Ahhhh Paris; I love it in the winter, spring, summer and fall! If you have ever visited, I believe you would conquer. Paris is one of those cities you can easily fall in love with. My love affair with Paris started when I was in my early 20’s, 19 to 21 to be exact. I was based in Paris for three years, modeling and using the city as my “home base” while traveling abroad. Twenty years have gone by and I am still in love with the city. Where has the time gone?!? I wish I could say I am still sipping lattes and eating croissants but the reality is that I am in NYC raising my kiddos.
I was so very young when I lived in Paris that it seems more like a blur, a fairy tale or dream. Twenty years have gone by and I decided it was time to go back and visit my old stomping grounds. I wanted to experience the city as and older and wiser woman who would be able to appreciate Paris for what it truly is; a beautiful city rich in culture and history.
Lots of people ask why I didn’t bring my husband on this particular trip and my answer is simple…my kids are still young and when he can stay home and “hold the fort down” I feel as if I can relax and enjoy my trip so much more. So, with that being said, I brought my friend and fun travel companion who had coincidentally never been to Europe. So we packed our many bags and we were off! Although it had been twenty years since I lived in Paris, I still remembered certain areas of the city I wanted to visit. This was very helpful as I was able to narrow down the touristic places we wanted to see and experience. I have decided to title this post “An American in Paris” after the movie of course, but really, it’s more like 24hrs in Paris. How to make the most of your time while in Paris!
When should one travel to Paris? Spring is the best time of year to visit mainly because of the ideal weather and lack of tourists. I used to lived in Saint-Germain-des-Prés and wanted to stay near there so narrowing down my hotel search was very easy. I was able to find a beautiful boutique hotel located in the heart of the 6th arrondissement. Staying in St. Germain was ideal because it is centrally located and easily accessible. This part of the city is filled with upscale restaurants and art galleries and is walking distance to just about every major monument (*wear sneakers). You can easily walk to the Louvre, Notre Dame, Tuileries Garden and Place de la Concorde just to name a few. Although the metro is easy to use once you get the hang of it, I highly recommend using Uber because there is just so much to see above ground! I mean hello, it’s Paris! Look out the car window because you are guaranteed to see something incredible.
Ok, so if you have 24hrs in Paris, these are the places you must visit! Start your day off with breakfast at the infamous Café Deux Magots. This is one of the most classic cafes in the city that dates back to 1891. It is said that Café Deux Magots was Ernest Hemingway’s favorite café where he often spent time writing and creating. Make sure to request a table outside as it makes for some of the best people watching in the city. There is nothing like starting your day off at Café Deux Magots with a delicious breakfast and cup of espresso.
After enjoying breakfast, make your way through St. Germain into St. Michel and down the bank of the river Siene to take in the view of Notre Dame in all of its glory. Make sure to go inside Notre Dame and check out the incredible detailing and gargoyles…it’s not something you see everyday. Don’t forget to walk across the Pont des Arts Bridge that used to be famous for all the love padlocks. Unfortunately, all the locks have been taken down because the weight was pulling down the bridge (can you believe it?). Even though the locks are no longer there, it is still very romantic to walk the Pont des Arts and cross the Seine.
Jump in an Uber and make your way to the Trocadéro for the best view of the Eiffel Tower. This is the ideal place to take pictures but definitely watch out for those expert pick pocketers and keep a close eye on your belongings. After taking your epic pictures of the tower, enjoy lunch at 58 Tour Eiffel Restaurant. The view from the top of the Eiffel Tower is incredible and the food is excellent. Make sure to book ahead of time because this is one restaurant that books up way in advance.
Next on the list, head to the Louvre for an expedited 1.5 hour tour of the incredible museum. Believe it or not, it would take 8 hours for 20 days in order to see every piece in the museum. So, if you are only in Paris for a quick stay, I highly suggest the expedited tour. It is sort of like a cliff note version of the museum with a personal tour guide. I booked mine through Viator and was thrilled with the outcome. After leaving the museum, make sure to have a petite aperitif at Café Marley. You can sit at this delicious restaurant that offers an incredible view of the Louvre Pyramids. You also have a view of the Eiffel Tower and it is simply breathtaking!
