Landed at CDG at 8am, took RER train to Paris, dropped off our bags at a "bag nanny" (our airbnb check-in was in the afternoon)
Sat at a sidewalk cafe by the Seine river; ordered coffee and croissants and relaxed
Walked along the Seine and across a few bridges, watching painters and gamblers
Walked through Tuileries garden, found a shady grassy spot to take a quick nap
Walked down Champs Elysees to Arc de Triomphe
Checked into our Airbnb (a cute studio apartment in the Marais neighborhood) and took a quick nap
Went out for dinner and walked around Marais district. We LOVED the Marais – so many amazing restaurants and little bars and narrow streets with musical performers, it had a very Parisian feel and wasn't touristy.
Went back to the apartment and crashed around 8pm
Walked to Bastille market, stopping for espresso at a bar along the way
At Bastille market, we bought fruit, vegetables, bread, cheese, herbs, eggs, and some fabric
Sat on a bench at the park Place des Vosges, and ate bread, cheese, and fruit. We ended up spending quite a bit of time here during our stay, and we loved it. It's a beautiful park surrounded by gorgeous old apartment buildings, and it had a really nice quiet community vibe to it. Locals seemed to congregate there, even late into the night, to have picnics and spend time with friends and family.
Went to the Air and Space museum. We got to go inside a Boeing double-decker jet and a Concorde (a supersonic passenger jet!)
Seth lost his phone on a bus :)
Ate baguette sandwiches in some beautiful gardens by Chatelet-Les Halles station
Got some tarts and macarons at a patisserie
Cooked dinner at AirBnb apartment – grilled salmon, potatoes, green beans, wine
Walked down the Seine to the Latin Quarter. The Latin Quarter was a lively place late at night, definitely felt slightly tourist trap-ish.
Went to a jazz club Caveau de la Huchette (this was incredibly fun, I want to go back and do this every dang night)
Got late night crepes (butter, sugar, and lemon juice!) and walked back home
Slept in and made breakfast in the apartment, ate scrambled eggs and fruit and cheese by our breezy window
Walked to Centre Pompidou, took the escalator in the tube all the way up, saw some modern art exhibits
Got a baguette panini from a street vendor while walking to the train station (got a lot of weird looks for walking while eating :), I think it def outed us as American tourists)
Went to Les Invalides to the Army Museum, saw exhibits of historical weapons and armor, and saw Napoleon's tomb (we LOVED this museum and could have spent a lot more time there)
Ate Chinese food! (I guess we got kinda sick of different combinations of bread/cheese) Had some really good little espressos at this meal
Went to the Bassins du Champ de Mars park and walked all the way through enjoying the view of the Eiffel tower
Climbed the steps to the 2nd level of the Eiffel Tower (definitely recommend making reservations online for this one), watched the sunset
Walked back down past Trocadero park and watched the tower light up and sparkle
Took a long walk along the Seine all the way back to the Marais, got late night gelato, sat in Place des Vosges and ate it, went back to home base
Went to Versailles palace and gardens (another suggestion to make reservations online – we skipped a HUGE line). We walked through the palace and around the entire massive gardens. This was definitely amazing and worth seeing, but was a trek, and inside the palace was PACKED even though we got there right when it opened. We were herded through like cattle, which made the inside of the palace pretty unpleasant, despite the amazing interiors. The gardens were beautiful and there was more room to breathe – we enjoyed that part a lot. If I had to plan the trip again, I might skip this because of the crowds. There are plenty of amazing buildings and gardens to see in Paris.
Trekked home and took a nap
Had a fabulous dinner at an Italian restaurant in Le Marais (fresh mozzarella, rich olive oil, homemade pasta, UGH it was delightful)
This night while taking the train, I accidentally threw away my train ticket, and there was a ticket checker at our destination, so I got fined. Pro tip, keep your train ticket safe!
Went to a Moulin Rouge show. This exceeded my very high expectations! It was so much fun, the dancers were stunning, the costumes over-the-top, the performers between acts were super engaging, and the setting was perfect. Definitely worth the money. It's worth mentioning that I found it pretty family friendly (yes - there are plenty of boobies, no - it's not sexualized). I think if you wanted a more risque "burlesque" experience, you should go to the Crazy Horse cabaret.
Went to the Montmartre neighborhood and explored
Went to the Sacre Cour Basilica, walked inside and enjoyed the choir
Walked around Place du Tertres (it was kinda a tourist trap, but cool to watch artists at work), got espresso and pastries
Went to Luxembourg Gardens and Palace, sat and read a book. This place is absolutely stunning, we really wanted to lay on the grass but it's not allowed
It was incredibly hot this day (I think records were broken!) so we had to take a lot of breaks and drink lots of cold water. At one point we ducked into a Burger King (one of the only places with A/C) and rested for a couple hours
We went to the Louvre for a few hours in the late afternoon until closing (it was a late close day). I'd definitely recommend online reservations for this as well – if we hadn't made the reservations we would not have been able to make it inside. The Louvre was (obviously) awe-inspiring. We knew we weren't going to be able to see everything in the museum, so we figured we'd limit ourselves to a few hours to avoid getting too overwhelmed. We focused on Egyptian antiquities, Greek and Roman antiquities, Near Eastern antiquities, and Italian paintings. We did not see the Mona Lisa, because the line to do so was about 1 hour and we felt our time would be better spent seeing other works. There's a reason the Louvre is the most famous museum in the world. We were completely captivated in our time there and would have loved to spend several days looking at everything, but we're glad we were able to get a taste of it.
Conclusions + tips I would have given myself before my first Paris trip
+ The metro is an easy and awesome way to get around
+ You don't NEED a data roaming plan – I just used the AirBnb wifi to screenshot metro directions to points of interest on my phone before heading out for the day. There are also maps inside the metro stations.
+ You don't need to plan out exactly where you want to eat. Pretty much everything is good. Just walk around and look at menus and find what strikes your fancy.
+ On that note, don't have to try at all to find amazing things to see and eat in Paris – just walk around and enjoy. The city is super walkable and discoverable. Almost everything you see – parks, bridges, government offices, metro stations, random restaurants – is beautifully architected and designed and decorated. You can truly see and feel how much the city values art.
+ Don't try to cram too many activities into one day
+ Espresso is amazing and you should get it at the end of every meal!
+ Nowhere has air conditioning, so don't go to Paris in the summer if you hate the heat
+ We wish we would have spent more time at the Louvre
+ Jet lag really does suck. My advice: if you're dying of sleepiness during an awkward time, take a 30-minute nap and recharge, but then get back up and grab an espresso. Go find a nice park somewhere and nap on the grass, or go back to your hotel for a power-nap, but resist the temptation to sleep all day long. The first couple days, we were taking a few naps throughout the day to stay sane.