We were able to purchase roundtrip tickets to Paris via RyanAir for 40 USD….(I swear, I am not even lying a little bit). However, sometimes with budget airlines you have to be flexible regarding your schedule. And so we flew into Paris on a Thursday afternoon and were back in Wroclaw late Saturday evening. Though our trip was short, it was just the right amount of time to get to experience the flavor of Paris.
Here’s a look at our weekend in Paris, France.
Ok, let me start by being honest. I did not have high expectations for this city – the reason being is because many people I spoke with before we left said they hated Paris (some of these people even being from France)! Let me set the rumors straight and say that Paris is absolutely wonderful and quite possibly my favorite city ever – I know, I love them all 😉 !!! The people, the food, the architecture, the shopping. It really is a city of romance – just like they show in the movies. There’s just this glow about the city that I can’t describe. I LOVED Paris (and my husband did, too). If you have the chance, my advice is: GO, GO, GO!
As I mentioned, we arrived on Thursday evening. After checking into our hotel, we walked straight to the Eiffel Tower. (BTW, the hotel we stayed at was called Hotel Tourisme. I would highly recommend it. It’s a great place if you’re looking for somewhere in a relatively quiet neighborhood near the Eiffel Tower and close to the subway).
Like the city of Paris itself, The Eiffel Tower blew away all of my preconceptions. It really is remarkable and a sight to be seen. It’s much larger than I thought it would be and I couldn’t help but just marvel at it. We also saw a marriage proposal. Talk about romantic.
We wanted to go to the top of the tower at dusk to experience the best lighting, but due to the lines we missed dusk and hit full on night, which actually turned out to be great. We waited about an hour – keep in mind we visited in off-season. However, there wasn’t much of a line to take the stairs to the top…umm the stairs are grated/see-through. No thanks, I will wait the hour for the elevators.
Once you get to the top, there are a few different platforms to walk around on. You can even get champagne should you so choose. I would highly recommend going to the top of the tower. It is a must do, I don’t care how cliché I sound.
You may or may not know that there are spotlights on the top of the Eiffel Tower that move around over the city. That’s what this light beam is in the below image. How cool is that?!
Now that you know there are lights at the top of the tower, check out the image below. See the lights? (PS this is one of my favorite photos I have ever taken.)
After our trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower, we went to dinner and called it an early night. Note that the French tend to eat a bit later than we do in the US. I would say about 8 p.m. is normal. Reservations are encouraged!
Friday was technically the only full day we had in Paris so we were busy, busy! Turns out the weekend we were here, the city was under a pollution advisory which kinda worked out for us because the metro was free saving us lots of time and money! However, we did miss out on the views since the city was so smoggy. But that kinda worked out too since we didn’t feel obligated to climb tons of stairs to get the the top of “must see” views because, well, we wouldn’t have been able to see anything anyways. As a side note, the subway is super easy to navigate. The city is huge. When you look at a map, the sights are further than you think – I mean, literally miles apart. Take the subway if you’re short on time.
Notice how gloomy the image below looks? You’ll see it throughout the rest of my photos. (But it kinda adds to that Paris ‘glow’ I was talking about…) We also lucked out that the weekend we visited the weather was about 68 degrees F. In March. How great is that?
We walked to grab some breakfast in the morning – the breads/croissants are out of of this world – and passed beautiful sights along the way.
Can I just live here please?
After breakfast, we walked down the famous street, Champs-Elysees, towards the Arc de Triomphe (which was under construction; one of the downfalls of traveling in the off-season, I guess).
You can walk up to the top of the Arc when visiting, however, since half of it was under construction and the city was under smog blocking our view, we opted against it.
BUT, do walk to the other side of the street. The ceiling is much more impressive than seeing the arch from far away. You can get a glimpse of the tomb of the unknown soldier here as well (not pictured).
So back down the Champs-Elysees we go. Don’t you just love this T&Co building with a fake balcony made of crystals? 🙂
There truly is just so much beauty throughout this city.
We walked across the Pont Alexandre III bridge – another must do while in Paris.
Though we didn’t have time to do much shopping, I just HAD to find the famous macaron shop Laduree. Ah-mazing. Go here! Note that there are three locations when searching, so don’t get lost like we did 🙂
We then took our sweet treats to Sacré Cœur/ Montmartre. Umm. Everyone (I mean everyone) told us to go here saying, “The best place in Paris… go, sit and relax… you’ll love it.” Though we did like this area of the city, this hill was not relaxing and was more of a study abroad hangout. Is it worth going to? Yes, go see Sacré Cœur. Would I go here to sit and relax? No way. Maybe it’s because our view was blocked? You be the judge.
Since public transport was free, we took the funicular up to the top of the hill to save our legs for the rest of the day.
The Bascilica really was stunning and free to enter, but no photos allowed inside.
We then sat on the lawn eating macarons for about 10 minutes before security made everyone move to the stairs…
And here’s our “view” of the city.
After our sugar high, we started our venture to Notre Dame – another must see while visiting.
P.S. Can we talk about this display we passed for a ballet shoe store? Cotton balls on strings. LOVE!
Ok, back to Notre Dame. Longish line but moved really fast and (to my surprise) free to enter.
The inside was stunning, full of stained glass.
We just so happened to visit when mass started. A really great experience, I would recommend to anyone visiting regardless of what religion you are.
Next up: A quick stop at Luxembourg Gardens before heading back to the hotel to freshen up.
In the evening, we headed to the Louvre. Just like the Eiffel Tower, the pyramid at the Louvre Museum was wayyyy cooler in person than I expected it to be. If you plan to visit the museum, buy your tickets in advance online to save some time waiting in line. My advice would be to go at night so you don’t miss anything that you can only see in the day.
We concluded our night with a quick stop to see the outside of Moulin Rouge. Not really sure why I wanted to see this, maybe it’s because of my Lady Marmalade-inspired youth (the song, duh!), but here it is. It’s located in quite the party neighborhood FYI. Don’t go out of your way.
On our third an final day, we headed to the Palace of Versailles (again, still taking advantage of free trains). I will post separately about Versailles since I took almost as many photos here as I did in all of Paris 🙂
After we returned from the palace, we spent the remainder of the afternoon just walking around the city exploring the neighborhoods. Though our time in Paris was quick, we felt we saw eveything we wanted to see.
Until we meet again, Paris!
Getting There: If you are flying via RyanAir or Wizz Air, you will probably be flying into Beauvais airport. This is about 90 minutes outside of the city. There are buses that will take you directly to the center of the city. However, the bus was about 17 Euro each way. My advice is don’t spend more than 40 USD on the flight, otherwise you may as well fly into city airport, Charles de Gaulle.