How We Spent 3 Days in Paris

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This year my mom & I’s big summer trip was to Paris! She had never been to Europe and I had never been to Paris.  We decided what time was better to give it a whirl than now!  Keep in mind, between the two of us we know maybe 10 French words.  We had a short & sweet trip that was filled with things straight out of postcards and movies.  I’m going to share our jam packed 3-day itinerary and how we made the most of our time there, so let’s get started!  



DAY 1–
Our flight landed mid day at Charles de Gaule airport, we hit the ground running by taking “Le Bus Direct” from the airport to our hotel.  It was a very convenient and easy experience, the bus arrives every 15 minutes in Terminal 1 and you can buy your tickets with a card at the kiosk or pay the driver in Euros.  It cost us 36,00 Euros one way for 2 adults.  The bus itself was air conditioned, clean, and not crowded.  We took the direct 2 toward Eiffel Tower and got off at the Champs Elysees stop.  In all it was about an hour bus ride to that stop.  I highly recommend this transport option if your hotel is near any of the stops because it saves you the trouble of hauling luggage up and down the metro steps!  I did hear that at times there can be delays due to traffic and later in the day it can become more crowded.  



Our hotel, The Royal Hotel, was perfectly located just 2 blocks the Arc de Triomphe, a must-see landmark, and 1 block from Champs de Elysees, a street filled with restaurants and shops.  The room itself was nice with two windows that opened to view the street, though it was small it worked perfectly for the two of us.  



It was also only a 20 minute walk to the Eiffel Tower and after we checked in we headed there!  Our first stop was the American Cathedral since it was on the way, it was incredibly beautiful inside and completely free to enter!  After about 10 minutes further of walking we reached the Eiffel Tower area.  It was so grand to walk up and see the Eiffel Tower up close and in person.  There is a water feature called the Trocadero that we walked to in order to get full photos and honestly it was less crowded than I expected!  I was able to get quite a few photos without many other tourists in them.  When we were there the water fountains were all on, but I read that early in the morning around sunrise the Tower reflects across the pool area.  


Jumpsuit is old TopShop | Tee | Shoes | Sunnies | Barrette   


On our way home we at at Bistro Des Champs right on Champs de Elysees.  They had a lovely outdoor seating option that seemed to be common for the restaurants around and allowed for great people watching!  We both ordered Croque-Monsieurs, which are basically ham & cheese sandwiches, and a glass of champagne.  It came to about 25,00 Euros each in total and the atmosphere of being right on Champs de Elysees was well worth it!  



DAY 2–
On our second day we got up and went to breakfast around 7am.  The selection was very nice with kiwis, cheeses, fresh bread, pastries, meats, eggs, cereal and yogurt.  



Our plan for this day was to see EVERYTHING.  From what I researched we could see almost all the major landmarks in the city by walking down both sides of the Seine River.  We first came to the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais.  They have exhibits inside, but we just visited the outdoor area.  On the opposite side of them is a beautiful park too.  We looped around them toward the Pont Alexandre III bridge.  This bridge allows for foot traffic as well as cars.  It has incredibly ornate gold accents all across it and is definitely the most ornate of the bridges we saw.  


Top (similar) | Shoes are old Jeffrey Campbell | Jeans 
Some of the foot bridges have vendors with locks you can purchase and attach!

We crossed here and moved forward toward the Louvre Museum.  This area was more crowded than the others we had been in thus far and we did not go inside the museum.  I read this museum alone could take an entire day so we just stuck to seeing the pyramids to save time.  


  

The last stop before we headed back down the Seine toward our hotel was Notre Dame Cathedral.  We weren’t sure what to expect to see since the fire occurred, when we got close you could still see the cathedral and it was stunning, but there was a massive crane working and large fencing around the entirety of it.  Though it was not like it was previously access wise, it was still a sight to see.  



The way back was much quicker for us since we didn’t need to stop as much, the two exceptions being lunch and the Musee d Orsay.  We stopped at Paradis de Fruits st Michel between Notre Dame and the Louvre.  This is a great option if you’re craving something healthy, I ordered a “detox salad” and carrot, ginger, apple pressed juice.  It was such a refreshing meal after having eaten mostly airport and bready meals the past couple days.  


  

The museum had an intimidating line, but it moved pretty quickly totaling about 45 minutes of waiting.  2 adult tickets cost 28,00 Euros.  We were on the hunt to find a clock window that made for a beautiful silhouette photo that even the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have taken advantage of!  However, once we were inside we were able to appreciate so much more than just the clock.  There were two levels of sculptures, my favorite being the Ernest Barrias’s Les Chasseurs d’alligators ou Les Nubiens, Monet paintings, a temporary Van Gogh exhibit that featured his famous self portrait, along with many other beautiful works of art.  To find the clock you have to go to the top level and past the first clock located in the cafe area, the one accessible for photos is in the last exhibit wing of that floor.  We spent 45 minutes inside because we were getting tired, but we estimated you could do the whole museum in 3-4 hours. 


   
  

On our way home we couldn’t resist stopping in to Ladurée to taste the famous macarons in the actual place where they originated.  There was a short 4 person line to eat in the cafe, versus a 15 person line to buy the macarons to-go.  I had been on the hunt for lemon sorbet since I read that it was very good in Paris so I jumped at the opportunity to have it here, along with a lemon macaron of course. 



