Do you ever sit around as an adult and talk/think/daydream about things as if you’re waiting for someone to give you permission to do them?
I spent my entire childhood thinking when I reached adulthood I’d be able to do whatever I want — eat sour punch straws at 8am, buy that sarcastic graphic t-shirt from Kohls my mom wouldn’t get me when I was 10, stay up way past midnight.
Sure, I ultimately have the freedom to do what I want, but when it comes to the big things, the really fun things, I tend to sell myself short and discuss them as strictly hypotheticals — as if one day I’m going to graduate “dream school” (or at least get my GED) and go into “real life” with no limits but the ones I make for myself. Turns out there’s no moment in adult life when someone gives you permission to act on your dreams, goals, or ambitions, no matter how ridiculous, important, or fanciful.
For Anna and I, one of the smaller, more fanciful day dreams we had been pontificating about for years was a trip to Paris. The sights? We wanted to see them, sure. But more than anything, we just wanted to sip espresso at a café and breathe in the culture of the city around us (which apparently includes a not insignificant amount of secondhand smoke).
After a few years of talking about the trip as if our parents would need to sign a permission slip for us to go — and a host of other limitations like, well, a global pandemic — we were finally able to make it happen, and we’re so thankful we did!
We tend to move quickly and sleep very little on trips to cities like Paris, because much like Steven Tyler, we don’t wanna miss a thing. In the past, that’s meant packed days, meticulous planning based on proximity, and making the most of every square inch / minute that we cover.
This time around, we intentionally planned less and told ourselves to slow down, enjoy the city, and allow for stumbling into a restaurant or shop we might otherwise miss running from one reservation to the next. Now, we certainly were not free spirits — after all, a fair amount of planning makes for a more enjoyable trip in the moment — but we did give ourselves some latitude to color outside the lines.
Overall, our trip was on the shorter side (in terms of to traveling to Europe, at least), and we focused on seeing a couple of sights that kept us within a 20-25 minute radius of our hotel, so we never had to invest too much time on a train or bus. We only made 3 restaurant reservations prior to arriving (one of which we cancelled, because what’s more fun than canceling plans?), and our only had 2-3 other commitments on our calendar. This loose framework gave us the perfect balance of structure and freedom to discover new things along the way, which made for a great first impression with a really amazing city.
We landed early in the morning in Paris.
European travel 101: always take a late flight from the states so you have a full day once you land in the city. This means resting up on the flight so you can hit the ground running (something made very difficult for us by a crying baby in the seat next to us. Invest in noise cancelling headphones).
Arrive at Hôtel Grand Powers.
Pink Mamma for lunch.
See the Eiffel Tower.
Spa reservation at the hotel.
Café La Belle Ferronnière for Dinner.
Early bedtime — we needed to catch up on sleep badly.
Breakfast in our hotel room. – when you book direct, breakfast is included (highly recommend).
The Louvre – we really enjoyed the audio guide to ensure you don’t miss anything!
Café Saint Honoré.
Stroll through Jardin des Tuileries.
Ferdi for dinner and drinks – you can only reserve through text but this was our favorite!
Photoshoot with Gabi Alves.
Breakfast at Café Carrousel.
Lunch at L’Alsace
Shopping around Rue Cambon (near the Ritz, so many designer shops in the area) and Avenue des Champs-Élysées (near the Arc de Triomphe) — both areas have a lot to offer within a few blocks of those streets.
Hemingway Bar for light bites and drinks – get here when they open as they don’t do reservations and are limited in seating.
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris — It’s still closed due to the fire damage, but you can still see it well enough to appreciate it. They’ve also placed outdoor exhibitions around the property to talk about the recovery process.
Explore the neighborhood of Saint-Germain, which ended up being our favorite.
Café de Flore for lunch — Highly recommend the hot chocolate and not much else but we did hear after the fact that breakfast is good here.
Shop at green vendor stands along Seine River — like any market place, not everything is good, but there were some hidden gems to be found!
Café La Belle Ferronnière for Dinner, again — Nothing wrong with a repeat!
Eiffel Tower at night — The tower sparkles every hour on the hour, for five minutes. Worth the trip!
Drinks at Le New York on the way back to our hotel — not the best food but it did the trick and had a lovely views of the Eiffel Tower.
Our travel agent arranged our airport transfers to and from the hotel and it was really nice to not have to think about it. Leave your favorite Paris recommendations in the comments for other to reference!