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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Paris Travel Guide

As a second grader, I visited Paris for the first time. We took the Eurostar over for less than 24 hours and really hit the highlights. I’m talking eating in the Eiffel Tower, a boat tour of the Seine and a quick double decker bus tour of the major sites. The most prevalent memory from that trip was the best chocolate croissant I had ever eaten -- we bought it on the boat dock of our Seine river cruise. It proved that Paris really does have the best pastries.

I then visited again, this time for roughly a week when I was a sophomore in high school. Instead of having the traditional “sweet sixteen” party most of my friends had, I opted to visit Belgium and France with my grandmama, who is French. That trip showed me how beautiful the city was and because of it, Paris holds a special place in my heart.

The last time I was in the city was with Hannah last July. We took the Eurostar over for a couple of days to do Paris as best friends, something that I would suggest to anyone. I think traveling with friends is an ultimate test of your friendship, but if it works, gosh does it work.

I have been contemplating writing this guide for a while, and I finally decided it was time; I did my Paris Top 10 a while back. Having been quite a few times I think I have a pretty good feel for the city and I hope if you visit the City of Lights you’ll use my recommendations. If you have been to any of these places, let me know, I love to compare travel stories & if you think there is something I missed let me know, I want to add it to my next itinerary-xoxo darling, Hayden.

How to Get There:

There are a few options when traveling to the city. First, you can fly into Charles de Gaulle airport. I have never used this option and from what I hear it is one of the worst airports on the face of the planet. But I have never been, so I can’t say. In regards to airlines, I am a real big fan of Delta and Virgin although I have heard wonderful things about AirFrance. As I stated earlier, I have taken the Eurostar twice from London. The first time I took it out of Waterloo and the second out of St. Pancras. I cannot remember what the experience out of Waterloo was like, but I did take a different train out of there recently and it was really nice. They have a mini Marks and Spencer so plenty to eat! St. Pancras is one of my all time favorite train stations. It’s beautiful yet modern so if you have the opportunity to leave from there, take it! The process is fairly easy, you show up about 45 minutes before, go through security {metal detectors, etc} and then wait for them to call the train. You then quickly walk upstairs and find your seats. It takes about two and a half hours, and costs about $224. Sometimes the Standard Premium is cheaper than the Standard, which blows my mind, and it includes a meal! This happened to Hannah and I on our way back. The trains are nice and clean, there is plenty of room for your bags and it’s an easy journey in general. You get into Gar du Nord, it was under construction last I was there so hopefully it is back to normal now! Lastly, another way to get to Paris, is to fly to Brussels, Belgium. It can be cheaper than flying into Charles de Gaulle. You then take a high-speed train to Paris, I did this for my sixteenth birthday and it worked like a charm.

Where to Stay:

I have stayed at two hotels in Paris, the Hotel Concortel and the Hôtel Paris Louis Blanc - Paris 10. Both had really phenomenal locations and I liked them equally. The Concortel is right by Madeleine, so tons of restaurants {it’s by Fauchon, Laudree, etc} and there are lots of Metro spots. The hotel itself was a little dated, but the bathroom had just been redone, it was so nice. The Louis Blanc was very modern and right by Gar du Nord so if you are coming in on a late Eurostar train, this is perfect. Also, it is on a corner right across from a Metro stop that will take you into the heart of Paris. The only complaint I had was the bathroom was t i n y. There are hundreds of hotels in Paris, so choose whatever you want but I would recommend both of these options.

What To Do:

Arc de Triomphe
- This is my favorite view of Paris, some people might love the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame but the Arc is perfect. My suggestion is to go just before sunset because the view you will get of the Eiffel Tower, La Defense, Montmartre and the rest of the city is absolutely breathtaking. Be wary of the steps, they are super duper steep; but the view is so worth it.
Celine Blue Doors - This is one of those “must Instagram” travel moments.The Celine blue doors have been on every fashion blogger that has been to Paris’ Insta, and for good reason. The doors are beautiful and the blue really makes
your outfit pop. I’ve always been a big fan of Celine so the last time I visited Paris, I went to the doors and met quite a few Celine employees leaving for the day. They were all so kind and it was so cool to meet people who work in their headquarters.

Centre Pompidou - I am a really big fan of modern art, and if you are this is a must visit. If not, just go to see the outside because it is a real experience. They basically “flipped” the museum so all of the stuff that would normally be inside the walls is on the outside. Tubes, pipes, scaffolding is all available for the naked eye to see. 

