Paris was on our travel list for ages, but after being stuck in the Charles de Gaulle Airport for a surprise 12-hour layover on our way to Naples, we had a hard rule to avoid this city and its airport for an unspecified period.

We finally booked a visit to the City of Light after some personal events prevented us from committing to and planning a lengthy vacation. Paris had a direct flight from our home airport and enough to do to keep us busy for a few days without extensive research. It seemed like a relatively easy destination to cross off our list. Plus, it was time we saw the Eiffel Tower and toured the Louvre Museum.

Overall, we found Paris to be a beautiful city with an appreciation for good food, art, and history. The city somehow, though, managed to lack some of the magic we had expected. This was probably because we visited during a holiday week and spent the majority of our time in the tourist districts being pushed around (literally) by other travelers. We needed more downtime in the residential areas to enjoy cheese, wine, and cappuccinos.

Adventures: Louvre Museum, Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, Champ de Mars, Sacré-Cœur, Notre-Dame Cathedral (post fire), Arc de Tiomphe, Champs-Élysées, Champagne, River Cruise

1) Parisians are nice. (Why the bad reputation?)
2) The weather report can't be trusted. 
3) The Eiffel Tower sparkles for five minutes every hour on the hour, starting at sundown.
4) Uber is convenient.
5) The Louvre is huge and difficult to navigate.
6) Montmartre is the reason to fall in love with Paris.
7) Wine and cheese are trademarked by region, as a product of soil, climate, and know-how.
8) Pickpockets are good at creating distractions on the metro.
9) The process to create champagne is impressive.
10) We only like macarons in Paris.
11) French words are pronounced nothing like they are spelled.

Memorable Moments:
1) Watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night.
2) Getting pushed around in front of the Mona Lisa.
3) Spending a free afternoon enjoying wine and a cheese plate at a cafe.
4) Walking around Montmartre. Also, walking along the River Seine.
5) Locking our love on the passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor.
6) Tasting champagne in Champagne.

  • Crepes > thin pancakes with sweet or savoy filling (examples: Nutella, ham/cheese)
  • Cheese. Favorites include: Comté, Brillat-Savarin, Rouelle du Tarn (goat cheese coated with ash), Brin d’amour (sheep milk cheese from Corsica coated with herbs)
  • Baguette
  • Croissants
  • Escargot (snails)
  • French onion soup
  • Steak frites
  • Duck
  • Boef Borgonion (beef stew)
  • Chocolate
  • Macaron > meringue-based confection
  • Financier > little cake made with almond powder 
  • Éclairs
  • Wine

Favorite Places / Restaurant Picks:

Boulangerie Alexine (try the Baguette tradition)
40 Rue Lepic

Cheese Shop
Fromagerie Lepic
20 Rue Lepic

Wine Store
Nicolas Champ de Mars 
35 Avenue de Suffren

Georges Larnicol (buy chocolates)
7 Rue de Steinkerque

Christophe Roussel (buy macarons)
5 Rue Tardieu

Le Soleil d'Or (try a takeaway hot dog)
15 Boulevard du Palais

Le Relais de L'Entrecôte (french steakhouse, multiple locations -- we didn't have a chance to eat here, but it's well known for its steak frites)
15 Rue Marbeuf; 20 Rue Saint-Benoit; 101 Boulevard du Montparnasse

Firmine (full of tourists but the pizza is excellent)
38B Avenue de Suffren

1) Learn at least three words in French: bonjour (hello), au revoir (goodbye), merci (thank you). Say hello and goodbye when you enter and exit an establishment. 
2) Stay alert on the metro to avoid pickpockets.
3) Buy all tickets in advance to avoid the long lines.
4) Book a tour of the Louvre. It's critical to have someone to help navigate and point out the more important pieces.
5) The skip-the-line tickets for the Eiffel Tower don't allow you to skip the line to the summit elevator. Be prepared to wait.
6) Look for the yellow "Gault & Millau" sticker to identify quality shops.
7) Look for the phrase "Meilleur Ouvrier de France" to identify a quality chocolate shop.
8) Visit Champagne. A good tour is expensive but well worth the money if you enjoy champagne.

Next Time: 
1) Get a hotel outside the tourist zones.
2) Visit the Musée d'Orsay for Monet's paintings. 
3) See Sainte-Chapelle's stained glass windows.
4) Visit the Rodin Museum to see The Thinker.
5) Tour more wine houses in Champagne.
6) Spend more time drinking cappuccinos at cafes.
7) Eat more cheese.
8) Tour the Palace of Versailles.


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