Hi friends! Today I’m popping in with the final recap of our European adventure: Paris! If you missed any of the earlier recaps you can find those here:
- Part 1: Amsterdam, Volendam, and Monnickendam (Netherlands)
- Part 2: Ghent (Belgium)
- Part 3: Brugge & Brussels (Belgium)
- Part 4: Champagne Tours in Reims (France)
On Friday morning, Fabio and I arrived in Paris after a quick 40ish minute train ride from Reims. Not bad! We quickly dropped off our bags at our friend Bryan’s apartment and then set off to explore.
Thanks for hosting us, Bryan!
Fabio and I have been to Paris once before, but since we were only there for a few days we only had time to tour Notre Dame and climb to the top of Eiffel Tower. Both of us regretted not visiting the world-famous Louvre museum on that trip, so we made sure to knock it out during our first day in Paris this time.
Everyone always says to get to the Louvre super early to avoid long lines, but Fabio and I decided to do the opposite. We sort of figured that everyone waits in the long lines early in the morning, so theoretically the lines should be much shorter in the late afternoon. We decided to buy tickets for 3:00 pm, and since it was a Friday the museum didn’t close until 10:00 pm anyway, giving us plenty of time to explore. We bought our tickets online ahead of time and then picked them up from a little tourist office close to the museum.
After picking up our tickets, we stopped for lunch where we shared two French essentials: French onion soup and a croque monsieur!
Both were delicious!
After lunch, it was time for the museum! We entered through the secret side entrance along the Porte des Lions and literally had NO line. None! We were inside right away.
Once inside the museum we purchased audio guides for about 5 euros, which were totally worth buying. Since the museum is so huge, we came prepared with a list of “must-see” displays and then just casually browsed through everything else.
Obviously we saw the Mona Lisa, which was frankly rather underwhelming. Something about the crowd of people swarming in front of it and taking selfies just really detracted from the beauty of the piece. It was also much smaller than I expected.
Hmm. Not my fave.
While in the museum we also saw the Venus de Milo, Raft of Medusa, Winged Victory, Coronation of Napoleon, Psyche Revived, and some of the jewels from ancient Egypt. I loved all of these! Even with just visiting those few displays, Fabio and I spent more than two hours in the museum.
Honestly I didn’t really enjoy the Louvre that much because I felt like it was too overwhelming. Even though I knew this going in, I was still disappointed that I couldn’t really enjoy what was in front of me because there was just too much STUFF everywhere to compete with! Sheesh. Still, it was a must-do experience and I’m so glad we went.
Later in the evening we met Bryan back at his apartment and then headed out to a fun dinner at Maguey! Bryan is studying at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris, which is why he’s living there right now. Some of his professors recommended Maguey to him, so he took us with him to check it out.
When we arrived, we were given a menu with four adjectives on it (in French). We were told to pick two adjectives each, and then our menus would be created based on the words we chose. Cool! I picked convivial (friendly) and soyeux (silky).
My first dish was mushrooms with savory corn pancakes and some sort of sweet corn whipped cream on top. It was SO delicious! I especially loved the little corn pancakes.
Each dish also came with some sort of beverage, so while the boys’ dishes came with wine, mine came with whiskey! Yikes! As the waiter explained what was on each dish he mentioned that whiskey came “all the way from Pennsylvania in the USA” which I thought was pretty funny. 😉
Next up was my main dish: lamb with pistachios and hazelnuts in a pistachio puree with blackberries. I loved the unique flavors and components to this dish. So good!
This time I got a delicious red wine that was nice and earthy. The waiter told me to expect it to taste “leathery” (in a good way…) and he was so right!
Cheese plate intermission! We all split this course before dessert. Cheese plates, in Paris especially, are just the best thing ever. Gimme all the cheese! <3
Then it was time for dessert! I was surprised with a plate of fresh figs, merengue, and berry ice cream. Delicious!
I had a sweet dessert wine with this course which I usually don’t love, but this one paired perfectly with the lightly sweet dessert.
At the end of our meal our waiter brought over our menus so we could see everything that we had just had.
I absolutely loved the element of surprise with this meal, and I liked that the boys both had totally different meals as well. How fun! Definitely check out this restaurant if you’re looking for a fun meal experience in Paris.
Fabio and I didn’t have any plans until 1:00 pm on Saturday, so we took our time lounging around in the morning. I think the long trip was starting to catch up with us!
Finally we got ourselves together and headed down the street to grab something to eat. We had passed a bakery the day before that sold delicious-looking sandwiches on baguettes, so we gave that a try. I chose one with ham, tomato, lettuce, and mayo on it. Fabio captured my look of sheer joy after my first bite.
