My first time in Paris! Yay! It goes without saying that I am no expert on Paris, not the first blogger to go to Paris and certainly not the last. This trip was a big deal for me, many firsts! My first time in Paris, our first vacation as a duo since the kiddos and – allow me to show off a little – my first time in Business class (thank you hubby for sharing your travel miles with me! I love you).
I shocked myself – pulling off a trip while the kids were comfortable and safe at home! My brother and sister were incredible, taking over for us. Family and friends can be so helpful guys. With some planning and help you can definitely manage to get away. It does not have to be a big international trip. Even a small weekend trip or one night away can be revitalizing. Time away is really good for you – it was amazing to sleep. I have not been able to sleep more than 6/7 hours in 8 years! But most importantly, me-time and time with your significant other really helps refuel your body. I longed for a vacation that was not about the kids, but just me and the hubby. And I wanted it now, before kids head off to college!
Before the glam of the trip (cue my sophisticated self waltzing into the business class lounge without a care in the world) there was some planning and idiot proofing. I prepped meals and had detailed instructions for my superstar brother and the babysitter. A lot happens in the life of an elementary school kid and preschooler. Parents are superheroes I tell you! But sometimes superheroes need to put their capes down.
NOW The trip!
The Hotel – We stayed at the Best Western 19 Rue Pont Neuf. We considered central location and price as the most important factors because we wanted to get around easily on foot or a quick jump on the metro without having to drop major $$. Notre Dame, Saint Chappelle and the Seine waterfront are within walking distance from the hotel. The rooms are simple and clean and most have that adorable stereotypical Paris balcony. The staff is small and friendly and most speak English. Also a typical French breakfast is available with your booking.
Early June in Paris – Early June is slightly before peak season so it is not too crowded even with The French Open taking place. The weather is very pleasant; just the right amount of warm, not overbearing at all.
The Food and Pastries – French food is delicious. I am not one for fine dining (I prefer to keep it simple) but Paris had me rethinking this. Everything is so fresh! And the idea that Paris is full of brilliant chefs? It’s true. Really, really true. Also, good food is really easy to find. We did not make any reservations and found beautifully prepared meals easily, at the numerous restaurants around the city.
Shout-out to the Pastries – If you are on a diet don’t visit Paris. Or better yet, just go and forget the diet for a day or two. The pastries are to die for. I LOVED THE MACAROONS!! Lord help me, I think I ate one year’s worth. Laudree, Angelina and Hermes (French bakeries) you did me good!! If you love pastries like moi please don’t leave Paris without the afternoon tea experience. I went to the Angelina at Rue de Rivoli after a day at the Louvres but there are locations at Versailles, Musee Luxembourg and some others. Angelina is famous for its hot chocolate but has lots of other delicious treats. I did not have a chance to check out some of the smaller bakeries but I know there are some great ones.
The Palace of Versailles – Versailles is a full day trip but totally worth it. How could I go to Paris without witnessing the architectural grandeur that Versailles is for myself? I also really wanted to go on a train ride outside Paris, just to see more of the country and see how regular folks live in the towns and suburbs. It is about one-hour from Paris using the REC C train line and is pretty straightforward to get to. Expect to be overwhelmed! It is amazing. Something you probably have to see for yourself. You need to attach your own emotions to the experience. I must say though that thinking about the history of the palace and remembering that it’s grandness was at the expense of the people had me a little frustrated but I am glad it is marked as UNESCO world heritage site. It really deserves this designation given its glory.
FYI guys, Versailles is no place for fancy heels. Just leave them at the hotel and wear sneakers. The gardens are vast ( about 800 hectares), breathtaking and well worth a couple of hours of your time. The landscaping is classic French garden style, with meticulously manicured lawns, flowers, statues, fountains and a beautiful lake.
Don’t forget Saint Chapelle– Saint Chappelle is a hidden gem (maybe not so hidden because of its central location) that I had not heard of. It is a medieval chapel built in the mid-1200s. It is an architectural and interior design masterpiece! All you Home & Garden nuts would love it. It has been pristinely maintained and should be on you must-see list when you visit Paris.
Paris was amazing! I hope to return someday. Please tag me in your comments or stories if you visit these places. I would love to hear your thoughts.