Itineraries

My Trip To Paris

I wanted to make sure my entire trip was in one post instead of spreading it out between different posts. As a result, it’s long and photo-heavy. I hope you don’t mind… at the very least, consider this a 20-minute escape from your everyday. Ideally, I wish everyone could have tagged along for the trip because, ugh, it was incredible.

I know I say this all the time, but I’m just not the biggest fan of traveling. This trip, however, may have been a tipping point for me. I loved every minute of it. I had some anxiety leading up to the trip, but really once the plane took off from Newark, I was at ease.

This was, without a doubt, the best trip I’ve ever been on. I think it was a combination of a few things, but namely that I had been there before and already had a good mental picture of the city and a general sense of what to expect. Even still though, while it was familiar, it felt like a totally different trip and experience. As much as I like to plan things out, I went into this trip without an itinerary and instead just had a few things in mind that I definitely wanted to do/see. Otherwise, we did things on our own schedule and never felt rushed or stressed.

I already know I will definitely return again. For my next trip, I’d love to stay in a rental apartment for a week or two and settle in a little more and take things even slower. That’s one of the best parts of traveling to somewhere you’ve already been– you don’t have to do ~everything~. I think it’s why I love my time on Nantucket in the summers, too… It becomes a true vacation versus a #trip.

(I traveled with my boyfriend, but as always, I ask that you respect his privacy.)

HOTEL: I booked the Ritz. I spent more time than I’d like to admit looking up hotels for our trip. I kept coming back to the Ritz. It was an incredible hospitality experience– so much so, that I’m going to be dedicating tomorrow’s post to it. This one got way too long and I figured that was a good dividing line. So… come back tomorrow for a review on that!

Jardin de Tuileries

DAY 1, Friday:

– We took the redeye into Charles de Gaulle airport. The flight landed around 7:30 am local time. After a quick shuttle ride to baggage claim, we breezed through the airport, collected our bags, and hopped into a car. By then we were in a little bit of the morning commuter traffic, but it wasn’t too terrible. Our driver swung us by the Eiffel Tower and we hopped out for a quick pic. No joke, it’s the worst photo I’ve ever seen of myself– the red-eye clearly took its toll lol.

– After an easy check-in, we changed and quickly freshened up and hit the ground running. I was expecting a slower day, but the adrenaline was flowing and I wasn’t as tired as I expected to be.

– The first real spot we spent time in was the Jardin Tuileries. If the pictures don’t convince you, I want you to know just how incredible the gardens are in the fall. Yes, they are stunning when it’s warm and green and summery. But wow, the colors during fall. There is something magical about the light and every leaf seemed to be putting on a show. Spending time in the gardens and public parks is one of my favorite things about Paris in general. It’s such a great communal space. As you look around you’ll spot tourists relaxing on chairs, kids playing, and locals exercising. People might be closing their eyes in a quiet corner or spread out with friends chatting over bread and cheese.

Paris Garden

– We made our way across the Seine for a quick bite to eat. I know there are incredible restaurants everywhere around Paris, but honestly, give me ham and cheese on a baguette and I’m one happy lady.

Dorsay Museum

Musée d’Orsay was right there and we decided to pop in. For my last trip, I bought the Paris Pass, but this time around we did more of an a la carte museum tour. (A few factors went into this, but mostly the fact that we didn’t have an overall plan. Plus we knew we’d be doing a day trip right in the middle– therefore, the four-day consecutive pass wouldn’t have worked for us.) A lot of people were waiting in line for tickets. I ended up just buying the tickets from my phone for each museum as we waited in the security line. Worked out perfectly each time as they instantly email you the e-ticket and then they scan your phone. Saved us so much time that way– and we didn’t waste any money purchasing tickets we didn’t have a need for.

I was slightly disappointed to see that Musée d’Orsay was under construction. As a result, the areas that were open were super congested. It was, by far, the most overwhelming museum experience we had– even more so than the Louvre!

With that said, I was still able to see everything I wanted to. Including works by Van Gogh, Monet, and Degas. I was particularly taken by the paintings of Charles de Tournemine, especially his African Elephants.

Musée d'Orsay

Degas

– At this point, it’s late afternoon and the jetlag is catching up. I’m pretty sure this is when we headed back to the hotel to do a little work and to sneak in a quick nap. I say “pretty sure” because after the d’Orsay, I have zero photos on my phone until we headed back out, haha.

