Paris: Where to stay, where to shop and where to sight see!

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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.

 The view from our balcony!

The view from our balcony!

 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. 

 Maison Malesherbes

Maison Malesherbes

 

Shopping

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. 

 Christmas 2017 at Galeries Lafyette

Christmas 2017 at Galeries Lafyette

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. 

 Pink Mamma

Pink Mamma

 

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. 

 Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur

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

My Marbella Guide

Marbella feels like home to me, the minute I get off the plane I relax. Our home is bang in the middle of Marbella Old Town and the world famous Puerto Banus, five minutes apart but two very different places! Rewind five or ten years ago and I loved nothing more than going out for drinks and to the clubs in the Port but these days it's just not for me. I will however give you a list of my favourite spots you should check out incase you do feel like a bop and a kebab!

Restaurants

My favourite thing about Spain has got to be the food, I can get sun anywhere but some of the restaurants in Marbella are seriously worth the trip, even in winter! Let's start with breakfast and brunch, one of my favourite things to do before the beach.

 Cappucino

Cappucino

The first two stops are in the Puento Romano Hotel, a huge resort made up of a hotel and private accommodation so it's full of restaurants. Rachel's Eco Love is a super cute tiny restaurant slash health store located by one of the resorts pools, they do healthy, fresh food that's light enough not to bloat you for the beach! Their lunch options are also delicious and it's reasonabily priced too. 200m away, bordering the Golden Mile entrance to Puento Romano you'll find Celicioso, a 100% certified gluten free restaurant that's set in the most beautiful little patio. Their fresh juices are amazing, I normally go for an omelette or the poached eggs and avocado. Do not leave without getting one of their red velvet cupcakes to take away and have later. You can thank me later. If you require some soakage, Pan Y Marmalada is amazing, the best big breakfast that isn't greasy and their pancakes are divine! Finally Cappuccino on the promenade is my favourite spot to eat breakfast by the sea and people watch. We cycle there in the morning and stop even for just a coffee or juice, heaven. 

Lunches I usually do on the beach so skip down to the beach bar section if that's all your here for.  However, if you fancy something extremely decadent you need to try the buffet lunch at the Marbella Club's Beach Club, it's about €80 per person but my God it's the best spread I've ever seen. Fresh lobster, steaks, chicken, sushi, sea grill, amazing salad bar, if you're into food you'll love it.

 Marbella Club Beach Buffet

Marbella Club Beach Buffet

Dinner time in Marbella is tough, too many good options. We have found some amazing restaurants to suit all budgets so I'll start with the affordable and work my way up. If you like Indian head to Bollywood in Nueva Andalucia, a little too good so make sure you're wearing something with an expandable waist line. Cabana Nagueles is an Argentinian Grill that is tiny and always packed with Spanish so you know it's good, the food is next level and really reasonably priced. If you go, get the black pudding as a starter, life changing. Opposite it is a chinese buffet called The Golden Wok, it is not fancy at all, I go straight from the beach if we're just looking to eat and go home. It's €14.95 pp and the food is great, they have a fresh teppanyaki station too with giant king prawns, steak or chicken, whatever you want so well worth the trip especially with kids! Neighbouring restaurants Sutton (very pretty) and Cibo Italia (amazing pizza) also great too!

 Villa Tiberio

Villa Tiberio

De Bruno's is an old favourite, it's family run and they have 3 or 4 dotted around you might see. The couple who own it still come up to everyone's tables and greet them most evenings which is such a nice touch, my favourite one; Sul Mare, is on the promenade so you can sit out and people watch. Do not exit the building without trying the Prawn Pil Pil. Villa Tiberio is simply stunning, set in the most beautiful gardens, you can tell it used to be a private house, we had a huge dinner here with about 30 of our friends the week of our wedding and it was one of my favourite nights of the week. The food is exceptional and I highly recommend it, especially the lobster linguine.

 Cafe Flore Marbella Old Town

Cafe Flore Marbella Old Town

In the old town you'll find so many good restaurants it'd take to long for me to explain them all, my favourites are La Mena, Cafe Flore, The Virgin on The Balcony and last but not least Casa Tua owned by a lovely Irish lady and her Italian husband who's the chef. Not to be missed!

Beach Clubs

When I say beach clubs I don't mean the ones where people wear full makeup and walk around in high heels and bikinis at midday, if you are after this type of thing head to La Sala Beach or Ocean Club Spray parties. My favourite beach clubs are the ones with good food and chilled vibes. Trocadero Playa is just this, always interesting to people watch here, Trocadero Arena is also amazing as is their new branch in Sotogrande. One of my favourites is Victor's beach, very laid back but it has a cocktail bar down on the sand so things can get a bit wild late afternoons. They have bean bags and bar seating on the beach too so it's nice to pop by even if you don't want to rent a beach bed for the day, full of all ages.

