Getting to Paris
Pairs is widely accessible with flights from most european cities and several trips daily from Dublin, I suggest searching on Skyscanner. We flew into Charles De Gaule Airport, but Orly is also centrally located and depending on what area in Paris you are staying in, it may be an easier option. From CDG airport you have a couple of options to reach the city centre via public transport. A taxi will set you back about €50 and in good traffic will usually take about 45minutes. There are a couple of bus options too however we chose to take the train. Within the station, we purchased tickets for the main train line from CDG to Paris centre and also picked up 3 day metro and bus tickets, approx. €75 for two people in total. The metro is easy to use and a fantastic way to get around the city and between attractions, your day pass tickets allow you unlimited use. Uber is also in use within Paris and is great to have for evenings when you want a car service without having to find a taxi rank. A ten minute ride will usually cost you under €10.
Where to stay
Paris is split into arrondissements, my favourites are the 1st, 7th and 8th. We stayed in a small hotel called Maison Malesherbes in the 8th arrondissement, ideal for walking to lots of the main sites and shopping areas. Maison Malesherbes is just 210 m from Saint-Augustin Metro Station, which is really well linked to most metro lines. The Madeleine Church is a 10-minute walk away. This hotel is 3star but you'd never know it. It's good value and gorgeous rooms that are ok in size for Paris standards, we had a superior. Our room had an amazing view of Saint Augustine and as an added bonus the hotel has a complimentary Nespresso and snack bar in the lounge. In my opinion, for city breaks I never waste big money on hotels as we literally sleep there and are out the door each day but if you want to splash out there are several beautiful options available-just have a look on Tripadvisor.
Unlike Rome where I may not even set foot in a shop, I love to browse in Paris. The shopping is in my opinion some of the best in Europe, second maybe to London. Galeries Lafyette is their equivalent of BT2 mixed with Dundrum shopping centre. A beauty hall to die for and a mix of premium high street like The Kooples and more affordable staples like Zara and Cos. My favourite french brands all have homes here, Claudie Pierrot, Sandro and Maje. If you go to Paris over the festive period, their christmas windows are not be be missed along with their stunning interior displays. Next door to Galeries Lafyette is Printemps, their equivalent of Brown Thomas or Harvey Nichols. If designer luxury is more your budget, make a stop in here. The Champs De Elyses, Rue Saint Honore and Boulevard Haussmann (where Galeries Lafyette is located) are also fabulous and worth a stroll along.
Eating and Drinking
Paris is FULL of bars and restaurants and although many are tourist traps you will still be spoiled for choice. If a croissant and coffee from your local Patisserie wont do, for breakfast or brunch check out Hardware Society in Montmartre, go early to get a table, or Biglove Cafe in La Marais. For lunch we ate in the extortionate L’Avenue, world famous for celeb spotting but in my opinion highly over rated. If you sit out front you have a pretty view with the Eiffel Tour behind you, I was glad we went but I wouldn't rush back. We also stumbled into Cafe Panis right on the bridge by Notre Dame, the best omelette I’ve ever had and fabulous value. Sit in the window and you can gaze up at the cathedral while you eat. If you’re pushed for time and don't feel like a sit down lunch grab a baguette from one of thousands of street shops and eat it on the metro or as you stroll between attractions.
For dinner, we ate in a beautiful restaurant called Alcazar, french food that would appeal to most. It also has a cool bar on the second floor in which you could just stop in for a drink. On the Saturday night we ate in Pink Mama, one of the popular Big Mama Group’s restaurants. It’s in the Moulin Rouge area so lots to look at. A beautiful building with the most amazing burrata and truffle pasta you’ll ever try. Pizza Popalare is also part of their chain and is fabulous for relaxed dining with a cool vibe. Word of warning, they don't take bookings and there is always a que, if you want a table you need to be there to put your name down at 6.45. If you’re after a good burger or casual American food check out Frog VXI or Ferdi Restaurant too.
For pre dinner drinks check out Hotel Costes, super fancy with a beautiful internal courtyard perfect for a glass of champagne. As it’s a restaurant, if you’re only going to stop in for drinks you need to arrive early, dress well and aim for before 7pm to be allowed in. If you’re going to try get into Pink Mama (which you should), enter the main doorway and take the stairs on your left hand side and go down towards what looks like the underground kitchen. You’ll open a door on your left and walk through a meat freezer, open the door in front of you and voila, the coolest hidden speakeasy you’ll ever enter. This cocktail bar had the best music, best drinks and coolest interior I’ve seen in a long time.
Sites to See
The Eiffel Tower is obviously a must see for anyone visiting Paris, spend a day in Paris and it’s unlikely you won’t grab a glimpse at some stage. I have been up it before, you can choose which level to go to, I enjoyed it but to be honest the view is better from the ground. If you’d like to see it at night, time it so that you’re viewing it on the hour, when it’s dark the lights flash for exactly 5minutes. Make your way to Cafe De L’Homme, you can eat dinner out front on its balcony (covered in winter) and have the most perfect view. If another night of fancy dining isn't for you you can additionally just stop by to watch the tower from the platform next to it.
Notre Dame Cathedral is one of my favourites, head inside and catch a bit of mass if you can. You can also climb to the top of the dome for a fabulous view of the city. From there walk along the river and check out the Louvre, even if you don't feel like touring the museum it’s worth visiting the famous glass pyramid. On the first Sunday of each month The Louvre, Musée Rodin, Musée Picasso, Musée d'Orsay and others are free to everyone to enter. National museums (such as the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, etc.) are also free daily for all persons under 26 from the European Union, proof of identity is required (passport or EU identity card). From the Louvre head into the Tuileries gardens and then down towards Place de Concord and up the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe.
Sacré Coeur and the old "village" of Montmartre is gorgeous. Get the metro to Anvers and from there you can walk straight up towards the basilica, Sacré Coeur. There is a funicular railway up the hill for those who don't like the idea of climbing the 222 steps however after the amount of food we consumed in Paris the walk was welcome for me. The basilica itself is stunning but the real gem is the view of the whole city below. Once you’ve taken it in walk around the corner to the old "village" of Montmartre, with its narrow streets and square. It is packed full of art studios, street artists, cafés and restaurants. Not to be missed! Do be extra careful with your belongings in this area as its renowned for pickpockets.
3 nights in Paris is ideal but if you can only do two make sure you fly out early and home in the evening. Additionally don't forget Disney is easily accessible by train on a day trip from the centre too. I have been before and thoroughly enjoyed it even as an adult visiting with no kids!
I look forward to my next trip to Paris already and hope this guide is useful to any of you who are planning a visit of your own! As usual please share your favourite spots below! Bisou, Jodie xx