Château de Versailles - If you have the extra time, you must take the train out to Versailles and spend the entire day out at that magical palace. I did it on one of my last days in Paris, I took breakfast with me on the train, had lunch at one of their little cafes and didn’t come back until about 4pm. It is massive and you won’t be able to see everything, but definitely walk through the main house, you want to see the Hall of Mirrors, right? Then get outside, my absolute favorite part were the grounds. And then there is the Petit Trianon, it’s beautiful and you’ll want to move in immediately.

Chanel - I realize this might not be for everyone...but realize Haute Table started out as a fashion and food blog so I have to pay homage to my favorite traditional designer (despite her German ties). When I visited back in high school my grandmama took me to the original Channel located on Place Vendome. Coco’s apartment is above the store and across the street is the Ritz where she used to sell her wares before she got her store. I did not go in, because I wasn’t going to purchase anything, but I made sure to photograph the moment about 50 times.

Eiffel Tower - This is a classic, must-see, right? If I am being honest I am not a huge fan of going up in the tower because it takes a lot of valuable time. But if it is your first trip to Paris, you HAVE TO GO. There is no exception. My suggestion is to get up super early, have breakfast at Cafe de Flore
{below} and get in line. Make sure you buy a ticket all the way to the top because you must experience that weird swinging feeling you have once you’re up there. Fun Fact: there are restrooms at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Also, spring for those elevator tickets because those stairs are terrifying. If you really want to go all in, eat at one of the restaurants in the tower, I did the Jules Verne when I was little and that view...spectacular. Before you go, read this book about the Eiffel Tower’s creation. I couldn’t put it down.

Galeries Lafayette - My grandmama took me to this, gorgeous, department store when I was going through a serious fashion phase...I never really came out of it. I cannot describe the beauty of this building? It is covered in gold, there are so many floors, so many stores and beautiful people everywhere. Might I suggest, if you are going to Paris, set aside a large amount of money to make your one special purchase. Some people go for an Hermes scarf {always a good option}, I bought a Longchamp bag at Galeries Lafayette and it will always be one of my all-time-favorite purchases.

Grand Palais & Petit Palais - These two are across the street from each other and they are the same architecture. I would suggest popping by each of them to see the insides and if they have an exhibit on you might like. You’ll recognize a lot of interior if you watch Paris Fashion Week or the Hermes horse shows, they use these
Hotel de Ville - This isn’t one that I suggest going in, mainly because I have never done that. But it is beautiful for photo taking. This is basically Paris’ city hall and my goodness is the facade of the building breathtaking. When you’re walking down Rivoli or before you cross over to the big island, stop by this one for a photo.

Ile Saint-Louis (the little island) - The Little Island is second only to the Sainte Chapelle {later} on my list of Paris favorites. It is connected to the bigger island in the Seine by a few bridges and you have to go walk down the main street for stops at Berthillon {later}, shops and a bite to eat. If you are in Paris in mid-March you might even see Carnival happening where people in beautiful dresses and elaborate masks walk down the main street. Place Louis Aragon is at the Eastern end of the island, is, maybe?, the smallest park in Paris. It is my favorite place to view the Seine and watch the many boats go by.

Jardin des Tuileries - If you are at the Louvre, you will do the Tuileries because they are right in front. And if you are there during the summer you can take part in their fair, that is where you see those photos of the pink swing set and all of the ferris wheels. When Hannah and I visited going to the fair was the top of my list and we had a blast. Aside from that, and if you aren’t visiting in the summer, a stroll through the Tuileries will put you in the heart of Paris. Grab a green chair and people watch under a tree.

Jardin du Luxembourg - One of my favorite memories of Paris is walking through this garden on the Left Bank in the early morning. There was a group doing Tai Chi, young moms were walking their prams, joggers were circling and I was just so in the moment. Paris is beautiful and sometimes I think the Left Bank can be a little forgotten, but this park is a must-see because there are so many little hidden trails that make for the best afternoon.

Les Arts Decoratifs - When I saw a blogger visiting a museum that seemed to be about fashion in Paris I knew I had to go...so I dragged the best friend there and we both ended up loving it. When we were there they had an amazing exhibit on Barbie, which I grew up with so it was real relevant to me. They also had beautiful garments displayed in the most interesting ways...it is a must go if you like fashion. I was in awe pretty much the whole time, you can ask Hannah. Also, if you are going in the next six months, there will be a Christian Dior exhibit...I will be infinitely jealous if you go.

Les Deux Plateaux - If you follow a fashion blogger who has been to Paris you have seen these iconic black and white striped columns. They are iconic for fashion photography and children alike. They are not super hard to find but they are in a courtyard, behind a building so make sure you have a good map with you and take your camera for all of the shots. I took Haute Table's Fourth Birthday shots there, which you can find here.

