PARIS - DAY 1
Bonjour! We have landed in what many call “the city of love” and let us tell you, there’s A LOT to love about this city. This was our absolute favorite spot we visited during the honeymoon and we are here to tell you why. As always, we want you to feel as though you’re experiencing the day with us; all while learning about our recommendations for just about anyone: foodies, wine snobs, explorers, and those that appreciate the arts. Without further ado, we present to you… Paris! Oh la la!
Today is the day--- we embark on our journey over to Paris. Getting to Paris from London is quite simple via train, so we opted this method. We booked our tickets in advance for the first train out in the morning. This was a bitter-sweet idea. Why? Well, with us being huge Harry Potter nerds, we were excited to learn that at the very train station were departing from, is where the mythical platform 9 ¾ “exists” and wanted to make a quick pit stop. Unfortunately, we were running incredibly behind today… INCREDIBLY. In fact, we thought we were going to completely miss our boarding. Crisis adverted though--- we officially made it on the train and were on our way to Paris but didn’t get to fulfill our inner-nerd tendencies with taking a photo of Platform 9 ¾ --- perhaps next time. The commute was hassle-free and took about 2 ½ hours. Having arrived, we successfully collected our checked luggage and were on our way to the taxi stand but were abruptly stopped by a random man asking if we were looking for a taxi. He asks us in English instead of French--- I suppose we look lost, English-speaking, or a combination of both? Who knows? Regardless, we reply, that we do indeed need a taxi. He then says we can avoid the taxicab line by riding with him. No wait in the taxi-stand line outside? Why not! We follow him and he takes us on the most bewildering and sketchy journey to his parked car (put it this way, we took an elevator down into the long-term parking garage and walked for what seemed like an eternity in the dimly-lit underground garage). We stop and he opens the trunk to the most “non-taxi” vehicle. No markings, no meter on the dashboard, and the vehicle is clearly not a “taxi,” but rather, this dudes personal vehicle. As you can imagine, we feel as though we’re about to be real-life people in the sequel of “Taken,” and promptly, yet kindly, excuse ourselves from this entire situation. Phew! Luckily, he didn’t follow us. We then opted to wait in the taxi-stand line for legitimate transportation to our hotel.
The drive coming into central Paris wasn’t anything memorable, but as soon as you get into the city you’re overwhelmed and immersed with its undeniable grandeur. Paris is a sprawling and rather large city with many different districts, or “arrondisements,” which you’ll often see abbreviated on maps as “arr.” You really can’t go wrong with any part of central Paris. Here are some tips to consider for your trip: 1st arr. Le Louvre—this is as about central as you can get and walking distance to almost all attractions you’ll want to visit while in Paris; 7th arr. The Eiffel Tower--- the name says it all, many visit Paris to see this infamous structure, so why not snag a room at Sangri La or one of the many hotels with balcony views of this marvelous structure; 6th arr. Saint-Germaine-des-Pres (our 2nd favorite area)--- centralized and bustling area with a wide variety of shopping, restaurants, and places for drinks… definitely a solid choice for most; 3rd/4th arr. Le Marais--- ahhhh, we’ve saved the best for last--This district is not only central, but has to be one of the “hippest” areas of Paris. After much research, this is the area we chose. Le Marais is filled with fantastic art galleries, is walkable to all the major attractions, and has some of the best cafes/restaurants. It’s just flat out FUN with loads to do… need we say more. Do yourselves a favor and highly consider this part of Paris for your stay! Even more, If you trust our recommendation, stay at the property we stayed at: Hotel de Jobo (we do not get paid for recommending this property and it’s 1000% the best value for your money in this pricey part of town). Check out the property here (http://www.hoteldejobo.paris/)
The things we loved about this particular hotel: 1) It’s a boutique property with a quaint feel. 2) The customer service here is second-to-none. 3) The hotel is right by this hidden square with a ton of hip restaurants (we’ll go into detail about one particular spot we enjoyed later on!) 4) The hotel seems somewhat exclusive since there’s no signage and is tucked away behind a charming courtyard. 5) The backstory of the hotel is fascinating--- the property commemorates the French Empress Josephine Bonaparte--- and does this property fit an empress alright!
