Is there anyone who doesn’t have Paris on their Bucket List?
I mean seriously… the food, wine, architecture, art, lights, fashion, history, fabulous public transportation… I could go on and on!
It’s absolutely one of the most charming and romantic cities in the world! So you can imagine my excitement when my husband and I planned a spontaneous weekend trip there for Valentine’s Day.
I had been to Paris twice before — once in middle school with my family and again in college while studying abroad — but in no way did this stop me from wanting to get back!
As this was only a quick weekend trip, we had about 2.5 days in the city. Of course, we easily would have spent much more time if our schedule had allowed, but I would not recommend going for less than this amount of time. There is simply just too much to see and do!
I am fully aware that buying a Paris Pass immediately screams tourist. And while we usually try to stray away from things such as this while traveling, we actually felt they were worth the upfront investment in the end.
You purchase the passes depending on how many days you will be there/how many days you would like to use them. They activate after the first use and note that the days are counted by the actual day, not 24 hour increments.
It includes ‘free’ entry to many of the museums (including The Lourve), Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dam Cathedral, a free wine tasting, and ‘FREE’ transportation on all metros, River Cruises, Hop-On Hop-Off Bus… and more! (I will note all Paris Pass approved spots with a “PP” throughout this post).
Yes, the upfront cost of the Paris Pass seems steep. (Especially for 2 people who try to travel on a tight budget.) But before purchasing, we made a list of everything we wanted to do while in Paris + the cost… and we quickly saw that we would be spending more if we opted to pay for everything individually.
The All-Inclusive metro pass was what ultimately sold us though, as we knew we were staying on the outskirts of the city.
As mentioned before, this trip was a last-minute idea (only a month after moving to Germany and ONE DAY after our stuff arrived) so many of the hotels/AirBnbs were either picked over or entirely out of our price range. When traveling, we would much rather stay somewhere affordable (yet, nice) and have the extra spending money, rather than spend our entire budget on a room we will only be sleeping in.
All that to say, this landed us at the Hotel Jardin de Villiers — for €89 a night. It’s a lovely hotel, tucked in the quaint and quiet neighborhood of Villiers — just northwest of Paris central. There are many restaurants, markets, shops, bakeries, and banks near by… and it’s only a 5 minute walk to the closest metro. They offer a lovely traditional European breakfast spread of fresh breads, meats, cheeses, jams, honey, fruit, coffee, tea, etc.
We truly had zero complaints! The only things to consider are the rooms are small (per usual in Europe) and it is not within walking distance to the main Parisian attractions. Hence, our need for as many metro rides as our heart desired!
After grabbing a quick sandwich and checking into our hotel, we didn’t waste any time.
We immediately took the metro to Charles de Gaulle to explore Avenue des Champs-Élysées (shopping galore!) and the Arc de Triomphe!
The Arc de Triomphe (PP) offers more than meets the eye. Of course I had seen the Arc in my previous trips to Paris, but I had never climbed to the top! After ascending 284 steps, we were so surprised to find that the monument is its own little museum — with informative videos of the history, artifacts, and of course, a great view!
At the other end of Avenue des Champs-Élysées you will find the Palais Royal. Although you cannot enter the 1639 palace — the courtyard and gardens are open to the public. It’s definitely worth seeing and soaking in the balance of new and old and art and history (and taking a few pictures, too)!
After a few must-dos we made our way over to Les Caves de Lourve (PP). Our Paris Passes included a free wine tasting in their underground wine caves and we thought it would be a great way to wait out the rain. Honestly, I do not think we would have made a visit to Les Caves de Lourve if it hadn’t been included in our Paris Pass — but it’s always neat to learn more about wine, try some from the region, and be sent home with 2 free bottles!
The rain finally let up so we made our way over to The Lourve — to experience it at night! We weren’t actually going to the museum until Sunday — but I always feel strongly about seeing certain things during both day & night. We had so much fun taking pictures and watching the sky change colors over all of the beautifully lit architecture.
