made our visit enjoyable every time. The food was scrumptious as were the cocktails.
We stopped at many other restaurants, including a few along the Champs-Élysées, but nothing worth writing home about (aside from the restaurant mentioned in the Latin Quarter section).
If you are in Paris over the Christmas period, you must not leave without having a Nutella Crepe! Simply the best and in my opinion symbolises Christmas in Europe!!!