Les Invalides - I am a huge history nerd so Invalides is one of my top suggestions because there is so much there. It’s the armory museum of France so it spans so many different years. You can see knight’s armor, items from WWII and more. On the back side of Invalides is where Napoleon’s tomb, something that slightly freaks me out but at the same time it is a sight to see. You stand above it looking down through a giant circular hole...only Napoleon could make his tomb that dramatic.

Louvre Museum
- Aside from the Eiffel Tower I would say this is the second most famous thing in Paris? And one of my least favorites...I know this is sacrilegious to say but I am not a traditional art lover, I am way more into contemporary and modern art but you still have to go, so I have. Let me tell you now, the Mona Lisa is tiny in comparison with what you think in your mind. If you are going to the Louvre, mentally prepare yourself for the crowds and print out a map ahead of time of what you want to see so you don’t get overwhelmed or swept up.

Montmartre - Looking for amazing views of Paris? This one is for you, Montmarte is only a few Metro stops away from the center of the city and a must-see in my opinion. You can walk up all of the hills to the La Basilique du Sacre Coeur, or you can take the funicular, this is the best option. Once you’re up there pop a squat on the steps and look out at the beautiful scenery around you {and the people watching is phenomenal}. If you want to see sites like the iconic windmill at Moulin Rouge, hop on the Les Petits Trains de Montmartre. It gives you a great overall tour of the area. Lastly, and this is a weird one, if you want a crazy late night with some interesting alcohol, head over to Lapin Agile, a traditional French cabaret where they sing old school French music. It is insane, but such a blast.

Musee de Cluny - This museum was a little off the beaten path for me, but my grandmama insisted we visit. It’s on the Left Bank and it houses the Lady & the Unicorn tapestries that were created in 1500. You enter this super dark room and as your eyes adjust you see these magnificent works of art. It is not your typical Paris thing, so add this to your list for a little bit of extra culture.

Musee de l’Orangerie - This is one of my favorite museums in Paris because of its simplicity. It isn’t over the top, there aren’t too many pieces to get through and it has a real understated beauty. It’s
located just down from the Louvre, kind of hidden amongst the trees but it has an amazing collection of Monet, including the water lily paintings. They are truly spectacular. Outside the museum is my grandmama’s (and in turn my) favorite sculpture - The Kiss by Rodin.

Musee d’Orsay - This is my favorite art museum in Paris, it is way better than the Louvre {I know, I know, I must be crazy} but believe me, it is. First, it is in an old train station so the architecture is so flipping cool! Also, it is much more manageable than the Lovure, and if you love Monet, you have to go, the entire top floor is impressionism, absolutely beautiful.

Palais Garnier - If you can go to an Opera in Paris, why wouldn’t you? When I was there, they were between shows but I did take a tour of Garnier, and it was not regretted. The building is g o r g e o u s. You get to see the famous Phantom of the Opera chandelier and they really do show you almost all of the building. If you don’t have time to go inside, definitely go see it, the building sits in the middle of a major Parisian street and is beautifully imposing.

Parc du Champ-de-Mars - This is the park in front of the Eiffel Tower so if you are looking for photos with greenery in them and the tower in the background, definitely visit. Hannah and I had picked up sandwiches to have a picnic and we chose this spot, overlooking the Seine and the tower for a wonderful meal.
Place de la Concorde - If you have done the Louvre, Tuileries and such you will inevitably do the Place de la Concorde with its fountains and column {topped with gold} this is such an iconic Paris spot for photos and just to take in the beauty of the city. When Hannah and I were there in the summer, a giant ferris wheel sat in the middle so you could see all of Paris. I’ve read that they also have it up for Christmas, so maybe it is becoming an all year thing? Let me know if you go!

Place des Vosges - This is my grandmama’s favorite spot in Paris. It is a square of beautiful brick buildings with a courtyard in the middle and tons of restaurants and shops. Victor Hugo’s apartment in the Place has been turned into a museum. Hannah and I stopped back by last year to sample our macarons from Laudree under the shade of a tree as we watched little kids play in the fountains. I would recommend stopping for a coffee at one of the many cafes and looking out over the square.

Place du Trocadero - This is another one of those fashion blogger spots. If you have seen anyone post from a plaza with the perfect view of the Eiffel Tower, this is it! It’s right across the Seine, and the photos are perfect from this spot. The cover photo at the very beginning of this post, of Hannah and I, is from Trocadero. It is great during the day and also the best spot for photos of the tower when it is twinkling at night.

