My last trip to Paris was one for the books! On my previous trips Paris I did all of the touristy things and visited the major attractions like most people who visit the City of Lights. This time around I tried some new adventurous things and had the time of my life. What made this trip to Paris different was me stepping out of my comfort zone and it paid off big time.
Where To Stay
Accommodations in Paris can make or break your experience and budget. Staying near areas close to the main attractions, shopping, restaurants and public transportation is ideal, however some districts are quite pricey. The less expensive alternative is to stay near the airport but you will spend a lot of time traveling back and forth to the city and even more money on transportation. I found the best option was staying near the Trocadero, situated across the Seine River from the Eiffel Tower. Hotel rates in the Trocadero district were in the median range and there were several options for restaurants, shopping and nightlife. The view of the Eiffel Tower from the Place du Trocadero is breathtaking and the #1 reason to stay in this district.
How To Get Around
Getting in and around Paris can be a bit intimidating but I learned a few lessons on my first two trips to the city so I was determined to have the best experience on my 4 days in France. Uber and the Paris Metro is your friend! After years of paying for overpriced and crowded tours I’ve learned my lesson and I’m not afraid to venture out to get a more personalized experience. The Paris metro has 16 lines that run throughout the city and can take you to any attraction or neighborhood…even Disneyland Paris. We took the Paris Metro during the day and opted for Uber rides in the evenings.
If you really want to get adventurous hop on the high-speed train for a day trip to other regions outside of Paris like Cognac, Champagne and Bordeaux.
Things To Do
DAY 1 – Classic Paris
We started our day at the Notre-Dame de Paris, this was a few weeks before the fire so we were able to go inside where afternoon service was taking place. It was stunningly beautiful inside and the acoustics from the high altar were ethereal. Outside we walked the gardens surrounding the cathedral where cherry blossoms were in full bloom and walked along the Seine River to Ralph’s for lunch. Ralph’s is an American restaurant set inside the elaborate flagship Ralph Lauren store on St. Germain. We had lunch and wine in a beautiful open air courtyard, I recommend trying this place if you can get a table, they seem to always stay booked weeks in advance. We ended our evening by enjoying a night cruise along the Seine River for 15 euros each. The view of Paris from the Seine River is both exciting and informative, as the captain gives the history of each landmark.
DAY 2 – The Louvre & Tuileries Garden
The Tuileries Gardens is a beautiful garden dotted with statues located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde, it is the perfect place to have a picnic or take a stroll. Across the street from the gardens is the lovely cafe and legendary tea room Angelina. We stopped at Angelina to try their famous hot chocolate and patisseries. Afterwards we walked through the gardens to the Louvre. The Louvre is an amazing sight to see! We booked a guided tour (26 euros) of the Louvre to get a more up close and personal tour of the entire museum and learn the history of the art. We got to take multiple pictures of the Mona Lisa and wander through the Louvre Palace. In the Spring & Summer, the Louvre offers night tours on select days of the week.
DAY 3 – Cognac
All cognac is made in the Cognac region in France. As an anniversary gift to my husband who loves Hennessy we took a day trip to the birthplace of Hennessy. I surprised him with a private tour of the Hennessy Headquarters and treated him to the Art of Hennessy Cognac Tasting in the Founder’s Cellar (300 euros). Visits to Hennessy are by reservation only. Cognac is a 3 hour and 45 minute train ride from Paris and can be accomplished in a day or for an overnight trip. The town of Cognac is where all top cognac brands like Martell, Remy Martin, Courvoisier are located so we chose to visit several Cognac Houses while we were in town. We had lunch on the rooftop lounge at the Martell House and experienced the Louis XIII tasting at the Remy Martin Estate. We bought so many different bottles of Hennessy that are not available in the U.S and tasted some of the finest cognacs in the world. This experience was the highlight of our trip but if you’re not a fan of cognac, both Bordeaux and Champagne are regions that are also reachable by train from Paris for a day trip. Wine or Champagne tastings sounds great too.
DAY 4 – Versailles
On our anniversary we planned a day trip to the Palace of Versailles. Everything about Versailles is beautiful…the palace, the gardens, the fountains, the estate, but nothing prepares you for the beauty of the famous Hall of Mirrors, the photos don’t do it any justice, it’s simply beautiful. We took a break for lunch at the on-site restaurant Ore where they sat us in a replica hall of mirrors private room overlooking the pavilion, we felt like a King & Queen. To top if off they served us a complimentary bottle of wine in celebration of our anniversary, we received the royal treatment from the staff. We spent the rest of the day exploring the gardens and fountains.