I'm so excited to share some of our honeymoon over the next few weeks; we had a fantastic time and I want to tell you about some of our must do's and must eat's.
First up is Paris. Paris is my favourite city in the world that isn't my hometown of Adelaide - we've been there three times now, and each time I have fallen a little more in love with the city of lights. If I could live anywhere overseas, it would be Paris. There's just something about it that has completely captured my heart. I never feel like we've spent enough time or I've explored enough or eaten enough when I'm in Paris.
What to do?
Paris is a city full of things to do. Even after three visits we still have things we haven't done yet - which I think is exactly how it should be. I always think you should leave a reason to come back. Below are our favourites (so far):
We didn't go on our most recent trip, but we did the first time we visited. It is worth a visit, though I do suggest going on a weekday and getting an early start to try and skip the lines. I swear this is true - we went on a Wednesday about half an hour after it opened and we just waltzed straight in. It is important to note most other museums in Paris are closed on Monday (aside from the Louvre) so if you can don't go on Monday as it will be busier.
The Louvre is huge, and you won't see all of it in one day - thankfully their maps are divided into sections, so you can just pick the bits you're most interested in. We did end up getting to the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory and the Venus de Milo in our morning there. I was very surprised to find the Mona Lisa much more beautiful than I expected.
These are the gardens attached to the Louvre, and well worth the wander. We've only ever gone in winter, but still have found it really lovely. Paris is winter is bleakly gorgeous - all bare trees silhouetted against the sky. I adore it. I definitely recommend going for a walk first thing in the morning - and there are even some little cafes where you can stop for a morning cappuccino.
If your time in Paris is limited and you can only fit in one museum please pick the Musee D'Orsay over the Louvre.. You will not regret it; the Musee D'Orsay is housed in a giant converted train station and specialises in Impressionist art. It's constantly expanding, and unlike the Louvre garnered a repeat performance on our most recent trip. Aside from the amazing artwork one of my favourite parts of the Musee D'Orsay is the upstairs cafe, it's behind the former train clock and it is seriously cool.
So, the Catacombs are not for the faint hearted, not so much for the six million people interred - that is quite peaceful. Far more disconcerting is the fact that you are 60 metres beneath Paris and I don't like to use the expression "with crushing rock above you" but I certainly thought it at several points. Also the stairwell out of the catacombs is a cork screw nightmare. However if you think you can get past that it is completely worth it - the Catacombs are beautiful, serene and almost spiritual. I was so glad I fought past my initial terror.
Walks along the Siene
Mike and I are big walkers on holidays - on one memorable day we walked 15 kilometres - and some of my favourite memories are of us walking down the Siene and enjoying the winter sunshine. On one walk we stumbled on a vintage car rally, on another we walked through a Christmas market. Walking along the Siene was also when I fell in love with Paris.
Where to eat
I really only have one specific restaurant to recommend but I did want to give you more of an idea of how and what to eat rather than where to eat it (though I hope over the years to add more recommendations).
- French bread: I have never eaten more delicious bread in my life than the bread I ate in Paris. At our hotel we were would order breakfast every day and the baguette was always my favourite part. I cannot even speak about delicious all the bread I ate in Paris was.
- The French eat dinner late: 8 or later - I know it's hard to hold out but it makes you feel more at home in France (Europe in general in fact) if you wait until the "normal" service times.
- Boulangeries are magic: And perfect for affordable lunches - and snacks - and eclairs.
- This is more of a tip in general but that old myth of the unfriendly Frenchmen is simply not true. Mike speaks a little French and I speak French food (with appalling pronunciation)so we can't really say we're comfy with the language. However we smile a lot, we laugh at our terrible French and we are yet to feel unwelcome.
- Just. Eat. French food is magical and incredible and so beautiful. They do simple so, so well it is an inspiration (at least to a foodie like me).
Mike and I went here on our second night in Paris. We booked ahead online which I definitely recommend. Most of the places we went in Paris we were the only tourists there - at L'Ange everyone was a tourist. It's a tiny space and really popular on Trip Advisor so it tends to fill up with people who book online. The food was really wonderful - a small menu that changes often. The prices are set depending on the number of courses and the wine list is awesome.
The service is also top notch, the waiter/maitre d' was passionate and knowledgeable. My favourite moment was when he politely insisted a man order a white instead of a red with his cheese, from the way he was explaining it, ordering a red was definitely breaking French food law. That is absolutely the kind of passion I can get behind. Like I said - booking ahead is mandatory, but worth it for the food and the service.
Where to stay
In both our trips we have stayed at the same place, Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais. It's right on the Rue de Rivoli and it is so cute and quaint. The rooms are small (but they all are in Paris) but so beautifully decorated; elaborate and baroque.
We came back for a few reasons: the location is incredible, the staff are all wonderfully friendly and helpful and the breakfast is the best I've ever had. Literally the best: baguettes, croissants (with honey and jam and butter), yoghurt, a soft boiled egg, a kiwifruit and glorious rich coffee. Well worth the 13 euro.
Smitten Kitchen shared where she ate in Paris
Alix of The Cherry Blossom Girl lives in Paris and shares some amazing articles