Last September, when we went to Europe for our anniversary, we ended the vacation in France. We stayed for 4 days in Paris and travelled out to Versailles for a day trip. I loved Paris! Our time there was too short. We stayed in the 16th district, at the Best Western Victor Hugo. This neighbourhood was beautiful and full of the Parisian charm that first time visitors are looking for. It took about an hour to get to the hotel from the airport. When we arrived and settled in to the hotel, it was dinner time; we headed out to the center of the neighbourhood, where there were markets, the metro, ice cream parlours, and beautiful cafes. We didn’t want to spend all of our food budget in the first night and were looking for a light dinner, we found a cute little grab and go called Fresh. I gave my grade 12 French skills a run for their money and had to communicate in French to order. I wont lie, it was kind of fun.
We then headed out to navigate the metro to the Champs- Elysees, it was fairly close to get to. The Metro was new, clean, and easy to navigate, which makes a tourist’s life easier. See me posing with Parisian Subway Tile-the mark of a home décor enthusiast.
We were stunned at the beauty of Champs Elysees when we walked out of the metro, and after roaming down the avenue and seeing the luxury boutiques and stores, we were quickly thankful we didn’t eat in the area (due to cost). There was a McDonald’s on the avenue, equipped with an extensive security check line, patio dining, and multiple order kiosks. As I did in Rome (ordering Italian gelato) from McCafe, I order some Parisian macaroons. It was most likely the only macaroon I could afford on this street.
The next morning we woke up early and headed out the Louvre. We wanted to make sure we were there at opening to be able to marvel at the Mona Lisa with as few on-lookers as possible. Well armed with a Nintendo DS Tour Guide/Map, it felt like we had walked everywhere in the museum except the room the Mona Lisa was in (Maybe exaggerating a bit- considering the museum is 650,000sq feet and the largest museum in the world). After searching for 40 minutes we found her, and a crowd. But It was still nice to see all other other wings and areas. After we went to see the Venus Di Milo and other stunning works of art.
After the few hours in the Louvre, we realized that we needed to make our way to the Eiffel Tower for our booked time of 1pm. We scrambled to find a bus stop from the Louvre to Eiffel; we took the route 69 bus that drives by many Parisian landmarks.
I highly recommend booking a viewing/elevator time ahead of your visit to the Eiffel Tower. We booked a ride to the 2nd floor two months ahead of our visit, but we wanted to go to the very top, however it was already sold out on that day/time. The view from the 2nd deck is still amazing, and if you’re on a budget, I would recommend this option. The tourists that had to wait in the regular line were waiting 90 minutes plus!
The views were great, especially on a bright sunny day. But be mindful of the many vendors and pick pockets around and in the tour. And try to get something to eat before you get there, because they inflate their price for water and hotdogs etc.
Dining in Paris
Later that night we followed advice from travel blog and stopped at Le Refuge des Fondus. We(I) stepped way out of our comfort zone for cheese. Located in the picturesque neighbourhood of Montmartre, its easier to show it to you, than describe it….
This is it, the WHOLE thing. Two banquet tables long, if you want in our out, you’re climbing up and over the table. My anxiety was through the roof with people walking on tables with hot oil and melted cheese. The Menu? Red or White Wine, served a la baby bottle, and Fondues- cheese or meat. No Menus, no privacy, no comfort zones. The restauranteurs are known for their cheesy/crusty attitudes. We sat beside a lovely couple from Switzerland, who had been on exchange in Cornwall, Ontario recently. This was one of best memories from the whole trip. We recommend for authentic Parisian fondue!
After dinner we rolled down the streets of Montmartre, to see The Basilica of Sacré-
We loved Paris, France and cannot wait to go back!