Louvre at Night

– It had been recommended to us that we try to go to the Louvre at night! They have late-night hours on Wednesday and Friday. Well, we weren’t going to be there Wednesday night, so we despite the exhaustion, we forced ourselves to go back out for round 2. It was SO worth it– highly recommend visiting at night if you’re able to. The crowds were way more manageable (it’s more single families than giant tours– they clearly come during the day) and the museum just had an awesome vibe with no daylight.

The only downside to the Louvre is that it’s so giant, it’s impossible to see everything. We each went in with a list of a few pieces we definitely wanted to see and otherwise wandered and stopped whenever we saw something that piqued our interest.

Louvre

By the time we left, I was starving (borderline hangry). The restaurant we wanted to go to was too long of a wait, so we popped into a restaurant near the hotel for a quick bite. We got champagne, caviar, sardines burgers, fries. Maybe the weirdest order ever, but when you’re tired and hungry and find yourself in Paris, it felt just right 😉(I’m a fan of sardines in general, but these were the best I’ve ever had in my life and definitely my favorite thing we ate all trip.)

Montmartre

DAY 2, Saturday:

– We slept in a bit on Saturday, which I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt for because our first day was so fulfilling. Montmartre was on the top of our “wishlists” for visiting so we grabbed a coffee and popped into a car to head up. Montmartre is such a charming neighborhood. Winding steep roads, unique buildings, and a gorgeous view overlooking Paris. Sacré-Cœur is a basilica perched right on the hill– it’s truly the centerpiece of Montmartre. (It’s pretty cool because you can see Sacré-Cœur overlooking the city from all corners of Paris!)

It’s very touristy, but honestly? I don’t mind. It just has such a nice charm to it. We spent the better part of the day in Montmartre, wandering around and popping in and out of shops. For lunch, we found a little Italian place where I ate my weight in homemade gnocchi.

L Maison Rose

Paris Pastries

– Then we made our way back down to and went to Musée de l’Orangerie. This is my favorite museum in the world. It holds Claude Monet’s Water Lilies. Every time I walk in, it takes my breath away. It’s truly hard to describe the artwork. There are two oval-shaped rooms each with a Water Lilies cycle– you feel like you’re in the painting in a sense as you’re completely surrounded by the work. It’s 360 degrees of water lilies and I love it! I kept joking that I could move in with a sleeping bag and live there, as long as someone would bring me croissants and cappuccinos for sustenance.

Monet Water Lilies

We rested up again at the hotel before going on a double date with Daphne and her fiance Vincent. I was so excited to see Daphne again and hoped our SOs would hit it off too. We went to Les Chouettes, a really cool restaurant with a library-esque vibe. The four of us sat there for five hours laughing and chatting. I’m so glad that I have amazing friends like Daphne– I just wish we lived closer!!

Daphne Mode and the City

Notre Dame

DAY 3, Sunday:

– Paris turned their clocks back overnight so it was actually much easier to get up than usual. (Funny story though, I was planning on getting up at 7:30, but for some reason,) my phone didn’t automatically turn back, so I was up and in the shower at 6:30. By the time I realized my phone was wrong– which included having to google “What time is it in Paris right now?”– I was like, oh well, I’m already up!)

We had breakfast at the hotel, which I’ll share more of tomorrow… it was dreamy… and then walked over to Notre Dame. We attended the 10 am Gregorian Mass. I’m not Catholic and I don’t speak French, so I was extremely lost through the whole thing. It was still a cool experience though and I’d recommend it for your next trip! I was just taking it all in and loved how beautiful the acoustics sounded. I could have listened to the singing all day long.

Luxembourg Gardens

– After the service, we sat down for espressos (very necessary) and then walked around the city quite a bit, eventually ending up in the Luxembourg Gardens. I think if I were to live in Paris, I’d want to live near this park. I love everything about it. The layout, the trees, the ponds. There are quiet nooks and great spots to people watch. You can run laps or sit and watch kids sail toy boats.

Paris Itinerary

– After spending quite a bit of time relaxing in the park, we made our way to the Arc de Triomphe. The line for this was super, super long… but I bought tickets for it while on the way over there and we breezed right through. It’s a relatively easy climb up. It only takes a few minutes to get to the top and the views are the best ever. The leaves were changing so perfectly and I could have cried it was so beautiful. I know this is a huge tourist destination, but I mean, that view. I’d gladly weave my way through a sea of selfie sticks for it!

Paris in Fall

Paris Rooftop

We took a few cabs here and there, but we mostly walked everywhere. I snapped these photos while out and about. It got dark very early because of the season + time change, but I think the city is even more beautiful when all lit up. It’s harder to photograph, but in person it felt like being on a movie set!

