We went to Paris in December, 2018 and it was Tuck’s parent’s first trip to Europe! We saw a little bit of everything, ate a lot of many things, and felt like we had a great understanding of the city and how we could expand on our next trip. One of our top recommendations for traveling in Paris (or any city abroad) is to check whether they have any sort of scooter transportation system (Bird, Lime, Lyft, etc…). This made traveling from site to site really easy and allowed us to stop and see the city at our own pace versus being on a train or in a cab and missing things along the way. The itinerary below includes the best of our experiences in Paris during the holidays – a magical time to visit.
- Cafe de Flore, Arpege, L’As du Falafel, Angelina (famous hot chocolate), Le Train Bleu (gorgeous train station restaurant), Christmas Markets, Patisserie du Meurice, Septime, Frenchie.
Local Foods to Try
- croissants, croque madame, crepes, French onion soup, macarons, pommes frites, fois gras, baguettes, cheese, wine, charcuterie, pain au chocolate, vin chaud, traditional ham and grueyere on a baguette, boeuf bourginon.
Things to See
- Arc de Triomphe, Musee Rodin, Musee D’Orsay, Louvre
Neighborhoods to Visit
- The Latin Quarter, St Germain, Jewish Quarter
- Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower
Places to See
- Picasso Museum, Hotel des Invalides, St. Chapelle, Moulin Rouge
- Siene River Cruise
DAY 1: Start at the Arc de Triomphe. From the Arc, walk through Avenue Montaigne, which is where all luxury shopping dreams come true. The Christmas decor was spectacular and worth seeing even if you have no intention of purchasing anything. From Avenue Montaigne make your way to Musee D’Orsay. Stop en route at Gosselin for any of their croque sandwiches and macarons. The croque poulet- a chicken and tomato grilled sandwich- which was one of our favorite things we ate for lunch. Visit the Louvre. Depending on your level of interest in art and history, you could spend your entire four day trip here. We spent about 90 minutes and saw the “must sees” and a few other exhibits that peaked our interest. Going in December meant hardly any lines, which really expedited things for us. Look at their website and download the app before you go in order to map out what you want to see to save some time before going.
Go to St. Germain for dinner. This neighborhood and the Latin Quarter were our favorite parts of the city. We wouldn’t stay anywhere else next time we visit. There are a ton of restaurants in the area, but Atlas was the restaurant we have not stopped talking about since. The boeuf bourguignon was our single favorite thing we ate the entire trip. We still talk about it, regularly, months and months later. Stop at Cafe de Flore for dessert. The cafe was established in the late 1800s and has been a frequent stop for famous artists, authors, and actors ever since. Order a hot chocolate and any dessert for a wonderful cap to the night.
DAY 2 Make your way to the Eiffel Tower, stopping at Boulengerie de Tour Eiffel for a quick croissant and pastry before heading to the tower to see it during the day. After walking the grounds of the Eiffel Tower, ride to Hotel des Invalides – Napoleon’s Tomb. This was a B List item but ended up being one of our favorite historical stops. Venture towards the Musee Rodin– our favorite museum of the trip. The outdoor compound of Rodin’s home features a number of statues, including “The Thinker”, and is a fantastic change from indoor museum scenery. Plan to go here on the nicest day for weather if you are visiting in the winter.
Take a break for tea at Restaurant Dali by Alain Ducasse in the Dorchester Hotel. This was a splurge gift from Tate’s parents and was a very luxurious way to spend the afternoon as the weather got colder. Their current pastry chef is Cedric Grolet- The World’s 50 Best- Best Pastry Chef in the World for 2018. Tea for two includes finger sandwiches, scones, and an overwhelming number of Grolet’s signature pastries. Allow at least two hours for tea in order to really enjoy the experience. Walk off the sugar coma with a stroll around Place Vendome, which is beautifully decorated for the holidays. Shop until you drop on Rue Saint-Honore, a street with almost every luxury designer you can think of. Cap off the night at the Christmas Market at the Jardin des Tuileries, right near the Louvre. Eat everything including vin chaud, moules frites,and nutella crepes.
DAY 3 Start the morning at Notre Dame and St. Chapelle. With the recent fire at Notre Dame, tours may no longer be available, but it is a must do if they are. The tour is not guided, so do some research about the building before entering to get the most out of your time there. Reenergize with a coffee or lunch at Le Train Bleu– a restaurant in La Gare de Lyon (train station). The decor is extraordinary and a magical place to visit. This stop is not as geographically sensical as the rest of the trip, but it’s worth going out of the way for.
Visit the Jewish Quarter. There is a lot to do in this neighborhood and worth walking around and taking your time in. We browsed a number of food shops, clothing boutiques, and markets. Must-sees include the Picasso Museum, L’As Du Falafel (there is a line but it is worth the wait), and the Museum of Jewish Art and History. Detour to the Les Halles Christmas Market. This was an accidental find and one of our favorite sporadic moments of the trip. Eat a raclette and anything that comes dripping in melted cheese. Try more vin chaud to keep you warm as you walk around.
Dine at a Michelin restaurant. Paris is the mecca for fine dining and there are more restaurants to choose from than one could hope to accomplish in a lifetime. We ate at Arpege– restaurant of Chef Alain Passard. Watch his Chef’s Table episode to see why is he internationally recognized as one of the most talented chefs in the world.
DAY 4 Rise and shine with a hot chocolate and croissant at Angelina Paris- one of the best hot chocolates in the city. The Rue de Rivoli location is right in the center of town and next to Cedric Grolet’s Patisserie du Meurice. Wait in line and be there right when it opens for some beautiful pastries to take back to your hotel with you. Despite our best efforts, they do not travel well via plane, so enjoy while you are there.
Take a river cruise on the Seine. This is one of the more “touristy” things we did on our trip but it is worth doing to see the city from the water. We did a combination of the river cruise and tour of the Eiffel Tour, which included dinner in the tower. Even if this isn’t your thing, you are expedited through the massive lines at the Eiffel Tower, which is a real plus if you want to see it up close. If we did this again we would do it during the day as it was very chilly on the boat at night. Head north towards the Opera district. This is a launching point for the Moulin Rouge, Montemarte, and Sacre Coeur. On your way back, eat at the restaurant Corner Hausmann, where we had yet another amazing croque and onion soup.