Place Vendome - Love shopping and history? This is for you. First, the Ritz is on the Place Vendome so stop in for a phenomenal hotel lobby. The original Chanel store is across the way and there is the
famous column. Napoleon had the column created out of melted down canons he captured at the most decisive battle of the Napoleonic Wars. The whole square, it isn’t shaped like a square, but you get what I am saying, is perfect for photos and just to see the beauty of Paris up close.

Pont Alexandre III Bridge - If you are looking for the best way to walk across Paris’ most famous bridge, start at Invalides, tour the museum, walk across the bridge to the Grand Palais. Or you can just find your way there on another route. But you have to go and take your photos, view the beauty of this bridge for yourself.

Rodin Museum - When I was younger I was obsessed with the Thinker because it is such a masterpiece. My parents told me that it was traveling to Stanford when we visited but it wasn’t there so I vowed that when I went to Paris I would see it. Fast forward many years and I was standing in front of the Rodin Museum, we
paid our admission, grabbed our maps and headed off. The Thinker was being worked on. That’s right it was not in its glory, but covered in plastic. However, it all worked out because I was able to experience the rest of Rodin’s work, which is magnificent. I would highly recommend going to this museum because not only is the work beautiful, but the grounds are as well.

Rue Cler Market - Paris is full of food markets, and there are definitely ones better than this but if you are looking for fresh flowers or sandwiches to take to the Eiffel Tower, this is your best bet. It is located in the Saint Germain Pres area of Paris and the wide street is full of flower shops, sandwich kiosks and more most mornings.

Sainte-Chapelle - My all-time favorite thing in Paris is the Sainte-Chapelle. If you know me, you know I am not religious...but then why is this my favorite? Because it houses the most beautiful stained glass I have ever seen. The chapel is tiny but it is better than any famous church, and if I am giving you some real advice, skip the line at Notre Dame and go to this attraction. You can’t really see it from the road, it is tucked into some government buildings but it is on the same island. You’ll walk in on the first floor where there is a tiny sneak peek of the stained glass, then you wind your way up some stairs and come out into the main chapel. It is a breathtaking room with seats on the far sides where you can sit for hours marveling at the beauty. I would allow at least two hours for this spot, if you’re anything like me.
Seine - Anywhere on the Seine is ideal, have a picnic, walk along it, just spend some time taking in that beautiful river.

Shakespeare & Co. - Okay, if I am being honest I think this spot is overrated. But I wanted to include it on here because I know a ton of people want to go. I am a lover of independent bookstores so I get wanting to see this one but honestly it is really touristy, it’s cramped, they don’t want you to take photos or have a real experience either. Hannah really wanted to go the last time (I had already been) so I took her and she was unimpressed. I would say stop by, you’ll be near it if you do Notre Dame or Saint Chapelle.

Where To Eat:

Angelina’s - Angelina’s has a few locations in Paris but I went to the original on Rivoli across from the gardens and the Louvre. This is the infamous hangout of Coco Chanel, who I idolized in high school. Their hot chocolate is their most famous dish, they even sell it in milk bottles for you to take back to relatives. It is so thick and rich you could probably stand a spoon in it. I went in winter

and got to the point where I couldn’t drink it, I do not understand how people do it in the summer. I had a coffee tartlet with chocolate and cream that made me feel a little closer to heaven. I also went to their location at Versailles in the Peit Trianon where I had a delicious vanilla eclair, the top was a solid rectangle of vanilla that you could break into pieces...I still think about it.

Artisan Boulanger Patissier - As mentioned above, Hannah and I visited the Rue Cler Market before heading to the Eiffel Tower. It was my plan for us to pick up some sandwiches to have a picnic along the Seine that day, because how cute would those photos be? We looked at various bakery cases along the market, and this one just stood out to us. You can go in and sit but we got it from their case outside. The sandwiches were basically an entire baguette, my heart soared, with cheese + ham + butter. Honestly, the sandwich of my dreams. We

ended up eating them on the lawn of the Trocadero, and good lord were they good. A full length baguette is pretty huge so what we couldn’t finish we put away for later - which we ended up eating as a snack outside of the Louvre. I would really suggest this method of traveling through Paris. Have a breakfast, get a sandwich, go the whole day snacking on the sandwich/picnicking and then go out somewhere nice for dinner. It’s my favorite way to dine in the city. 

