The city of love, romance and general swooning on every rue. Paris is a no-brainer for most wanderlust-ers with iconic landmarks, wonderful food and just general good vibes everywhere. It’s easy to fall for such a lovely city.
When did we go
July 31st- August 2nd 2016 (2 nights, 2.5 days). Taking the Eurostar from St Pancras took us swiftly to the centre of Paris in just over 2 hours.
Where we stayed
After much deliberation (there are HUNDREDS and hundreds of hotels) we went for the small but perfectly formed Hotel Henriette. Located in the Latin Quarter the nearest metro is Les Gobelins on the 7 line, but wander up the road towards Place d’Italie and you’ve got line 6 taking you past every landmark worth visiting.
Down a tiny road Rue des Gobelins, we couldn’t believe how quiet, quaint and quintessentially Parisian the road was. We really felt like we lucked out. On top of that we were greeted by the friendliest concierge we’ve ever met. We really wish we caught his name but sadly we only saw his once more in our entire stay. Whoever you were between 4-6pm on Sunday 31st July – Thank you!
He checked us in, gave us a local restaurant guide and warmly welcomed us in – we were really impressed. The decor was homely – as in I wish our home looked like this. Not like your nans living room by any stretch of the imagination and not like a vast corporate lobby. We had even forgotten the adorable courtyard the hotel had.
For booking directly (you should know by now we love booking directly) we had a breakfast included in the rate for one of the mornings. Breakfast was as good as continental hotel breakfasts go. And the dining room – please can my kitchen/dining room look like this!
We stayed in room 21 and it was next to the lift. Which when we first got in we realised you could hear the lift mechanics – but don’t worry – once you start putting the TV on or using the bathroom or chatting you don’t notice it again. The decor was lovely once again. Planning on putting a strip through the middle of our bedroom now too. #decorgoalz
We overlooked the courtyard and had the classic Parisian rooftop view too so a bonus. We both slept well so the bed were good. And the bathroom was well appointed. We’re not a fan of those tiny hotel toiletries so we always welcome seeing big bottles of product attached to the wall – and having NUXE bath products were great!
We’d happily stay here again – at first we thought it was a little far out of town – but the area was great, safe and quiet. Perfect to get away from the hub of Paris. And most importantly we’d recommend it to our loved ones.
What we did
Well we’re going to read like a bit of a tick sheet – so bear with us! After arriving at Gare du Nord at 2 pm we bought our transport cards and headed for lunch somewhere near by. Following faithfully the instruction on our Paris edition of our google map. We were very soon walking up 100’s (okay, a couple of dozen) of steps and before we knew our lunch stop was next to the Sacre-Coeur. Such tourists! So of course we ate and took in the amazing views of the Paris we were yet to explore. (And yes, we got the funicular on the way down!)
We then wandered the streets below and headed to Concorde so we could wander up the Champs toward the Arc de Triomphe. The Champs-Elysées is long – longer than we anticipated. So after we got underneath the Arc we decided it was time to head to our hotel and check in! The lovely concierge, as mentioned, gave up a list of local restaurants and personal recommendations so that evening we found Square Saint-Medard and enjoyed an evening of watching the passerby’s.
After a long dinner we decided we needed to see the Eiffel tower after dark! We got there just before 11pm and found a patch on the grass at the foot of the tower. It felt like magic watching it glitter and after the first couple of minutes trying to capture it – we realised the photos could not do justice to the real thing so we gave up lied back and watched it in all it’s glory.
The next day
After breakfast at the hotel the next day we decided to get our tourist on – after waiting in queue (book online first- always book online!) for the Louvre we got in and made it to the VERY underwhelming Mona Lisa. We were more impressed by the crowds she garnered than the actual picture. Not to mention all the elbow jabs from the rowdy 10.30am crowd. We then went through the usual hoops and saw all the other classics.
Finding the “sortie” was more of a challenge and talk about exit through the gift shop – is it normal to have a Apple Store in the gallery?! Suitably unimpressed we decided to wander down the Seine and head to the Notre Dame. It was such a beautiful day and the Paris Plages were packed! We’d read about the initiative before we came – but we had too much sight seeing to stop and experience.
Photo taken of the Notre Dame – food was on our mind once again – we’d somehow made our way to the Centre Pompidou – but hungry we swiftly moved on. After a little bit of aimless wandering we found ourselves back at the Seine and only had one thing on our mind. The Eiffel Tower. Catching a bus that drove us through all the streets we made it to the famous green (which was actually yellow following the Euros). We had to take the “Us and Eiffel” shot before heading in.
We were so impressed with the tower. The architecture, the view from the top, middle, bottom. Not to mention so welcome after the morning we’d had. We loved every second. Even the hour long queue to get tickets wasn’t so bad on a sunny afternoon. We went for the ticket to the top. Two lifts and you have a stunning view of Paris. The descent was even better, stopping for pretzels and exploring the first floor. Even washing your hands over looking Paris impressed us. We decided to walk from the second floor down – and it’s really not that many steps. But heading down is always easier than up.