This was literally one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had – it was just so simple and delicious! Sigh. I need more of that bread.
After eating, Fabio and I made our way down to the Fountain Saint-Michel at 1:00 pm for another free walking tour! Fabio and I had so much fun doing the Sandeman’s free walking tour in Amsterdam that we decided to do it again in Paris!
We spent the next 2.5 hours exploring the beautiful city and learning so much about the history. Fabio and I had so much fun during our tour, and we both agreed that these tours are an absolute must-do in a new city. They are so informative!
The tour took us through the Latin quarter (which I always assumed was named for Hispanic/Spanish people, but is actually named that because of the international students who used to come study at the nearby Sorbonne university, where Latin was the common language everyone spoke. Cool!), Notre Dame, Pont Neuf, Louvre, Tuileries gardens, and more.
We once again had a fantastic time and I can’t recommend these tours enough! I feel so knowledgable about Paris now. 🙂
After our tour we checked into our Air BnB for the night (Bryan had some other friends in town on Saturday night). It was absolutely minuscule – seriously my freshman dorm room was bigger – but it was so cute and efficient! It had everything we needed!
At this point Fabio and I were feeling a little hungry again so we turned to recommendations left by our Air BnB hosts for a local bakery, cheese shop, sausage shop, and wine shop. Now that’s my kind of shopping. 😉
Snack time! Why can’t I eat like this every day?
Later in the evening we cleaned ourselves up and met up with Bryan, his two friends, and our friend Michelle who was randomly in town too for dinner! We went to Pershing Hall and it was the perfect location – great ambiance and food!
We ordered the appetizer sampler to share among the six of us – holy food platter!
Everything was fantastic. For my meal I ordered cod with a seaweed salad and it was SO. GOOD. Dare I say the best fish I’ve had in my whole life?
After dinner we headed over to Andy Wahloo, a trendy bar that Bryan has been to a couple times before.
Once we got there we realized it was only two doors down from our Air BnB! Literally two doors! Talk about convenient! 🙂
The cocktails at this bar were phenomenal and I enjoyed an old fashioned with a chocolate spoon. Yes, a chocolate spoon.
On Sunday Fabio and I headed over to the Musee d’Orsay which I was really excited about. I’m a big fan of impressionist paintings so I couldn’t wait to check out my favorites! Since it was the first Sunday of the month admission was free, but the line was pretty long (we stood in line for about 45 minutes). Still, not too bad!
Housed in an old train station, the museum has some beautiful architecture and cool clocks.
Fabio and I spent almost an hour and a half walking all over the bottom two floors of the museum without seeing any of the famous impressionist paintings we were expecting to see (except Van Gogh, who we had just seen in Amsterdam).
Where was all the Monet? Finally we asked at the front desk and found out that all the paintings we wanted to see were housed on the fifth floor. Ah!
Finally we found what we were looking for and spent some time soaking in the beautiful works of Monet, Degas, Renoir, and more.
These are two of my all time favorite paintings!!
This Renoir painting also holds a special place in my heart; my grandma painted a copy of it and when I was little she used to tell me the blonde one was me and the brunette was my cousin, Sarah. I had to take a picture for her. 🙂
Such a great museum! Next time I think we’ll just head right up to the fifth floor and skip most of the downstairs. 😉
After our museum we grabbed a quick lunch (another croque monsieur only it’s called a croque madame because it had an egg on top. Funny.)…
…and then we enjoyed some crepes with nutella and banana for dessert! We ate them outside of an old church while a live band played music and little kids danced around. How Paris.
Later that evening we joined Bryan for dinner at the wine bar at L’Avant Comptoir, which was recommended to us by a bunch of people!
The L’Avant Comptoir restaurant is usually really crowded, but the standing-only wine bar is usually a little more manageable. We were able to get a spot at the bar without too much trouble.
At this restaurant, foods are featured on cards that hang on the ceiling!
To order we pretty much pointed at different foods and the bartender would bring them out to us. Everything was tapas-style (i.e., small plates) so the three of us were able to try a bunch of different foods!
Fresh mozzarella and pesto
One of my favorites was a savory waffle with ham on top.
I also had to try a fois gras macaroon! It was really good!
After our meal we walked off all our food by climbing the steep steps to get to Sacre Coeur!
Our 270-step climb rewarded us with breathtaking views of the city.
(I left my DSLR back in the apartment, so you’ll have to use your imagination.)
From there we each bought a small cup of gelatto and then sat back and enjoyed the view.
I can’t think of a better way to end our European vacation!
So fun! Ok, I’m ready to go back now! 🙂
Question of the day: Have you ever been to Paris? What was on your must-see list?