 Trocadero Playa

Trocadero Playa

La Mila is a gorgeous spot on the beach by Puento Romano, affordable luxury and impressive food, definitely worth a try. Down the far side of Puerto Banus on the beach is Pedro's beach, it feels like you're in the Caribbean as you sit on steel drums while you eat lunch, the BEST prawn and avocado salad! Further down the coast Puro Beach is a mix of flash and chill, more expensive than the others but not as pretensious as it's competitors. Back up the coast towards Malaga you'll find The Beach House, Sunday's here are great fun as they have live music and the food's great too. Next door is Nikki Beach, wear your best bikini and you'll fit in just fine. Their day parties are really fun and stilettos are thankfully not required.  

 Puro Beach

Puro Beach

If you're late 20s/30s and after a late night bar try La Suite in Puento Romano or La Sala. If you're younger and on a mad one I love Seven in the port, the best music! Nightclubs are all over the port but Tibu is fun as is Pangea. 

Shopping

My third favourite pass time in Marbella, eating and sunbathing taking the first two spots. I always go to La Canada, a huge shopping centre that has EVERYTHING, a great day to pass the time if it's raining too. In Puerto Banus I love El Corte Ingles, Marina Banus centre and the boutiques along the front line. There you'll find all the big designer stores, this is really the only reason I spend time in this part of town, some trips I never even set foot in Puerto Banus so please make sure it's not your only impression of the place. Wander the streets in the old town and you'll find some amazing little gems, especially for shoes and jewellery! My favourite shops that we don't have here in Dublin are Uterque (imagine a grown up slightly more sophisticated version of Zara), Hoss Intropia, Pedro Del Hierro, Oysho and Women's Secret! 

 Puerto Banus

Puerto Banus

 If you have any favourite spots in Marbella that you think I should know about please share them with us all in the comment section! I love discovering new places! Happy Holidays if you're off soon, Jodie xx 

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My Roman Style Diary and Travel Guide

 Zara Top  here , Zara Jeans  here , Kenzo Espadrilles; similar  here

Zara Top here, Zara Jeans here, Kenzo Espadrilles; similar here

Travelling and Where to Stay

Will and I are just back from our third trip to Rome and I wanted to share with you some of our favourite spots you shouldn't miss if you ever visit! In addition, I've posted direct links to where you can shop most of the pieces I wore and featured on my Instagram. 

We flew from Dublin to Rome Ciampino Airport, about 35 minutes outside of Rome centre. When you land you can either grab a taxi for in and around 60 euro, or hop on one of two airport bus services that bring you directly to Rome Termini Station, both cost under 5euro one way. I strongly advise you prebook your place on the bus as they fill up rapidly; http://www.romeairportbus.com or http://www.terravision.eu. Once you get to Termini Station you can either hop on the metro, taxi or walk to your hotel. 

 Zara Top  here,  Zara Jeans  here,  Zara Boots  here , Prada Sunglasses  here , Hermes Roulis Bag

Zara Top here, Zara Jeans here, Zara Boots here, Prada Sunglasses here, Hermes Roulis Bag

When we visit Rome we stay in a beautiful old hotel on the Via Veneto, Hotel Majestic. If you've been to Italy before you may be familar with their hotel standards, while the Majestic is 5star, it is Italian 5star. It's quirky and beautiful but not quite the Ritz. It is however in an incredible location, less than a ten minute walk to both the Spanish Steps or the Trevi Fountain and is located right next to Bernini Palace and metro station. It also benefits from a stunning roof terrace where their bar and restaurants are located. Highly reccomend! 

 Zara Dress  here , Zara Boots  here , Prada Arcade Bag  here

Zara Dress here, Zara Boots here, Prada Arcade Bag here

Sites Not to Miss

If you type "sight seeing Rome" into google you are immediately bombarded with thousands of tour options each telling you they include "skip the line" tickets for most of the big sites, Viator.com is the main website you can browse them on. I personally have never booked through them and have always booked directly with either the Vatican or the Colosseum when requiring tickets. 

 Dior Sunglasses  here , Zara Shirt  here , Zara Lace Top (not online yet), Zara Cargo Pants  here , Asos Shoes  here .   

Dior Sunglasses here, Zara Shirt here, Zara Lace Top (not online yet), Zara Cargo Pants here, Asos Shoes here.   

