I’m settling back into my routine back in Seattle. I’m sniffling and sneezing nonstop and hoping for a full recovery before returning to work this afternoon (cross your fingers for me). I can’t overstate how grateful I am for the opportunity to spend 10 days away with my cousin in Paris. I have wanted to visit Paris for so long and when Jordan and I cancelled our trip in December I was heartbroken. I developed a serious case of wanderlust and half jokingly begged Genevieve to drop everything and run away to Europe with me. Serendipitously things worked out and our schedules meshed! I could hardly believe we were actually taking a girl’s trip to Paris, as I was packing the night before I was so nervous something crazy would happen that would force us to cancel the trip. I didn’t believe the whole trip was real until I hopped off the plane and found a cab!
9 Day Paris Itinerary
Day 1 Saturday: Arrive in Paris
We arrived in Paris around 8:30 in the morning on Saturday. I barely slept on the plane and was seriously exhausted but too excited to be in Paris to waste the day sleeping. Genevieve and I grabbed a cab together from the airport (so lucky that our flights arrived at the same time) and lugged our luggage to a cafe with us while we waited for our Airbnb to be ready. A cappuccino, fresh squeezed orange juice and eggs Benedict refreshed us for the day ahead.
After ditching our suitcases we took the Metro to the Champs-Elysees for some laid back shopping. It was very rainy and we wanted to take it easy as we were both delusion-ally tired. Of course we finished our shopping by checking out the Arc de Triomphe.
Since I had never been to Paris before I was determined to see the Eiffel Tower on our first day. As we rounded a corner wandering around I saw the Eiffel Tower in the distance and practically screamed. I was so excited, and as silly as it sounds, it was a very surreal moment. Genevieve and I wandered in the direction of the Eiffel Tower until we found ourselves at the base.
We headed home early with a bottle of rose, a fresh baguette, raspberries and cheese for dinner. We planned out a few of our activities for the next day and felt like total zombies by evening. I fell asleep before 9:00pm but was so proud I made it through the day without sleep, I never even pulled an all nighter in college.
Day 2 Sunday:
Sunday morning we woke up feeling refreshed and revived. Sleep does wonderful things for people, including making them feel actually human again. We had heard great things about Cafe Flore so we decided to grab brunch at the iconic restaurant in Saint Germain. Our food was good but I will forewarn any other travelers, France is a difficult place to travel as a vegetarian. There are certainly vegetarian options and it isn’t impossible by any means but your food choices are severely limited at most french restaurants.
Feeling like Blair and Serena straight out of Gossip Girl we headed to Laduree for a super cliche blogger moment. I read that the macarons at Laduree and the macarons at Pierre Herme were both rumored to be the best in Paris. As macaron lovers, Gen and I knew we had to try both. Since Saint Germain houses both shops day two seemed like the perfect day for a macaroon challenge!
For anyone who is interested in the results of the macaron challenge…it was difficult to choose a favorite. Technically Pierre Herme macarons (denser and thicker) are Italian style while Laduree macarons are french style (lighter and crunchier). Pierre Herme uses more intricate flavors (green tea, chocolate with a hint of olive oil, orange zest, etc) while Laduree opts for classic flavors (raspberry, lemon, pistachio, vanilla). I prefer the Laduree flavors but I think I like Italian style macarons more than french. Both were delicious and I highly recommend taking the challenge for yourself.
That evening we headed to Moulin Rouge for a bottle of champagne and the show. I had heard great reviews of Moulin Rouge but didn’t have grand expectations either way. The show was easily my favorite part of our entire trip, each act was amazing, the costumes were beautiful and the dancers were incredibly talented. I can’t say enough positive things about the experience other than, if you are in Paris you need to see Moulin Rouge. It’s not just the bubbles speaking, the show was truly one of the biggest highlights of my trip to Paris.
A quick run to the nearest pizza shop for midnight french style street pizza had us prepared for our metro journey back to our own arrondissement.
Day 3 Monday: Loire Valley Castles Tour
Monday morning we woke up bright and early to meet our tour group near the Louvre. We signed up for a group excursion for a day of Castle tours in the Loire Valley outside of the city. We left Paris around 7:30 and arrived at the first castle around 10:00. We had a few hours on the grounds to explore the castle, gardens and grab lunch. The first castle Chateau Chenonceau was my favorite. I was excited to learn that it was the castle historically my favorite guilty pleasure historical fiction show (Reign) is based off of. I had a great time reading about Catherine de Medici, the King’s mistress Diana and divulging drama from the television show while comparing the accuracy to the historical facts. It helped that the sun was shining, the water was glittering and the castle was quaint and lovely.