Berthillon - If there is one place you must go in Paris, it’s Berthillon. They have the best ice cream I have ever had in my entire life...and I love ice cream. I promise you this is no hyperbole, I truly think they make the best ice cream. They have a salon; I went with my grandmama, and they sell it on the street corners; where I went with Hannah. I would suggest going to the salon the first time for the experience, then you can get it from any street corner vendor. You must get the

Blood Orange, as a Floridian I am very judging of orange flavors in other places, but y’all. This.is.the.best. The first time I got it, I had it with the chocolate, it was far too rich for me. I like my chocolate a little milkier than that {I realize that is weird}. I also had it the traditional way where they pile a ton of whipped cream on top which is something I am not into by any means. The second time {yes we went twice in a week} I had the Blood Orange with Vanilla and no topping, that was the way to go. It was perfect. My grandmama had it with a pear pastry, and that pastry was to die for. When Hannah & I went we both got ice cream cones, the actual Berthillon was closed for renovations, so we went to a street vendor. It was still as amazing as ever. 

Cafe de Flore - This cafe is incredibly famous if you have ever heard of expats during the 1920s. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, etc. It’s located in the “intellectual” part of Paris, aka the Left Bank. I’ve been once for breakfast and once for lunch. Both times it epitomized the Parisian cafe. I would suggest breakfast over lunch/dinner because the cafes can get expensive. Petit Dejeuner is any number of things, I usually go for the croissant and coffee. Hannah swore by the hot chocolate. Make sure you get a table facing the street, two people can sit on the side of the restaurant

so you can people watch. It is the best thing in the world to just sit there for hours watching people, sipping coffee. Once when I was there a group of Italian school children were passing and they recognized an heir to the Fiat company {and an all around playboy} so they stopped for photos.

Cafe de la Paix - This restaurant has been a staple in Paris since around 1862. It is in the second empire style and gosh is it beautiful. It sits directly across from the Palais Garnier so you have gorgeous views of the famous opera house. Get their sandwich, on a french baguette with cooked ham, emmental cheese and pickled butter. I know that doesn’t sound appetizing but it really is.

Cafe Madeleine - My grandmama and I discovered this cafe about a third of our time in Paris and goodness gracious were we thankful for it. We went almost everyday for breakfast and then quite a few times for lunch. It is by far the place with the best Croque Monsieurs that I ate in Paris...and I ate a lot of them. There is something about a basic grilled cheese turned even more amazing that makes me a happy camper. If you are by Fauchon/Laduree then you can visit.

Fauchon - Fauchon is like the super fancy store you can’t afford in your town? You know the one I’m talking about, it serves fancy cheese, chocolates, etc. It reminds me of a modern Monsieur Marcel {in Los Angeles}. They love hot pink {like my pineapple} and they have sparkly gold food trays. My

grandmama actually shops there for some things but mainly she goes for breakfast. I took Hannah the last time we were there as well because I really enjoy the experience. Their breakfast is a little like Au Bon Pain but fancier. You grab your own pastries and then pay at the counter. Their Cafe Au Lait is one of the best in Paris {take it from someone who only drank that for a week while she was there}. I always get a chocolate croissant and a mini baguette but everything looks delectable. If you’re visiting in the winter they will have places to eat inside. If you are visiting in the summer, opt to sit on their pink patio for amazing people watching.

Laduree - Ahh, the extremely famous Laduree. Everyone seems to know about it now but when I went back in highschool I had no idea, my grandmama insisted we go because they were the best macarons in France. They have multiple

locations, I believe there is one in New York and Miami now, but I’ve been to the one on the Champs Elysees and the one by Madeleine. Both have tea rooms but I always got my macarons to go. The first time I just got three because I had never had a macaron before, so there was no knowledge of what it should taste like. But wow...wow...wow. The second time I got one of the cute boxes that I still have today. If you go get at least one of the rose flavor because it may sound gross now but it is delicious.

Le Depart Saint Michel - I cannot remember the regular food at this restaurant, located on the left bank side of Notre Dame, but the strawberry tart was one of the best desserts I ate in Paris. The cafe itself isn’t that memorable, just another kind of touristy cafe across from the famous

cathedral, but if you go during strawberry season, stop for the tart. 

Le Train Bleu - This restaurant is perfect for your last night in Paris or if you are celebrating something. It’s located in the heart of Gare de Lyon, which is on the other side of the historic Bastille. The train station was built at the turn of the century to resemble a palace and the restaurant was opened in 1901. It was renamed Le Train Blue in 1963, the name honors the “Blue Train” which went from Paris to the Cote de Azur. Coco Chanel and Bridget Bardot were regulars and quite a few movies have been

filmed in this beautiful restaurant. I remember having the steak with veggies and a delicious version of a chocolate eclair that had ice cream instead of cream.

Hopefully this guide will help you plan for your next trip to Paris. If you think I missed something please let me know, I would love to go the next time I am there! Also, let me know your Paris favorites!

P.S. Stay tuned tomorrow for my Top 10 Travel Essentials! 

1 comment:

  1. I am dying! Paris is at the top of my list, love all these photos!
    xo, Syd