Our Guide to Paris

We still cannot believe it took us 11 years to get back to visit Paris, but it was as magical as always, even in the cold January weather. We were surprised and excited to receive so many DM’s and messages from you guys letting us know you are making a trip here sometime in 2020 so we wanted to give a little more extensive guide to our favorite places to stay as well as things to eat and see while in Paris.

If you are thinking about traveling over to Paris this year and trying to pick a time- we will say it’s beautiful and worth it any time. The first time we went it was in the summer and it was hot, but we loved every minute of the sunshine and site seeing. This last time it was typical winter weather, cold with rainy moments each day, but the one thing we didn’t expect was the short window of daylight their winters have- it was wonderful for sleeping in but if you were wanting to walk around and site see it’s good to be aware the its completely dark by 5 each day. We had a wonderful time, but it definitely had a different feel then our last trip in the summer time.

Where we stayed: 

The Westin Paris – Vendôme

We originally found this hotel because we are devoted Marriott members and were searching for hotels that we could use our rewards points towards. After finding this particular hotel we actually were so pleased to book it because it was so central to a lot of the monuments we wanted to visit. While we were there the bus/ transit systems were on strike meaning taxis were difficult to find making it even more helpful to be central enough to walk and site see. We were a 2-minute walk from the Place De La Concorde. Less than a 10 min walk from the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens, and a 10/15 min ride depending on traffic to the Grand Palais one direction and Notre Dame the opposite way. The rooms themselves were exactly what you would expect from a Parisian style hotel. Every room had a great balcony that opened up to the middle court yard or faced outward towards the Tuileries Gardens towards the Louvre. If you are a Marriott points member this is a great option. 

The Ritz

We have to mention because we stayed here the last time we came, and it is the primo location if you are looking for the ultimate luxurious stay. It’s what movies are made of and it definitely comes at a higher price tag. Even if don’t choose to stay there, it is a wonderful place to visit (next level gorgeous) and make a reservation at their iconic hotel bar. 

Intercontinental Paris Avenue Marceau

We stayed here our last night. It was a gorgeous modern hotel. Very clean and the hotel restaurant bar was gorgeous with light pink seating. The location was perfect for shopping the Champs Elysees and a block away from the Arc De Triumph. The one drawback in my opinion which really only applies if you are staying there in the cold seasons, was that it’s in a very busy, bustling area even late at night. We love sleeping with the windows open because we sleep really hot and it’s hard to get AC in Europe when most everything is in heat mode in the rooms- but it was hard to sleep due to loud traffic and the occasional ambulance going by. We ended up just closing the window and sleeping a little warmer then we prefer. So, keep that in mind if you are like us and love to have fresh air at night. Besides that, it was a wonderful location and stay for us. 

Favorite places to eat:

AngelinaBy far our favorite please for a quick(er) breakfast brunch or afternoon treat & coffee. Not only is it so picturesque, it’s so tasty with fresh French croissants and butter in the mornings and their incredible macaroons and desserts for mid-day snacks. We ate here twice as a family and were obsessed with how yummy it is. Suggest making reservations because there was a line out the door both times we went. There are multiple locations in the city and a few pop up ones as well seasonally. We went to the one by the Louvre both times. 

86 Champs ElyseesWe stopped here while shopping and loved this quaint little dessert bar. The Macaroons were so pretty but their pastries were amazing! Mom and I (Cristie) split two desserts and had cappuccino and almost slipped into a Parisian dream it was so amazing. 

LaudereeIconic spot to visit and make reservations for tea and macaroons. We also love bringing back Laudree macaroons for friends as gifts. 

Dinner:

A pro-tip that we learned last trip when it comes to anywhere you wanted to eat or drink – it’s always in your best interested to all and make reservations beforehand. We had to because we were a larger group but as a rule of thumb – it’s always best to ask your concierge to secure reservations anywhere you want to go a few hours before. Paris is always business and restaurants are way smaller and intimate that finding seating or even waiting for a table can be very difficult and stressful… real buzzkills when you are enjoying the city of love. 

