This was my first time in Paris. I don’t know how I got to 30 and had never been! I’ve been in France 6 times over the past 2 years but I’m a lady always chasing the sun so the south of France is usually where I end up.
As this was a special trip I planned everything I wanted to see but left time to wander and explore. You could spend the whole summer in Paris and still find new things but you can definitely see all the highlights in a 3 day trip.
We arrived fairly early to Paris on the Eurostar and headed straight to our Airbnb. It was the perfect Parisian apartment. It’s owned by a musician and artist and along with a classic french terrace and a massive bathtub it was decorated with lots of modern art and retro furnishings. We loved having an apartment so we could make our own breakfast as between us we are dairy, gluten and sugar free, which can be quite difficult in France. So once we dropped off the bags and changed for the glorious weather we headed out.
We took the metro, I hate being stuck in traffic in the summer, and got off at Concorde. We walked through the park Jardin des Tuileries before walking along the river towards Ile de la Cite. When you walk along the river you’ll see small stalls selling old books, art prints and souvenirs. I wouldn’t suggest buying anything there as it’s a bit of a tourist trap but they are so wonderful to see and look through the collections. We stopped to check out the sculptures in the court yard of Musée D’Orsay and if we weren’t desperate for lunch we would have gone inside.
Not far from there is Ile de la Cite, it’s one of two remaining islands in the river Seine. It’s the centre of Paris and one of the first places where people settled. It’s rich in history and full of iconic sites. We started with lunch in Place Dauphine, all the restaurants looked great but in Paris you generally need a reservation so we ate at the only place that had a table left outside and it was fantastic. After a large salad and a smallish glass of rosé we walked to the Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame is an iconic part of Paris. It’s beautiful French gothic architecture are a stunning sight but it’s your choice whether you want to queue (generally around 25 minutes) to go inside.
Just around the corner is one of the cutest cafe’s in Paris – Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole. It’s a gorgeous cafe and if you go in spring or summer you have the wisteria to frame your whole experience. Sit outside and have an espresso or glass of wine but if you’re a rosé snob like me then do NOT order the rosé. The service is great and food looked delicious and if you are looking for the perfect Parisian instagram picture then this is your spot!
Head to Le Village de Saint Paul to cruise the antique shops, there are so many treasures! I found some beautiful old gold pendants in a shop on Rue St. Paul.
Next we went to Le Marais to explore. We started at Place des Vosges which is one of the oldest squares in Paris. If the weather is good this beautiful square will be full of Parisians enjoying the weather and relaxing on the grass. Surrounding the gardens is the beautiful architecture of old Paris. Walk around the square under the arches, there’s lots of small art galleries showcasing a variety of incredible artists. If you are gluten free, vegan or looking for something healthy then here’s your chance to get an almond milk latté and gluten free banana bread at Juice Lab. Of course there’s also lots of gorgeous cafes and restaurants for rosé and treats.
We had planned to spend sunset at the top of the Arc de Triomphe but in summer the sun doesn’t set until after 10pm so we settled for an early evening trip to see a birds eye view of Paris. We decided not to go up the Eiffel Tower as you can queue for hours and you get an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower and the rest of the city at the top of the Arc de Triomphe. It’s quite the climb up the spiral staircase but definitely worth it.
We had an incredible list of restaurants to try but at the end of a very busy day we just chose to go somewhere close to our apartment. We ended up at Belle Maison where the food was ridiculously delicious, and the service was incredible. I loved that it was full of Parisians just enjoying their evening rather than a fancy restaurant full of tourists.
We started in the park – Champ de Mars to see the Eiffel Tower up close. It was a beautiful sight but the park isn’t always picture perfect, there is often some sort of construction or roped off sections as they have to keep up the grounds with millions of visitors, but you can always find a good photo spot.
Next was the chicest part of Paris, Saint-Germain-des-Prés. This neighbourhood is full of gorgeous antique stores (selling diamond rings that will take your breath away), luxury hotels, beautiful shops, and lots of amazing bars and restaurants. We strolled down Rue de Seine and went inside all the small art galleries before finding a spot in the sun at Huguette Bistro for a few glasses of rosé. I would definitely recommend this place if you’re in Paris in the summer.
The Louvre is 15 minute walk from Saint Germain so we crossed the bridge and entered the museum. Before going into this iconic museum I would make a list of what you really want to see. The Louvre is the biggest art museum in the world and you could spend days seeing all the exhibits. Of course the Mona Lisa is incredible to see but it’s a small painting and no matter what time you go there’s usually a large crowd in front of it. Being an art lover there was no way I was going to go to Paris and not explore the Louvre but I personally enjoyed going into all the small galleries around Paris more than I did the Louvre. I prefer to experience art in a quiet, uncrowded environment.
We headed back to Saint Germain for drinks and dinner. We had made dinner reservations earlier that day (a necessity in Paris) at a jazz club called Chez Papa Jazz Club. We had planned to go to Cafe Flore before hand, many people had recommended this restaurant, and it would have been perfect for people watching but it was very, very busy so we wandered round the smaller streets before having drinks outside where they were playing live music. If you like jazz music then I couldn’t recommended Chez Papa enough. The food isn’t the very finest food you will find in Paris but the live music was exceptional, the owners and staff were lovely and the price was very reasonable. It was the perfect evening.
We started the day with double espresso’s because after 2 days of adventures I was a little sleepy, and who doesn’t love a coffee in the sun?
We started our tour of Montmartre with the famous Sacre Couer. We didn’t go inside but wandered round the outside and ended up at Square Marcel Bleustien Blanchet, a lovely little garden at back of the Sacre Couer where I could put my feet on the grass (love my grounding) and bask in the sun for 5 minutes.
Spending the afternoon in Montmartre was such a dream. It’s been historically known as the artist district and Place du Tertre is full of artists where there are lots of options if you want a portrait or caricature done on the spot. At the far end of the square you will find Galerie Montmartre that’s got an interesting collection of art as well as some very famous paintings. The cobblestone streets are full of quirky shops, artists and cafe’s and offer a unique vibe to the rest of Paris. There’s also gluten free and dairy free crepes just off the square if your vegan or gluten-free.
Cafe La Maison Rose is definitely worth a visit. It was frequented my many famous artists, including Picasso. It features in many paintings and is just across the street from Musée de Monmartre. The food is simple, classically French and very tasty.
Of course we finished our visit to Monmartre at another quaint café with a glass of rosé before heading back to our apartment to pick up our bags and get our evening train back to London. We were in Paris for 3 days and 2 nights but by getting the early train there and evening train back to London it felt like we’d had a real holiday.
We saw a lot sights and spent a lot of time in restaurants, bars, and cafes, because what’s life without good food and drink?