The second stop was Chateau Cheverny. This castle felt much more modern and interestingly enough descendants of the royal family still live in portions of the castle. The garden was filled with thousands of tulips and interestingly enough the grounds housed a kennel that more than 100 hounds called home!
Chateau Chambord was by far the largest castle, with more than 400 rooms it was ginormous! During our time to explore Gen and I weren’t even able to conquer the entire castle (it didn’t help that both of us were starting to regret our shoe choices for the day). The walls of the castle grounds enclosed a massive area of land (larger than the entire city of Paris). Though the castle was originally built as a showy hunting lodge the land has become a warm day destination for families who can rent boats or bicycles, picnic or eat lunch at one of the restaurants on the grounds.
I am so glad we booked this tour. I was a little hesitant at first as I sometimes dislike bounding myself to spend an entire day with a group but we had a lot of time to wander around on our own which made the experience perfect for us.
Day 4 Tuesday:
Tuesday we had a leisurely morning shopping in in the Opera district before we headed to the Musee d’Orsay . As imagined, shopping in Paris is outstanding and it was difficult not to overspend. There were even stop by champagne bars within large department stores. It was lovely.
Day 5 Wednesday:
Wednesday we had a lot on our schedule. We grabbed brunch at a quirky restaurant called “Twinkie” where I accidentally ordered bloody soft boiled eggs. Thank goodness for baguettes and croissants to fill me up. Afterwards we headed over to the Museum of Art & Decorating where we excitedly rushed through the Barbie exhibit! The temporary exhibit made us both gleeful. One of my favorite portions was seeing all of the real life fashion pieces inspired by Barbie (Moschino, Oscar de La Renta, etc).
After enjoying the museum we took the metro to a local patisserie for a small group macaron baking class. The instructor was charming and very knowledgeable. She was showing us photos of pastries she bakes on her free time at home and ooh la la is that girl talented. Inspiring! Baking macarons was challenging, as expected, I had baked macarons once before and they didn’t exactly turn out well. Luckily, with the instructor’s help our macarons turned out lovely and delicious!
After a long and strenuous day baking and looking at Barbies we needed massages to relax us. Definitely the perfect way to end the day with a little zen.
Day 6 Thursday:
Thursday morning we grabbed breakfast and coffee before taking the metro to the Louvre. Of course the Louvre is a must see for any traveler but definitely for art and history lovers!
That evening we headed back to the Eiffel Tower as I desperately wanted to see the structure light up at night and sip champagne at the top. We arrived just as the sun was setting and the tower looked stunning. We climbed the first two levels before taking the elevator to the top.
Day 7 Friday:
Friday we checked out the Picasso Museum which happened to be just a few steps away from our apartment. I saw a traveling Picasso exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in December and I was very excited for the chance to view more of the artist’s work.
Climbing the towers of Notre Dame was another favorite portion of the trip for me. I went into the activity without any sort of expectations and I absoloutely loved the stunning view of Paris from the top. It was truly breathtaking!
Day 8 Saturday:
By Saturday I was really feeling sick, so we slept in a little before heading to Eggs & Co. for brunch in Saint Germain. The rest of the day was spent sporadically exploring. We headed to the je t’aime wall in Montmarte, browsed paintings by local artists and of course stopped by Sacre Coeur.
Our plan, initially, was to go out and experience a bit of the Paris nightlife that evening, however my voice was basically shot and I was coughing non-stop so we opted for fabulous Parisian thai food and New Girl in bed instead.
Day 9 Sunday:
On our last day we decided to explore Versailles. We hadn’t planned on going but my inner history nerd who made up a song about the French Revolution to study for a history test wasn’t pleased with my decision to skip the sun king’s prized palace. We had high hopes for Versailles but didn’t exactly prepare for the coldest, rainiest day of the trip. We started by enjoying the thickest, most decadent hot chocolate at Angelina (a restaurant on the grounds). Seriously delicious but SO SO rich! Versailles was lovely (and crowded) but as I wore a sundress and jean jacket I was shivering, sick and a little miserable. Luckily, Gen and I tried to make light of our misery and ended up laughing and joking the whole time. The Versailles gardens were gorgeous and I would love to return on a sunny, warm day.
It was a busy trip but a whirlwind nonetheless! Genevieve was the perfect travel companion, we are already planning our next voyage together.