For our second break this hockey season, we decided we would go to Paris since we are living only a two hour train ride from it. Paris is a very beautiful, grand city with lots of history and monuments. We were there for five days and I am sure we could go back to Paris over and over again and each time it would be a completely different experience. In this post you will find suggestions of where to stay, best ways to get around the city, some of our favourite restaurant spots and what we consider to be must-dos in Paris!
Where to Stay:
Paris is such a big city and we had a hard time deciding where we wanted to stay. It ended up that I was flying out of Paris to head home for the holidays so we decided we would stay near the airport for convenience sake with our bags. Paris is extremely spread out, so in our opinion there is no perfect spot to stay. We ended up staying in a hotel for this trip, as we booked fairly last minute and there weren’t many Airbnb’s to choose from but I would definitely recommend checking out both Airbnb and hotels to find the best fit for your trip. We would recommend staying near a metro station, as this is the most common way to get around the city.
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Getting Around Paris:
Before leaving for Paris, we did some research on getting around the city and it seemed like the metro was the most popular, so that's what we did. It is such an economical way of getting around, at less than 40 euros a person for a 5 day pass you really can't beat it. Due to the city size, it is sometimes hard to get around by Uber or Taxi because of all the traffic. On the metro, you truly get to experience the hustle and bustle of Parisian life. You may see people playing an instrument or singing a song to try and make some money, or people going from train to train asking for money for their family, and people trying to get some work done while on their daily commute. If you are claustrophobic, the metro may not be for you as it is constantly jam packed, but like I said, such an incredible way to experience some of the day-to-day Parisian life in an efficient and inexpensive way.
Due to the vast size of Paris, we did lots of walking, approximately 23,000 steps a day so I highly recommend bringing good walking shoes when going to Paris as you are sure to get your steps in. On our first full-day there, we did the SANDEMANS Free Walking Tour, like we did when we were in Lisbon, Portugal. We would highly recommend this to everyone as you get history about the city and get your lay of the land before venturing out and going to see everything you want to see during your time in Paris.
I feel as though we thought we were going to be underwhelmed by the Eiffel Tower, everyone talks about it being magical and well, we just didn't think it would live up to the hype. Oh, but it did. I encourage you to experience the Eiffel Tower both at night and during the day. We felt as though it was a completely different experience going at the two different times. During the day, you can appreciate how the structure was built and all of it's intricacies and at night you can see the grand tower absolutely glowing in the city of Paris. If you go at the top of the hour when it's dark, you will get to see it twinkle for five minutes. It truly is something spectacular.
One of our favourite spots was, Notre Dame Cathedral. It is a beautiful church that took 200 years to build and was restored over the course of seven centuries. It is free to go inside. You can see the beautiful stain glass windows and the exceptional design of the church. On the side of the church, there is an entrance to go up the church tower, it is many stairs to climb but the most incredible view of Paris and you also get to see the bells of the church tower, weighing approximately 12,000-14,000 kilograms. Nearby Notre Dame Cathedral, you will find Sainte-Chapelle. It is a beautiful church, with incredible stain glass windows. If you are going to this church, I highly recommend going when the sun is shining as this will allow you to really appreciate all of the stain glass.
The Catacombs in Paris is also very interesting to see. You walk through underground tunnels seeing the bones of over six million people. These bones were all transported here when the cemeteries were becoming overcrowded and putting them underground was a way of consolidating them. I recommend buying tickets for this online beforehand if you want to check it out as we waited for an hour and a half in line to get in.
If you are going at Christmas time, the Christmas Markets are absolutely beautiful. They have food, clothes, and various types of art. Make sure to try the hot wine while you are there paired with a crepe, you will feel super French! Galeries Lafayette is a grand, upscale department store in France. It is definitely worth walking through even if you don't like shopping. Take the escalators all the way to the top, as you can go outside for another great view of the city.
On our last day in Paris we decided to go to Disneyland and get the Euro Disney experience. We absolutely LOVED it. Neither of us have been to Disney since we were little so it was lots of fun after doing all of the sightseeing to go on some thrilling rides and see the amazing parks. We bought tickets online for both parks, Walt Disney Studios and Disneyland. I would recommend buying the tickets ahead of time as this is definitely less expensive than at the gate. We took the metro there, and it was simple to get to the park from the city. The rides were lots of fun and it was a completely new experience seeing it in French. If you get a chance to go, The Tower of Terror is a must in my opinion... Justin however, I think has a very different opinion on that ride. If you like thrilling rides, you will be sure to get your dose of these here. Make sure you stay until Disneyland closes as they have a tremendous light and firework show with a bit of a montage of all of the Disney movies.
Arc de Triomphe is another very neat monument to see. It is on the western end of Champs-Élysées. You can stand and watch all of the hustle and bustle around the traffic circle going around the Arc de Triomphe and then walk down the most famous street in Paris, Champs-Élysées. This street has been known for it's upscale shopping.
If you are looking for a spot to eat nearby the Eiffel Tower, make sure you go to Alfio. It is the cutest little Italian Restaurant with reasonable prices and less than a five minute walk to the Eiffel Tower. A friend of ours recommended this restaurant to us, and it sure did not disappoint. Another recommendation we received was a little restaurant called, HolyBelly. It has an unbelievable breakfast. We aren't used to French breakfasts yet... pastries, cheese, and meats just isn't our ideal breakfast. Maybe one day, but not so far. This was an excellent spot to get some eggs, toast, bacon, hash browns, you know, all of the stuff we know and love in North America. If you are looking to try meat or cheese fondue, there is a tiny little restaurant called Le Refuge Des Fondus. The restaurant is so tiny that you drink your wine from baby bottles to not risk people spilling it. The perfect combination of wine, cheese and bread. You will really be living the French lifestyle here. This restaurant is less than a five minute walk from Sacré-Coeur Basicalla in Montmarte.
If you are heading to Paris and want to hear more about our experience, I would love to chat. Happy New Year Everyone!