Paris at Night

– For dinner, we went to Bouillon Chartier. Daphne recommended it for my last trip and I couldn’t wait to get back for the escargot. It’s not the best food in the world, but the whole experience is, well, an experience. It’s one of the oldest restaurants in Paris at over 100 years old. Instead of doing dessert there, we walked back toward Le Meurice (a hotel near our hotel) for drinks and desserts and live music. By the time I went to bed, I was so full and as happy as could be.

Bouillon Chartier

DAY 4, Monday:

– For our fourth day, we planned on going out to Normandy. It’s a very long but totally doable day trip from Paris. In fact, I’d recommend making time to do it if you’re there for five days or longer. It’s worth cramming more into four days in Paris and spending a full day out there. I wasn’t totally looking forward to it because I wanted to be in Paris for as long as possible so the thought of taking a day trip anywhere wasn’t at the top of my priorities.

But I am so, so incredibly grateful we did. It was my favorite day. It’s emotional and moving in countless ways and the sheer beauty of Normandy is just as overwhelming as the history. I wouldn’t consider myself a history buff, but I’m (obviously) familiar with everything that happened. To actually be there is a totally different experience. I think I would have enjoyed history classes in high school more if I had had the opportunity to visit the actual locations.

The biggest thing for me was grappling with the idea that something that terrible could have occurred in a place so beautiful.

If you’re going to go, I can’t recommend booking a private tour enough. We took a train from Paris to Bayeux (a charming town, by the way) and then met our guide there. There are a few different options for getting around. You can rent a car in Paris and drive to Normandy and then drive yourself around. You can do a group tour. You can hire a chauffeur who will drive you, but you have to provide your own historical context (which can be done with the information provided at each site, but I’m not sure it’s enough). Or you can hire a private guide who will drive you and provide tours at each location. Brigitte from Unforgettable Normandy was our tour guide and we LOVED HER. She was so insightful and really did a wonderful job. She was able to tailor our tour exactly for what we wanted to see, while also giving us a great history lesson.

Bayeux

The church in Bayeux is older than Notre Dame! It was the shoulder season, so a ton of shops and restaurants were closed, but it was still such a lovely little town to walk through. You could get a sense for how bustling and quaint it must be in the summer months. (It actually reminded me a lot of Henley in England!)

Normandy Beaches

I’m not even going to be able to do this place justice in this post. All I can do is encourage everyone who has the chance to go, to go. I was really moved by how much the history impacted the current towns. Of course, it’s a source of revenue, but you also get the sense that the people haven’t forgotten the terror of what happened. That stories have been passed down and that they live on even now. It’s a common thread woven through each of the towns.

Normandy

Normandy Cemetery

We also visited the Normandy American Cemetery. I was extremely emotional and couldn’t really keep it together. I can’t describe it, but I was completely overcome with emotion. The cemetery is strikingly gorgeous– every detail is thought out and planned to an extreme. It overlooks the beaches. The day we were there was very windy and the water was rough, so there was an overpowering sound of the water breaking. It doesn’t feel real and feels all too real at the same time.

Even as I type this and upload the photos, I can feel myself choking up again.

We were there right after the tragedy in Pittsburgh and, ugh, it makes you really think about the history and the hate that the world has already seen. It’s difficult to comprehend or come to terms with the fact that it’s still happening. I said prayers for those who lost their lives then, as well as their family members, and for the victims from the Tree of Life Synagogue.

Normandy Memorial

“Think not only upon their passing, remember the glory of their spirit.”

Paris Flowers

DAY 4, Tuesday:

– Our last full day in Paris was off to a rainy start. After a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, we bundled up and walked the mile or so to the Picasso Museum.

Paris Picasso

This was my first visit and I loved it. We got there right as it opened and I’m glad we did because it got quite crowded. (I think it was because of the rain? Not sure if it’s always so packed.) I was familiar with Picasso, but by no means an expert. I learned so much more about him than I was expecting. So much so, that I bookmarked a few books that I want to check out from the library. Would love to know even more about him!

Picasso Museum

Seeing his work in person was something else. I was blown away by the sheer volume of art on display– there were paintings, sketches, lithographs, drawings, sculptures, etc.

It’s one of those museums where you can do 15 loops through it and see something different on every passing. There was so much to see, so much to take in.

Picasso Museum Paris

Eiffel Tower Paris

– The rain let up and we made our way to the Eiffel Tower where we had crepes and espressos. The sight of the tower never ceases to dull in my mind. Every time I catch a glimpse of it, my heart flutters a bit! I remember before my first trip, I thought the Eiffel Tower was so cheesy haha, but honestly, seeing it in person makes you understand why everyone loves it so much.

