Ten years since my last visit to Paris, I was definitely overdue for another adventure in the City of Love! As an interior designer, I have been swooning over beautiful French architecture and interiors for years. Not to mention my obsession with French fashion and food! I knew this time around, I would be able to appreciate the city from a completely fresh perspective.
Below are my top 10 favorite highlights from my trip:
1. Climb the Arc de Triomph for best views
Aside from the beautiful architecture of the Arc itself, my visit was made complete by climbing the stairs to the top of the monument. The panoramic 360 views from top of the Arc were well worth the climb. This was, in my opinion, the best view of the city and the Eiffel tower.
2. Stroll down Champs-Elysees
After a visit of the Arc de Triomph, we spent a lazy afternoon walking down Champs-Elysees for some window shopping. A lot of the luxury French brands have their flagship locations on this street - so much eye candy!!! And, of course, plenty of options for decadent refreshments along the way. Stopping at the original Laduree location for a macaroon or a fresh croissant is a must!
3. Enjoy a picnic at the Luxembourg Gardens
The day was made complete with a visit to the picturesque Luxembourg Gardens. We stopped at a store on the way to stock up on fresh baguette, gourmet cheese and charcuterie and a bottle of wine and then savoured all the above shamelessly while watching the sun come down behind the Palais de Luxembourg and the Eiffel Tower visible beyond.
4. People watch on the patio of Les Deux Magots
For a quintessentially French experience, wine and cheese afternoon on the patio of Les Deux Magots came highly recommended and was equally well enjoyed (“Wine and cheese” was definitely the theme of this trip!) From soaking up the surrounding French architecture to observing all the well-heeled Parisians and tourists passing by to the decadent food, we were glad to have made the time for a few lazy hours on this patio.
5. Delicious cocktails at the Hemingway Bar at the Ritz
A warm intimate alcove nestled in the depth of the Ritz at Place Vendôme, Hemingway Bar has an atmosphere that takes you back in time. Frequented by Fitzgerald and Hemingway among other artists and visionaries of their time, it is still a spot well known and loved today. We came for the decadent cocktails, but lingered around for the vibe.
6. Walk the stunning Alexander III bridge
This is the most ornate and extravagant bridge in Paris, spanning across the Seine and connecting Champs-Elysées with Les Invalides and Eiffel Tower. A stunning example of the Beaux-Arts architectural style, with its many Art Nouveau style lamps, cherubs, nymphs, winged horses and intricately embellished gilded elements, this landmark is truly a romantic and whimsical work of art.
There is no lack of carousels in the City of Love. The one beside the Eiffel Tower is probably the best known and my personal favourite. Though this area is constantly crowded with tourists, there is something incredibly charming about the sights of the Tour Eiffel coupled with the soft melodic jingling of the carousel and the buzz of the crowd all around.
8. Drink wine on the steps of the Sacre-Coeur church
Ok, there are a LOT of steps on the way up but, trust me, it is worth it (and your Fitbit will be happy with you after a week in Paris!) Armed with a bottle of wine, we joined crowds of tourists to hang out, laugh and take in the views.
9. Get close and personal with gargoyles of Notre-Dame
One of my favourite parts of the trip was the gargoyle tour of the Notre Dame cathedral. There was something very magical about seeing Paris through Victor Hugo’s eyes, imaging where the Hunchback of the Notre Dame spent his days looking out at the hustle and bustle of the city below. It was raining pretty hard during the tour, but it made for all the more beautiful visuals, seeing Paris shrouded in fog in all of its melancholy glory.
10. Catch the magic of the Eiffel tower at night
Eiffel Tower is a stunning sight at any time of the day but seeing it light up at night, reflecting and twinkling in the river Seine below, will take your breath away. Be sure to catch the sparkles go off every hour on the hour :)
WHERE TO STAY:
After a long time of searching on Airbnb and Expedia, we decided on this recently renovated gem (that I have previously come across on multiple design blogs).
I was very happy with the beautiful design of the hotel and the prime location; though be prepared for how small the rooms are (and if you have the slightest bit of claustrophobia, skip the elevator altogether).
Hotel Panache is conveniently located in the buzzy 9-eme arrondissement with no lack of trendy cafés and restaurants in the area. All the main tourist sites of the city are accessible by foot but pack comfortable shoes! Uber is also an option, but personally I always wanted to walk to take in as much Paris as I could!