Bonjour mes amis! Oui, it’s me finally going live with my Paris Travel guide. You’ll find a day-to-day overview of what Bella and I did in Paris. Plus our tips and hiccups so you’re prepared!
We booked this trip 4 days prior to leaving so not many choices as far as hotels and flights. And no plans, just to have fun and enjoy ourselves! We stayed for a week being 6 full days. It was perfect to not rush but it can definitely be done in less time 🙂
We have a family friend who lives in Paris, Bia. So that made us a lot more comfortable to just pack and go. But I’m here to be your friend and give you all the scoop 🙂
Check info on vaccination, visa requirements, passport validations, etc.
Book one or two “must-do” attractions prior to leaving. Or restaurant reservations you really want to go. I’ll tell you what ours was further down! Don’t get too caught up in doing the perfect itinerary. Everything in Paris is beautiful and just seating in a bistro people-watching is an event. Being free to do things in the spur of the moment instead of trying to get to your reservations on time was so freeing and enjoyable to us!
This can get pretty overwhelming as Paris is divided into arrondissements. That can add to the confusion about a good place to stay. I’m attaching a photo of it for your visuals. We decided on staying as central as possible and yet in a very “low-key” street.
A lot of the attractions (like the Louvre, parks Tuileries, the 17th-century Palais Royal, and luxury designer boutiques) are on arrondissement 1 . The Eiffel Tower, Musée D’Orsay, Le Bon Marché department store amongst other places you’ll want to see are on arrondissement 7. We stayed at Hotel du Danube at Saint Germain-des-Prés in arrondissement 6 which has a more “local luxe” feel but is home to iconic cafés, and bistros, within a short walk to the Louvre and many metro stations.
The room is spacious, and clean and the bathroom was a dream. It’s a 3-star hotel and we loved it. I found this post on Paris neighborhoods I highly recommend reading it. The only places I wouldn’t recommend staying at are the further arrondissements which are super residential and quite a “hike” by metro to central Paris unless that’s exactly what you’re looking for!
TIP: Wherever you end up booking your room, try to get a street view or balcony. It’s priceless!
We arrived around 11:30 AM (precisely 5:30 AM our EST), so take into account you’ll be exhausted and jet lagged so not much planning for this first travel day. We arrived on my bday so I wanted to get settled, eat something (and yes, drink a little French vin) and go to the OG Chanel store, Coco’s house at 31 Rue Cambon to get myself a special little something. I
made the mistake of booking the hotel for the same dates as our travel which meant I booked an extra night (in which we were traveling) so our room was ready for us upon arrival (trying to look at the bright side of it! Ha)
Galette Café – is right across the street from our hotel. Loved the wine ( a sister to sauvignon blanc, galette was ok, not my favorite)
31 Rue Cambon – Chanel Store
I had my eye on the neutral mini bag but didn’t love the chunky hearts on the chain, that is a bit too trendy for me so I went with the pastel yellow “wallet on chain”, simple, delicate, and fits my phone, cards, and lipstick! I also picked up a brooch to wear on all of my coats and blazers (instant facelift on garments!)
TIP: Bring your passport or a picture of it so you can get taxes back once you leave the country. Luxury items (especially Parisian brands) are up to 30% cheaper in France and you get tax back by scanning the docs they give you in the stores in a kiosk at the airport. Super easy breezy and saves you a lot of $. DO DECLARE your goods upon arriving in the US. You might not be charged but even if you do it’s a 3% fee which is less than regular taxes in any state.
Judging by our faces, we were pooped after that outing. I stayed in line at Chanel for about 2 hours. Learned later that you can call ahead for a reservation. Meanwhile, Bia and Bella went for a crepe and a stroll.
Once we slept we came up with an itinerary. Decided what we wanted to do and when and went ahead. And got tickets for the Musée D’Orsay, Louvre, and Paris Catacombs. We had purchased tickets to the Dinner cruise before leaving. Those tend to sell out quickly, especially the nice ones. So this is one thing I recommend booking as soon as you can.
Another little gem, Apégo. I’d say best for a brunch experience on the weekend. It’s pretty pricey but cute and has lots of fresh salads, veggies, and yummy foods.
This is a French fave, some of the people we talked to find the Louvre to be a bit much (we loved it). D’Orsay is housed in the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography. It’s not too crowded and you can get a self-guided tour with headphones. It’s pretty inexpensive – I think 13 Euros total per person.
