Repeat after me, vacationing is self-care. You have to jump off the work treadmill at least once each quarter. To that end, I recently spent 10 days in Europe, 5 of which were spent in Paris and the remaining days in Barcelona.
Quite frankly, planning this trip gave me so much anxiety. It didn’t help that a brief search on Trip Advisor on both countries offered so many five star activities that I felt overwhelmed. Nevertheless, I nailed down a detailed itinerary for both countries as I was traveling with two teenagers, my daughter and niece. My neatly planned agenda was short-lived. It was tossed out on our second day in Paris. Paris refused to be neatly packaged for my consumption. The lines to all of the sites on my agenda were ridiculously long. I had to quickly adjust my expectations.
There is so much to do in Paris that it can be overwhelming. Pick two or three sites you want to see and forget the rest. You can’t do it all.
What we did.
Notre Dame, it was Easter Sunday and I felt compelled to visit the largest church in Europe. What I didn’t know was that the other visitors in Paris would also share the same sentiment. We stood in line from 9 am to 1 pm to enter the church. The views at the top of this gothic church was beautiful and worth the wait. There’s no fast pass for Notre Dame so be prepared to wait in line.
Eiffel Tower – yes, it is a classic tourist trap in Paris but we wanted to go up to the summit. We didn’t have to wait in line because it was part of a package deal with a dinner cruise around the Siene river. We went in with no wait as part of the group tour. The views were amazing and felt like one should – on top of the world and in love with life.
Side note – do not do any dinner cruises. We were promised a nice meal on a dinner cruise but the boat ended up smelling like urine. We couldn’t eat.
Palace of Versailles – the girls had recently studied the treaty of Versailles so it made sense to make the 30 minutes trek outside of Paris to the palace. Be sure to purchase a group tour, the lines were miles long. We purchased a group tour from ParisVisionCity, which got us into the palace within minutes. We also got a private tour guide who gave us an informative tour.
While the girls were sleeping, I snuck a quick trip to Luxembourg Gardens to journal. The crepes stand in the gardens were the best in Paris.
Restaurant at the Lourve Museum
Plant Eaters Vegan Restaurant – loved the menu and the décor. Get the tempura veggies!
Baguette, Crossiants, Crepe – any café really. We weren’t loyal, we ate at all of them that were close to a site and loved it.
Where to stay
AirBnB can be daunting if you are trying to stay at the right location. We stayed near Marais and it was a perfect spot. Our flat was small but centrally located and perfect for three people.
Where we shopped
Le Marais has a ton of boutiques worth exploring. We window shopped and picked up small pieces from this area. On Rue Ravioli you can find staples such as Zara, Forever 21 which are a must while traveling with teens.
How we got around
I hear the metro is clean and accessible in Paris but I didn’t see the inside of the metro. We ubered everywhere. I really didn’t want to spend the brain power figuring it all out. By the way, cabbies in Paris are rude and their cabs smell like straight trash so go with Uber which is cheaper and nicer.
What I missed that I would do next time
Museum D’orsay – I heard from locals that it was better and less touristy then the Lourve
Moulin Rouge – I would’ve love to see a show.
Spend two days outside of France to see the lavender fields
Have you been to Paris? What are your suggestions?