Girafe worth it. Such a gorgeous restaurant and our only real French dinner while in Paris. In the spring they have a terrace that overlooks the Eiffel Tower too. #swoon.  

Taokan Chinese As a family we always have to eat Chinese at least once and this restaurant was amazing. Gourmet Chinese dishes and the nicest staff. It was not overly crowded, and we were able to make reservations same day. (since we went over a holiday- reservations were definitely something we had to have to eat as a family of 8).

After dinner Drinks/ Cocktails:

The Ritz Bar

Baccarat Bar – Upscale, very high-end cigar lounge (great for your man if he is a cigar lover) 

Things to do: 

Eiffel Tower – Obviously but we definitely would say you need to make sure to experience in the day time and in the evening when its all lit up with lights. It is so magical and worth the second visit. In the spring summer we suggest picking up a baguette or drinks and enjoying a quick picnic in the afternoon. 

Louvre– this is definitely a must see but we also want to acknowledge that its by far the busiest tourist spot. Inside the museum can be extremely crowded so enjoy but be aware that you probably with not see everything you want to see in one visit. And if you want to see the Mona Lisa be prepared for a quick view because the wait is so long especially in that particular room. 

Musée d’Orsay: If you love museums this is a must and you can leisurely enjoy the art work and have a more relaxed museum experience, unlike the Louvre as previously mentioned. 

Notre Dame- Even though parts of it our under construction due to the tragic fires from last year, it is still a must see while in Paris and filled with history and gorgeous stain glass windows 

Palais Royal: So gorgeous and definitely worth seeing. So fun to get your picture taken on the columns like the ultimate tourist. 

The Dome/ Napoleons Tomb– This was probably our guys favorite part because of the history of French battles. The tomb its self is so amazing and grand its breath taking but around the back there is a whole court yard that displays old cannons and military tanks, while inside they have exhibits of military uniforms throughout French history that was honestly fascinating to all of us. Great option for if you are traveling with your man or friends that would love a break from shopping or the prettier Parisian site seeing.

Shopping the Champs Elysees– Consider this the Rodeo Drive of Paris. It has every high end luxury brand on one street. The Louis Vuitton is the original and it is 4 or 5 stories high – definitely worth seeing! The area makes for a great afternoon to enjoy leisurely window shopping though they do have more affordable stores like  Zara and H&M nestled in between them as well. We spent one afternoon walking around and stopped at the 86 Champs Café to enjoy the best desserts and coffee in between. 

Arc De Triumphe– Full disclosure it’s a quick picture stop type of monument being that it’s in the middle of probably the busiest roundabout in Paris. Definitely neat to see but once you’ve seen it you/ taken a picture near it, you want to keep moving because there are a lot of people walking around and driving in all directions from the roundabout. 

Tips when traveling in Paris

Google Translator app- is a MUST HAVE! Its free so download it immediately. It was a total lifesaver on our trip. You can have it translate verbally or in text but the best thing about this app is you can hold it over a French sign or menu and it will translate the text in real time for you. This was extremely helpful in the little cafés and while traveling in looking at signs. 

Yelp– Its actually very helpful resource when looking for restaurants while there. 

Uber– we used uber more than taxis and it was so helpful. You can also use the metro but for our family and having the kids with us- we felt more comfortable ordering a Uber whenever we were ready to be picked up. 

Extended hours at Museums– depending on when you go different museums have evening hours. This can sometimes be better times to go enjoy the museums because there are usually less people aware of the extended seasonal hours. 

For our shoppers– If you are planning to mark you trip with a splurge and buy a new designer bag or sunglasses, the department stores offer VAT (value added tax) refunds – so make sure to ask so you aren’t paying more than you have to. 

We don’t know when our next trip over to Paris will be but we promised as a family we would not wait another 10 years to come back. Traveling is something we love to do as a family and have created memories on this trip that we will cherish and laugh at forever. Let us know if you have any Paris favorites, we would love to hear for our next trip!

Check out our tips for traveling internationally with children here!

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