If you know me, then you know that “spontaneous” doesn’t exactly describe my personality. I like to plan things out. And while this trip to Paris wasn’t exactly spontaneous, it came about in a spontaneous way when my cousins asked me and my sister if we wanted to meet them there while they were in France for a couple weeks. Normally, I like to think about my vacation time and what I want to do with my days off carefully, but as soon as we saw the flight prices for the weekend my cousins suggested, we had to go and we just did it! After we booked the flights I got so stressed out thinking to myself, “I can’t believe I just bought a plane ticket to Paris without thinking about it” but it ended up being one of the best trips I’ve taken in a long time.
I’d been to Paris three times before (once with my family, once on a school trip, and once visiting my friend who was studying abroad there while I was living in Rome) but I definitely did not feel the magic of the city until this trip. It probably was due to the fact that the past times I had been had been very whirlwind - once with a group of 50 high school kids, ugh - and I felt like I never got a good grasp of the city. This time, Molly and I planned out exactly where we wanted to stay and what we wanted to see. And we didn’t have to see EVERYTHING because we had done it before, so could focus more on wandering around where we felt like it and just soaking up all of the wonderful food, people watching, art, culture and beautiful sights.
The one thing I really noticed and appreciated about Paris this time around was how beautiful everything is. Everything is very grand, or it’s whimsical and charming. Every corner was bustling with pretty cafes that poured out into the street, flower and cheese shops, big open windows with curtains, old churches, and cobblestone sidewalks. Anytime we turned onto a new street we would comment to each other about how pretty it was. Our trip was in late March, right when everything was starting to bloom and the weather was lovely.
Where we stayed:
Le Marais - Molly and I stayed in an Airbnb in Le Marais (this was our apartment) and we absolutely loved this neighborhood. Le Marais is the 4th arrondissement of Paris so it’s centrally located and is full of shops, boutiques, galleries, restaurants and bars. It definitely was the place to be on the weekend. I wanted to stay in Le Marais because I had visited the neighborhood with my friend, Lesley, and remembered it being so pretty. Our apartment was beautiful - it had big windows that overlooked a square with restaurants, and was full of books and paintings. Our host left us with coffee, fresh fruit, and eggs too. We also wanted to stay in an Airbnb so we could go out to the grocery store and make breakfast at home every morning.
Le Mary Celeste - we had the first dinner of our trip here and it was INCREDIBLE. I am still thinking about the roasted cauliflower with tahini, and deviled eggs. Plus, it was in a great location next to lots of bars.
Ippudo - Okay so there is one of these in New York City, but I haven’t been to it and we really wanted ramen. It was so delicious though and I definitely would go to the one in NYC now. We each had a big bowl of ramen and split dumplings. I liked sitting at the bar too, so we could watch the chefs preparing the food. Also, Ippudo was in the Saint Germain neighborhood and it was really fun to walk through there at night.
Berthillon - ICE CREAM. This place is so good that I distinctly remember the first time I had it when I was on a family vacation. I remember the cone being super skinny and the scoops being small but delicious, and the shop being on an island in the river near Notre Dame. I asked around and found out that the ice cream store did, indeed, still exist and we went twice because it was so good. You cannot go wrong with any flavor.
L’As du Fallafel - Le Marais is known for amazing falafel and multiple people had told us about L’As du Fallafel prior to our trip so we made it a must. You can either eat inside or order at a window and take it to go. Either way there is going to be a wait but the outside window line moves very quickly. We each got a falafel pita and basically inhaled them. They were so so so good and this place definitely lives up to the reputation.
Wild and the Moon - Molly is vegan so we had to have a couple places on our list (but I will admit, being a vegan in Paris must be very hard since there is so much cheese). We each had smoothie bowls that were really good, and a rose latte, which we’ve been unsuccessfully trying to recreate ever since. Wild and the Moon is also in Le Marais.
Love Juice Bar - We went here for breakfast one morning and the smoothie bowls are also insanely good. Molly had the peanut butter one and it was heaven.
Les Philosophes - Also in Le Marais - really good French onion soup!!
Du Pain et des Idees - If you are a pastry lover, Du Pain et des Idees is a must! We filled up on pastries here (and Molly even went non-vegan for this special occasion). The pistachio chocolate escargot pastry was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my life. We also tried pain au chocolat and a raspberry escargot pastry. It is worth waiting in line for these.
Ob-La-Di - cute coffee place we liked in Le Marais.
Grocery stores - one of my favorite things to do in a foreign country is go to a grocery store and check out the local food, and if you like doing this, then a French grocery store will be heaven. You can buy nice bottles of wine at a French grocery story for around 5-8 Euro, and the cheese was inexpensive as well. We also found amazing mint seltzer that they definitely do not have in America. Needless to say, we stocked up for the Airbnb.
Farmers Markets - If you’re a foodle, I also recommend going to a farmers market! They are all over the city on different days of the week and they have interesting seafood, vegetables, and cheeses. We went to one in Place Maubert.
Notre Dame - luckily we were able to see Notre Dame before the horrible fire. I’m not sure what the status is now but the gardens behind it are beautiful!
Palais Royale - I like the courtyard here with the black and white pillars, and there’s also really pretty gardens
Louvre - Obviously an iconic museum in Paris. You can spend all day inside, but I would definitely recommend at least walking around the outside area and seeing the glass pyramids.
The Eiffel Tower - Don’t really need to explain this, but one fun thing to do is picnic on the lawn underneath with a baguette and bottle of wine!
River Seine - We took a really long walk along the Seine and saw lots of people picnicking here too! It’s so beautiful and I love all the bridges along the way.
Moulin Rouge - We didn’t go inside, but the windmill is iconic!
Sacre Coeur and Montmartre - Montmartre is a little out of the way but I really like this neighborhood. It’s hilly and you can get great views of the city, and I love the cobblestone streets. Plus, the Sacre Coeur is at the top and it’s so beautiful. I definitely recommend going inside.
Shakespeare and Co - Iconic bookstore in Paris near Notre Dame
Musee D’Orsay - This is one of my favorite museums in Paris. I love impressionism and they have everything from Renoir to Monet.
Saint Germain neighborhood - This is my 2nd favorite neighborhood in Paris, after Le Marais. It’s a bit more upscale and fancy, but so beautiful and full of amazing chocolate shops.