There’s a first time for everything, and my first visit to Paris this last weekend truly felt like a dream come true. I mean isn’t it every girl’s wish to go to Paris at some point? You envision this place your entire life, and there is nothing like seeing and experiencing it for the first time. I had a huge list of places that I wanted to go to and explore, but with our three-day limit, I knew I was going to have to condense it down to the classic tourist locations. There is just SO MUCH to do in Paris! However, I felt like we were able to at least somewhat scrape the surface and accomplish the major landmarks within our short visit.
Originating from London, we booked our tickets in advance (a must) to take a Eurostar train under the Chunnel and over to Paris. It amazes me how easy and convenient it was to do this. Just a short two-hour train ride from London and Poof! we were there! For this trip I was also lucky enough to have my good friend fly in from the states to join us for the weekend. The three of us arrived in Paris that evening and spent the night strolling around and soaking in the architecture and all around loveliness. Whenever my husband and I go to a new place, we always try to walk as much as we can. We may get exhausted and destroy our shoes, but walking through the streets of a city is the best way to enjoy and fully understand it.
The next morning we woke up early for a really busy day. I mean really busy! To start our morning we treated ourselves to a fruit tart from one of our favorite French bakeries Paul. They have these all over London too, but we couldn’t help but stop by for a quick bite to eat there when it was located so close to our hotel. The first item on our agenda was to head to the beautiful French Palace of Versailles. I am a huge nerd when it comes to French history so going to see Versailles was a really exciting thing for me. We took a short and easy metro ride from the city and over to the palace. Upon our arrival we were met with the gold and grandeur of the massive royal château. We took an audio tour of the inside, and made our way through the state rooms. It felt as if every inch of the palace was adorned in the most elaborate gold details and finishes. My jaw literally dropped at each room that we went into. It was unbelievable to see how lavish they lived during that time, and it was like nothing I had ever seen before. The highlight of the tour for me was seeing the famous Hall of Mirrors, and the ornate chapel attached inside palace.
Following Versailles, the next must-see we decided to visit was the iconic Eiffel Tower.. DUH! No matter how much you prepare for it, the Eiffel tower is more magical than you could ever expect. I had no clue how insanely HUGE it was! The sheer size and beauty of it just blew me away. Sometimes in Europe, landmarks you have always heard about can disappoint you when you actually see them in person. But the Eiffel Tower? Never. It is seriously amazing. I was debating about if it was actually worth the 10 euros and hour-long wait to take the elevator to the top. But after seeing the incredible 360 degree views of Paris I knew it was completely worth it. Every angle is breathtaking and you get to see just how big the city of Paris actually is. Be sure to not get trapped into paying more to go past the second level. Apparently the views from the very top can be really hard to see and other travelers informed us that it wasn’t worth it. We headed down from the second level to find ourselves continually admiring the Eiffel Tower (while eating yummy crepes from the nearby food stand of course).
As the evening approached we realized we had done absolutely no shopping yet! To resolve this problem headed up to the Champs Eylsees which is arguably the most famous street in Paris. We had heard that the best way to enjoy it was to start from the Arc de Triomphe (another stunning sight to see), and work our way down. On this street you can find some of the most heavenly French shops including my personal favorite, Laduree. The Laduree here is a large location packed full of every macaroon and pastry you can think of. Do yourself a favor and get a salted carmel macaroon.. nothing beats that one! A good tip we heard about the Champs Eylsees is to NOT eat at the surrounding restaurants. Many many people have warned us that while the shops are good here, the restaurants along the street are dead set on ripping tourists off with bad food. We were sure glad that went into the city instead to find the corner French restaurant of Le Mesturet. Here you can have the Frenchiest of French meals including some really good steak and carpaccio which was incredibly divine.
The following day was Sunday, and we specifically saved this day to do the Louvre. The reason we did this was because the first Sunday of every month the Louvre is completely FREE! We love finding secrets like this and getting great deals on touristy attractions. One thing we have learned while traveling is to always look up admission prices before you visit, and by reading the fine print you can usually find some sort of amazing deal like we did. Always do your homework and research before going! Anyways.. the Louvre was outstanding in almost every way. As an Art student, I pretty much consider the Louvre to be the mecca and centerpiece of classic world art. Make sure to go in knowing that you cannot possibly see everything. Make a game plan like we did, and try your best not to get lost inside! Our favorites were the statue of the Winged Victory, Mona Lisa, The Wedding Feast at Cana, Pysche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, Venus de Milo, and the State Apartments of Napoleon.
After the Louvre we felt like we were just about dead. All that walking around in the museum did a number on us, but we still found the strength to walk down and see the glorious Notre Dame Cathedral. We were so glad we did, because it truly is a magnificent cathedral with stained glass windows that are rather remarkable to look at. Our next stop was to Pont des Arts Bridge to add our “lock of love” and throw away the keys. This was such a fun and romantic thing to do. We had to leave our mark on The City of Love, and this was a lovely little French tradition we were glad to be apart of. The locks are also really cheap to buy from the vendors conveniently located right on the bridge. We hope to come back and find our lock again!
As you can see we had a pretty busy few days seeing the sites and landmarks in Paris. Our last and final place we went to see before our train ride back to London, was the Sacre-Coeur. Also known at The Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Sacre-Coeur is a basilica in Paris located on top of a hill in the highest point of the city. This means stunning views of all of Paris. We really enjoyed coming up to visit this landmark. The church inside is pretty amazing, and the surrounding area is full of fun little shops. Be prepared to make a bit of climb if you go, as there are quite a few steps to walk up!
I think you can tell from the many photos I took, that I absolutely adored Paris! It is one of those cities that has so much beauty and attractions to offer. We are completely convinced that we need to go back again and finish visiting some of the sites that we didn’t get to. We are finding that many places we are traveling to can be like Paris, with just so much to do. Our rule is that we always have to give ourselves a reason to return, and with Paris.. we will definitely be back!
Here are some MUST things to do if you visit:
The Savvy Suitcase Top 3 Picks:
1. View from level 2 of the Eiffel Tower. Worth every penny
2. The Louvre. There is no museum like it
3. French Cuisine. You must eat a French dinner, crepes, & macaroons
Thank you for reading! Au revoir!
*London posts are coming soon.. promise! 🙂