My mom and I had been dreaming up a trip to France since I was really young. She lived in Europe when she was in her twenties and Paris was one of her all-time favorite places. We love anything French inspired.
What we Learned: no matter how much you prepare, France gives you the trip you need, not the trip you planned.
We were present and open to the experience. We love a good meal, a beautiful church and meeting new people. I mean, don't get me wrong; it wasn't all Aperol Spritzes and Louis Vuitton bags - we had our moments. Like when my mom forgot that technology exists in different countries and we could quickly open up google maps without panic, or when the dude with the Ipad made me take his picture and almost stole all my shit (sorry mom). But those were the moments that had us dying with laughter and will be moments I will always remember. We outlined this trip and blog post together; some of it is shit you really need to know and some of it is just fun. ENJOY.
Stay: Le Cinq Codet in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. We chose this place based on its central location and incredible style. (Oh, yeah, and the Eiffel Tower is a few blocks away.) The whole vibe of this hotel is sexy. It's the best bang for your buck, with stylish features, a spa, a gourmet restaurant, and a 5-star concierge staff. We ended up in a tiny two-story loft style room with a large soaking tub next to the bed.
- Begin your Parisian adventure with a Jet Lag Massage at your hotel. If you arrive early in the day or afternoon as we did, it's a game-changer We were exhausted after a turbulent plane ride, but after the massage we were raring to go.
- Buy a Museum Pass at 95 Euros a pop (look online for discounts). It's definitely worth it! We went to four museums and never waited in a line. We also never felt guilty if we only visited a place for an hour or two. And yes, Versailles is included!
Walk! From the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame, from Galeries Lafayette to the Marais, walking is not only the best way to see Paris but also to feel Parisian. I have to admit we didn't do a ton of public transportation, mostly because you see so much more when you walk but also to save us the time of figuring it out. Uber (boo) is readily available in Paris.
- Stroll along the Seine. During the summer there are a ton of fun restaurants, gardens, and lounge areas to hang out at. My favorite was the pop-up oyster shucker.
- Buy a luxury good. I splurged at Louis Vuitton but it was so much cheaper to buy in Paris. You can also get a write off for it at the airport.
- Find out when Mass is held at Notre Dame and go during that time. You don't have to be Catholic or Christian to feel what Notre Dame emanates from its sacred walls. It's one of my mom's favorite spots in Paris; the last time she visited was with her own mama. Showing up this time during Mass (by accident) was an emotional experience. Also, gothic architecture FTW.
- Le Marais, my favorite area overall. Lots of fun shopping, amazing food and fun, hip culture. I felt at home.
- The Louvre: best museum we went to. I loved the museums for their architecture alone. While my mom was admiring the art work I was admiring the building they were hosted in.
Visit Versailles. I was torn on this one! I really wanted to go because Marie Antoinette stories makes me feel all the feels but it's also a dedication of a half day. I am really glad we did it. The gardens alone were worth the 35 minute train ride from Paris. Inside the main living space I felt overwhelmed with the amount of people but the Hall of Mirrors made it all worth it. I would spring for a boat ride on the lake and to see Marie's private party quarters if you visit.
To Eat in Paris: Any sidewalk cafe! We are obsessed. I noticed that even the most simple dish comes out with pizzaz and presentation as if it cost you an arm and a leg. We were really good about sharing most everything so that we could be sure to try different things. Split a salad, main dish and dessert of course!
I drank about 500 Aperol spritzes on this trip and I am proud of each and every single one. Mom stuck with campari and soda.
Noteworthy spots: (click on name for yelp page)
- Les Antiquaires -dinner. Best meal we had!
- Les Ombres - lunch. We ate outside with a full view of the Eiffel Tower. It's pricey so order a snack and a glass of wine.
- L'As du Fallafel - whenever. Best falafel I have ever had hands down!
- Ippudo - dinner. Amazing ramen in all flavors and full bar. There was a line outside but it went pretty quickly.
- La Robe & La Mousse - brewery. (Thanks for the recommendation Clifton!) Not very common in Paris but this is a new cozy spot that had delicious saisons. So nice to have a beer after so much wine.
- L’Ilot Vache- My mom happened to have a couple of friends visiting Paris so we met up with them for an awesome meal here. The wine was exceptional and I really enjoyed my vegetarian meal.
Along with all other vacationing Parisians and Europeans, we took the train from Paris to the South of France for some coastal action. I didn't think I could love France any more but then there was the Cote d'Azur. We booked an adorable hotel that used to be an old castle in the hills of Cannes and was a quick walk to most beaches. We spent two days walking, lounging and buying overpriced drinks. Just what the doctor ordered.
Stay: Hôtel Château de la Tour- best bang for your buck. Really comfortable bed and it was the biggest room we had on the trip. Trust me, this matters. The pool area was beautiful and they had awesome bungalows to lounge in.
- Book a day bed at a beach club. We ended up at VegaLuna, right across from the Carlton hotel. It was AMAZING. The service was remarkable and food delicious. I mean, who eats truffle risotto on the beach? I do.
- Have a drink at the Intercontinental Carlton Hotel. Seen the movie "French Kiss" ? It was filmed here.
- Walk around their downtown area. Lots of fun shopping and cafes. You will notice most of the cafes offer hookah; there is a large middle eastern population that visits this area. I loved this aspect!
Ville Franche Sur Mer
Be still my heart. Ville Franche Sur Mer is #NEXTLEVEL. VFSM was like nothing I had ever experienced. Super humble, beautifully preserved, coastal gem.
Stay: Welcome Hotel. It's an icon. Many french actors and artists would spend their summers there.
- Visit the small wine shop and sit for a glass of Rose'. Rose' is native to this area! The woman who runs the shop is a phenomenal human being who knows everything about wine.
- Book a day bed at a Deli Bo. Lounge, swim eat, repeat.
- Buy artwork. I found my most prized piece of artwork here ( I just had it framed). All of the small shops are worth popping into.
- Walk around. There is a storybook feeling about VFSM, like Belle is about to pop around the corner.
- DON'T: Go into Chapelle de Saint-Pierre des Pecheurs. The woman who runs it is an asshole. Stay away. (LMAO, I am not kidding. The only rude French person we met.)
- DO: Go into Eglise Saint-Michele. Beautiful, private and sacred.
- Take pictures of all the adorable animals. They aren't strays; I noticed all the animals here were very well cared for.
- RELAX. This town is about being present and giving yourself the ability to let go and enjoy life.
Mom, I love you and thank you for taking this journey with me.