After an amazing week in Paris I finally had an opportunity to sort through the pictures and review my notes to highlight some of my favorites from the trip. Check out my favorites from the trip.
In Paris as is the case in most large cities space is a precious commodity. So, expect hotel rooms to be small which, if you are a couple traveling this is not much of an issue. However, if you are traveling as a family I recommend renting an apartment. Three added benefits to an apartment are; first, you get more space. Second, often apartments are in neighborhoods that are set away from tourist traps so you get to experience your time their somewhat like a local. We used Trip Advisor to research apartments and other than an Internet access issue we had a pretty good experience. Third, staying at an apartment also allows you to take full advantage of shopping at the local markets, which I talk about below.
Bike Tour: Biking through the city is a great way to see Paris beyond the iconic landmarks. Nothing against the iconic landmarks, you should definitely see the iconic sights. However, there is so much more to Paris than the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. I booked a private family bike tour through Bike About Tours and it was a fantastic experience that the family is still talks about. We biked our way through the various neighborhoods of Paris while learning about the rich history and culture of each. We even stopped for lunch at a sidewalk café, giving us a chance to rest our legs during an all-day tour.
Versailles: This amazing site is about a 20-minute train ride away making it a perfect daytrip. Versailles is massive in size and I cannot imagine seeing it all by foot. Once again we booked a private family bike tour through Bike About Tours. This allowed us to see so much more of the grounds. I personally, enjoyed touring the grounds of Versailles than the palace itself. The day started with an early morning train ride to Versailles. From the train station we were outfitted on bikes and rode out to the local market where we purchased items for our picnic lunch. The market had a wonderful selection of cheeses, meats, salads, breads, pastries, and even a quaint little wine shop. We spent the morning touring the grounds, which are absolutely breath taking. A neat benefit of using the bikes to tour the grounds is we were able to make it out to the hamlet, which would have been much harder to get to by foot. Our tour guide brought the place to life with his historical story telling. It was a gorgeous day for a picnic lunch on the palace ground where we got to enjoy our purchases from the market. After lunch we toured the palace and then headed back to the train station to head back to Paris.
Cooking Class: Being that the French are known for their cuisine it only seemed right that we incorporate a cooking class while in Paris. Once again I was on a mission to find something that was a little outside the traditional tourist experience. My search led me to find Eye Prefer Paris Tours and a small group cooking class offered by Richard Nahem and Charlotte Puckette. The class was a wonderful experience that started with shopping at the market. The setting for the class was very personal taking place at Charlotte’s townhouse where we participated in the making of a three-course meal. Charlotte taught us history, culture, and gave us hands on experience in cooking techniques. After the meal was prepared we sat down to enjoy the meal. This was truly a unique experience that felt more like visiting an old friend in Paris. If you are looking for unique experiences in Paris I highly recommend getting in touch with Richard at Eye Prefer Paris Tours he was great with helping me plan a memorable trip.
Paris at Night: Paris is nicknamed the city of lights and after the sunsets the city takes on a whole new life. Seeing Paris by day I did not understand why Paris is considered a romantic city. Sure, it is beautiful and vibrant but I didn’t get the romance until I saw it at night. So, whether by foot or by boat or perhaps both do make plans to see the city after sunset. There are several boat tours that travel up and down the Seine River. I found that a stroll through Paris after dinner was a great way to end the night.
It is true that the French are known for their cuisine and it only took me a few hours in Paris to realize why. This quick realization left me an entire week to indulge in all the reasons. Here is my “when in Paris must eat” list:
- Baguettes. Yes, I know we have baguettes in the States but the baguettes in Paris are heavenly and uniquely different from baguettes anywhere else. I compare this to bagels or pizza in New York City.
- Cheeses and Butter. You could probably spend an entire day sampling the cheeses at just one of the many markets in Paris. I suggest before you go having an idea of the types of cheeses you like and focus your search on those otherwise you are likely to get overwhelmed. Butter, I am generally not a fan but French butter I discovered is unlike anything I’ve tried…so I highly recommend trying it preferably on a baguette.
- Seasonal Produce. The French seem to be very keen on eating seasonally. When in Paris find out what is in season and eat as much of it as you can. When I was there asparagus was in season, and available everywhere on menus and markets. It was fun trying out the different varieties and preparations.
- Pastries. Even if you are not a dessert person you cannot leave Paris without trying at least one pastry. My personal favorite is the macaroon although I’m not sure they qualify as a pastry but nevertheless a delicious treat.
- Wine. If you are new to wine Paris is a great place to experience wine. If you are a wine lover like myself you will love the selection of amazing French wines all over Paris at incredibly reasonable prices. The only downside is now I know the upcharge I am paying when I buy French while in the States.
The Parisian Markets: The Parisian Markets are an epicurean experience that should not be missed. Check out the review of the markets by Timeout Paris. The markets are filled with amazing fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and several options for prepared foods. We visited the Saxe-Breteuil and picked up some amazing cheeses. Be sure to make time to visit at least one of these markets during your time in Paris.
Dinner at the Eiffel Tower: Okay, so generally I try to avoid writing about the typical tourist attraction mainly because there is already so much information out there on them but also because when I travel I try to see places as a local would. However, on my last trip to Paris I wanted our last night to be an evening to remember. So, planning about six months a head I scored us a window table at Le Jules Verne for the 7 PM seating. The time was ideal as we had a perfect view of the sun setting over Paris while we enjoyed our first course. Two things to keep in mind, first Le Jules Verne has a fixed menu and you can choose from either 4 or 5 courses. They also offer wine pairing with each course, which, if you are into wine I highly recommend. Second, for my visit in April I had to get reservations in January particularly because I wanted premium table. At Le Jules Verne the food, the wine, the ambiance, the service, and the view all come together to create an amazing experience.