I’m a wanderlust at heart – and there are very few places in this world I don’t want to visit. I’ve traveled to more than a dozen countries, and clearly I have a lot more to explore. Well two countries that have been on my list for a while are in the books: France and Spain! I’m far from a travel expert, but our trip was so amazing I just had to break down a few of my favorite spots for you! (Shout out to David Bragg Travel in Nashville who designed and planned out this entire trip.)
First stop was Paris! Hard to believe I’ve never been to this amazing city. I’ve heard from just about everyone how dreamy Paris is, so obviously my expectations were high. Did Paris meet them? No. It surpassed my wildest dreams.
We spent 3 nights in Paris, not nearly long enough to see everything, but just enough to fall in love. We spent our first day sightseeing, walking around the city and doing one of my favorite things in Paris: Sitting outside an adorable cafe with a cafe au lait. Yes, I’m basic even in Paris. I got kind of obsessed with the doors of Paris… thankfully I’m not alone as there’s an entire coffee table book dedicated to the doors in the city. The flower boxes and mini gardens outside almost every apartment and building in the city made even the plainest building look picturesque. And the new Louis Vuitton store? Yes, it’s gorgeous.
Our tour guide gave us a driving tour of the city first, which at first I was skeptical of… I wanted to be able to walk around and see it and take pictures, without the barrier of a car window. In the end, the driving tour was a fantastic idea… we got to see so much in less time, and if we wanted to get out and take pictures we could. We stopped at places like Notre Dame to take pictures and walk around, then when we were ready so was our car. Or, we made a note to come back another day. There were also several places that I was glad to see, but didn’t need to stop and walk around. Saw it, checked the box, move on… our time was better spent at other spots like the Louvre.
We saw the Tuileries Gardens, Saint Germain des prés, Bastille, République, Beaubourg, City hall and Palais Royal. The Latin Quarter was one of my favorite neighborhoods, lots of little shops and restaurants and beautiful, old buildings.
We drove to the top of “Butte” and stopped at teh Sacre-Coeur, which is the second most visited site in Paris! There was a little Parisian village right beside it with crepes and coffee and so much gorgeousness. Cobble stone streets and artists selling paintings, I could have walked around here for hours! At the end of the village is a beautiful overlook onto the city, you can see almost everything! One of the best views in the city.
We had dinner at Le Zinc D’Honor, a small restaurant in the 1st arrondissement. And can we talk about the subways in Paris? They are so clean and bright, even the subway tiles inside are artistic.
It’s no secret Paris is known as a city with some of the best restaurants in the world, so we got to tag along on a private gourmet food tour! Our tour guide gave us a tour of the Les Halles-Montorgueil area, also known as the Belly of Paris. There were French brasseries, specialty shops with cheese and bread and meat and fruit! So much food. Too good to pass up. We got to stop at the oldest pastry shop in Paris called Stohrer. The rum cake is what our guide recommended, but if you go in the morning I would pass on that.
One of my favorite neighborhoods was Le Marais, narrow, cobble-stone streets with boutiques and cafes. We stopped at Pierre Herme, which is a beautiful little shop that sells nothing but macaroons! If you go: Get the pistachio!
We walked through the National Archives, which doesn’t sound exciting but it really was beautiful. The English gardens were so peaceful to walk through and we really felt like locals, as there weren’t many tourists there at all.
We walked th Pont des Arts bridge and saw the thousands and thousands of love locks people left behind, and walked through the flower market.
Our next stop was the Louvre Museum. I’ve always been told the line outside the museum is always long, but apparently Fall in Paris isn’t the busiest time, because we walked right in! We didn’t get to spend as much time walking through the entire museum, but we saw the highlights. The Mona Lisa was by far the most crowded exhibit. Dozens and dozens of people just trying to get a picture of her. I felt a little underwhelmed after seeing it in person, I took a picture (and a selfie) and checked it off my list.
We found a list of the top bars in the world, and of course, 1 is in Paris! The Little Red Door did not disappoint! This bar only has 11 drinks on the menu and they’re all based on different architectural movements and designs, such as Brutalism, Baroque and Art Decor. Their menu alone was interesting, described as “a menu of applied architecture.” You walk into the bar through, yes, a little red door, and it’s a very small bar, probably about 30 seats in all. It’s dimly lit with music and a very intimate setting.
“Architecture is always dream and function, expression of a utopia and instrument of a convenience.”
The creators of this restaurant spent a year studying architecture and then using that to create drinks. The drinks are, in their “sensual form, the reflection of 11 architectural ambitions.”
For example, the Modernismo. The menu lists this drink as “Finding a new aesthetic through the rejection of angles.” The incredients were Beefeater Gin, Souchet, champagne fleury, citrus and oxalis. The result was delicious. If you find yourself in Paris, stop here and try at least 2 drinks. They’re all so different and you can’t go wrong!
We started our third day with a bit of a bummer, we were supposed to go up the Eiffel Tower, but after going through security we were told there was a labor strike and all tours were canceled. Bummer.
So instead, we walked around the Champs-Élysées, stopping a few stores. One of the most impressive, surprisingly, was the Abercrombie and Fitch store. (I know, right?) Think tall, green hedges and huge iron gates with gold. It was gorgeous.
We walked around the famous Arc de Triomphe, enjoyed wine and croque monsieurs, and ended our day relaxing by the Louvre gardens.
For dinner, we went to Monsieur Bleu. This was probably my favorite restaurant in Paris! The views alone would have been enough: With views of the Eiffel Tower at night on a patio, surrounded by twinkling string lights and so much greenery, this place was stunning. MB was also a place to “see and be seen.”
Thanks to the awesome recommendation of our waitress at MB, we ventured out to Hotel Particulier. Although it was incredibly hard to find, it was most definitely worth it! We told our driver the address and he dropped us off on some random street…we didn’t see any signs or anything that looked like a hotel or a bar. We walked up the street and back down, around the block and up another street, down an alley and just when we were about to give up, we saw a big iron gate and a man standing in front of it. Thankfully he heard us say “I don’t know where it is!” And immediately knew what we were looking for. He opened the big gates and sent us down a dark, cobble stone alley. We honestly thought our waitress was just sending us on a wild goose chase, until we got up the path a little bit and heard glasses clinking and the sound of music. Then, through another little gate, we found a garden and tables with people everywhere. We found Hotel Particulier! This little hotel is tucked away in between blocks in Paris, and it was such an incredible find. The drinks were delicious, the decor was gorgeous and we truly felt like locals.
My only regret? Only staying 3 days in Paris!