Thursday, August 28, 2014

PARIS: Where to stay, go, eat, and shop!

Hey everyone!  I know it's been a while since I've gotten back from Paris, but I haven't gotten a chance to get this post up yet and wanted to make sure I did.  I'll be following up with a post about Venice/Florence within a couple of days, so keep checking for that!

I was in Paris for just over a week, from the end of July to the beginning of August.  We had nice weather everyday, but the downside was when August came around, all the Parisians had fled for their annual vacations and the culture was kind of just "gone".

Where to Stay
Honestly, Paris isn't cheap, and there's no avoiding expensive rates on small hotel rooms.  If you're feeling brave, you can try to look for an apartment.  I know people who have stayed in stunning apartments in Montmartre for a week for the same price as two or three nights in a nice hotel.  Although you'll probably be restricted to using the metro, you'll end up with a huge space if you're lucky and some extra cash in your pocket.  If you do decide going this route, make sure to do your research, or you may end up with some ugly surprises.

My family and I stayed at the Hotel Scribe Paris in the Opera District (9th arrondissement.)  Although I didn't expect this area to be convenient or central, I was pleasantly surprised.  Everything was close and within walking distance (especially shopping ;)).  (For reference, we were able to walk through the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th arrondissements without trouble.  There are probably other walkable areas, but the only other area we went to was Montmartre, which we chose to take the metro to.)  The rooms weren't fancy  but they were fine, and I have come to learn that you pay for a little bit more than what you get in Paris.  I was pleased with the service at the hotel, from a tray of exotic fruits and macarons when we first got to our room, to the gifts we received at our departure.  Overall, the hotel was fine, and because of it's location and service I would recommend it.

Hotel Scribe Paris - managed by Sofitel
Where to Go
Paris can be a bit overwhelming in terms of tourist attractions, but you kind of just have to figure out what is best suited to you.  For example, if you're traveling with young children, it's probably not ideal to be spending everyday in a museum.  It's a good idea to pick up some travel books before you go, and take a look at them.  I personally like the ones that are day by day all planned out, not because I like to follow the long days of tourist attractions they have listed, (that would be EXHAUSTING!) but because I find them easier to follow, and I like to be able to just flip the book open and see what else there is to do in the area I am in.  I recommend Frommer's Paris Day by Day

Below I've made a list of the hands-down must-do attractions in Paris:
  • The Eiffel Tower- go to the top around noon and come back before 10pm for a picnic to see it all lit up
  • The Arc de Triomphe
  • The Louvre
  • Musée d'Orsay- honestly I preferred this over the Louvre, the Louvre was too overwhelmingly large for my taste
  • Sacré-cœur- breathtaking views of the entire city if you're up for the climb
  • Notre Dame Cathedral
Where to Eat
Food in Paris is pricey, especially in the mainstream cafés along the busy streets.  You will find better deals (and better food) if you venture out of the main streets.  If possible, I would recommend you try to get breakfast at your hotel included in your room rate.  I would also recommend at least one gastronomic experience if you're in Paris for more than a few days.  I've listed three of my favourite restaurants down below.

Café Constant- good French cuisine at a good price

Laudurée, Champs-Elysées- beautiful setting for a classy Sunday brunch before a day full of shopping,  make reservations in advance if you don't want to wait (a trip here wouldn't be complete without trying their famous macarons!)

Epicure at the Hotel Bristol- a truly gastronomic experience, delicious and creative food, and top notch service and decor

Brunch at Laudurée

Where to Shop
From boutiques to markets to department stores, Paris has something for everyone!

  • Zara
  • Mango
  • H&M
  • Monki
  • Galeries Lafayette
Mid-priced and super nice:
  • Maje
  • Claudie Pierlot
  • Longchamp
  • Galeries Lafayette
High-fashion and couture:
  • Triangle D'or (at the east end of the shopping strip of Champs-Elysées, carrying most luxury brands; Givenchy, Chanel, Dolce & Gabanna, Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, Dior, Saint Laurent, Céline, etc., etc.,)
  • Rue du Faubourg St-Honoré (this street houses every french luxury brand you could dream of, as well as most other luxury brands)
  • Chanel Flagship Store (an experience in itself; even if you don't plan on making a purchase, a trip here is a must for every chanel fanatic)
  • Galeries Lafayette
  • Au Printemps
Chanel Flagship Store, 31 rue Cambon

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