Paris – the romance capital of the world
June 19, 2020
Oh, Paris, the romance capital of the world!
I always wanted to visit Paris. Finally, this year, Paris was on my list of places to see in 2020. Unfortunately, with all that’s been going on in the world, I had to postpone my trip.
My dear friend Iskra and her boyfriend visited Paris a few years ago. After their trip, she wrote a little story about the things they saw and the places they’ve visited. I had the honor of reading this story, and I must tell you it has increased my desire to visit Paris as soon as possible. I’m a really impatient person!
So, I’ve decided to share their story, and I’m hoping that one day she’ll share it on her own blog. Because I think that she did a great job! And of course, when I finally manage to visit this beautiful and iconic place, I’ll share my story with you.
For now, I’m leaving you to enjoy Iskra’s story about Paris.
Paris – the romance capital of the world
This is a little story about our first trip to Paris! We were there for 6 days (4 full days) and decided to write a little bit of our adventure so we can help other first time travelers to do as much and see as much as we did in a short time.
We will try to give you as much information as possible so you can plan your trip with no problems. While in Paris we visited: Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Champs-Élysées, Disneyland, Versailles and explored much more around Paris, you can read all about it below.
Arriving in Paris was a hot mess for us. Our flight was delayed for 4 hours, as we didn’t know that when we left our apartments at 6AM. We ended up waiting at the airport for more than 6 hours (bring a book or something like that just in case).
Arriving late to Paris left us no time to spar. So, we immediately bought our NAVIGO PASSES and jumped on the first RER to our apartment. NAVIGO is a pass that you get as a card with your picture. It can be charged weekly (Monday – Sunday), monthly, or yearly. Just for the card, you will have to pay 5€, and a weekly pass is roughly 23€ for all 5 Zones and all transport means. It is THE CHEAPEST way to travel around Paris.
We didn’t do much that day, but unpacking and shopping for groceries, I would recommend Franprix stores. They have everything you need, and the staff is helpful.
P.S. We stayed at Airbnb apartment in 11. Arrondissement. We really liked our neighborhood, and the apartment was good for the price we paid. A lot of metros, trains, and bus stations were 5-10 min walking distance, so it’s no problem getting anywhere you want.
NICE TO MEET YOU, JACQUES!
The second day everything started much better as we woke up early in Paris for the first time! We planned to get to Louvre before long line forms (an hour or half-hour before opening time), and we kinda succeeded.
At 9 o’clock they let people in with tickets for 9AM and started our line at 9:30. We waited in the cold for one hour, which is still not too bad. We would definitely recommend buying your tickets in advance and with entrance time as early as possible. This way, you can browse Louvre with much fewer people compared to 2 or more hours later.
We spent more than 5 hours in Louvre and absolutely loved it! That is, of course, not enough time to see everything. Still, we absolutely fell in love with Jacques Luis David’s paintings. Even weeks after our visit, we can’t stop talking about them. When you walk around Louvre, you can understand the importance of this museum. Not just because of Mona Lisa, but everything you lay your eyes on is more beautiful than the last thing you saw. And that keeps happening on every step through the museum.
After the museum, we rested our legs just sitting around the fountain behind Louvre with lots of tourists and birds, soaking up some sun to recharge.
Next in our plan for the second day was Batobus. It is a hop on – hop off ship that cruises you around the Seine from Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame with few stops between and no tourist guide on board, just like a bus on water.
We bought a two-day ticket as it is only a few Euros more than a day ticket. We also got under 24 y.o. discount. You do not need to buy this ticket in advance.
Closest station was Louvre, and we wanted to go to Notre Dame, passing and seeing Eiffel tower for the first time! The ride is 80 minutes long, and you can really enjoy a beautiful view from inside and outside. We sat for a drink near Notre Dame. On our way home, as there was no line, we went into the beautiful church, and after that straight home.
On our first day, we only used the metro in the morning and evening, but we used it all the time for the rest of the trip. It is super quick, every 2-3 minutes, and has excellent connections to anywhere you need to go. Take a metro map on the airport information desk or google maps for specific directions and stations.
MAYBE JUST ONE MORE GLASS...
As we came at 8AM (tower opens at 9:30), we had some time to take sunrise photos in Jardins du Trocadero. Again, no crowds!
There are two “checkpoints” at Eiffel. First is security where you don’t need a ticket, and the second one is ticket and entrance line (two in one). BIG mistake here was not buying tickets in advance (at least two weeks before in fall, summer even earlier). You can buy tickets with a discount and save yourself at least two or more hours.
We had to wait, but it was definitely worth it. As it was a sunny day, the view was amazing, and the whole experience is just indescribable.
The second floor was high enough for me (115 meters). If you don’t have a problem with heights, you can go to the top floor (276 meters).
Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe
Our next stop was Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe. You can catch a great photo from the middle of the street if you are willing to wait a few minutes. Just be aware of traffic around you! There is also an option to climb Arc de Triomphe, but after Eiffel, it was enough for us to look from the street on that majestic Arc.
Champs-Élysées is really crowded. It has lots of high street fashion and even more designer stores, something for everyone. After (not so) little shopping, we were in desperate need of some good French wine! As our ticket for Batobus was still valid, we took another cruise to Notre Dame. After that, we used the metro to reach a little French wine bar “Le Baron Ruge“ in 11. Arrondissement (close to our apartment).
That was one of the best choices on our trip!
It is a small charming place with local people and great wine where you can experience real Parisian life far from tourist traps and attractions.
