A Week in Paris
I‘ve put off writing this post for a long time. I’ve previously discussed how I didn’t love Paris and how I want to revisit to improve my opinion. However, I still enjoyed my time there and did many things that I enjoyed. Here’s a post on what happing in my week in Paris!
Day 1: Settling In
I always try to let my first day be relaxed and I try to let myself take naps and go slow. That definitely didn’t happen. I got very confused in the metro, nearly got into a scam taxi, and spent the rest of the day exploring the areas near my Airbnb – which was not my favorite Airbnb. All of this was bundled with not eating enough or drinking enough water.
So for this day I shall simply offer advice. When you get to a new country, make sure you get good rest and eat food and stay hydrated. It’s worth it to spend a little more on a place where you’ll feel more comfortable. Unfortunately, my Airbnb situation was nearly unavoidable as five hosts cancelled on me in a row even when booked far out. I have since learned my lesson – let them cancel on you, not the other way around. Check out some other Airbnb tips in this post.
Day 2: River Cruise and High Tea
If I know that I don’t have a ton of time in a city I like to take boat cruises, if available. They give me a great vantage point of the city and make me feel like I understand the city a little more. I don’t really feel the same about most bus tours, but I’m sure they can also be good. Often these cruises are inexpensive and let you see a large portion of the city. The only thing they aren’t always great for are pictures. If it’s not too hot or cold I recommend finding the back of the boat as often there isn’t anyone there and you’ll get a lot better photos.
There are a couple companies that do Seine tours, and I don’t remember the exact one I took. However, they are very easy to find. All you have to do is go to the Eiffel Tower, which I’m assuming you want to see anyways. If you go down the steps near the bridge you will see a couple different tour companies with ticket kiosks.
I will say, while this is the easiest method for a regular ferry ride (10-15euros) I kinda wish I had taken a dinner cruise. It would have been nice to see the city at night more, which I generally avoided. The one time I did wind up in Paris at night wasn’t very fun.
Anywho. I also went for Afternoon tea at Hotel Daniel. I chose this place because it had really lovely pictures with a more “homey” vibe – while still maintaining a seriously classy vibe. Seriously. The guy across from me had like 9million Chanel bags and was dressed in head to toe Coco. Tea was also very moderately priced. The service was superb, it was cushy (I was seated on a couch which was so cozy), it was great, I just felt rather sick from unsatiated jetlag the entire time. This is a definite re-visit though.
Day 3: Museum Day 1
I do regret no going to more “niche” museums while I was in Paris, but I did hit the main points. On this day I went to Musée D’Orsay. Without a doubt I can tell you it was the best museum I have ever, ever been to. I spent my entire day there. Perhaps I loved it so much because I’m a massive impressionist and Van Gogh fan. That’s not to say there weren’t issues – the fact that they allow cameras into this place is truly a travesty. So many clicking shutters, and people pushing you out of the way. I do not understand people who go around and take a photo of every picture without looking at the actual painting. Sorry not sorry, your crappy phone photo isn’t as good as some professional on the internet so what’s the point of standing in line for an hour?
This point aside, the food at the café is actually pretty good even if their online menu is a lie. I go there around noon and stayed until closing, it was that good.
Day 4: Versailles and Food
I went to Versailles on a Monday. This meant that I did not get to see the actual palace. But the gardens were open and lovely. I can’t say I found any of the food options….great. So I’d recommend bringing your own food. I’m not going to chat much about this because frankly everyone knows about Versailles. If you want to avoid the crowds and don’t care about rich people’s stuff, go on a Monday. The gardens are truly worth it.
I have searched high and low for the amazing restaurant I went to, but since it was a last minute change of plans I cannot find it. What I can say is that Parisian food is so good it doesn’t require you to spend big bucks. I intended on going to a very expensive restaurant. I was fully planning to pay upwards of 80 euros for my meal. Instead I went to a “regular” restaurant with reasonably priced fancy food like duck and charcuterie boards etc. I paid 40 euros for my duck entrée, my charcuterie board, 2 glasses of Champagne, and a flan. Given that each glass of Champagne was 8 euros you’re seeing the reasonable costs here. It was incredible.
While that may still seem expensive (and it’s certainly not for those with a super tight budget) I point it out because I think in the US we think we need to spend muuuuch more to get even close to super quality food. Because the quality of food in Europe is just so much better on the average for the same price, I think it’s unnecessary to bother with more expensive places.
Day 5: Opera and Shopping
When I got to Paris I realized I was actually pretty well-dressed, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to see the shops. I learned that designer clothing is perhaps even more expensive than I ever realized. I love watching runways and at one point I wanted to be a designer myself. Gallaries Lafayette showed me the priciness – 4k for a normal shirt? You’ll find it here. But it was really fun to see everything before heading to the Opera.
I will say, I don’t think I’d pay as much as I did for my opera ticket again. While my seat was good, it wasn’t amazing, and it was 135 euro. Yes, I’m sure you couldn’t see much from some other seats for much cheaper, but that’s what opera glasses are for. I wish I had spent the money on opera glasses rather than the ticket. It’s also important to note that if you grew up listening to Pavarotti…You could be slightly disappointed. It’s not that the signing wasn’t excellent, but no one really matches Pavarotti’s Rigoletto.
Also, word of advice…either get there really early or don’t get the glass of Champagne. I always wanted Champagne at the opera but I was only about 15 minutes early due to getting lost a lot. I had to down my glass and was fighting sleep the entire show (highly unusual for me).
Day 6: Museum Day 2
Today I went to the Louvre. I got a late start because I really wasn’t feeling well (because I never took care of my jet lag I’m convinced it cursed this entire week in Paris), stood in line for forever as a result, and didn’t really love the Louvre. I will be writing a separate post on the Louvre experience soon.
As it was so disappointing I actually left after about 2 hours and wound up in Montmartre. This was worth it. While there were tourists, the area around Montmartre was a delight to explore. Beautiful views of Paris, lots of greenery, and adorable little shops. There was fantastic street music as well! There was a lot more liveliness to the streets and my guess is that this might be were a lot of “real” Parisians were. A lot of Parisians leave Paris in the summer. But here there was a bit more of a vibe of authenticity I wasn’t getting in a lot of other places. Highly recommend.
Day 7: Regretting Packing Decision
On my last day I went out and had a nice light meal at Mariage Freres – another well-known tea place in Paris. I must say, while I love their Opera tea, Marco Polo seems heavily overrated in my humble opinion. However, I did very much enjoy my time there and in general I really like their tea.
There was quite the extravaganza when I left to go to Orleans where I would be studying – but that is too long to talk about in this already too long post. I had a small stop in Blois, France, on the way – which I highly recommend checking out. I hope you enjoyed this post on a week in Paris!