DAY 3–
The first two days were very exhausting, with day 2 totaling up about 25,000 steps according to my health app!! So the third day we opted to take the metro rather than walk.  We took metro 2 from Port Dauphine at Charles de Gaule Eteloie to Blanche station.  One-way tickets cost 1,90 Euros each, this machine was much like the machine for “Le Bus” and was super easy to use.  



In total it took about 30 minutes and we arrived just a few steps from the famous Moulin Rouge in the red light district of Paris.  We thought we might check out one of the shows, but sadly tickets were around 150,00-200,00 Euros each!  I think it would definitely be a fun experience and something worth budgeting for next time.  

Since we had made it all the way to this area we decided to walk over to Montemarte, a neighborhood well known for the Sacre Couer Basilica.  It’s an easy walk through town to the bottom of Montemarte, but a bit of a trek up multiple flights of steps to the top.  This being are rest day we chose the tram ride up for 1,90 Euros each.  This Basilica completely exceeded my expectations, yes there were a lot of tourists around but it rivals Notre Dame in beauty.  




They offer an option to walk up 300 steps to the very top of the building for panoramic views of the city.  Us always being on the hunt for the best photos thought this was a great idea!  I will be very honest; this was not a great idea for me whatsoever.  You walk all the way to the basement area of the building, walk through a ticket booth, and enter a small (think 1 person wide) staircase with small rectangular windows only every 10 steps.  


  

This is just the first half of stairs.  I made it this far with some deep breathing, then we came out to an open walkway and stunning views.  I was thinking okay if this is halfway then it’s definitely going to be worth it at the top!  



So we embark on the second half and about 10 steps in I realize there’s no window.  Looking up and seeing only walls and concrete and looking down to see only walls and concrete was too much for me.  I immediately told my mom to turn around and basically had a panic attack in the open walkway.  I wouldn’t normally consider myself claustrophobic but in this situation I think the lack of windows and distance in the that tiny stairwell was just too much for me.  You might be thinking okay cool you don’t want to go up, just go back, right?  Well, the fun part about that is the stairs are one way up and one way down on the other side of the viewing area.  I knew there was a 0% chance of me not only making it up the last half, but also back down the whole thing, so we started back down the wrong direction.  With the exception of one guide telling us it was one way, people were very nice and let us go through.  Once back at the ticket booth we had to get across the gate and finally I was back in open air.  I googled the view from the top and it did look spectacular, but I definitely would caution you if small spaces aren’t your friend this might not be the view to go for.  

There is good news for people like me though!  Our last sight planned for the day was the Arc de Triomphe, my mom wanted to see the view from the top (we just hadn’t learned our less had we?). We took the metro back to our station and walked the few blocks to the underground tunnel below the street to the Arc de Triomphe.  This tunnel was huge and well lit, not a concern for me at all.  Then we bought our tickets for 12,00 Euros each and I convinced myself that this staircase wouldn’t be as traumatizing.  



I’m glad my mom pushed that we go because it wasn’t nearly as bad to climb up!  The stairwell area is open, the stairs are metal, and there are 2 areas to stop in and walk around  along the way.  A few times I still had to just look straight ahead and follow my mom or the group ahead of us, but it was a significantly better experience.  I would say that getting up to the top, even with stopping on both floors between, took only about 15 minutes.  



At the top you can see all of Paris in every direction; the Eiffel Tower, Montemarte, the business area, everything!  At the beginning and end of the stairs outside you can see the underneath of the Arc and all the details up close, plus there is an eternal flame burning in remembrance of the unknown soldier that we had no idea was there.  If you’re hesitant about going into these stairwells now, I would highly recommend starting with this one!  The view is very worth it and if I can do it right after my Sacre Couer experience, you totally can too!  



To celebrate the fact I made it up to the top we got French crepes from one of the carts on the corner of Champs Elysees, they seem to always be there in the evenings.  I ordered Nutella with strawberries, my mom got Nutella with bananas.  It was so cool because he actually makes them right in front of you and they tasted incredible!  



Since this was our last night in Paris we wanted o have a glass of champagne to end the trip.  We chose Le Balzac on Champs Elysees and also ordered French onion soup to share.  The soup was delicious with big pieces of bread and so much melted cheese.  



The one thing we couldn’t seem to make happen was staying up long enough to see the sights lit up.  We snuck out at a time we thought was late to snap some pictures at the Arc de Triomphe in a dress I brought with me, but it still wasn't even close to sunset!  It got dark at around 10pm and we were already so tired by 8pm every night.  I think it would be worth it next trip to take a mid day nap and go back out later in the evening.  


Skirt (similar) | Shoes | Top

HEADING HOME—
I don’t have much to say about our trip home since it was much less exciting, but I’ll give you the basics.  We asked the hotel the night before to call us a car in the morning so we didn’t have to drag our bags around to the bus or metro that early.  It cost 60,00 Euros and took about 1 hour.  We arrived around 7am and there were literally no lines anyway which was fantastic!  If you have the chance, book a morning flight!  The one downside is we had no idea about there rule for liquids in carryons since we have TSA Precheck and never have to really pay attention to bag requirements.  In Charles de Gaule airport you are allowed only one 1 quart bag filled with travel size liquids per person.  To put this into perspective I had about one a half bags worth of stuff since all my makeup and toiletries were in my carryon.  They are not lenient with this rule, so between my mom and I we had to throw away about 5 items.  If you take one thing away from this whole post, remember to pay attention to your liquids because we all know most of that stuff is way too pricey to just be throwing away!  

Have any of you been to Paris?  Let me know anything we might have missed to add to our list for next time!
XOXO, Cierra 

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