Travel weary and nothing but smiles for our first Paris photo on the balcony of our hotel. When our plane never left the airport on our previously scheduled flight in March, we re-booked our trip for April. A few flight delays out of Dallas made us a bit anxious, but FINALLY, we made it!
We flew American Airlines from Oklahoma City to Dallas (about a 30 minute flight). Then Dallas to Paris (approximately 9 hours).
Whether you’ve been to Paris a 100 times or you’ve never been before, you will be enamored with the city’s beauty. Since our trip was brief (we left on a Thursday and returned home on a Tuesday), Randy booked ahead of time things we knew we wanted to see: The Eiffel Tower, Champagne Tasting on the Seine River Cruise (highly recommend), The Louvre (one of the world’s largest museums with over 35,000 works of art!), Arc de Triomphe (symbolizes the glory of France and memorializes the sacrifices of its soldiers), crowning the Champs-Élysées. Randy and I visited Versailles on a previous trip, but we weren’t able to book for this one.
Below are some details of our most recent trip!
Where We Ate
For brunch our first day, we grabbed a bite at LA COUP D’OR.
Day 1: We ate dinner at Pink Mamma. Reservations open at 9 A.M., 30 days in advance for 2 to 7 people and 37 days in advance for 8 people and above. We arrived early for our 6:45 P.M. reservation to secure seating on the top floor where the views are the best! Two lines form outside the restaurant: one line for those with reservations, and one line for those hoping to secure a seat at this popular place!
At Pink Mamma, everything is homemade. We ordered way too much food: Burrata Al Pesto Rosso, Spaghetti Cozze E Vongole, Mammargherita Pizza, Good Bunny, La Crème de la crème, and so much bread!
Day 2: We ate dinner at La Maison de L’Aubrac, one of the “World’s 101 Best Steak Restaurants”! We did the wine tasting on the Seine River at 6:30 P.M. and our reservation at La Maison de L’Aubrac for 8:15 P.M. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and service here.
By far our favorite restaurant: Flottes! Be sure to get the escargot and the crème brûlée and the onion soup and anything else on the menu! We ate here multiple times! So good!
Fouquet’s, located on the Champs-Elysées, is one of the few restaurants that we walked in without a reservation. We enjoyed a delicious brunch here.
Randy secured us reservations to Ferdi! The owners named this restaurant for their son Ferdinand and decorated the tiny restaurant with artifacts and toys from their child. The cheeseburger is known as one of Paris’s best. The spot is particularly big with the fashion crowd, and getting a reservation can be difficult. Only 15 tables in this space, but worth it! Oh, don’t forget to get the churros!
You can’t go too wrong with any place you eat in Paris. Restaurants Randy and Shalia enjoyed on a previous trip: l’ardoise, Firmine’s, le Castiglione Cafe, Cafe des Tuileries, and cocktails at Bar Hemingway. It’s located inside the Ritz Paris, and the line to get inside is long (we waited about 45 minutes). Once inside, it feels like an exclusive members’ club with only 25 seats and no music. We actually joined some guys from Chicago to secure a table sooner. Guests can stay as long as they choose, but the stiff price of drinks has most people exiting fairly quickly. Ha!
Where We Explored
Louvre– Get tickets ahead of time. A MUST visit if you are going to Paris. You will be able to buy snacks and drinks inside and there is even shopping!
Book tickets to the Louvre for the 9:00 A.M. and get in line to see Mona Lisa first because the lines get long. Interesting fact: in 1956 a deranged visitor threw acid on the painting. Now the art piece is covered in bulletproof glass and a full-time guard watches over the masterpiece.
One of the world’s largest museums with over 35,000 works of art, originally built as a palace, even the ceilings are works of art, so be sure to look up!
Take time to stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries when you exit the Louvre. There is a huge fountain in the middle where people sit and relax. So much to experience here! People playing with their dogs, artists selling their work, bike tours, etc. The gardens in springtime are magical!
Eiffel Tower– Of course! For the best authentic Paris experience, visit this area and walk the Seine River at night.
Champagne Tasting Seine River Cruise– We absolutely loved this! We booked the 6:30 P.M. cruise and arrived early so that we could walk around and see EVERYTHING near the Eiffel Tower. Since we booked VIP, we had our own section at the front of the boat. We tasted 3 different champagnes while cruising the Seine River. Seeing houseboats, magnificent apartments, famous bridges, Notre Dame, and Parisians lounging along the river is something we highly recommend!
Champs-Élysées– Great designer boutique shopping, restaurants, and people watching.
Arc de Triomphe– Symbolizes the glory of France, crowning the Champs-Élysées. It’s fun to watch the traffic here as well!
Versailles has so much to see: The Queen’s and King’s Apartments, the Chapel, The Domaine De Marie Antoinette, the gardens, and the royal stables.
Montmartre– Our last stop! Be sure to visit this authentic village perched on top of a hill. It’s full of charm and has the most magnificent views of Paris! Here, we ate the best crêpes at the Kiki Bar. The narrow cobblestone streets fill quickly with artists pedaling their wares. The cat has its own tip jar, so be sure to tip the cat!