As we couldn’t decide what to drink, the friendly waiter recommended us wine that we really liked. Even though we didn’t plan to stay long, we ended up drinking a few more glasses and went home with two bottles of natural wine.
Here you can enjoy good quality wine for more than an acceptable price. If you have a chance, we warmly recommend visiting lovely Le Baron Rouge.
The third day in Paris was perfect for little relaxation and fun at Disneyland! We took RER A directly to Disneyland. The train ride was approximately one hour long. Luckily, we didn’t need to wake up early as Park opens at 10AM.
I would recommend buying your tickets in advance (and only on Disneyland Paris original page). We got our week early (we were waiting for the weather forecast), and they were around 50€ (MINI time – one park).
Try planing your visit to Disneyland on a sunny day, as you spend most time outside. Park is really magical for kids and grownups, it has 4 “lands”: Fantasyland, Discoveryland, Adventureland & Frontierland.
Fantasyland: mostly for smaller kids but do not miss “Peter Pan’s Flight“. We went on that ride twice and would go again if we had time, absolutely magical!
Discoveryland: you can really find fun and crazy rides here. “Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast” is so much fun for all generations. The same goes for “Star Tours: I’Aventure Continue“. If you don’t have a good stomach, maybe skip “Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain” as it shook us quite a lot!
Adventureland: unfortunately, “Indiana Jones” ride was closed, but every other attraction was so fun and amazingly decorated. We highly recommend Pirates of Caribbean ride even if you have to wait a little longer.
Frontierland: it seems that this part has the least attractions but is really beautifully decorated, especially at Halloween time. We really enjoyed a boat ride around the mountain for little rest, unfortunately, “Phantom Manor” was closed at that time.
Free inside park but a limited number.
We didn’t know about Fastpass until we came there. To get Fastpass find rides with F.P. sign on the map. Next to that ride, you can find Fastpass automat where you scan your ticket and get a card with time when you can enter without waiting. You can ONLY have Fastpass for ONE RIDE at the time. Our recommendation is to use them as much and as early you can. As soon you are done with one ride, get another one for some other ride because there is a limited number of Fastpasses. Around 2PM there were no more available passes for any ride.
One day is more than enough for one park, but plan ahead and use Fastpasses!
There is an official Disneyland app that you can download on iOS or Android. It shows the waiting time for each ride. We found it very helpful, especially when you are waiting for your Fastpass time for another ride. We had a fantastic time, and if you have any doubt, don’t worry, the park has something for everyone, and anybody can enjoy it and have fun!
ROYAL 20k STROLL
If you bought tickets in advance or if you are under 26 y.o. and European Union citizen, you can go directly to entrance A. We didn’t wait at all. But if you come later, there will probably be a line to enter the palace.
If you wish to see only gardens, you do not need tickets or even go into the palace (which we didn’t know in advance). You can go directly to gardens, just go left next to entrance A.
(You can find some perfect and not overpriced souvenir shops next to Versailles train station.)
The filling you get walking through the palace is just crazy, you can really imagine how royalty lived here. It is smaller than Louvre, but it has a special touch to it, more home-like, with incredible decorations and paintings. We took free MP3 players (on the entrance) with very interesting guide recordings. Don’t forget to give them back when exiting the palace and entering the gardens because they start beeping like crazy.
For days I’m trying to figure out what to write about gardens. And I just can’t think of something that will do them justice. Their beauty and peacefulness are indescribable. We walked 20km through them and could walk 20 more.
Most beautiful gardens are definitely closest to the palace. But if you walk a little further and maybe visit Estate of Trianon, where not many people go, you can enjoy beauty, peace, and fill like in a fairytale. I still can’t understand how those gardens are even real. If you don’t want to pay for the palace or wait in line, just go see gardens and relax your eyes, ears, and mind for the day. If there is a musical fountain show in gardens you have to pay, but that is not that often.
As it was our last full day in Paris, we decided to finish it with French dinner right next to Notre Dame. We reserved our table at Le Flore en I’lle a few days early on Trip Advisor and even got a discount for it.
The restaurant is located in a peaceful street with a beautiful view of Notre Dame. The staff was really helpful, friendly, and made us feel special. Food was more than amazing, we had snails and ravioli for starters, tartar beef and penne tomato for the main dish. Portions are really generous, we were so full we didn’t try dessert.
Meal prices are reasonable, drinks are a bit pricey, but when you look at the combined price (60 € for two-course meal and drinks for a couple), it’s really good for what you get. It was absolutely the best way to finish our trip!
Last day we enjoyed coffee & croissant at a nearby café and went to the airport with a big promise to come back. There is much more to see and write about! Till the next time, merci!
Few more notes:
- Louvre is not working on Tuesdays, Versailles is not working on Mondays
- On every step, you will be warned of pick-pocketing, we had absolutely no problems, but we witnessed an attempt. If you are careful and don’t flash your valuables or money, you should be ok
- There are many street vendors around every attraction. They can sometimes be annoying, but there is no cheaper way to buy small Eiffel towers as souvenirs. For example, you can buy 5 Eiffel key chains for 1€, that is really a bargain price
- Public transportation is excellent and frequent, even on weekends. Buy Navigo and ride around as much as you like with no worries
- Disneyland – From recently, you can buy Fastpass in advance, that was not available when we went so we don’t know much about it. If you are interested, you can find more information on their page. Fastpasses that you take inside the park are free but limited