I’ve had the opportunity to visit Paris several times and it’s become one of our favorite places. Now, I want to share with you my idea of a perfect day in Paris.
Our love affair with Paris began with a wild and crazy nine-hour layover in between flights from the US to Lisbon. At CDG, we jumped on the RER train to the Eiffel Tower, walked beside the Seine River, and then hopped back on the train to the airport to continue our journey to Portugal. The sun was shining, we marveled at the beauty we had only dreamed about, and immediately began planning a return trip. Yes, Paris is magical. I hope that once you experience it, you will love it as much as I do. Enjoy the journey!
On subsequent trips for both business and pleasure, we stayed in various arrondissements and in Boulogne-Billancourt, which was close to the Microsoft office where I worked when I was here. I can’t say any areas disappointed, as each neighborhood had its own distinct personality. In Boulogne-Billancourt, it was like staying in a small French town close to the river and parks but accessible to Paris by a 15-minute Metro ride. Staying within Paris proper was convenient for seeing the top sites.
If I had to draw from all my experiences in Paris and put together what a perfect day looks like in Paris, here it is:
No matter where you stay in Paris, a café is not far away. They are all good. Take an outside seat, enjoy a coffee and a croissant, and people watch. Simple and perfect way to start the day.
Wander the Marais neighborhood and stop in any shop that catches your eye. I’ve found so many treasures doing this-jewelry handmade by the artist that I got to meet, vinyl for Thom, an oversized knitted sweater that now has a few holes but that I refuse to part with and the list goes on.
After the Marais, walk by Notre Dame (to reopen in 2024) along the Seine River perusing the stalls where they sell books and magazines. Cross the river on the Pont des Arts bridge where the locks are hung by lovers. Take pictures of everything.
Grab some wine, cheese, fruit (figs if they are in season and, on my perfect day, they are!), sandwiches and a baguette-all at different small stores specializing in their product. Take your goodies to Luxembourg Gardens for a picnic and more people watching. Find the Medici Fountain after you watch kids sail model boats on the central pond that served as an inspiration for a similar one in Central Park in NYC-another favorite place of mine.
On the walk back to the ARBNB to rest up after many miles of walking Paris, I would plan a route from Luxembourg Garden to Shakespeare & Co., THE bookstore to visit when in Paris. After grabbing a travel book and getting it officially stamped with their logo inside, it’s time for a nap and hydration before the evening activities.
Climb the stairs or take the funicular up to Sacre Coeur to catch the sunset over Paris. Wander around Montmartre and get an original painting by one of the many artists in the main square. (Get a cardboard tube to transport home your unique souvenir.) Grab an apertif at a café.
For dinner, I prefer a café that is unique or local. We’ve had some special moments at places that are off the beaten track. One of my favorites is Refuge Des Fondues in Montmartre where the wine is served in a baby bottle. Wear pants as you might be asked to climb over the table to get a seat on the bench against the wall. Patrons are packed in tight so don’t go here if you want a quiet experience. Enjoy a reasonably priced fondue prix-fixe menu with plentiful food and booze. I turned down a digestive shot offered by the waiter at the end of my meal and, as to not waste good liquor, he just downed it for me. Cheers!
Starting at sundown and until 1 am, the Eiffel Tower sparkles every hour on the hour for five minutes. It’s a party atmosphere around the Tower as everyone waits for the light show to begin. Once we were there and there was a full moon shining on us, making it all the more magical. Even after a long day, it’s worth it to go and experience it up close and personal.
Wander home afterward and get some well-deserved rest before another excellent day in Paris. Then, start planning your next trip to Paris to experience even more of what this great city has to offer!