The Basilica of Sacré Coeur de Montmartre is located at the summit of the butte of Montmartre and overlooks the entire city of Paris. It is the second most popular tourist destination in the capital after the Eiffel Tower. Since 1885, prayers have continually been chanted here.
Walking around and just taking in the beautiful architecture is never a bad idea. If you can’t tell by the gallery below, we had a particular fondness for the lovely doors throughout Paris.
Where We Stayed
Westin Paris-Vendôme: We booked this hotel because of the amenities, location, and views. The Tuileries and the Louvre are across the street. So many cafes surround the hotel, including favorites like Ferdi and Flottes. There’s lots of designer shopping just steps away, and it’s only about a 20 minute walk to the Champs-Elysées. Angelina Paris Tearoom is nearby, where Coco Chanel was one of the many famous people who sipped tea in the Belle Epoque interior.
Another hotel that we would recommend in this same neighborhood (where Randy and Shalia stayed on a previous trip):
Hotel Brighton (it’s a bit of an older hotel but has great character). Voted FROMMER’s hotel for best view of iconic Paris sites!
Next to Brighton Hotel and within steps of Westin-Vendôme is Angelina Paris. The line to get in is always long.
Download the Timeshifter App prior to your trip to help adjust to the time change. We think it helps!
Book as much as you can ahead of time. Most restaurants will not let you make reservations until a week in advance.
Arrange transportation through Paris Airport Concierge, some of the best advice we were given! You will skip all lines at the airport. Even with global entry, this personalized welcome was extremely helpful, especially for departure. Pricing varies and will be communicated through email. Here is a link: Travel as a VIP with LE MEET & GREET
Use Uber. It’s actually cheaper than taxis and you can type in your location/destination without having to worry about telling the driver where to go. If you do need a taxi, make sure you know the address of the location of your hotel, etc. to show the driver.
Learn simple French phrases such as “please” and “thank you”. They go a long way. Communicating is not as difficult as many people suggest, however.
If you plan to do any designer shopping, take your passport with you! Designer bags and apparel items are a bit less expensive; plus, you can get your VAT return and get the items tax free as well. Don’t forget about Printemps! it’s a mall on steroids! Split into 5 sections (women’s, men’s, housewares, beauty, and food). Four of the seven floors of women’s fashion are devoted to designer labels. At Printemps, for example, you can put your name on a waiting list for Chanel and shop other stores while you wait. The store will contact when your time is available (much easier than waiting hours in store at other locations).
Since we traveled to Paris during a time of protest tied to President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to increase the retirement age, we answered several questions related to the riots. Following are questions we answered most:
Did we see lots of trash? No. We never saw great piles of trash. In fact, we saw trucks picking up trash.
Did we see any riots? We did not.
Are you supposed to tip in France? Tipping in French restaurants is not expected. However, leaving a small gratuity for good service, if you feel appropriate, is always appreciated!
Is it difficult to communicate? Tourists won’t have any problems communicating in English in most hotels, restaurants, and shops.
Is it safe to walk at night? We walked to all our restaurants at night and always felt safe. Paris is a city with busy nightlife, and you will see plenty of others walking as well.
Final tip: DON’T KICK THE CLEAR CUP! We fell for this one (once). Don’t kick the clear cup and then feel the need to pick up the coins and give the person more money because you feel bad about kicking over the cup. We watched this happen over and over and over.
What did we miss?
There is no way we could see all we wanted in our jam-packed few days. There is so much more we wish we had time to explore like the Catacombs, Normandy Day Trip, Monet’s House, Shakespeare’s Bookstore, Luxembourg Gardens, Notre Dame, Musée d’Orsay, Jardin du Palais Royal, Saint-Chapelle Cathedral (gosh, I could go on and on).
We hope you found our Paris recap helpful, and we cannot wait for our next adventure!
In case you missed it, we also have a blog post about our Trip to Scottsdale and the Grand Canyon here!
Your pictures were fun and your blog was written very well. It will be a helpful resource as I plan my own first trip to Paris. Would you please share the total number of days or nights of your Paris trip? Also, what were the months that you travelled to Paris? November and April? Did you prefer one time of year to the other? Thanks for sharing the details of your lovely Paris trips.
Shalia Ashcraft says
Thank you so much! We were there from Thursday through Tuesday. October was warmer but a tad more crowded than April. April was a bit cooler. Also, it rained more in April. However, it seemed less crowded in April and everything was blooming and beautiful.
Good luck planning your trip! You will love Paris!
Thank you for sharing your trip with your IG FRIENDS. The photos are amazing!
Shalia Ashcraft says
Thank you so much 🙂
Gina Amorosi says
Looks like such a great trip! Did you mention somewhere where you got those cute caps you both wore!
Shalia Ashcraft says
Thank you so much. We purchased the hats near the Eiffel Tower. It may be saved on highlights!