Let me begin by saying, everything you’ve heard in your lifetime about Paris being a magical city…it’s all true! After spending 6 days in this city I am absolutely smitten with it, and know undoubtably that I’ll be back one day!
There is so much to see in Paris, it can be a little overwhelming at times deciding what to do. My advice to anyone planning their first trip to Paris is do your research. This is a city full to the brim with things to do, and if you try to see everything you’ll go crazy! Half the magic of Paris is the atmosphere, so don’t contaminate your trip with stress and the feeling you have to do everything. Research and decide which sites are the most important to you, being sure to take notes what days the site is open, and which district it’s in, so you can create a more manageable itinerary. Secondly, be realistic about how much you can do during one day/your stay; don’t try to squeeze too many things to do into your holiday.
The week leading up to our trip my nose was happily buried in Paris travel guides, and I read through hundreds of blogs with helpful advice. Before I stepped foot on our plane to Paris I had a list put together of wonderful things to do, with all my facts compiled, and a few backup plans in case of bad weather. In the end, that piece of paper never left my purse and it greatly reduced the stress of our trip.
We decided to rent a small flat in the Canal St Martin area called The Chef’s Flat (Airbnb link: here) run by a lovely lady named Elisa. We loved our stay here because it felt more like a home than a hotel. So, the first morning that I woke up in Paris I delighted in throwing open the large windows and happily watched the morning hustle and bustle of true Parisians while drinking my coffee and munching on a croissant.
My father was coming out a day later than my mother and I, so we debated what to do that day. We didn’t want to visit any of our major Paris highlights without him, so we settled on visiting a smaller museum and going for a girls-date at a fancy cafe I’d been dying to go. A cafe that my father mostly likely wouldn’t have enjoyed very much.
First we visited the Musée de l’Orangerie, which is a small, serene art gallery of impressionist work located in the west corner of the Tuileries Gardens next to the Place de la Concorde. I was lured here for Claude Monet’s “Les Nymphéas” paintings. On the upper level of this museum are two oblong rooms with ceilings that allow for plenty of natural light to filter in (designed by Monet himself) to house the 8 long murals he painted while working on his most passionate art project: water lilies throughout the seasons.
The reason I loved this museum and wanted to go was because I deeply admire Monet’s art. I’m not much of an art person, but I have always enjoyed work done by Monet. In particular, his water lily paintings lure me like a moth to a flame. There is something so calming about gazing at them, the hues that he uses I find enchanting, and it’s art like this that I can stare at for great lengths of time without feeling the slightest desire to look away. So even though this museum is 1/100 the size of The Louvre, I actually enjoyed it more. I strolled around each room savouring looking at them both from afar and up close, before sitting on the benches and contemplating each painting in due turn with absolute awe and joy.
After this we explored the basement that houses the Walter-Guillaume collection which contains works by Picasso, Renoir, Soutine, Modigliani, Cezanne, and many others. This art once belonged in the personal collection of Paul Guillaume’s who was a key figure on the Parisian artistic and literary scene of the 1920s. Upon his death his wife donated the collection to the state.
After our cultural appetite was satisfied it was time to trot across the beautiful Tuileries Gardens to satisfy another appetite. I have a huge sweet tooth, so Paris was a dream come true and it’s incredible that I can still fit into my skinny jeans after 2 weeks in France.
Ever since I first heard about the cafe Angelina (while reading my guiltiest blog pleasure The Londoner) I knew that their legendarily-sinful African hot chocolate was something that could not go unsampled while I was in Paris. Perhaps it’s a little touristy, but the desserts really are worth the hype! We each ordered the African hot chocolate which is basically pure molten chocolate, and atop this thick & creamy hot chocolate you put a dollop of whip cream to make it even more indulgent. It will certainly haunt my dreams for years to come! We also ordered a lemon tart and a mont-blanc (the signature dessert of Angelina) to share. If you love sweets like I do, be sure to pop in and indulge your sweet tooth. I make a bold claim, but I’ll stand by it, when I say you’ll definitely regret not doing so. There are a few locations around Paris, although I’ve been told the one by the Tuileries Garden is the nicest, and even one at the Palace of Versailles if you happen to be out there for a day!
After Angelina’s we headed back to the Canal St Martin area to meet my father who had just arrived in Paris. I relaxed and took a nap while he settled in. I woke up feeling much better (jet lag is always an evil thing!) so we decided to stroll down around the Notre-Dame Cathedral area around sunset.
I was really excited to explore the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore (little bookworm that I am) and my non-romantic, “ice-queen” heart melted a smidgeon looking at all the love-locks on a bridge near the cathedral.
Dad was quite hungry so we scoped out a delicious-looking restaurant in the Latin Quarter and settled down for some mussels cooked in white wine and then covered in cream made by this talented and very friendly gent. They were divine, and our family gorged ourselves on them, and dunked the bread in the leftover sauce, being careful to let none go to waste.
I could have happily rolled home by this point, but mom wanted to walk a few of those mussels off. Our little “stroll” along the river ended up turning into a 2-hour mission to walk to the base of the Eiffel Tower which was dazzling. It was well past midnight when this tuckered-out Cinderella got home, and I fell asleep faster than you could say “Fais de beaux rêves.”