Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Paris Photo Diary


Here are snapshots from my week in Paris. In the time I visited in June I tried make an effort to put my camera down to make sure I was able to just enjoy the sights, walks, food, people watching and soak in all the beauty that is in France. There are so many places I wish I had taken more pictures of but there are beautiful images in my mind that I will never forget. I've split these into different categories and some overview thoughts on Paris at the end.


Hotels

We started and ended our trip in Paris. The first round we stayed in the Latin Quarter at Select Hotel. We picked hotels based on location, price and reviews. There were a few friends recommended but they were booked for the dates we planned on being in Paris. The hotel rooms were very small but it is something we expected and we thought it was actually really cute. Service was good and the rooms were very clean with good lighting. My husband requested a room that looked into the courtyard, we were on the third floor and right above several cafés but it wasn't too noisy and we were able to sleep easily at night. Our room had a small tub with a shower handle. We liked that it seemed like it was updated and modern inside. You might find the reviews and photos on Trip Advisor helpful. We had a pleasant stay and liked that it was within walking distance to the Notre Dame Cathedral and several restaurants on our list. However most of the items on my Paris list were far - we walked a lot and this one was sometimes a 35 minute walk back to the hotel. It was nice to explore Paris by foot, but the first couple of days we had really sore feet.

Select Hotel at 1 Place de la Sorbonne


View from our room at the Select Hotel

On our trip back to the US we spent one night at Hotel Brighton on Rue de Rivoli right across from the Tuileries Garden. It's also within close walking distance to a number of shops, minutes away from Angelina and the Louvre. I browsed through the Louis Vuitton Paris City Guide (which I really liked but my husband did not because it doesn't have any pictures) and found this one. It seemed reasonable in price and also mentioned they stocked Nuxe toiletries and I was sold. Our room itself and the bathroom were both very spacious for Paris standards. The concierge and staff were all extremely friendly, helpful and polite. Location and service is excellent. We didn't try the breakfast since Angelina was down the street. I would definitely consider going back to this one because of the location.

Paris stops

We stopped at a number of touristy places including the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Tuileries Garden, Jardin du Luxembourg, Sacré-Cœur. In our two trips we took two different hop-on-hop-off buses. We took them mainly as a means of getting around the city easily, at our own pace without having to worry about finding the metro stops or getting lost on different lines. For the tours, both have pre-recorded narration which isn't great, but it's a nice way to relax and see Paris from the second level of the bus. We used Big Bus Paris and Open Tour Paris. We preferred the routes of the Open Tour Bus because it seemed to have more variety. We also wanted to try the night tour but there was a musical festival so all the night routes were cancelled.


Arc de Triomphe


Eiffel Tower

 Louvre at night

 Louvre during the day - I recommend buying tickets ahead of time, also note there is more than one entrance to the Louvre, this blog post has them mapped out. We didn't buy our tickets ahead of time but used the Carousel Entrance and wait time was only about 20 minutes.


Somewhere around the corner from Jardin du Luxembourg

Notre Dame Cathedral at night

Moulin Rouge


View from Sacre Coeur
Our favorite place to sit and relax in Paris, Tuileries Garden


A rare sight to see any empty chairs the days we were in Paris, it was sunny and hot the first week of June and the gardens were packed with people in the chairs, on some lawns, in the park cafes and along all the fountains.

We really liked the mini Paul kiosk in the middle of the Tuileries Garden/Louvre, the chocolate croissants were soooo good. I just about died after seeing the tiny cups. So cute!

Fashion and Accessories

The larger department stores Printemps and Galeries Lafayette both have a large selection of luxury clothing and accessories. I saw several Zara stores scattered around the city. Le Bon Marche shopping bags also seemed to be carried all around the city. I stopped by a few stores. Chanel on Rue Cambon and Hermes on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré were both extremely busy. I have never seen a Chanel store so packed. I quickly stopped inside the Goyard store on Rue Saint Honoré but it was very small and only one person appeared to be on the floor with the several customers waiting so I decided to skip it entirely since items can be purchased in the US.

 Tom Ford on Rue Saint Honoré

 Hermes Paris was so amazing, it's like heaven inside, but there was a very long line for the purses. Still other areas had associates that were very helpful, patient and friendly.

 Fauré Le Page Boutique on Rue Cambon (there is also a store in Galeries Lafayette Haussmann), for more on this brand, check out The Purse Forum Fauré Le Page Thread or some posts on Feather Factor).


Louis Vuitton window in the 5th arrondisment

Trying new food, desserts and the coffee in Paris was probably the highlight of our vacation. We were surprised we didn't gain weight while in Paris - it was probably a mix of lots of walking, healthier food and smaller portions compared to the US. Here are some of our favorite eats, macarons and cafes.

Angelina

I've been dreaming about Angelina for years ever since I first saw pictures. I tried the hot chocolate based on recommendations - it's truly out of this world. The tea is quite good too. We ate breakfast here twice. I think their butter croissants are the best I've ever had. I bought some of the hazelnut spread and jellies. After reading reviews of long lines we decided to try these early. On both occasions we did not have any wait time (as in maybe 5 minutes max from the time we walked in, looked around, were greeted and then seated) and we were really happy since we read about 45 minute lines.