Even if you are not particularly religious I really don't think you can leave Rome without a trip to Vatican city, easily accessible via metro or a walk along the river. Within Vatican city you'll find the Vatican Museums, the Vatican Gardens and St Peter's Basilica. I highly recommend pre-booking your enternace ticket for the Vatican so you won't have to queue, in high season especially the line can be extremely long and hot to stand in. I buy our tickets with the Vatican's official online ticket office, you can do so by clicking here. That will get you into the museum and Sistine Chapel. Entrance to St Peters Basilica is free but again the line is also extremely long, the backlog is caused by the security screening. To get around this queue you can go straight into the Basilica through the Vatican Museum at the end of your tour or you can enter it following a tour of the Necropolis as we did this time. 

Special visits to the necropolis underneath the Basilica, where the tomb of St. Peter is located, are only possible following special permission granted from time to time by the “Fabbrica di San Pietro”. Visits are organized according to the schedule set by the Excavations Office. The can only be booked with the Vatican directly so don't be tricked into buying anything through tour operators. You need to apply for places by email, details can be found hereThis was my favourite tour I've ever been on in Rome, we were in a small group of 6 and I found it fascinating to see all of the recently excavated tombs 2 layers beneath street level. If you are in any way claustrophobic I suggest you give this one a miss as the corridors underground are narrow and cramped along with extremely humid. You must be aged 15 plus to take the tour too so no kids I'm afraid.  

 Zara Dress  here , Lipsy Shoes  here , HA Designs Monogrammed Clutch  here.  

Zara Dress here, Lipsy Shoes here, HA Designs Monogrammed Clutch here. 

Following the tour you can go up into the Basilica and climb the cupola if you're up to it. The cupola is the dome you see in photos of the Basilica and offers the most incredible views of the city. You can take an elevator to bypass the first portion of about 300 steps but the second leg must be done on foot, about another 500 steps, not for the faint hearted. If you're in Rome on a Wednesday Pope Francis offers mass in St Peter's square at 10am. Tickets are free but must be collected before, information can be found here. We stood under umbrellas in the lashing rain last year listening to the mass, really interesting to see before you do a day in the Vatican.

Another tour I highly recommend is the underground and third ring tour of the Colosseum, again this can be booked with them directly by clicking here. This sells out incredibly fast so do book in advance. Your ticket for the Colosseum also gains you entrance to the next door Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, a must see. 

Other monuments not to be missed include the beautiful Borghese Gardens and Borghese Villa Museum, entrance to the park is free and a lovely stroll after your morning coffee. The Spanish Steps have a special place in my heart as it's where Will proposed to me, gorgeous to walk up in the evening when it's quiet. The Trevi Fountain is not to be skipped under any circumstances, one of the most incredible sites in Rome, same goes for the Pantheon. Grab a gelato and sit there in the sun, you'll thank me later. 

Some of my Favourite Spots to Eat

Rome is a culinary haven with every street lined with beautiful Trattorias and Gelaterias. My favourite spots to eat lunch and people watch are Piazza Navona (under ten minute walk from the Vatican), Piazza Del Popolo (close to the Spanish Steps) and Campo De Fiori where they hold food and flower markets. There are several restaurants to choose from in each spot, I've eaten in many of them and have yet to have a bad meal so take your pick.

 Outfit as before, Mango Cardigan  here . 

Outfit as before, Mango Cardigan here

In the evening I highly recommend Trastevere, a neighbourhood south of the Vatican. It has a laid back cool and bohemian vibe and is always bustling with people. My favourite restaurant there is called Taverna Trulissa, book a table in the outdoor terrace and you won't be sorry. Da Enzo is another famous spot in Trastevere, you can't book so you need to wait on a table but God is it worth it. Go for a drink afterwards in one of the many bars in the area and soak up the atmosphere. 

Another beautiful restaurant we loved is Vinery Il Chianti right next to the Trevi Fountain, again book a spot outside. The food here is incredible, order the mixed sharing board for two (it would really feed four) as your starter, heaven! There is a really cool bar pretty much directly opposite this restaurant too, I can't remember the name of it but you'll hear it before you see it, buzzing!

 Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona

Le Lanterne is another fabulous spot if you're hungry after doing the Colosseum and are around that neighbourhood. Also close is La Carbonara, both authentic trattorias full of Italian families so you know you're in the right place. 

If you're looking for somewhere to get dressed up and make a night of it, go to Hotel De Russie for a drink or dinner. They have the most amazing outdoor garden and courtyard in the centre of the hotel that has to be seen to believe you're still packed in the centre of rome. It is expensive but worth every penny. Don't go here in shorts and trainers straight from a days sightseeing, dress to impress. 

For authentic gellato look no further than Venchi, the wait in line is worth it to cool you down after a spot of shopping on the Via Del Corso. They also do amazing crepes! 

Rome is truly my favourite city I have ever visited and I can't recommend it enough for a short break. I hope you find some of my tips useful if you're off soon. Do let me know if I've inspired you to go! 

As always I love to chat to you guys on Instagram and Snapchat @jodielawsonwood. Ciao for now! X