The Paris Basics
Where we stayed
We used Airbnb during our stay. Big pat on the back to Ursula for scoring this amazing place! If this place isn’t for you, any place on Avenue de la Bourdonnais will be just as close! This picture is taken right outside the door of our apartment.
The Louvre displays over 380,000 objects & 35,000 works of art that is spread out over 652,000 square feet. You could likely spend 3 full days here & still not see everything. It’s best to plan your trip ahead to make sure you can see what you want to see & peace out. But, do be sure to see the Mona Lisa while you are there! We made 2 separate stops at the Louvre on our trip, one for outside photo opps & the second to actually explore the inside. We went on a Wednesday after 4pm & there were little to no lines.
October- March on the first Sunday of every month it’s free to enter the Louvre! However, this does bring in more people than normal since it’s free, so it may be a bit more crowded.
Inside the Petit Palais you will find tons of sculptures & paintings from every era. Of course in true Paris fashion, even the ceilings are adorned with art. They offer different exhibits but, those you will have to pay for. When you enter the Palais, they will instruct you that you can not carry a large bag or purse with you, down the stairs, across from the gift shop area they offer a free coat & bag check. There is also a quaint little cafe & courtyard inside the Palais where you can sit & marvel at the architecture of the building.
Petit Palais has a beautiful gold gate that covers the front entrance when they are closed, perfect photo opp!
The Musée d’Orsay is located on the left bank of the Seine river, this museum holds mainly french art from 1848-1914. This building used to be the railway station. Well, that’s some train station, let me tell you. This museum has Monet, Renir, Van Gough, Degas & much more. The large clocks are located all over he building with the biggest ones being in front of the gift shop on the second floor & in the restaurant also, located on the second floor. Normally, I am not a big museum enthusiast however, traveling with Ursula made the experience a lot less painful!
The restaurant/cafe in the museum on the second floor is delicious. I legit, had the best pumpkin squash ravioli of my life!
Instagram Spots & Sightseeing
This was one of the first places we went, it was a 10 min walk, if that, from our Airbnb. Be sure to check the weather forecast ahead of time & pick the right day to go. Sunrise & Sunset are the best time to get those Instagram photos, however sunset has triple the amount of people than sunrise. At sunset we took photos on the grassy knoll below Trocadero using the carousel & Eiffel tower as our back drop! These are by far my favorite photos from the trip.
Those gates are there to keep people from climbing the ledge. If you go at sunrise there’s not really anyone around to see you break the rules. Pro: you get that dope ass IG photo. Con: those stupid gates are in your photo.
This technically, can be considered as a day trip, because it WILL take all day & it’s not really with in the city. This was on the top of my list of places to visit, if you love history, you will love this place. This extravagant abode was originally built as a hunting lodge, yes, you read that right…..A HUNTING LODGE for king Louis XIII who eventually remodeled & made it a getaway for the royals. His son, king Louis XIV moved the aristocracy to Versailles in 1682 & made the estate into what it is today & in my opinion, is part of the reason him & Marie Antoinette lost their heads. The hall of mirrors is the most impressive room in all of the house, it only contains 357 mirrors. The estate of Trianon was closed for remodels when I visited & it was so windy that viewing the gardens was painful. Two of the biggest attractions you HAVE to see when visiting. Don’t worry, I’ll be back.
The hall of mirrors will likely be packed with people, to get the best photo opp with least amount of people, walk all the way to the end of the hall of mirrors.
The Opéra Garnier is a smaller but, just as fabulous, version of Versailles, except it’s within the city. The backdrop of the 1910 novel Phantom of the Opera, this place is stunning in the grandest of ways. You can literally feel the history in the building. This place is full of photo opps, the grand staircase to start, has the….you guessed it… grandest double staircase that is lined with overhead balconies. Photos on the staircase from the balconies & vice versa make for some great shots. However, the grand foyer is where it’s at, it slightly mimics the hall of mirrors at Versailles & is my personal favorite spot. Don’t forget to visit the auditorium & the outside balconies that over look Boulevard des Capucines, these can be accessed from the grand foyer.
Pont Alexandre lll Bridge
This magnificent bridge connects the Champs-Élysées quarter with those of the Invalides & Eiffel Tower. We had a severely overcast day that really brought the mood to the pictures. This bridge will either take you from Petit Palais to the Eiffel or vice versa. It is one of the most ornate bridges in Paris. If you’re going to visit Petit Palais it’s worth a stop for a quick snapshot.
Monmarte is impressionisms home. This is where many famous artist would sit & paint for hours on end. This area is cute & also has two hidden cafes & a sinking house. It is also home to Sacré-Cœur Basilica that sits on the highest point in Paris. The insta-cafes you can’t miss are Le consult & Le Maison Rose. (both pictured here) There is a lot to see in this little town, with its cobblestone streets & weathered buildings its a must see on any Paris trip.
The sinking house is right next to Sacré-Cœur Basilica, you’ll look for a sinking house, but its actually just an optical illusion.
Arc de Triomphe
This monument at the end of the Champs Elyesées needs no introduction. It’s one of the more popular structures in Paris. But, make no mistake, if you step foot off that curb you will die. As I’m sure you can imagine the driving in a round about of that size is a little bit…well…terrifying. So when getting your gram photos be sure to take extra caution.
Twice a year the sun sets directly in the center of the Arc. Sometime around May 10th & August 1st were the dates for 2019. Of course everyone comes out & the streets are filled with people holding phones & cameras.
Notre Dame is almost surreal to enter. While it is free to enter & they do allow photos, please be mindful of the people who are there to pray. From the rose windows to the medieval, arched ceilings this place is definitely something you don’t want to miss. This building has history that dates back to the 1100’s.
Update: A week after I arrived home, Notre Dame caught fire, as I’m sure you saw on the news. They were able to save a lot of it, however, I’m not sure how much of it will be open to the public in the future months. I feel lucky to have gotten to see it before this catastrophe happened.
If you are able to enter, be sure to go later in the day, the light gives an amazing color display inside the building as it shines through the rose windows.
Rapp Street Secret Garden
Bonus Instagram spot
This secret garden is really not so secret anymore. It’s all over Instagram & was fairly easy to find. Turns out it was only a block & a half behind our Airbnb. This small space offers a beautiful view of the Eiffel nestled between two buildings.
This spot is within a gate & part of some apartments, therefore entering the gate is considered trespassing so enter at your own risk.
Normandy is a cool little town, with not much action happening. But, this small town is full of history & beautiful architecture. This is one of those places where you are going to need some Euros, the cafe we ate in didn’t accept cards. We rented a car & drove to Omaha Beach which was about 30 mins away. Now, being from a beach town it was super rad to me, to be able to visit a beach in a European country. Especially a beach with so much history.
Omaha Beach is where US & other allied forces invaded German occupied France in 1944 during World War II. Theres a small museum just up the hill from the beach that plays a short film every 15 minutes that is totally worth watching. While inside the museum, I found multiple news paper clippings talking about a town only 1 hour away from where I live…..so that was pretty cool. I will say parts of the museum & film were a little depressing but, if you love history, especially the WWII era, then this place is worth the trip.
What to Pack
The time of year you are planning to visit will dictate what you should pack. We visited in early March & experienced a bit of rain, strong gust of winds & lower 50 degree weather. So I was sure to take a warm rain coat, boots, & of course anything I needed for photos. My leather jacket did the trick most days with a t-shirt but, I was still cold. I could’ve gone with another layer, especially on the days with strong wind gust.
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Have you been to Paris? What were some things that you would totally do again if you went back? Drop me a comment!