After enjoying the views, walk over to Place Vendôme and Avenue Montaigne for some late afternoon luxury shopping. Keep in mind that the sun sets after 9pm in Paris so your day will end rather late, giving you plenty of time to find that perfect Parisian handbag. Enjoy a quick coffee and macaroon at Ladurée because after dinner, you will be catching the late show at the Moulin Rouge in Montmartre.
Before heading to the iconic show at the Moulin Rouge, enjoy a classic dinner at L’Escargot Montorgueil. Looking for the best escargot in Paris? Look no further! After enjoying the Moulin Rouge, walk up the mountain to get a glimpse the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, Sacré-Cœur. This is a beautiful Roman Catholic Church that overlooks the city of Paris and sparkling Eiffel Tower in the distance. No trip to Paris is complete without enjoying a delicious French crepe. Pick one of the many outdoor coffee shops in Montmartre and enjoy a crepe while listening the live music. By this time, it’s most likely 2am and time to retire for the day. And just because no one would dare spend only 24hrs in Paris, here are some of the other places I strongly suggest visiting:
Take a day tour to Versailles!! It’s just too fantastic to miss! Trust me, it was my 2nd time there and there were so many things I hadn’t seen. The good news is that I did all of the legwork and research for you! I found a fantastic day tour leaving Paris at 9am and returning at 5pm. Versailles is only 30 minutes outside of Paris but it would be nearly impossible to see the palace and gardens without a tour guide. My English-speaking tour guide was incredible and there were only 10 people on our tour. The tour including the main house, back homes, gardens and a delicious 3-course lunch with wine! I actually really enjoyed the whole tour; I learned a ton and was happy that I spent they day there!
Catacombs of Paris – This is truly a one of kind underground tour where you view the remains of more than six million people in a small part of a tunnel network built to consolidate Paris’ ancient stone mines. I did this tour years ago and it was unlike anything I had ever seen. There are actual bones under the city. If you are interested in this tour, book way in advance. Unfortunately, there was nothing available during my recent stay.
La Galerie Afternoon Tea at the Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris – I know tea time sounds very British but tea at La Galerie is on another level. Rest assured you will try some of the most delicious French pastries and it is 100% worth the hefty price! Yum!
Pere Lachaise Cemetery – I am a huge fan of music from the 60’s and although Elvis is my true love, Jim Morrison’s music does turn my head! He spent the last years of his life in Paris and died in the city so he is now buried in Pere Lachaise along with some of the most incredible singers, authors and poets such as Oscar Wild, Edith Piaf and Frederic Chopin. Don’t let visiting a cemetery freak you out; it is actually quiet beautiful and rather peaceful (and there will be plenty of tourists just like you). Trust me, it’s a really cool experience!
Porte de Clignancourt – this is one of the most incredible flea markets in Paris only open on the weekends. It covers seven hectares and is the largest antique market in the world with over 180,000 visitors each weekend. If you get the chance to go, plan a day of it take your time walking around and taking it all in! And when its time for lunch be sure to stop into Chez Louisette. This is truly and experience like none other; authentic singers and cuisine fit for a local!
Le Bon Marche – This is essentially the Barney’s of Paris, featuring some of the most luxurious designers. It was founded in 1838 and is the hub of high-end shopping. Needless to say, this is the complete opposite of Porte de Clignancourt but 100% worth visiting. Luxurious shopping? Le Bon Marche is the place to be!
Trendy Restaurants: There are so many incredible restaurants and bakeries throughout Paris. If I had to narrow it down, I would pick Les Deux Magots for breakfast or lunch and L’Avenue for dinner. L’Avenue is currently a Paris hotspot located right off the Champs-Elysee. Definitely request an outdoor table because like many other Parisian restaurants, it makes for ideal people watching! They also have a fabulous terrace with an incredible view of the Eiffel Tower. You can’t go wrong with either of these restaurants!
Want to see more from my trip to Paris? Be sure to see my takeover of the dotLuxury Instagram!