If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ll know that I was in Europe for two weeks for our honeymoon. There were so many cities within Europe we wanted to visit, but with only two weeks available, we settled on Paris, the Amalfi Coast, Venice, and Rome. Today’s post is on our stay in Paris! This was the only city on our itinerary that I’ve already been to. I visited Paris on a school trip when I was 18 and fell in love with the city; even as a kid, I’ve always loved anything Paris-themed. Not entirely sure why, but I think it’s due to my obsession of the show Madeline as a kid. Either way, I’ve always wanted to go back with my husband (who has never been), and what better time to go to the City of Love with him than during our honeymoon? It wasn’t hard to convince him, since Paris was on his bucket list.
Paris is separated into Arrondissements, or districts. For example, the Arc de Triomphe is located in the 8th arrondissement, the Eiffel Tower is located in the 7th, and the Louvre is located in the 1st . We stayed at the Grand Hotel Saint-Michel, which is located in the 5th Arrondissement. The location of the hotel was so convenient – we were a 5 minute walk to the Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Garden) and the Pantheon, a 10 minute walk to the closest Metro station, and a 15 minute walk to the Notre Dame Cathedral. The hotel itself was quite good, too. It was on a quiet street far away from any noise, and although it was a bit small and we didn’t have much of a view, it was clean and modern. Being the beauty lover that I am, I found it interesting that the hair and body products they provided for guests were from Hermès! How fancy.
We stayed in Paris for four full days. There’s a lot to see in the city, so we knew we’d be on a bit of a time crunch! After landing at 9:00 am, we took the Metro to our hotel, where we checked in and dropped off our luggage.
Since the Jardin du Luxembourg was so close to our hotel, this was our first stop after dropping off our bags. The gardens were absolutely stunning, although unfortunately we weren’t able to stay long, since my husband had already pre-booked tickets online for us to go up the Eiffel Tower in the early afternoon.
Even with pre-booked tickets, we still waited in line at the Eiffel Tower for over an hour due to the huge bottlenecks that build up at the elevators. Although you will encounter long line-ups at the Eiffel Tower, I do think going to the top is worth it just to say you’ve done it. While we took the elevators on the way up, we walked down using the stairs because we were too impatient to wait for the elevators, haha!
After coming back down and taking a short break on the lawn under the tower, we made our way to the Trocadero, which is located across the road from the Eiffel Tower and offers awesome views of the entire tower. Ever see Instagrammers who post photos like this?
That’s from the Trocadero! I took this photo from there:
Once we got our fill of the views from the Trocadero, we walked all the way over to the Arc de Triomphe. We went up the arch, which is something I’ve never done before. At the entrance is a sign that indicates that people with heart problems should not go up, and halfway up, I understood why – there are no elevators, and the staircase up is very narrow and winding, and there’s a LOT of them. I was actually fine on the way up, even though going up is usually the hard part – but going down, I got so dizzy from doing such sharp turns on the stairs that I was clutching onto the handrails the whole way down!
The Arc de Triomphe is situated at the Western end of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, so after we finished at the arch, we decided to walk partway down this famous street to find a place to eat, before heading back to the hotel for the day. Unfortunately, because we were so pooped out from being out all day, I didn’t get to do much shopping (or window-shopping) on Champs-Élysées!
The second day in Paris was our “free day” where we didn’t have anything scheduled. We ended up taking a glorious morning stroll along the Seine all the way to the Musée d’Orsay. This was my pick because it has a good collection of Impressionist paintings – my favourite! All of the art is housed in a building that was converted from an old railway station. The architecture is absolutely marvelous!
After finishing at Musée d’Orsay, we decided to visit Les Invalides, which was my husband’s pick. It notably houses the Musée de l’Armée (Military Museum) and the Dome des Invalides, a chapel that contains the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte. To be honest, neither of us really loved the Military Museum, but the Dome des Invalides was quite interesting and the interior was beautiful. The evening of our second day was spent visiting the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur and having dinner in Montmartre. I love the artsy, boho vibe of Montmartre – it’s such a cute district.
Luckily we had done some reading on pickpockets and scammers, because there are SO many dudes on the streets leading up to the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, trying to put bracelets on our wrists. Don’t let them put anything on your wrist! When you give it back to them, they’ll say you need to pay them because you had been wearing it! At one point, my husband and I got separated trying to get away from them, and I had to go back and drag him away from two guys who were pulling at him. Get away from my man!