That evening we headed back to our hotel and looked up some places to eat. We found ourselves at the Pathenon. And picked a small restaurant with a stunning view of the tower on one side and the Pantheon on the other. It was a lovely way to while away the evening as the darkness drew in and the tower lit up! After another long dinner we decided to walk back to our hotel instead of metro and it was a really lovely walk – and we were amazed when all of a sudden we had navigated back to the square we had had dinner the night before. Basically we loved the area we stayed in!
The next day was Anders’ birthday (woo) and all she wanted was breakfast. ALL DAY LONG. So we woke up late (check out up until 11.30am!) and headed over to Montparnasse. After breakfast pt.1 we walked to the Catacombs – but the terrible weather that morning had attracted the tourist crowds. There were enormous queues attempting to take shelter from the rain.
So instead we headed over to the shopping spots via Jardin des Tuileries and caught a cracking shot of the ferris wheel, Concorde and Arc de Triomphe perfectly aligned!
The fashion student was fangirling hard when we walked down Rue Cambon – including waiting a full 10 minutes to get the perfect door shot! Then we went over to Galleries Lafayette to see the view from the Rooftop. We tried to align ourselves with the eiffel tower (but failed!!) and then we went to peruse the stationery to buy our souvenir print for our home.
With just a few hours remaining in Paris we seeked out our second breakfast and decided to end the day in Monmatre – we’d been waiting three days to have a drink and wander these streets and they were picture perfect!
Where we ate
We loved the food and we’ve written a more in more detail about our brunches in a separate blog post. But we also enjoyed some great dinners, some good snacks and the classic Laudree macaroons.
Our first stop was Hardware Societe near the Sacre Couer. An Australian brunch import they have a sister restaurant in Melbourne. The food was great, the atmosphere friendly and I’m sure everyone who visits’ Instagram feed is awash with #foodporn.
On our first night we took the recommendation of the hotel and found Cave La Bourgogne. We both had boeuf steak avec pomme de terre. Because ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Paris (and red wine). Woo. It was perfect. And we had two cracking desserts too.
We snacked on pastries from PAUL’s for elevenses the next day and went in search of Folks and Sparrows. Which we later found out was closed – we had a bit of a food fail and didn’t eat again until the middle of the Eiffel tower!
That evening we had ratatouille and steak again at Le Comptoir du Panthéon we sampled Parisian beer – which was great – we must track it down here. And had a Creme Brulee the size of our face and a Nutella filled crepes. We were very content.
The next day was a birthday breakfast extravaganza of food heading to Colorova and Frenchie to go. But we also experience the mania of Ladurée and had a surprisingly good Croque Monsieur on the Eurostar home. whut. whut.
Everywhere we went was really good – even the random ones do great food it seems. Or maybe we were really lucky!
Places we wish we went to
After the disappointment of the Louvre we discovered all the good french art is in Musee l’Orangerie and d’Orsay. And both were shut on Tuesday’s. Next time we’re coming back and enjoying all the impressionist goodness (seriously look at this Google 360!).
We also wanted to try Folks and Sparrow but sadly the day we arrived, they had shut for summer!
The Catacombs would’ve been pretty awesome to see too!
We loved our choice of hotel but another contender was Mama Shelter. But being far out also we opted for our one. Maybe next time we’ll stay here (or at one of their other hotels in Marseille, Bordeaux, Lyon and LA!)
We’d also like to go to Le Marais as we didn’t spend a lot of time there. Lots of noteworthy restaurants we’d have liked to have tried were based here as well as Le Comptoir General on the Saint Martin Canal.
I think we’ve already planned a second trip!
Would we go back?
The easiest place we’ve ever travelled to one of the most interesting and we’ve only just scratch the surface – so yes, we can’t wait to come back next time and we already have a big to do list!
Good to know before you go
~Security is obviously heightened everywhere – every monument, attraction and anywhere worth going. It’s not a problem -it’s not a chore and it is comforting to see. You have to queue twice for everything but be grateful you do and that it’s there. And respect the rules. You get through the security queues in next to no time.
~City cards available but it’s another one of those weigh up what you want to do vs what have to do included in the card. We went for 3-day travel cards for just 27Euro.
~Obviously they speak French, and most waiting staff and the tourist hotspots will have some English under their belt, but we’d recommend flexing that GCSE French to get around with.
~The city is big and the public transport is great and easy to use – we encourage you to use line 6 (a mostly above ground route) and get buses for a great way to see some amazing views of Paris.
~Don’t forget to take home some macaroons to cure those post paris blues!
Adieu Paris mon amour jusqu’à la prochaine fois (hopefully google translate has improved since GCSE’s circa 2004/5!)
Andrea & Dan