Ah! The City of Light. In 2011 we put all of our things in a storage unit and flew to Paris France. It was one of the scariest decisions we've ever made but has proven to also be one of the most rewarding! Here is a Paris Guide a friend wrote for us when we came to Paris on our Honeymoon. I'm putting together my own recommendations as I get to know the city better. In the meantime you can read about Things to Do in Paris and Things to Eat in Paris. Thinking about making the move abroad yourself? Read about my experience moving and living in France right here.
This post is sponsored by Haven in Paris, a boutique, luxury, vacation rental agency with more than 15 years of experience in the tourist industry in Paris, France and Italy. See all of their properties right here. They also run a helpful Paris blog right here.
When we first moved to Paris we rented this apartment in Montmartre from Haven in Paris while we looked for a permanent house. One thing I started noticing when I traveled here is all the Europeans would recommend apartments to stay in when we told them were were planning a trip. In Europe renting an apartment when you travel instead of staying in a hotel is very common. And I came to learn there are major perks from traveling like that.
One. It’s a reality that most hotel rooms in Paris, are itty bitty. We stayed at a few fancy hotels on our honeymoon and I was shocked to see how small they were compared with how much we were paying a night. Apartments in Paris, while not known for being enormous are much larger than a standard Paris hotel room.
Two. It is a more authentic Paris experience to stay in an apartment. It gets you off the tourist grid and into the adorable Paris neighborhoods. You say “bonjour” to your neighbors while you walk up the stairs and nod your head at the old woman sitting on the balcony next to yours. You get to experience what its like to live in another culture.
Three. Having your own kitchen when you travel is the best! We bought a rotisserie and some beautiful side dishes from a deli and set up a large spread while we watched the sunset off the balcony. It was fantastic. My Haven in Paris greeter Evelyne, took me around the market in Montmartre and taught me how to shop and showed me all the beautiful things that were in season. It was so inspiring that I ended up cooking in our apartment and trying new dishes all the time.
Four. You have more control over your vacation. When you book a hotel they show you the best pictures of their best room but somehow the room you end up in looks a lot different than those pretty pictures. When you rent an apartment the place you see is the place you get.
Have you ever rented an apartment instead of a hotel? What did you think?
I can barely pronounce the name of this street (Mon-tor-guy) but it is one of my favorite places in Paris. Rue Montorgueil is a pedestrian street that has bakeries, cheese shops, and delis a plenty. It’s a bit like Rue Cler but is somehow way more adorable. Besides the fun energy of this market street there is some really great shopping on the surrounding streets towards Les Halles, a lot of boutiques and even some good chain stores. When people ask me where to stay I usually recommend they stay in this area. The location is perfect, it is centrally located with short walks to both the Marais and the Louvre. My friends recently moved to Rue Montorgueil so we find ourselves visiting it a lot more. If you are planning a visit David Leibowitz has a fantastic guide with lots of recommendations right here.
all photos by Oh Happy Day
One of my favorite things to do when friends come into town (or occasionally by myself) is to do a macaron taste test. There are fantastic macarons all over Paris. But two of the well-known macaron shops: Laduree and Pierre Hermé are just a block or two from each other. So I started a tradition of getting a box of macarons from both stores and then taking them across the street to the Tuileries to do “research.” Start at Laduree, 16 Rue Royale 75008 Paris. I usually get their box of eight. The line is always long but moves pretty quickly. I don’t love all their flavors so I recommend choosing your own instead of letting the shop person pick them out. Then walk around the corner down Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré taking a right on Rue Cambon to get to Pierre Hermé, 4 Rue Cambon, 75001 Paris. Get their box of seven. Then walk across the street to the Tuileries and find yourself some nice green chairs to relax in. You can cut them with a knife or just break them apart with your hands and let everyone get a small bite of each flavor. Then continue tasting until the macarons are gone or you OD on them, whichever comes first.
all photos by Oh Happy Day
Read about all my happy things to do in Paris right here.
I am a huge fan of Vélib’, Paris’ public bicycle system. I think its one of Paris’ best kept secrets. If you are going to be in Paris more than a few days I highly recommend getting yourself a pass. If I could choose anyway to get around Paris I would almost always choose by bike. There is nothing like feeling the wind through your hair riding along the Seine, it automatically puts me in a good mood. It is especially easy to bike with the Vélib’ system. There are stations every few blocks through out the entire city so you can pick up the bike and drop it off wherever you go. If you are planning on biking a lot I would recommend getting a Navigo pass. This allows you to just swipe your card at a station and in about ten seconds you’re off (versus having to type in a million numbers at the Vélib’ station.) To get a Navigo you first have to buy a pass from a Metro station (just ask for the pass itself, without buying the Metro pass.) It costs about 5 Euros. Then buy a Vélib’ pass off the internet (8 Euros for the week) and then go to a Vélib’ bike station to activate your card and your membership.
Here are some tips for using the Vélib’.
-Buy the Vélib’ pass on the internet. American credit cards only work on the consoles about half the time.
-Have a good idea where you are going, and be aware of one way roads. There are great bike lanes all over the city but carry a map handy in case you need to change your route.
-Look at the tires and gears to make sure you are picking one that works.
-Bikes should stop at traffic lights and obey traffic laws.
-Buy a Navigo Pass at a Metro station for 5 Euros so checking a bike out is easy.
-I’ve only seen one Vélib’ user ever use a bike helmet. I’m not saying you shouldn’t I’m just telling you how it is.
-It can sometimes be tricky getting rid of all your bikes at one station if you are with a big group. Biking isn’t ideal if you are with a huge group.
-There are no child seats that work on the Vélib’. (I wish!)
-If you get to a station and it is full, you just swipe your card and it will give you 15 more minutes to get to the next station.
I realized this summer when I was taking friends around Paris that when my blood sugar got low and I wasn’t in the mood to go anywhere, that as soon as we got on a bike I would get all this energy. It is a great way to get around. It is a bit of a pain to get set up but once . It is one of my favorite things to do in Paris.
I was riding home with these giant dinner plate dahlias and they were so ridiculously giant and awesome so I called Paul outside to come take a few photos.
The lovely New York stationery company Paper + Cup has expanded here to France. Modern stationery companies are very difficult to find here in France so this is such wonderful news. Sarah (an adorable French girl and designer) met with me a few weeks ago and I was really impressed with all their beautiful designs. They asked me to take some snapshots of my day for their blog. It’s right here if you want to take a peek.