If I am completely honest, I didn’t know how I felt about Paris on the first day. It didn’t capture my heart, in a love at first sight kind of way. It was hot, there was an abundance of tourists and I hadn’t quite stumbled across the areas that felt like “me”; these are small things that I guess I can blame on jet-lag.
I’m prefacing this with I thought I had longer in Paris. With booking our flights and Airbnb, there was a disparity with dates, only made aware to us in our two-hour layover in Bangkok. Our host messages us saying that she was “out the front of her place”, and we were like “uh, we’re still in transit”. Anyway, it didn’t matter in the end, it just meant I was going to have to jam pack the days that I had.
When it comes to traveling, I don’t like tourist zones and although I do like seeing landmarks, I like to do it in a fleeting moment. For me, traveling to other countries is more about finding those pockets that have character and personality; the quiet zones where there may be an amazing book shop, local markets or a quaint café. I think we spent a good part of the first day first day admiring the Parisians below on the streets from various cafes we found a long the way.
Some standout moments for me were a picnic at Canal Saint-Martin at 9:30pm on the first night, stumbling across flea markets, picking up expired film from a little vintage camera shop (stay tuned), Charlot Café people watching and walking around Paris early morning when no one else was around.
Now that I have travelled more, I kind of have a method to my madness. This is how I like to approach new place, this may or may not work for you. If I only have a few short days, day one is all about doing the classic things, day two and three are about getting to know the city on a more local level.
This is when you should tick off as much of your French bucket list as possible. As such, the first 24 hours are all about seeing those iconic places you’ve seen in movies, on your Instagram feed etc. With this, you will have A LOT of ground to cover, so make sure your sneakers are comfortable!
Visit the Eiffel Tower at Sunrise: This ensures there isn’t many tourists around as well as it’s so nice to start the day with no one around. It’s almost like you have Paris to yourself.
Walk along the Seine: It is absolutely beautiful and well worth it, as you see a lot of Paris in doing so. I prefer to walk everywhere as opposed to taking Ubers or the Metro. If I don’t cover 20,000 steps in a day I am disappointed – ha!
Check out the Louvre: It’s a must if you’re an art lover, however be prepared to be elbowing your way through 1,000,000 tourist carrying selfie sticks as though they’re a cool thing to use in 2018, to only catch a glimpse of the Mona Lisa on someone else’s iPhone screen. It’s pretty intense!
Some more: Arc de Triomphe, Notre-Dame de Paris, Champs-Élysées, Panthéon… The best thing is to look on a map, make a list of what is close together and walk!
DAY TWO AND THREE
On day two and three spend your time doing less touristy things and lose yourself in the city like a local. Stumble across some amazing galleries and bookshops and find your way to a cliché Parisian café.
- If bookshops are your thing, then OFR & Yvon Lambert Book Store are a must.
- Galleries: Palais De Tokyo The Centre Pompidou
- I found this really handy for good food rec’s for cool hidden spots (GOOP)
- I loved spending the day around Le Marais, just wandering
- Have a picnic on the seine river or at Canal Saint-Martin
- Andy Wahloo (Owners of Sketch in London)
- Boot Cafe for good coffee
- Season (Go for breakfast)
- Charlot Cafe for Aperol Spritz, people watching and the best burger.
- Clown Bar (You’ll need to make a booking)
AREAS THAT ARE A MUST SEE
Montmartre, Le Marais, St Germaine, Canal Saint-Martin, Bastille,
Paris is very easy to get around. There is the underground Metropolitan, buses, local trains and of course Uber and Taxi’s. I do suggest walking though. It’s definitely doable if you plan out what areas you’re dedicating a day to.
WHAT TO PACK
- Electricity is of the 220v standard, with the 2 pin European style plug
- For this time of year: Dresses, linen and button up linen shirt
- Battery pack
- Camera + charger
- Light weight jacket
- Handbag and smaller handbag
- Tote bag and Turkish towel to use for a picnic
- Euros – of course!
The independent ones recommended from some friends, but I didn’t get a chance to get to!
Palais De Tokyo, The Centre Pompidou, Lafayette, Whitespace, Galerie Xippas, Agnes B – Galerie du Jour
WHERE TO STAY
We chose to stay in an Airbnb and it was perfect for what we needed. It had a cute Juliette balcony, kitchen, clean bathroom and was a loft style. The only thing I would make mention if you do choose a classic Parisian style apartment, you will be walking up at least 6 flights of stairs with your bags as they’re all walk up apartments! This in the summer proved to be very, very hot!
In the end, Paris lived up to all my expectation. I feel like I have only scratched the surface. I hope if you’re going this hopes you to make it everything you hope it will be.
If you have any tips to contribute, please comment on this post! I would love to hear how your Paris experience was!