But why stop there? We then used our Paris Passes to “hop on” the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus which stops right at The Lourve…
After a long first day, there was nothing better than riding around, learning about the city, and letting our soreee feet rest a bit! We ultimately ended up getting off at the Eiffel Tower to also experience it at night — a must! The ET “sparkles” on the hour at nighttime — we luckily made it just in time 🙂
I’m pretty sure Paris is the only city that I will happily get out of bed knowing it’s going to be cold, rainy, and overcast all day. The dreary weather wasn’t stopping us from catching the 10:30 AM Seine (Bateaux Parisiens) River Cruise (PP). Yes, it would have probably been more enjoyable if the weather had been better, but regardless, we felt this was an hour well spent!
It picks up and drops off at the foot of the Eiffel Tower and was a great way to enjoy the river and get a different perspective of the city.
After the river cruise, we made our way under the Eiffle Tower to go have lunch at Le Beaujolais. Le Beaujolais felt very french! Who wouldn’t love sipping on French onion soup, surrounded by the sounds of the loveliest language, while watching the funniest French bulldog go from table to table begging for food?! 🙂
As if we weren’t full enough from lunch we grabbed 2 fresh baguettes on our way back to the ET for a casual ‘baguette fight’ — where my Mary Kate and Ashley fans at??!
Side note: Marry the guy that will not hesitate to make your 10 year old dreams come true! 🙂
Or if baguettes aren’t your thing (do these people actually exist?)… grab a crepe! Orrrr both, like we did!
I mean at this point, you’ve walked 50,000 steps — you deserve it.
After carbs on carbs on carbs… we walked our full bellies over to the Notre Dam Cathedral (PP). Passing the “Love Locks” along the way!
The line to enter Notre Dam is usually long — but don’t let that stop you. It moves quickly and is well worth it. We spent almost an hour inside taking in the beauty that is this cathedral. You can also climb the 387 steps for an awesome panorama. Or if you don’t have time to go inside, you can always enjoy the hundreds of pigeons that will likely be outside! ha!
We opted out of climbing to the top of Notre Dam knowing we would be going to Montparnasse (PP) immediately after for the sunset (psych!). Some people consider Montparnasse Tower the “best view in Paris” — even better than the Eiffel Tower since Montparnasse also includes a view of the Eiffel tower!
Although we didn’t have time for a ride up the Eiffel Tower this trip, I have done it before, and I definitely think it’s the better choice of the two. Sure, the foggy weather may have altered my decision — but I still think the overall experience of the Eiffel Tower is greater. However, the Eiffel Tower is not included in the Paris Pass.
And after a failed attempt of seeing the sun set… we eat!
If you want to eat delicious french food, drink amazing french wine, while cuddled up in the coziest Parisian restaurant you’ve ever seen — look no further! We LOVED Le Bistrot des Campagnes! The service, food, atmosphere all exceeded our expectations.
Our final day fell on Sunday and we decided to go at a little slower of a pace.
Although it still involved walking, we chose The Lourve (PP) as our main last day activity — knowing that we could do as little or as much as we were up for once inside. The Lourve is special. And not just because you can find Mona Lisa there (man, that girl is popular!). It’s 652,000 sq ft of beautiful sculptures, paintings, drawings, archaeological finds, apartments — you could spend days here and still not see everything.
After spending a large part of our day moseying through the museum we were getting a bit han-gry. TripAdvisor was our friend when it steered us toward a fabulous, contemporary yet authentic pizza place near by… Pizzeria Iovine’s. We highly recommend giving it a try!
And of course you can’t go to Paris without getting a few macaroons! A perfect after-lunch decision while in Paris!
And as our weekend sadly came to an end, we took the metro out to the quaint Montmartre district. Oh, how I wish we had spent more time in Montmartre. The cobblestone, lively plazas, and views being just a few of the reasons.
If you know of Montmartre, it’s probably thanks to Sacré Coeur. This stunning Basilica is open every day and the entrance is free. Sacré Coeur sits on the highest point of Montmartre, giving it one of the most beautiful views in all of Paris. After making the hike up, you will definitely be greeted by groups of people enjoying themselves on the steps, soaking in the wide city view.
I hope this wasn’t my last trip to Paris. There’s so much to see and do that you could go multiple times and never do the same thing twice. For this first trip (together) we wanted to hit the main attractions — but we definitely plan to return for a better feel of the underrated areas.
I truly hope something in here is helpful to you in planning your trip to Paris! Just don’t forget your walking shoes or keep anything of value in your pockets 😉 I’ll leave you with a video from our trip… but if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out…