Eiffel Tower

Marais Paris

I rushed back to the hotel to change to meet up with Daphne for our little photoshoot. And then I met back up with my boyfriend for falafel at L’as du Fallafel. We got lucky that there was no line (although I did get pooped on by a bird on the way in!) It was the perfect snack to hold us over until dinner time.

Hemingway Bar

– We had really wanted to go to the Hemingway Bar at the Ritz before we left. There is always a long line, so our plan was to get there right before it opened to have a drink before dinner. It had been hyped up by a few people and…. well, we were not impressed. Maybe we just had an off night there, but it wasn’t the experience we expected based on the glowing reviews. It was very, very cheesy and there were a number of “Hemingway Buffs” in there exchanging facts and tidbits as if they were on a game show.

– Luckily, we had made dinner reservations at Substance, a new restaurant that totally redeemed the night! The concierge had booked it for us and we weren’t sure what to expect. It had only been open for less than two weeks when we went so we went in completely “green” and with no expectations. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life!! We did the tasting menu and, wow, every course was better than the last… right down to that gorgeous soufflé.

Substance Paris

DAY 5, Wednesday

Wednesday was our last day and we planned to head to the airport after lunch. I didn’t want to try to rush and do anything so we could relax and not feel crunched for time. So, naturally, I did a little shopping around the hotel picking up souvenirs for myself and friends/family. We had a delicious soup and salad lunch and before we knew it, we had to return to the hotel to pack and 😓leave.

It was such an unforgettable trip and made me fall in love Paris even more than I already was. I am counting down the days until I have the chance to visit again. (Maybe the springtime?!?!) It’s just such a magical, beautiful city.

PS Here is a post with all my tips for traveling to Paris– great for first-timers.

PPS Here’s the post with details on what I packed/wore for this trip!

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43 Comments

Jordana @WhiteCabana

Paris has that effect…as soon as you leave, you want to return for more! Your adventures sound like fun. I have yet to meet someone who hasn’t enjoyed their trip to Paris. I’ve been, I don’t know, maybe 20 times or more, and it’s definitely one of my favourite places to be. I’ll be returning in February, and I’m definitely enjoying my hotel and airbnb searching.

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Marcella

Ugh I went with my boyfriend this past April and it was MAGICAL I loved it so much. The weather was great, the trees were blooming everywhere, it was amazing. Spring is my favorite season and here in Texas we only get the trees blooming in mid-March so it was like I got to see two springs this year 🙂 also I took that same exact pic of the pink building in Montmartre! I thought the little neighborhood vineyard across the street was hilarious and typical France..

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Taylor

I am in complete wanderlust after reading this post! Paris has never been the top of my travel list, however more recently it’s been creeping up there, especially in the fall or spring seasons.

I’d love to have all the time in the world to travel to Europe and spend time in allllll the art galleries *heart eyes*

I’m going to Ireland in March and I wish I had enough time to tack on a trip to Paris. *le sigh*

Thank you so much for sharing, especially since it seemed like a special & romantic trip for you and your boyfriend.

xo, Taylor

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Lauren

Just reading and seeing your pictures from Normandy made me tear up. I was there over 3 years ago and it still has such a profound impact on my life. I think it is somewhere everyone should visit, given the opportunity.
Your trip looks like it was amazing over all!

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Elisabeth

I just finished reading your post and all I can say is how much I miss home. I cannot wait to book our trip for the Spring and simply relax in our small village. I would also suggest next time that you make your way up to Giverny and visit Monet’s house. I think you would enjoy that very much.

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Stacey

Thank you so much for the Substance recommendation! Going to Paris in December at the end of our honeymoon and just booked dinner there one night. Thank you so much for sharing!

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Quinn

Wow! Your trip photos are just lovely. I’m new to your blog and just had to comment – I love how you structure your travel posts! I went to Paris once years ago and I can’t wait to go back. Definitely bookmarking your guide. So glad you had a great time xx PS: It’s good luck to be pooped on by a bird 😉 You have good things coming your way

http://www.qustomquinns.com/blog

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Lauren

I feel the same way you do about the Eiffel Tower! I remember thinking “what’s the big deal about a tower made out of iron?!” But then you see it in person and its just WOW. You can’t explain the feeling to anyone that hasn’t seen it in person but my best friend and I that traveled to Paris together agree…it’s like the tower is peeking around corners every where in the city and its actually very emotional when you see it in person!

