I’m back with the final installment of our Paris trip! In case you missed it, here is Paris: part I, with the Eiffel Tower and a few other main tourist attractions, and Paris: part II, with our art museum tours.
While our whole trip was wonderful, the experiences in this post are probably my favorites.
This was the early morning view from our apartment. Cue all of the heart eyes. See that tiny purple awning at the bottom of the street? That is the local patisserie – the only thing open this early in the morning. We popped down the road to pick up croissants a few mornings during our stay and it was such a fun treat :)
As I mentioned in the last post, January in Paris was filled with wind and rain. I had plans to run in the mornings before we got our day started, but with pitch-black skies, freezing cold temperatures, and pouring rain, the weather altered those plans most days. However, Will and I were able to get out and run two of the early mornings we were there and created one of my favorite experiences from the whole trip. Our apartment in the Latin Quarter was just over half a mile from the Seine River. We made our way to a green space lining the river, learning along the way that Parisians don’t do anything early, which meant we had the quiet streets, sidewalks, and river mostly to ourselves. From our area of the Seine, we could look down the river and see Notre Dame rising up from the small island in the middle of the river. The “City of Lights” has the same schedule as the rest of the Parisians – even the spotlights on Notre Dame were off at a very dark 7:30am. We ran along the quiet side of the river to the beautiful cathedral, passing only a few other morning runners once we got onto the island and circled the church. Can you imagine if that was your regular running route?! As we turned around to head home the bells began to ring, announcing the next hour to the sleepy city. It was an absolutely amazing experience, and one that we made sure to repeat the next day.
The poor quality photo above was taken on our phones after a run to Notre Dame, ending at our local patisserie where we picked up morning pastries for my family. In my mind, nothing gets better than that. No matter the quality of that photo, the memory that goes along with it is perfect.
Later in the week we went back to Notre Dame to tour the inside of the building. We received great advice to find the free English tour and ended up with a great tour guide who knew the ins and outs of the cathedral, it’s history, and the religious meaning of each detail. If you are at all interested in Notre Dame, I definitely recommend the free tour!
Two of my other favorite memories from the trip came from our day in Le Marais and from our trip to Marché d’Aligre. Le Marais is a wonderful area of Paris, away from most of the tourist attractions. One reason walking around this area was a highlight of the trip was because we got to explore true French shops and walk around the streets with no plans other than to take in the lovely Parisian architecture, tasty food, and authentic French culture. We felt like we were locals for a day. To kick off the day, we made our way to the famous Merci shop. I’m a sucker for a good coffee shop or café, and the aesthetics of Merci did not disappoint. Unfortunately, they were in the process of de-decorating for Christmas so the classic red car was on the street instead of in the courtyard. With a view like this though, I can’t complain.
We had heard about the great food scene in Le Marais, and after many recommendations, enjoyed a lunch of amazing falafel pitas from the famous L’as Du Falafel. I absolutely recommend this to everyone – our entire family loved this! Throughout the day we popped into chocolate shops, a French interior design store, and the cutest tearoom with the best hot chocolate on the trip (depending on which family member you ask ;)). After being on the go at busy tourist attractions for a few days, it was the perfect slow, relaxing day away from the crowds.
As evening approached, we traversed the arrondissement to pick up dinner supplies at Marché d’Aligre. While my parents picked up a rotisserie chicken and the potatoes that had been roasting in the rotisserie drippings (very common in the French markets), my sister and I searched for a few good cheeses for us to have for hors d’oeuvres. The sweet Frenchman at one of the larger cheese stands spoke very little English, which gave my sister and I a chance to use our years of French classes. It was a short interaction, but a fun one for all parties involved. Every time we walked into a store or a restaurant, we would try to speak to the vendors in French, but they would inevitably switch to English when they could tell we weren’t picking up as quickly as a native would. This cheese monger spoke so little English that we were excited to be able to speak his language, even if our French wasn’t perfect, and he was glad we could communicate with him in French. We didn’t know what kind of cheeses he had or what we should get, but we were able to work our way through the interaction and came away with some of the most delicious cheeses! It was such a brief moment in the trip, but one of the most authentic and fun ones. We brought our market goodies back to our Airbnb and grabbed a few fresh baguettes and some wine on the way home for another simple, but wonderful experience. Just relaxing together in our pajamas with French cheese, wine and baguettes was perfection. It doesn’t always take fancy restaurants and elaborate attractions to form the best memories, and that evening was the perfect proof of that.
Lastly, while Sacre Coeur and Monmartre are extremely touristy, seeing all of the artists in the Monmartre Square is something I always love. We made our way through the crazy crowds and picked up two small sketches from a street artist, one of the Eiffel Tower and one of Notre Dame. I can’t wait to frame and display them as a reminder of the wonderful time we had and great memories we made.
We packed a lot of adventures and attractions into one week, but had such a great time along the way. Since there may be things I didn’t cover in these already lengthy posts, I’m listing everything we did below, in case you need recommendations for your next trip to the City of Lights.
Where we stayed:
The Latin Quarter (5th arrondissement) near the Pantheon. We stayed near a metro stop, purchased metro passes, and found it very easy to get everywhere we wanted to go.
Sites we saw:
Eiffel Tower (the line was hours long so we didn’t go up in it)
Arc de Triomphe (again, the line was very long so we didn’t go up in it)
Monmartre (very touristy, but fun to see the street artists at work)
Notre Dame (the free tour here was great!)*
Jardin des Tuileries
Jardin du Luxembourg
Le Bon Marche*
Le Marais and Saint Paul neighborhoods*
*denotes favorite sites
Favorite places we ate:
L’as Du Falafel
Hot chocolate reviews:
– Angelina Patisserie – Sipping chocolate, very thick and extremely rich; my dad’s favorite
– Le Loir dans la Théière – Tearoom in Le Marais; the closest to regular hot chocolate (rather than sipping chocolate) we had the whole time; my favorite
– Carette – A café behind the Eiffel Tower; sipping chocolate so thick you need to order whipped cream to cut the richness of the chocolate flavor
– Bread and Roses – Sipping chocolate, thick, but addicting; my second favorite
– Hearing the bells ring on an early morning run to Notre Dame
– Partnering with Lane and using our French to get food from French merchants in the market
– Enjoying a wine, cheese, jam, and fresh baguette course in our Airbnb apartment before dinners
– Eating fresh bread and croissants from the corner patisseries