The first time we went to Paris was in 2008. We stayed at a Marriott Timeshare that we exchanged for our Vegas property (check out my timeshare post for more info). The location was outside the city, closer to Disneyland Paris. There is shuttle service to Disneyland, where you can get the metro to ride into the city. It is about a 40 minute train ride, however, I personally liked to stay out here in the sleepy outskirts of Paris.
In 2008, the Eiffel Tower lights were blue to commemorate the nation’s Presidency of the European Union.
This year (February 2016) we went to Paris for the second time. Let me start off by saying that Paris is still my favorite city to visit. Everything about that city makes me feel like I belong there. From the French language all the way down to the freshly made pastries. The whole city smells like baguettes and the Eiffel tower is seen from practically anywhere in the city. It is enormous and impressive! She is a beauty!
This time around, we decided to stay at a hotel near the Eiffel Tower. This hotel was recommended by my friend, Liz, and it is literally across the street from the tower. Its prime location gave you a sense of being in Paris every time you walked out of the lobby…and some rooms have a view of the Eiffel Tower.
We were celebrating Herbie’s birthday so I wanted to plan a special week. On his actual birthday, I made reservations for lunch at the 58 Tour Eiffel restaurant. It was a picnic-style lunch on the first floor. The food reminded us this was a tourist trap, but it is not everyday you get to dine in the Eiffel Tower. The first floor has a gift shop and also has wonderful views of Paris. Even if you don’t do lunch here, you must come up the tower. You can buy tickets to go all the way to the top as well.
After lunch, we went to The Catacombs. The catacombs are located underground and hold remains of over six million people. The first time we visited Paris, we missed the catacombs because we there was a long line. This was the only attraction Herbie was really looking forward to doing, so this time around, I made sure I bought tickets online.
After the catacombs, we went to Pere-Lachaise Cemetery to visit Jim Morrison’s grave. It was raining hard and the tomb was roped up so we could not get too close. Just the walk in the cemetery was pleasant. The above ground stones are simply stunning and artistic. In addition to Jim Morrison’s grave, there are other famous tombs you can visit there, like Oscar Wilde.
That night we met up with our friends, the McPartlands, since they were visiting Paris as well. We met at the medieval cathedral, Notre Dame, and walked over to the Latin Quarter for dinner. This is where we tried escargots (snails) for the first time. In my opinion, they are flavorless and I will probably never order them again. I just had to try them…
A great market you must visit when in Paris is the Rue Cler Market. We went early in the morning and bought local cheese, homemade croissants and local ham. We bought fruits and wine as well. It is a great market to purchase all your needs for a picnic. And the lunch you will prepare with these ingredients is probably the best meal you will have in Paris. I can still taste the buttery croissant.
Another site to visit is the Sacre Coeur Catholic church. It’s a beautiful basilica that sits on a hill with breathtaking views of the city.
A trip to Paris is not complete without visiting the Louvre Museum. Here is where the Mona Lisa is displayed. I must say, I was not impressed with the painting as it is much smaller than I thought. Nevertheless, it is THEE Mona Lisa so you must see it! I recommend paying for a tour as there is much to see and I think a tour guide will help you not get overwhelmed. You can also visit Napoleon’s apartment here.
Paris is near the Champagne Region. We took a tour from our hotel back in 2008 and visited Moet & Chandon, G.H Mumm and Dom Perignon. The champagne region is located in Epernay, France and there are multiple tours you can take or do-it-yourself and rent a car. It is also possible to take the train to Epernay from Paris.
The Chateau de Versailles is accessible by metro, even though it is outside of the city. It is worth a day trip if you have the time. Rent the audio guide and visit the palace. Inside the palace, you can see the Queen’s Bed Chamber. Back in the day, the Queen would give birth on this bed…in public! This was to validate royalty on the baby.
There is a place in Paris that has a perfect, unobstructed view of the Eiffel Tower. And that is the Trocadero. The metro stop is called Trocadero. This is where you get off, walk up to the Trocadero which is across the street from the tower and you can take beautiful pictures all day and all night.
After Paris, we took the train to Amsterdam and then came back one final night before flying back to Sicily. The last night we were in Paris, we stayed at the Melia Royal Alma. This hotel is close to Champs-Elysees, the boulevard in Paris where there are a lot of high-end shops. It is fun to go stroll down the street, shop and people watch over lunch. It is close to the metro stop as well for easy access to the airport and the entire city.
Nearby is also the Liberty Flame. This is the memorial site for Princess Diana as it is situated right above the tunnel in which she was killed.
If you want to splurge on a 2 Michelin Star meal, you must visit L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. It is a French gourmet experience you will never forget. Joel Robuchon is a French chef who now has restaurants in all major cities, worldwide. We opted for a juicy 160 euro ribeye steak with Chef Robuson’s famous buttery mashed potato. Simply delicious!
Well, this is all on Paris (for now). I love Paris and am already planning my next visit. Au Revoir Paris!