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Rebecca

Carly – Sounds like an amazing trip, I love your pictures! My husband and I were there just a week earlier than you and our itinerary almost matches yours, how funny! We went to Normandy one day as well (with a group tour) and am so glad we took the day to experience the region, I highly recommend for anyone going to Paris! The Picasso Museum (also went there on our last day) was really neat and definitely gave a glimpse into his life and method as an artist. I truly gained a deeper appreciation for him and his art after my visit.

I’m sure you’re bummed to be home, I know I am. Time to plan the next trip, where to next?!

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R

My visit to Normandy was also a humbling experience. The thing that really, really got me at the American Cemetery were how young the men that lost their lives were. It broke my heart. I can’t even imagine. But, especially as a Jewish woman, I am beyond grateful for their sacrifice. I also felt touched by the sight of people playing and hanging out on Omaha Beach. This is why they did what they did. Thank you for writing about it!

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Ashley

Loved this recap, Carly! Normandy sounded amazing—definitely adding it to my list for my next trip to Paris. On your next visit you must go to Girveny and tour Monet’s home and gardens. Girveny is such a cute, quaint town, and easily doable as a day trip from Paris. I highly recommend it.

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Meghan

Welp, I’m ready to go back toute suite just reading this post! And you must return to Bar Hemingway because it is so much better than that! So glad you enjoyed Paris!!

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Meagan

Carly, I love this post! Looks like one lovely trip! So happy you had a nice time, and looked absolutely fabulous all the while! Thanks for sharing with us. <3

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Lindsey

what souveniers did you get for yourself and for your friends? I’m always interested in something not cheesy but special and memorable.

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Caroline

I love Paris! I went there for two days during a four-week trip to Europe this summer. I took the Eurostar from London, and walked about 24 miles ove two days. I can’t wait to go back. How did you deal with jet lag?

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Heather

Oh you have me dreaming of a trip back to Paris! My trip last fall was a whirlwind, and I’ve been dying to go back and do a more leisurely stay where I can stroll around the streets and pop into cafes. Also, I’m definitely adding the Picasso Museum to my list!

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A Girl, A Style

I’m so glad you had such a wonderful time; Paris just puts you under its magical spell, doesn’t it? I think my trip last month was my favourite yet; probably because I’ve been so many times before so could just take it at such a leisurely pace and soak up my favourite bits of the city.

P.S. So sorry you didn’t have a great time at the Hemingway! I absolutely loved it when I went, so maybe we just got a great night!

Briony xox

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Lisa

Love all the pics! I lived in Paris for a year between high school and college and Fall was by far my favorite of the seasons. (Everyone says Paris in the springtime is amazing but it was so rainy!).
Normandy was a challenging few days for me as well. It’s so hard to even understand the scale and enormity of what has happened, even when it’s right in front of you (literally, the number of headstones, for example). It’s overwhelming and humbling, but I think it also gave me some hope and pride in those who still fought and continue to fight for love and peace and good!

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Elizabeth

This is now the…third time that I have come back to this post. I’ve been to Paris many times in the spring, but now I think I need to fit in a fall trip into the rotation 🙂 Love seeing Paris through your eyes!

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Kimfrom3peanuts

Oh Carly…I love this post! your trip looks and sounds amazing. We have visited all the places you mention I think except for Normandy. We loved Musee D’Orsay when we went one Spring but it was not crowded at all that day. Dave and I bought our first art as a married couple in Paris. It was a small but beautiful oil painting of a Paris street scene. We saw it in a gallery, researched the artist and bought it. I treasure it SO much. We have continued to buy good local art as we travel through our marriage. Just an idea I like to share with young couples because you’ll never regret a good art purchase.

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Monica

I just got back from my mid-October trip; my first time! There is actually a beautiful memorial for the Holocaust right behind Notre Dame in a small park. Everything is so fantastic there and I can’t wait to visit again. Thanks for sharing your photos!

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Week Recap, Vol. 71

[…] photo is so perfect for the holidays! 3. This was also an exciting week 4. Links I loved this week? Carly‘s Paris trip recap, Julia‘s great tips on supplements and Krystal‘s career […]

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Mia

Loved this post, Carly! Midway through I turned to my hubby and told him were going to Paris and Normandy next year! 😉 Thanks for sharing all these gorgeous photos!

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Liz Pratt

Paris je t’aime! I love Paris with all my heart! I did a study abroad there during undergrad and even after living like a local, you only skim the surface of the joy it is to live in such a great city. Your trip sounded lovely and the pictures are great (can there be a bad photo of Paris? I don’t think so!) Making so homesick for Paris.

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On the List

[…] always love reading posts about Paris and Carly the Prepster shares all about her recent Trip to Paris. Also check out her post, Ritz […]

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