The third day was dedicated to Versailles, which I was most excited for because this was my absolute favourite part of the trip on my first favourite trip. The palace is so grand, and the gardens are jaw-droppingly gorgeous. The Hall of Mirrors was more beautiful than I remember it being, although as you can see in the photo above, it was so packed that it was hard to stand still for more than a minute to get a decent photo.
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t particularly cooperative that day – as soon as we got to Versailles, it started chucking it down, so most of the photos from this day are of me with frizzy hair. Luckily, there was only periodic spitting for the remainder of the day, and it was only a bit cloudy and chilly. The gardens weren’t quite as beautiful because of this, but my husband said this was still his favourite part of the trip, so I’m glad we now share a love for Versailles! Expoloring Versailles took us most of the day; we didn’t get back into the Paris center until about dinner time, at which point we grabbed dinner and returned to the hotel for the evening.
Our last day was mostly spent at the Louvre. We arrived quite early to beat the crowd so that we could get up close with the Winged Victory and Mona Lisa – the last time I went, I only saw the Mona Lisa from afar because of the massive crowd surrounding it. This time I got up close and personal!
I didn’t take any photos of our food except for these ones: the Louvre had an Angelina café inside, which is a blogger favourite…so of course I had to go. I had wanted to visit the original café on Rue de Rivoli, which we had walked up and down on almost every day, but it was just more convenient to visit location while we were there. We ordered a few desserts to share. Angelina is known for its famous hot chocolate, and boy was I in for a surprise when it came and it was literally thick, decadent liquid chocolate. The two of us could have easily finished the desserts on their own, but combined with the hot chocolate, we were struggling!
With extra time on our hands after the Louvre, we decided to head to two places a couple of blocks from our hotel that we had noticed on our first day in Paris, called the Conciergerie and Sainte-Chappelle. The Conciergerie has an interesting history – it had once been a prison during the French Revolution, and was the place where Marie-Antoinette was held. Sainte-Chappelle was a very pleasant surprise – it literally took my breath away for a second as we stepped onto the upper level. A royal chapel that contains 1,113 stained glass windows, it was a splendid sight to behold. Similar to the Hall of Mirrors, pictures can’t do this place justice.
Once finishing at Sainte-Chappelle, our final outing in Paris was to visit the Notre Dame. I’ve only seen it from the outside, so it was awesome being able to see the interior, as well as to go up the tower (again, narrow and winding staircases!) The view was absolutely breathtaking (the feature image was taken there!). I actually think I liked it a little better than the view from the Eiffel Tower because you get a view of the Eiffel Tower from atop the Notre Dame!
It might be worth it to note that we invested in a Museum Pass, which we purchased as soon as we arrived at the Charles de Gaulle airport. You can get a 2, 4, or 6 day pass for 48, 64, or 74 euros. The pass covers ~55 museums/monuments, but doesn’t include the Eiffel Tower. We bought the 4-day pass and only got through 9 of the museums on there! Having the pass helps you skip the ticket-purchasing line at each attraction and maybe the “Regular tickets” line if they have one, but generally, you’ll still have to wait in the “Museum Pass/Pre-Purchased Ticket holders” line.
Four days was a good amount of time to spend in Paris, but we honestly could have used another day or two. Even when you’re well-prepared and buy tickets beforehand, a lot of your time is spent waiting in lines. There were a few things that we didn’t get to check off: Even though we had visited Montmartre, we had been so tired that evening that we couldn’t bring ourselves to make our way to see the Moulin Rouge, which I remember loving on my first Paris trip because I loved the movie Moulin Rouge in my early teens (when I didn’t know what a ‘courtesan’ was). I also wanted to visit Deux Moulin, which is a café close to the Moulin Rouge that was featured in the film Amelie – another movie I loved as a young adult. We had also intended to do some shopping, and I was hoping to explore the Champs-Elysees, both of which we didn’t end up having time for. I guess that gives us an excuse to go back to Paris, right?
With all of the things on our Paris itinerary checked off, we headed to our next destination the following day: the Amalfi Coast. Separate post to come, hopefully next week!