I’m from the era of Late Night with David Letterman. He had his “Top Ten” staple on every show, and as cliche as it may be, I really like the Top Ten concept. So here it is. I took some of these verbatim from my Trip Advisor reviews. My contributor name is JulieG if you are a Trip Advisor junkie.
The Funtrips Top Ten Favorite Experiences in Paris…
10. Shopping at Louis Vuitton: Now this seems a little silly, but I had been saving for a LV handbag for a long time. Shopping at the flagship store on the Champs Elysee turned my purchase into a luxury event, including complementary French Champagne. I don’t splurge like that often, but I say, if you are going to splurge, do it right! So by making this purchase in paris, I got the purse and the experience. And, for Americans, the exchange rate benefit ($ to Euro) and the VAT refund make the net price of French luxury goods a little more palatable now…so use THAT for your justification!
9. Lunch at La Duree: We went for lunch at the location on the Champs Elysee. Honestly, I expected this visit to be disappointing. I thought it would be overpriced and a bit snobby. But, we really enjoyed the food and the service was lovely. The only funny price issue was that my husband’s Diet Coke cost 2 Euros more than my wine! Gotta love France! My kids and husband had a chicken sandwich, and I had a chicken Caesar salad and both were good. The macarons are truly unlike any other. I think the vanilla is heaven. I have friends who went for tea here and also enjoyed that experience, so there are plenty of options.
8. Dinner at Vins et Terroirs: In a city with an overwhelming number of dinner options, we went here twice. That either says something about them or something about us. We loved the restaurant and the entire area around it (St. Michele). Our meals were delicious and a wonderful value. I had the canard avec sauce a l’orange…it was tres bon! My kids had steak and the staff ensured the sauce was on the side…because my girls are picky. Overall, the staff was so friendly and welcoming to our kids that it made the meal enjoyable for all of us. Our server recommended two great wines that just added to the deliciousness too. To top it off, the menu had English translations, but that didn’t take away from the ambience or French authenticity (as with other touristy restaurants).
7. Dessert at Amorino: We went twice during our visit to Paris…both times after dinner at Vins et Terriors (Amorino is down the street). We loved the classic chocolate, chocolate chip and vanilla. Not necessarily exotic flavors, but they were delicious. And the presentation was so fun! They make the gelato in the cones in the shape of flowers (see the featured image above). In making those flowers, they allowed multiple flavors in a single order. The petite is better with no more than four flavors…so if you want more than four, go bigger!
6. The Louvre in the evening: I had read about this somewhere else in my research and it was one of the best tips I received. On Wednesday and Friday evenings, the Louvre is open late (check the website to confirm, but I think closing time is about 9:45 pm). The lines are MUCH shorter (especially when trying to view the Mona Lisa) and the building is more peaceful (more conducive to enjoying art). We entered at about 6pm and left at about 9pm. This gave us plenty of time afterward to enjoy dinner nearby (and there are plenty of options).
5. Walking: I know this sounds odd, but we loved walking in Paris. We didn’t use the metro (subway) once. We walked EVERYWHERE! Paris is a city of big things and little things. Stay with me here. The big things are the obvious things – museums, monuments, etc. The little things are the architecture, the outdoor cafes, the little alleys and squares, the shops, the “Space Invader” street art, etc. It’s definitely easier to enjoy the little things if you are wandering on foot. And, while wandering is great, when you have limited time, you have to make your wandering productive. We planned out our days so that we had time to walk and enjoy neighborhoods between destinations. My favorite walk was from our hotel in the 1st Arrondissement to dinner in the Latin Quarter. It took us over two bridges and through the Ile de la Cite. Some of our favorite photos were taken on that walk. And it doesn’t hurt if you have an international data plan through your domestic phone service…using our maps on our smart phones saved us a lot of frustration and wasted time.
4. Notre Dame: I did a whole blog post on it we loved it some much.
3. The Eiffel Tower: Obvious! Did a blog post on that too!
2. Staying at the Relais du Louvre: We loved the location in the 1st Arrondissement. This location allowed us to walk to all the main city sites (see #10), and there was plenty of shopping and eating nearby, including the high end places on Rue St. Honore. The room was darling and very traditional French, and we felt like we were in family home. We were in room 51 (check it out on their site) which had plenty of space for our family of 4. Having breakfast (which was plentiful) served in the room was a treat and really a perfect way to start the day of touring. Also, the staff speaks amazing English but politely allowed us to practice our much weaker French. They called us cabs when necessary that arrived quickly and were clean/safe/helpful. We cannot wait to return!
1.Bike About Tours: We took a fantastic bike tour with Bike About Tours and the lovely Laura, future best-selling author. We learned so many fantastic tidbits about Paris that you don’t learn in the guidebooks or the history books. What sold me was their “off the beaten path” approach. We saw areas of Paris that we wouldn’t have gone on our own such as the Marais. Yet we also saw some important “typical” sites like the Tuileries or Centre Pompidou. Overall, the bike tour was a highlight of our Paris trip! And I appreciated their focus on safety. I never thought I would let my kids ride bikes in the streets of Paris! But, we all survived without a scratch!