When it comes to going on holiday, many people think about going to a beach and lying in the sun for 2 weeks. But what about the alternative? What about a city holiday? Or a country holiday? The unconventional, the out-of-the-ordinary and the is-that-a-real-holiday?!
One of my personal all-time favourite cities is Paris! I love this place so much I’d move there and have tiny impeccably dressed French babies . Full of winding streets, more history than you know what to do with and the best food outside of Italy. And it’s not called the City of Love for nothing!
Let’s start with the place that every girl over a certain age wants to stay – Hotel Plaza Athenée – preferably with the same view as Carrie Bradshaw! Whilst this place will cost you some big bucks and may well be unaffordable for the whole trip, there’s nothing to stop you spending your first or last night here as an extra special treat! Staying on the right bank (North of the River Seine), there’s also Hôtel Mansart, perfect for those of you wishing to be by Place Vendôme (the same square as the Ritz) but without the ritzy price tag! If you‘d rather set up camp on the left bank (where the Sorbonne and Latin Quartier are), the Hotel Claude Bernard Saint Germain is the perfect bolt hole – halfway between Nôtre Dame and the Panthéon and a short walk from Rue Mouffetard/Rue Descartes. Alternatively, Hotel Recamier is in the 6th Arrondissement, between Èglise Saint-Sulpice and Les Jardins du Luxembourg . A boutique luxury hotel, it’s an amazing spot to call home for a while!
Where to go
There are so many places on a Paris wish list and they are all well worth a visit. But unless you’re there indefinitely, I don’t think you can do it all without running yourself ragged! So here are my must do’s…
Yes, it’s a cliché, but it’s totally worth it. To stop yourself from being overwhelmed, just pick one area that you want to see – the Renaissance Painters, the Egyptian section – whatever it is – and focus all your attention on that. You could spend all day there and still not see everything. Whilst it’s magical during the day, you can’t go wrong with a Friday evening followed by a walk through the Jardin de Tulières or a stroll by the Seine and some gelato from Berthillon – worth every cent.
Notre Dame and Sacre-Coeur
Whilst these two may not be as highly regarded as St Paul’s Basilica in Rome, the Duomo in Florence or St Paul’s Cathedral in London, they are both beautiful and breathtaking. From the top of the steps outside Sacre-Coeur, there’s a wonderful view over Paris towards Le Tour Eiffel and the church itself almost glows in the evening light.
Notre Dame is also a wonder and don’t forget to look up! It amazes me how many times I’ve been inside Notre Dame and the amount of people I see who forget to look up at the Rose Windows! Also, take a moment outside to find Point Zero on the ground. Not only is this considered the exact centre of Paris and the point from which all roads are measured, but it’s said that if you touch it, you are sure to return – and how doesn’t love a bit of romance on holiday?!
Le Tour Eiffel
The place of many a proposal – it is as romantic in person as in the movies. The gardens below are the perfect place for a picnic on amy day and can be followed by a trip to Les Invalides, resting place of Napoléon Bonaparte, just around the corner. The light show at night starts every night at sunset and is amazing to watch. The best place I’ve found to watch it is from the balcony of the Trocadéro across the river. If you’re nervous with heights, I wouldn’t recommend the lift on a busy day, but the stairs are absolutely fine and you can get some amazing views through the iron lattice work.
Arc de Triomphe
Totally worth the walk up to the top – if only to watch French drivers go around the outside from the 12 avenues! From the top, you can see from La Defense to the Eiffel Tour and from Sacre Coeur to out past Opéra Bastille – and that’s on a cloudy day! Don’t forget to take some time to look around the small museum inside the Tower and to pay your respects at the Eternal Flame of the Unknown Soldier under the Arch.
Where to eat
Breakfast: if your hotel doesn’t provide breakfast (or you don’t want to pay for it!), any patisserie or boulangerie will start your day right. If a typical French breakfast of baguette, ham, cheese, butter and jam with a strong coffee isn’t your style, grab a croissant, pain au chocolat or pain aux raisins and start wandering! In my opinion there are few better times to see Paris than in the early morning!
Lunch: it’s true what they say about Parisians – they do drink wine at lunch and lunch does last for hours. I love Au Bougnat – the sandwiches were fantastic and ridiculously filling! And Le Quasimodo Notre Dame does the best Quiche Lorraine! Alternatively, grab one from a side street cafe – walk a couple of streets away from the main tourist hotspots to find the best – and continue on your travels.
Dinner: Parisians eat dinner late – so don’t be expecting full service at 6pm! Although eating French in Paris is a must – don’t feel like you have to do it for every meal – particularly dinner! We had an amazing Italian dinner at Cantinella on Rue du Faubourg Saint Jacques and also the most perfect duck confit and carafe of house red at Little Cafe Paris which you’ll find tucked away in Le Marais on the corner of Rue du Roi de Sicilie and Rue de Bourg Tibourg. There’s also the most amazing patisserie across the road for a snack on your way home!
So that’s it for Paris, loves! I hope you’ll consider this amazing city for your holiday – there’s honestly nowhere else like it on Earth!
Have you visited Paris? What’s your must see?