Most of you know by now but I am a Vacation Planner with Dream Come True Vacations. Dream job status achieved I know. What does that have to do with Paris though? Well, I planned out entire Paris trip and we saw every single thing we wanted to and more. Yup, planning and organization are my bag and I’m not afraid to use those skills to my advantage 🙂
Technically we were in Paris for a week but only 3 of those days were spent in the city. 2 days were at Disneyland Paris, 1 day in Versailles and 1 day in Champagne. I already posted about Disney Paris here and have posts on Versailles and Champagne coming soon. Today is all about the city of lights.
Before I get into all the details here is a quick list with most of what we did:
- Arch de Triumph
- Tuileries Gardens
- Flamme de Liberte
- Luxemborg Gardens
- Love Bridge
- Notre Dame
- Saint Chapelle
- Saint Germains
- Eiffel Tower
- Galeries Lafayette
- Sacre Coure
- Moulin Rouge
- Eat all the Pastries!!!!!!
You may notice there aren’t many art galleries on my list, and, don’t stone me for saying this, I don’t love art museums they are really boring to me. I think when we go back to Paris we can make some time for that but I really had no interest. I don’t think we could have done as much as we did if we went to art museums so that was a deciding factor as well.
Instead of a long play by play I’m going to group this into days. From experience with my “not so magical day job” I know that planning things in the same area saves A TON of time. So each day I planned things as close together as possible. That way we could walk if we wanted to or take public transit and it wouldn’t be a big deal.
Day 1: Today was the day of the half marathon so we had to also plan for traveling to central Paris from Disneyland which is about 45 minutes by train. After checking into the hotel we went to these places in this order: Saint Germain (neighborhood), Colette (clothing store), Angelina, Tuileries Garden, & Other Stories (clothing store), Laudree (macarons), Champ-Elysees, Disney Store, Arch de Triumph, Flamme de Liberte, Cafe for dinner. It was a great first day in central Paris. The weather was gorgeous, the sun was shining, we were exploring and in no hurry. Simply put it was magical. I will add though that by dinner my foot felt like it was broken and Joe had to support my weight around the city for a while. He is a trooper Ill tell you! Dinner wasn’t anything special because we were hungry and I couldn’t make it to the back-up location I had for dinner (the other place was fully booked). Still though, the cafe was delicious and we had a great view of the sunset.
**Planning notes from Day 1—we bought the Paris 2 day museum pass which included unlimited transportation and free entry into dozens of Paris museums, the Arch being one of them. Don’t forget that a lot of Paris isn’t touristy so stores were closed on Sunday. I did window shop though!
Day 2: Today we had a tour booked and a relatively leisurely day, here’s what we did: Luxembourg Gardens, Love Bridge, tour of Saint Chapelle and Notre Dam, Conciergerie (didn’t go in but we walked by), Shakespeare & Company (bookstore), Au Vieux Paris d’arcole (lunch), Louvre, Pierre Herme (macarons), meet photographer in Montmartre for drinks. The tour was the highlight of the day because we walked to the top of Notre Dam and had a beautiful view of Paris right as the sky was clearing up. I was actually a little disappointed with Notre Dam I thought the stained glass would be more impressive, but thank goodness we went to Saint Chapelle because that stained glass was absolutely stunning. Truth time, we only spent about an hour inside the Louvre because we had to get to Montmartre by 6pm so that is definitely on the list to go back for Joe. Lunch was wonderful and apparently is the oldest cafe in Paris! Dinner was non-existent because of how late we stayed with the photographer but that’s all right there is plenty of food tomorrow.
***Planning notes from Day 2—Tour was booked through Fat Tire Tours and was wonderful, our guide was very knowledgeable and friendly. You cant put locks on the love bridge anymore but people are still finding ways to leave their lock. If its really important to you bring your own lock. I didn’t see any vendors selling them anymore. There was no line at all to get into the Louvre in the afternoon but it did close pretty early at 5pm.
Day 3: Early wake-up call but another leisurely day with a photoshoot thrown in: 3 hour which turned into 4 hour Photoshoot with Magdelena (check out her site here, full post coming soon), Chez Janou (lunch), Carette (dessert), Galaries Lafayette (shopping), Sacre Coure and Montmartre, L’Affable (dinner), Carette (dessert), Eiffel Tower sparkle show, Moulin Rouge. This day was a little all over the place in terms of location but it was everything we hadn’t done yet that we wanted to. Montmartre was beautiful and worth all the hiking we did on San Francisco-esk streets. Watching the Eiffel tower sparkle though was a highlight, its just so magical to watch the gif below just doesn’t do it justice. Most of the day though was spent at the photoshoot which was fine by me, we went to the Eiffel Tower, Palais Royale, and a cafe so we still got a nice little tour of Paris along the way. Oh and I almost forgot, Moulin Rouge. The show was beautiful, the costumes spectacular, but I will say the show was a little long. I think it ended up being around 90 minutes which was just a tad bit too long for me. The show was very tasteful and I enjoyed the performances but I think if they cut 1 number it would be the perfect length. I definitely have no regrets on seeing the show though, the entertainment value was definitely there.
***Planning notes from Day 3—Sacre Coure is free entry and the stair climb isn’t bad but there is a gondola that will take you to the top. We bought our tickets in advance for Moulin Rouge from their website. The tickets were cheaper this way and I found that they offered a discount for mid-week shows and a bottle of champagne. You can get tickets from other places but their website was the better deal and value.
