A trip to the City of Lights has been on my bucket list since Day 1. The city’s appeal is so overwhelming: fine French food, beautiful wines, gorgeous architecture and a population dripping with je ne sais quoi.
About a year ago, I got an invitation from my beautiful and stylish cousin to attend her wedding in southern Italy. Ryan and I happily accepted and we both thought that this was our chance to squeeze in a trip to Paris. We contacted our friends in London and all agreed to go to Paris together. Here are some highlights from our memorable trip. Now keep in mind that due to our short time there, we decided to hit up the most popular sights like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notredame Cathedral, etc. Unfortunately, we did not have too much time to explore as much as we wanted to.
Les Deux Magots
I will start by stating that Ryan is “Tour Guide Extraordinaire”. He is a walking encyclopedia of sights to see, restaurants to experience and neighbourhoods to visit. Ryan suggested lunch at Les Deux Magots, one of Paris’ oldest cafés. Ryan, being a history buff, felt that this restaurant was a must-see. Located in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, it was the meeting place of Paris’ literary and artistic elite such as Hemingway, Sartre and Picasso. This bustling restaurant featured the best Quiche Lorraine I have ever had and I thought I knew good rosé before…well, their simple house rosé knocked my socks off. Three rosés later, Ryan propped me up while I gushed to the amused server in Franglais about the wonderfulness of Les Deux Magots.
Located in the Sofitel Hotel Arc de Triomphe a few steps away from the Champs-Elysées, this café/grocer-canteen is cozy, warm and amazing. Owner José Da Rosa travelled the world looking for unique, quality products to stock his café. We had some of the best wine here, and the food is divine. Men will especially love this café as all of the servers look like models. Cheeses and cured meats are on display beautifully, and large windows overlook the charming rue Beaujon. This place was so good, we went back twice.
*Prosciutto at Da Rosa
*Mmmm…escargots en beurre
“Très chic” are the only words I can use to describe this store. Full of amazing and unique pieces, it was hard not to completely max out my credit card. This store embodies Parisian cool – think perfectly handmade cocktail dresses, super soft cashmere everything, flowy, bohemian shirts and well-tailored chinos in every colour of the rainbow. I LOVED this store, and felt very pleased with myself as I left loaded down with bags full of goodies that no one would have back home. A real highlight.
While walking happily down the Champs-Elysées towards l’Arc de Triomphe, I heard a sweet voice calling my name in a French accent. I looked around and eventually locked eyes with a dapper stranger. His name? Louis Vuitton. As I wriggled free from Ryan’s “no shopping at Vuitton” death grip, I mentally calculated how much damage I was about to do.
A trip to Paris wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Louis Vuitton’s flagship store on the Champs-Elysées. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I walked in. Five floors of killer handbags, glittering jewels, luxurious furs, shoes, luggage….le sigh!!! I walked around blinded by the beauty and Ryan, mostly impervious to the call of designer labels, walked around the store just as mesmerized. An interior-design jewel, this store is worth a visit just to admire the décor.
We spent an afternoon walking around this charming area located on a hill and featuring the Basilica of the Sacré Coeur. I was dying walking around knowing that the likes of Picasso, Modigliani, Pissaro, Van Gogh and Dali also walked these same cobblestone streets. Pop into one of the dozens of art shops and treat yourself to an original oil painting. Totally romantic, totally memorable.
*Basilica Sacré Coeur
I am an art history buff. Couple that with my love of museums and art galleries, my visit to the Louvre put me in 7th heaven. Located on the Right Bank, the Louvre is a central landmark of Paris. The Museum features almost 35,000 objets d’art including French, Greek, Roman and Islamic antiquities. You can find masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa, Liberty Leading the People, the Coronation of Josephine, along with the sculptures of Venus de Milo and Winged Nike of Samothrace (a personal favourite). Be sure to get shots of the exterior to capture the beauty of the Glass Pyramid. I’m sighing un p’tit peu writing this. Possibly the most beautiful fortress on Earth, we were stunned at the sheer size of it. Stunned at the sheer size of it, we were amazed to learn that the museum is housed in a palace that double as a fortress hundreds of years ago. Check out it’s complete history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louvre.
*Winged Nike of Samothrace
New Hotel Roblin La Madeleine
This gorgeous little hotel is situated in between the Opera Garnier and the Champs-Elysées. Close to shopping and sights, this hotel is beautiful decorated and has rooms boasting dark, moody décor but balanced with bright light filtering in from large windows. Best of all (for me), the bathrooms were stocked with Hermès toilettries. Vive la France!
We plan on heading back to Paris soon to get to know the city better and experience a little more from less of a tourist lens. What are some of your favourite Parisian spots? Any tips you care to share? Feel free to contribute in the comments section!
*Header pic courtesy of Beautiful Scenery Photography (www.bfz.biz)