Lunch at Nicole’s
We did not have reservations to eat anywhere (except on the dinner cruise) and that was the best feeling. TIP: Being able to eat when we actually got hungry and seating in cute restaurants with tables on the street people watching was truly one of the highlights of our trip. We had two-hour lunches almost every day!
Nicole’s was a quaint little spot just a block away from D’Orsay.
We went back to the hotel to freshen up after lunch and get ready to meet Bia. She lives in arrondissement 15 (a much younger and lively neighborhood). And a 5-minute walk to the tower from where her apartment is. That evening we saw the tower in person for the first time. And our visit turned into a big soirée at the bar by her house with all of her friends. It was a French Blast! Sadly, I only have videos of the evening and no still pics…
We decided to have an actual petit dejeuner Parisian style. With meaning coffee, fresh pressed OJ, croissant, jelly, and a baguette with butter. Simple and effective. Loved it. We tried the little café right by our hotel. Le Comptoir Des Saints Peres (fancy name for a little bodega!). We liked it so much we went back almost every day afterward.
PS: big PS here. There are ashtrays EVERYWHERE in Paris. Everyone smokes so be prepared to sit at tables filled with cigarette buts and ashes from previous patrons. Just a heads up, it happened a few times for us.
Embarrassing confession: we got scammed. Bella and I purchased tickets online. And one of the websites was a fake “TripAdvisor” site offering a private tour with “skip the line” advantages. We later realized it doesn’t exist. We paid about $122 Euros and when they scanned the tickets they weren’t valid. Thankfully, my credit card has an amazing dispute system. I didn’t have to pay for that, but please beware of scams.
TIP: purchase tickets for museums and other tourist attractions directly through each of their website. Louvre entry was about $25 euros pp and an extra $3 for self-guided headphones.
Even with lines and a little hiccup we loved the Louvre. The art was MAGNIFICENT and I’d love to go back with more time and fewer people (is that even possible? lol)
We grabbed a salad outside the Louvre (delish in fact) – see Paris Vlog for more footage! Then headed to Galeries Lafayette to check out if it was worth the hype. It was! Gorgeous multi-level shopping mall with an open concept and access to ALL of the designers you can think of. Great exercise of restraint!
Dinner at Marais
Back to the hotel to freshen up and headed to the Marais for dinner. Found the cutest little corner restaurant Le Second Empire. Got a table facing the street (a must) and had a delish dinner.
Walked out after dinner only to stop at another lovely spot and down a “saideira”. One last bottle of delicious french sauvignon blanc at Le Paradis. Marais is a very bohemian neighborhood and the perfect spot if you’re looking for late-night fun. Bars close at 2 AM – we stayed till then (blame it on the time change!). We took an uber back to the hotel. Bia rode a bike back to her place.
TIP: I want to mention this because there have been loads of questions regarding safety in Paris and while there are pickpockets, we never felt unsafe. I’d say be aware of your surroundings and belongings as in no unattended phones and bags, open bags on the shoulder, phones on the back pockets, etc. Other than that no one will rip your bag from you, at least we never saw or heard of anything like that.
Back to our usual spot for breakfast. Bia purchased tickets for us to go up on the Arc du Triomphe. This is said to be the best view of Paris with the Eiffel Tower in it. As when you go up the Eiffel Tower, you don’t see it in the skyline. So we decided on going up the Arc instead.
Took a brief stroll on Champs-Elysées. Got lucky enough to sit at a coffee shop with the prettiest view of the Arc and the street.
Extras for the day
Took a subway ride and stopped by Notre Dame. It is still under repair but we wanted to check it out anyway. A quick pit stop at a Paul Pâtisserie (for the most decadent strawberry french pie I’ve had in my life). Before getting ready for our glam evening at the Bateaux Parisiens dinner cruise!
One of the coolest things we’ve done. I highly recommend the Bateaux Parisiens for a romantic evening, girls’ night, or a special dinner. The food is good (not great) but the experience is definitely a 10 out of 10. This is a three-hour cruise along the Seine river starting early in the evening (during summer). You start sailing from the Eiffel Tower. Sailing down the river. Seeing all the museums, palaces, and other Parisian landmarks from the glass ceilings on the boat. And finish back at the Tower right on time for it to light up!