A quick tip we can give you is this (as with a lot of hotel rooms throughout Europe)--- be aware that that room sizes are much smaller when compared to something you’d rent back in The States. With that being said, we booked the “superior double room” and found it a little tight, yet manageable. The overall ambiance and décor certainly made up for the lack of extra space. Once checked into our quaint little hotel, we decided to head out for some lunch. Starving, we weren’t too picky on where we ate. Right around the corner we strolled past a place by the name of “La Favorite” that seemed like it would be sufficient due to our growing appetites. This is where we experienced our first onion soup, or what us Americans refer to as, “French onion soup.” The soup was far better that most you’ll find back at home; but wasn’t out of this world by any means. We also ordered the Chateaubriand steak, which again, was acceptable, but nothing spectacular.
Now we’ve had our lunch, it’s time to go explore this stunning city. We walked over to Notre Dame. I know what you’re thinking.. what’s left to see after the devastating fire.? Well, to be quite honest, there wasn’t much left to see with it being under construction, but it was an absolute must; nonetheless. Despite the damage endured, the 850 year old cathedral deserves a visit— regardless of its current dire state. Unfortunately, those who have yet to visit will more never appreciate the cathedral as it was in its original grandeur. In fact, many speculate it’ll never be the same. The construction timeline is still ambiguous. There’s speculation that the French government want it opened back to the public by the 2024 Olympics which Paris is hosting. Anyway, we did catch a rare glimpse of the cathedral shortly after its devastating fire outbreak.
After our time spent snapping a few photos of the cathedral, we headed towards our next landmark... the one and only... Eiffel Tower. Okay, so here’s where we can give some advice. Do book your tickets in advance to skip the line. Also, don’t fret about having to show up early. This isn’t the airport. It makes far more sense to show up 5-10 minutes before your booked time. Why? Well, for starters they don’t have many options for foods and drinks while you wait. Who wants to just stand in a queue? No one. With that being said, the tour of the tower takes no more than 45 minutes and includes a decent amount of stairs and a few elevators to descent to the “top.” The tower has many levels to stop off and snap some amazing photos. The best photos can be taken from the very top level— there obviously is a metal-type of barrier obstructing the view, but with some crafty camera-work you can find a way around this—- we did! Also, there’s a gift shop and bathrooms on one of levels and a restaurant on one of the bottom levels (this was closed during our visit, so we can’t provide much feedback on this). All in all, the tower is a must-visit. We don’t think you needed our recommendation though! Just some takeaways— the tower is far more rewarding to photograph and appreciate from afar. One of the things we didn’t get a chance to appreciate was getting a photo while they turn on the sparkling lights (this happens at intervals and for a limited amount of time. However, if you want an amazing picture of the tower, without hoards of tourists, we have a secret location that we’ll tell you about later on in our trip!
Once we’ve taken in all of the sights, we headed off to walk around Paris and find a place to eat closer to our hotel. No reason to bore y’all with the walking and sightseeing, so let’s cut to the chase and talk about the dinner spot we chose— trust us, this is a quaint, small, yet, gem of a restaurant with such a lovely atmosphere. In the heart of Le Marais is Robert et Louise, a steakhouse serving up meat cooked to perfection over a wood-fire grill. No seriously, as soon as you walk in you’ll see the chef sizzling meat over an open flame in this massive fireplace-type structure. Anyway, this place is apparently very popular and we were more than lucky to snag reservations last minute (do yourselves a favor, please book ahead— actually, with most places in Paris, book in advance). Thrilled with our last minute ability to be seated, the host took us to the back of the restaurant where we went down a narrow stair case to the cozier and quaint dining room. This place was SMALL. Think 8 tables max. However, it was perfect for a romantic and relaxing dinner. The food and ambiance were both exceptional. We ordered the Boudin Noir, T-bone steak, and a pitcher of red wine— raving reviews on all of these! Seriously, this was one of our most memorable and fantastic meals of the trip. It didn’t hurt that we got a little wine drunk and made friends with the gay couple at the table over. We could have kept drinking wine bottle after bottle due to the interesting and hilarious conversation we were having, but decided it was time to head back and get some rest for our next day. After all, this was only our first night!