If you want to know exactly how I plan my international trips click here for the excel file I use. The only tab you cant see if my travel details because that has personal info on it 🙂
You may be wondering how I decided on places to go. Well I’m glad you asked because that is also a key part of how to do Paris in 3 days and be happy with your trip. First, I read Lonely Planet’s Paris guidebook. I went through every page and book marked places that sounded interesting. After that I went down the rabbit hole in pinterest. I actually have a board with a lot of articles I found interesting (link here) but a lot of articles are just repeats of the same information. I saved a few blog posts from some bloggers I trust (World of Wanderlust and Hand Luggage Only) and got planning. From there I narrowed down my list to things I HAD to see and do. Then I found food recommendations and added those to the plan as well. For food, I had more dessert places than dining places which to me isn’t a bad problem to have.
I have my “favorites” saved but now I had to make my plan. After I had my list of things to do and eat I put it all into a custom map on google. This is really old school but you can still make maps in google with custom icons and layers and such. I use the icons to help me tell the difference between a landmark, food, hotel, etc. After everything was in the map I was able to easily see where everything was and make the plan you see on the excel file. Like I mentioned I planned my days with things to do in the relative same area. This also helped me remove some items from my list because they were too far and not feasible for a short city trip. For example, I wanted to go to the catacombs but it was too far away. That’s on the list for our next time trip. Same for some of the places to eat they weren’t close to anything so they were removed because I’m not about to take a 60 minute train ride round-trip just for food. At least not on this trip anyway 😉 My days are finally planned with back-up food options and necessary notes, now I just needed to email it to Joe and print a copy for backups. It sounds like a lot of work I know but believe it or not this is what keeps me relaxed during the trip. The peace of mind that comes with a well laid plan that allows us to see and do everything we wanted. I slept like a baby you guys 😀
Lets talk about food!! Learning from Italy I had 2 options for each meal time that way if one was closed or we couldn’t get in we had a back up already. I think the most stressful thing with international travel for me is finding a place to eat. I feel much better knowing where to eat. Quite a few places took reservations through open table or their own website so only once on day 1 did we have a hard time finding a place to eat. I know a lot of people think its much more fun to fly by the seat of your pants and just eat wherever but I love food too much and want to make sure I have a nice experience. Because of this, every meal but 1 was AMAZING. We had great wine, delicious entrees and out of this world pastries. You know, even if the food was bad I would have been fine because the pastries were even better than I had imagined. Expectations exceeded friends!
I wanted to take a quick second to talk about transportation in Paris. I think this was the biggest concern because of all the strikes you hear about in Paris. While strikes do happen often, we didn’t experience it on this trip and the metro ran extremely well. The bus was a little confusing because they can drive in the opposite direction of the car traffic so that threw us off. We didn’t take a cab but the Uber driver we had didn’t really speak English. Other than the Uber driver everyone spoke English in the city and we had no problem getting around and doing what we needed. The metro is a lot easier than New York City so for those that have experienced that you are good to go! If transportation is on strike this is where the “plan everything in the same area” comes in handy. Just sayin’.
I don’t want to end on a sad note but I do need to talk about pick-pockets. You know I’ve been to quite a few tourist destinations and have heard the same song and dance about pick-pockets before. In Paris, Montmartre specifically, we actually witnessed someone being pick-pocketed and it was a little scary. This was down the steps of the Sacre Coure where it was a little dark and not very traveled. Luckily my guardian angel was with us and the guys left the couple alone who they were targeting when they saw us walking down the stairs but things could have escalated. I was also personally targeted in Notre Dam. Thank goodness I was wearing a dress with no pockets because that could have ended poorly. This wasn’t everywhere in Paris but it was the worst around the Eiffel Tower. I don’t know if they were pick-pockets but people trying to sell things were everywhere and very pushy. If I wasn’t with Joe or had been alone I think i would have been very uncomfortable. Moral of the story here is that yes this does happen, be aware of yourself, don’t engage with strangers especially around dusk where there aren’t many people around. Don’t carry your whole life with you in your bag and don’t keep things in your pockets if you can help it. Know that these things are actually happening and do your best to protect yourself, don’t be naive to whats going on.
To completely change gears now that I’ve gone full “mom” on you…what would I do differently. NOTHING. I know that sounds crazy but everything about this trip went just as well as it could have possibly gone. I saw everything on my Paris bucket list and so did Joe. What I will do is come back!!! London, meh, I could go back but its not on the list, but Paris. Yeah Paris is right under Florence on places I want to visit again. Next time we go will be all about exploring to get lost, find some beautiful art on the river and just take Paris in without an agenda. Plans are great for a first time if you don’t know when/if you will be back, second times are for really soaking in the culture. I cant wait to go back!
Just remember, this trip was what made me and Joe happy. For you, that could look completely different! These 3 days in Paris are some of my favorite days in memory. I am so glad we have been blessed to take trips like this a really enjoy ourselves. There is so much more I could share with you but I think almost 2000 words are enough. I hope you find yourself one day in the city of lights and love it as much as I did.
If you find yourself in need of vacation planning services give me a call/email/message. I would love to help you make your next trip the perfect one for you! You can find me on facebook or email me at Rachael@DreamComeTrueVacations.com 888.642.5398 ext 797
CHIME IN!!! Have you been to Paris? What pastry would you most like to try? Whats one thing you HAVE to do in Paris?