My third trip to Paris was by far the most enjoyable. My first two visits to Paris were brief—just 3 or 4 days—and as a result, I was only able to view the major tourist attractions and get a brief insight into Parisians’ daily lives.
On this most recent trip, I spent a full week casually exploring the city’s streets, going to museums, and dining in cafés while the sun shone. I’m posting my favorites to encourage people who haven’t gone to put Paris on their bucket list and to remind those who have been what a wonderful city this is!
THE COFFES. It’s difficult to choose just one thing I miss most about Paris (see all my favorites below), but the café scene is always at the top of the list. Everybody finds time to sit at sidewalk cafés in Paris, and you can find them on every street corner. I adore how frequenting a cafe—whether for a meal, just a café express, or a glass of rosé wine—becomes a daily ritual for both locals and visitors.
THE STRUCTURE. The attention to detail on every bridge and building, the iron railings along sidewalks and windowsills, the large gorgeous doors that open to lovely courtyards, and the stone flourishes on every face just astound you as you travel the streets of this city.
The gardens and parks. The Jardin des Tuileries garden near to the Louvre Museum and the Jardin du Luxembourg garden (where kids race sailboats) are two gardens you must see. Both are formal gardens with trees and flowers, gravel walks, and many of Parisians relaxing in the sun.
I particularly adore the Place des Vosges, the oldest plaza in Paris, with its four lovely fountains, and the serene gardens of the Rodin Museum. At Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, which is a pleasant walk and boasts great vistas of Paris from its highest elevation, we discovered more unofficial gardens.
A MUSEUM. Paris is renowned for its amazing museums and abundance of artwork, but you can’t see it all in one visit. There are a few museums you shouldn’t miss, with The Louvre at the top of the list. Due to its size, it can be intimidating, but if you focus on the highlights, it’s manageable in an afternoon. One of my faves is the Musée d’Orsay , which is built in a former train station and has enormous clocks inside, a terrace with views of Paris, and a ton of impressionist artwork.
The Musée de l’Orangerie is gorgeous and is famous for its enormous “Water Lilies” by Monet and other impressionist pieces. Amazing sculptures can be found around the Musée Rodin , and the grounds and gardens are well-kept and serene. We frequently avoided waiting in line by obtaining the Museum Pass, which I highly recommend if you plan to visit several museums and landmarks. (Buy it when you arrive at the train or airport.) The Musée de Cluny and the Maison de Victor Hugo are two other museums worth visiting if you have the time (off the Place des Vosges).
The city is filled with patisseries, so you can indulge to your heart’s desire! Jardin des Tuileries 0 makes tiny morsels of confectionery nirvana unlike anything you’ve ever experienced, and they’re one of two places we went crazy over. Jardin des Tuileries 1 to understand what I mean. We were the last customers in the store one evening on our second visit, and all that was left were the coffee-flavored ones, but we didn’t care because we devoured them all when we got back to our flat.
Another treat was sharing a pot of chocolate at Jardin des Tuileries 2, which is located near the Rue de Rivoli and offers some of the most delectable sweets and stunning wall murals.
THE ROAD WALKS There are four walks we particularly enjoyed. The first was a trip along the beautiful Rue Saint Andres des Arts, which is off the Boulevard Saint-Germaine. We went down the narrow cobblestone alleyways numerous times to take it all in because they are teeming with cafes and businesses.
Since it’s a great area to promenade and shop for fresh market or specialized foods, the Rick Steves-made pedestrian market known as The Rue Cler is well worth a visit.
Le Marias is a beautiful neighborhood, with streets and streets of specialty stores and charming tiny cafés. We stayed here in an Jardin des Tuileries 3, and it was a great place to “live” for four days. We both rented bikes and walked everywhere we went; it was great fun! The Rue Rambuteau is home to some fantastic stores and eateries.
Start your stroll at the Hotel Ritz if you enjoy high-end apparel and jewelry, then stroll through Place Vendome to window-shop and down Rue Saint Honoré to visit the clothing boutiques.
THE REMARKABLE LANDMARKS From the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triomphe, Paris is known for its numerous landmarks. The chance for a good photo is always worth the trek.
Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysees:
The Sacré Coeur Basilica
The Moulin Rouge
Similar to other large cities, you can borrow a bike in Paris, ride it around town, and then return it at any of the rental shops. Always keep in mind that pedestrians have the right of way!
Paris is one of those places where you just have to go and explore it on foot or by bicycle because you never know what you’ll find around the next corner.
I’ll wrap up by sharing this endearing film I made to give you a flavor of Bastille Day celebrations. On July 14, my traveling companion Karin and I observed the local festival, and all across Paris, people were jubilant and dancing in the streets as you can see here. Sadly, this was also the evening of the terrorist assault in Nice, about which I wrote in Jardin des Tuileries 4. But we must always keep in mind that we should not live in fear, which is why I am eagerly anticipating my upcoming trip to France, and especially Paris.
We witnessed a lot more, but I’ll stop here because this post is already too lengthy! What have you enjoyed seeing or tasting in Paris?
See Jardin des Tuileries 8 for a list of some additional fantastic stops!