Breakfast at our hotel. We had tickets for the Catacombs tour at 4:15. So we planned to take the metro to Sacré-cœur, then go back for the tour and stop at the store to buy groceries for our picnic by the Tower.
They serve a continental breakfast in the cutest courtyard.
We took the metro to go to Sacré-cœur because we had Bia, who also warned us about the metro tickets (thankfully!). Metro rides are pretty affordable and even better if you buy them in bulk with a card. We kept buying single rides for 3,80 Euros because we didn’t know we would end up using the metro as much as we did.
TIP: If you also decide to use the metro make sure you save your ticket for each ride until you exit the station then dispose of it. This metro station has lots of officers checking each person’s tickets to make sure they didn’t “sneak in”. If you get caught without a valid ticket you pay a 50 Euro fine! You can also Uber there 🙂
TIP 2: Because this is a highly touristic landmark, you’ll find more scammers so beware! Girls with papers asking for signature for charity act as a distracting conversation while others steal your goods. I’ve read about them prior to traveling and it’s real, they approuched us. Be stearn and just say: NON, MERCI and walk away.
TIP 3: You’ll walk up lots and lots of steps, be sure to wear tennis shoes or something super comfortable. The Funiculaire de Montmartre takes you up for a fee and the line is outrageous. The walk was not bad at all, but can be uncormfortable if wearing the wrong footwear!
Luch at Restaurant Il Duca, in Montmartre
We were skeptical about eating in one of the many restaurants around the Sacré-cœur because it was so crowded but passed along this little Italian place called Il Duca, and HAD to stop! Service was great, the food was wonderful! Hit the spot 🙂
Les Catacombes de Paris
Off to the Paris catacombes we went. 131 steps to go down and 112 steps to climb up, specifically. Self-guided and easy to navigate. Get your tickets a few days prior as they sell out (especially in the busy season).
The tour is about 1:15 hours long. Not scary at all, in fact it was very respectful of the dead and such an interesting story of how all those “people” ended up down there! We recommend it.
Picnic at the Eiffel Tower
Next and last stop of the day is at the grocery store.
TIP: Liquor stops being sold after 7 PM in major grocery stores so make sure to buy your wine prior to your picnic.
Bia had a blanket, mugs and silverware but you can literally find everything you need in the store. People go without blankets too. Some just bring their McDonald’s bags!
This was one of the highlights of our trip. Bia invited a couple of her French friends and it was amazing connecting with locals! This can be as inexpensive as you wish. It was nice to relax and catch our breath. Be in the moment and enjoy it.
TIP: leave when the tower lights up, it can get sketchy late at night.
This was our last full day. I planned on doing some last minute shopping and just go with the flow. Bella slept in while I walked to the the Champs-Elysées (a 45 min walk!). To get Antonio and Brian a Paris Saint-Germain soccer shirt.
Naturally I stopped at Céline on the way there and snagged myself a pair of hi-top trainers I had my eye on. It was an excuse obvi, but it worked out so well with the look!
Lunch at Café Nano
I met Bella along the Seine and went to grab sme lunch walking back to our hotel. We found ourselves in the cutest café, owned by a French lady who had her three children home for the holidays. They were so cute helping her around speaking French! Haha I’m a total sucker for it. We had one of those 2 hour lunches.
One thing about Paris (actually true about Brazil as well), you’ll not be bothered by the waiters to leave your table. Once you sit you almost have to remind them you’re there! It’s nice to not feel rushed during your meal.
After lunch we decided to walk around do check out some more stores. We got gelato and macaroons. Also stopped at Le Bon Marché. Which is another iconic department store, and the house of many luxury names.
Dinner at Le Mabillon
We became so familiar with our area we passed by Le Mabillon almost everyday. It was nice to have our farewell dinner in this charming corner bistro. Our waiter was lovely. Food was not the best, not bad but definitely a more touristic place.
Our plane took off at 3:50 and it was the perfect time to give us a leisure-ish morning to have breakfast at our usual place. We packed and left the hotel around noon. There’s a bit of traffic so take that into account when planning. Also make sure you have some spare time to collect your taxes back at the airport!
And that’s a wrap my friends. I went deep into this travel guide because I want for you to make the most out of your trip. I really hope you enjoyed it and please let me know in the comments if you have any questions about our itinerary!