After a few days of warmth in Rome we were back in the cold in Paris. Our flight landed late at night and after buying our tickets at CDG, we hopped on the RER B towards Chatelet-Les Halles. When we got off at our stop, for some reason we couldn’t get out since the machine didn’t take our tickets! We panicked- the station was empty and we were trapped. Good thing there was a cleaning lady on duty who swiped us through with her pass (annoyed of course). We still don’t know why we got stuck!
Take the RER B line towards central Paris from CDG. Like Rome, Paris’s vast metro network is very convenient. Once you’re in the city it’s pretty self explanatory. You can either buy single tickets, 1, 3, 5-day unlimited travel passes, or a package of 10 passes. The most up-to-date prices can be found here– you can also use it to plan your route in advance. Planning your route in advance will give you an idea of which ticket type you should purchase. We opted for the package of 10 tickets (around €12-3 at the time) because it wasn’t worth it for us to buy the multi-day passes.
One thing to note is that although stations appear to be close to each other on the map, sometimes you have to walk a good 5-10min just to connect your trains!
Where to Stay
We stayed at an Airbnb studio 5 minutes from Les Halles. It was TINY- you open the door and that’s all there is to it in the picture, with the shower and toilet in the corner behind the bookshelf! When the bed is pulled out there is no walking space but we loved it. It was cozy and felt like home (plus it was within our budget).
Accommodation in Paris comes with a hefty price tag. Decent hotels are at least $200 a pop! Again, Airbnb is your best friend in an expensive city like Paris. We really liked our neighbourhood and would definitely recommend Les Halles as a home base. It’s one of the main metro stations and surrounded by tons of restaurants. We also felt safe walking around at night.
What to Do
We only had 2 full days in Paris but it felt enough since we’re not big on museums. If you’re into that sort of thing, definitely spend more time in this city and make good use of the Paris Museum Pass.
For us, the Louvre was just too big and confusing to navigate. A lot of displays didn’t have English descriptions and there was too much to take in. The Mona Lisa was underwhelming- we expected a larger painting but it was tiny! The pyramids outside were pretty cool, though. We got bored just after 2 hours of staring at endless paintings, but at least AS found his favorite piece!
Montmatre – Sacré-Cœur and Le mur des je t’aime
We made a trip out to Montmatre in the morning and adored this part of the city. It was peaceful and the neighborhoods in this area had a certain charm. Before making our way to the top of Sacré-Cœur, we stopped by Le mur des je t’aime or the I Love You Wall.
Perched on top of a hill, this Roman Catholic Church was a workout to get to. The steep steps are worth it, because this basilica is gorgeous. Even though we came on a gloomy day, the sweeping panoramic views of the city were still breathtaking.
Notre-Dame Cathedral, Centre Pompidou, and Nicolas Flamel’s House
We decided to skip the metro and walk back to central Paris. We made our way towards the Eiffel Tower after lunch, passing by the River Seine, Notre-Dame Cathedral and Centre Pompidou. Amazing architecture! We didn’t want to go inside- staring in awe from the exterior was enough for us. Being a huge Harry Potter fan, I had to make a quick stop by Nicolas Flamel’s house- an actual alchemist in real life!
We ate a nearby restaurant and witnessed the huge tower sparkle in blinking lights after our meal. The sparkles and lightshow are on for the first five minutes of each hour after dark. We were freezing our butts off but who cares! It was so pretty!
Where to Eat
OMNOMNOM THE FOOD. This is where Paris wow-ed us.
It’s right around the block from our tiny studio. It’s also Queen Elizabeth’s bakery of choice. And rightfully so, because their tartlettes are divine. Definitely worth a visit! (or more if you’re a pastry junkie like me)
Macarons – Ladurée vs Pierre Hermé
We’ve heard a great deal about Ladurée; lo and behold, the place was packed. We joined the line at Galeries Lafayette and picked a few flavors. Our verdict? It was overrated. Sure, they’re better than the macarons in Vancouver but other than the pretty colors, Ladurée was meh. We tried some at Pierre Hermé and those were lot better in that they were less sweet and less artificial-tasting. Blregh.
Chez Marie Louise
This place is a real gem! It’s a cute little bistro that seats only around 30. We both ordered their 14€ lunch special: pumpkin soup and salmon. Oh my goodness- both dishes were out of this world!
Au Petit Sud Ouest
They’re famous for their duck confit. We ordered that plus the duck cassoulet, which didn’t look very appetizing but it was delicious. It’s also conveniently located by the Eiffel Tower- perfect for a romantic lightshow after dinner!
We’ve never dined at a Michelin starred restaurant before- where else to experience this than one of the greatest food capitals of the world! After hours of comparing reviews, menus, and prices, we narrowed it down to Le Restaurant for dinner. This experience was worth the splurge.
We ordered the 5-course degustation menu with wine pairings, which ended up being 9 dishes because of our servers kept bringing out new dishes courtesy of the chef. Every dish was delicious and presented beautifully. (except for the pure goat cheese dish- not my thing but AS was down) The veal and monkfish were soooooooo amazing, so was the citrus dessert. Service was also impeccable! Our waiters knew exactly when to take our dishes away and when to present us with the next course. This is still the best meal we’ve ever had to date- better than Joel Robuchon at MGM Grand in Vegas.
Paris was nice but I don’t think it’s a city we’ll revisit any time soon. Apart from the food it wasn’t really up our alley. I think we’d enjoy the countryside more. Next time!
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