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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Traveling to Paris: Picks and Tips!



If I convinced you to visit London from my last post, you may as well add on a few days in Paris (or vice versa) because, as I mentioned, the train ride is a breeze and Paris is just so-- Paris!

Our first stop after checking into the hotel was the Eiffel Tower.  





It really is a sight to see.  So overwhelmingly beautiful, and overwhelmingly crowded, depending on the time, I guess.  Both times we've been, we've skipped going up it, both to save the money and because there are great views of Paris to be seen for free from other areas.  Those of you who have been up it, what do you think?


Either way, the Eiffel tower is not to be missed for your iconic pics of Paris.  Magnifique! 



As I recommended for London, near the beginning of your trip, it's great to opt for a tour!  We took the same kind of tour this time as we did for our first trip, which was a 3-hour walking tour of the city's highlights.  The great thing about the ones we did is that the tour is actually free!  However, the guides work very hard to give you a great experience and do depend on the tips, so a generous tip is both appreciated and worth it!  Make a reservation or find out all the details here.  Our guide was Harriet and she did a lovely job.

Our tour met at the beautiful Saint-Michel fountain around 10:00 am, and ended around 1:00 pm.  Note-- this is a lot of walking and can be hot depending on the time of year.  Our kids were able to do it fine, but we all were ready for a little rest by the end.  Also, bring water as you may or may not pass by a place to purchase.











The tour concluded at the beautiful Tuileries Garden (another of my favorites in Paris!).  I'm convinced this is one of the most enchanting places on earth.





Once again, this is a great way to get an overview of the city so you can decide where to spend more time later!


Outside the gardens, we grabbed a hot dog in a baguette at a cute stand and ate it in around the water basin in the park!  Delish!




After that, we started a walk down the famous Champs Elyeses, passing beautiful sites along the way.


It's a little bit of a walk all the way to the Arc de Triomphe from the Obelisk on the Place de la Concorde, but it's where you'll find the big name stores and beautiful cafes.  We skipped Laduree, but did peek inside to catch a glimpse of the decadent macarons.  Gorgeous!






The girls had to stop in the Disney store, which is always a must-see for us...



And Louis Vuitton is here, too, if you have a few extra {thousand} euros...






After this, we headed to Montmartre, the highest point in Paris, which was historically the home of many artists, and draws plenty to this day.  To get to the top, there are approximately a million steps, but if you're not up to it, take the funicular (a little tram car), or opt for the little white train shuttle that will get you to the top for about 6 euros per person.  We walked up, but trust me, I would have taken the funicular if I had remembered it!





At the top is the beautiful Basilica Sacre-Coeur, which you may enter and look around.  





And then, you'll want to see the view of Paris from the steps.  



Beautiful!





The streets leading away from the church are full of shops, cafes, artists, and more.













So much to see!  After all this walking, you'll probably be ready to find a cute cafe and call it a day.  This was when Dave tested his adventurous appetite with some escargot.  I decided I can live without that.  Any other brave souls out there?  





On our second full day in Paris, we went back to our favorites to spend some more time, starting with Notre Dame.  It really is so beautiful and majestic.  












And it was on the Rue d'Arcole and the side streets around Notre Dame that we found the best souvenir shopping--many of the same items you will see all across town, but for a little better prices.  And behind Notre Dame going south is the Pont de l'Archeveche.  This is one of the bridges in Paris which has become a placeholder for lovers' locks from across the world.  
It's said that if you lock your love on the bridge and throw the keys into the Seine, your love will last forever!  Unfortunately, there's been so much love locked on the bridges that the city has begun to dismantle the locks so that the bridges' stability won't be compromised.  But, we had to join the crowd anyway and go for it! 





If you want to do this, too, during your trip, don't worry if you forget to pack a lock!  They'll be for sale along the river for a few euros and the sellers will even loan you a Sharpie! 




After this, we headed back north across the river, walked back behind Notre Dame, and crossed the short bridge into Ile Saint-Louis--one of my favorite parts of Paris!  




On this little island are streets lined with cute shops, and tons of Parisian eye candy to snap some shots of as well.




















And when you've had enough strolling through the streets, grab a sandwich or a baguette and carry it back to the waterfront park behind Notre Dame for a perfect lunch spot!












That's where I fell in love with the most beautiful macaron I ever put in my mouth.  I'm ready to go back to Paris for this reason alone!






After this, a walk along the Seine is perfect, with stops at the vintage book stalls along the way.






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When you find yourself back at the Tuileries Gardens, take a little rest and enjoy the view!











The carousel in the park is as enchanting as it looks, and our girls loved it!









 After a light dinner at a nearby cafe, we made our way to the Louvre!  Remember this tip:  if you're traveling with kids, take note that admission is FREE for those under age 26 on Friday evenings from 6 pm to 9:45pm.  This is a great savings as tickets are 12 euro each!





There is more to see in the Louvre than can be seen in 3 months, literally!  But choose a few highlights and, of course, see the Mona Lisa.  There will always be a crowd around her, but you'll get your turn and you can then mark it off your list!









There are some amazing pieces to see, and trust me, the kids will find plenty to entertain themselves as well...





We fell in love with Paris, as well as their Nutella crepes, made some amazing memories, then packed up to head to our next stop.  I'll tell you more about that next time, but for now, I hope you've gotten some inspiration for your trip!  







Once again, if you have specific questions, I'll try to answer.  And if you have tips or favorites to add, please share!