Below is Pierre Hermé. Macaron lovers each have their favorite. I only tried two brands while in Paris. Pierre Hermé are truly very special. They have unique flavors and pretty patterns. They are super soft and moist. I bought a box of seven to take home to the US with me - they lasted only 1 hour on the airplane before I ate them all without realizing it. I can't say whether or not they are better than Laduree, they are simply different. 


Bread and Roses was a cute little breakfast café within walking distance from our first hotel (Select Hotel). My husband picked this based on reviews from Trip Advisor. Everything was fresh and delicious. I had the quiche and it was to die for. They made him a mix of juice which had grapefruit, lemon and orange juice, I'm not sure if there is a specific name for it, but it was really really good. It's located on 7 Rue de Fleurus (by the Luxembourg Garden).

Café Madeleine is a restaurant we stopped by because it was just around the corner from one of the bus stops. This one is on 1 Rue Tronchet. Our lunch here was phenomenal. They had the best lasagne I've ever had (it was on special). The potatoes were also really interesting - they were cut in a curved way so they were perfectly crisp on the outside but thick and fluffy in the middle. I joked with my husband once we finished lunch that we should come back in 30 minutes for dinner because it was so good. In the interest of exploring and trying as much as we could we didn't go back.


Les Deux Magots (6 Place Saint-Germain des Prés) came highly recommended by a long-time friend. We both enjoyed dinner here. 


Right across from Les Deux Magots is Brasserie Lipp (151 Boulevard Saint-Germain), another phenomenal restaurant. We sat in the front on the covered patio. Reviews on Trip Advisor and Yelp have all been mixed, we had a really good experience here. My favorite part was dessert. Also close by is Cafe de Flore which I was hoping to try but we never made it back to the area.


Ladurée on the Champs-Élysées was really fun. Trying the macarons was at the top of my list. We had breakfast there which was delicious. I fell in love with the Ladurée tea and bought two boxes to bring home with me and a couple of the chocolate bars (wish I had bought more than just tea!). Service was excellent and the ambiance was amazing. We sat in the front area inside the restaurant and had so much fun people watching. The macarons are very good. I was in heaven here.


On the nails, Dior Sunkissed (reviewed + swatched here)

Some more random pictures of Paris. I was completely head over heels in love with all the balconies.














We had a lovely time in Paris. In the 7 days we spent in total we felt like we saw a lot but paced ourselves well after the first day. You can get lost in the beauty of Paris - on the first day we lost track of time and walked everywhere and didn't realize until 12 hours later we had walked too much. Our favorite place in Paris was the Tuileries Garden - it's such a beautiful place to walk through. We liked the chairs scattered around and the trees offered shade on the really hot days.

On my wish list of places to see and visit, I didn't get to all on my shopping list but it was something I expected. Paris was our first stop (out of a dozen) and I planned on window shopping or seeing things in person. As you can see from my overview post, we had a lot of flights and cities on our itinerary so I didn't want to have to carry things all over Europe, plus our carry-on only situation limited what I decided to purchase. For the touristy spots, we skipped going up the Eiffel Tower - the lines were just too long and we opted for the Arc de Triomphe, Trocadero Square and Sacre Coeur all have really good views of Paris (some will argue better views compared to the Eiffel Tower). If your time in Paris is limited, I would say skip the Louvre and opt for one of the other museums if you want to do a 1/4-1/2 day in a museum. We walked through a few small ones that were beautiful. I do think the Louvre is must at least once, but it can get very crowded and busy.

For planning your trip to Paris, I do recommend mapping out all the sights, museums, shops and restaurants first before picking a hotel. We really enjoyed walking so it's nice to have a hotel within close walking distance. I've been told the metro is easy to navigate once you figure it out. Both my husband and I are familiar with underground subways in a number of cities (both in the US and internationally) but we preferred to walk above ground. Subways can get very crowded and we wanted to avoid any possible pickpocket situations.

In terms of planning in general this trip was kind of last minute. We did a couple months of research about hotels and flights about 2 months before we left, but didn't finalize our plans until 2 weeks before we left and didn't book our flight or hotel until 8 days before we left. We had a long list of places to visit and kept trying to figure out how to make everything work in a month's time. We cut out a stay in London, New York and Venice which is why we waited so long to pull the trigger to book our tickets. For planning I think every one is different. Even with our last minute planning everything worked out just fine. Of all the cities Paris is the one where I think you can go without any plans and enjoy the city everyday just simply by picking a place on the map and going there whether it's by foot, taxi or metro.

If there is one thing I regret not doing, it's not waiting to buy a few pairs of Repetto flats in one of the stores. It was very busy and associates were helping multiple customers. After waiting about 15 minutes I realized it would probably be at least another 15 minutes before someone was free to assist. It was one of those moments where I thought to myself, "I'll just come back later." But there is always next time. 

Three blogs I found really helpful and fun to read while planning my Paris trip include World of Wanderlust, Café Makeup, Feather Factor. I highly recommend all three.

Hope you enjoyed these snapshots of Paris. I've received a number of questions about my carry-on, what specific items I brought with me for the trip, what I brought back to the US from Europe and hauls. All will be covered in upcoming posts. I'm organizing topics into different posts to make the reading easier to follow by category. Up next - Rome, stay tuned!

 

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