How to Spend a Few Days in Paris
After visiting Normandy, my cousin and I made our way to Paris. We’ve both been many times before but Paris never gets boring.
For many years, I went to Paris regularly for work but never strayed too far from the Stock Exchange (Bourse Metro Station). These were quick two or three-day business trips that always tended to happen mid-week with no room for a weekend stay. WHY??? WHY??? I was too devoted to my job back in those days.
So it’s nice to go back as a tourist now and stay in different parts of the city and visit new museums and restaurants that I’ve never had the chance to visit before. Again that’s the great thing about Paris. Much like London, there is always something new to explore.
I booked us into the Hotel Monge in the 6th, which was just a short walk from both Cardinal Lemoine and Place Monge metro stations. This was a GREAT little hotel that I would highly recommend if you’re doing a lot on this side of town. The
rooms were bijou perfection, the wifi was decent, and the shower was so fantastic that one day, my cousin took not one but four showers. (To be fair, it was a very cold and wet day and we were out during the worst of it so I think at least three of those showers are justified.) This is a brand new hotel that I highly recommend. Book Hotel Monge.
Our challenge though, location-wise, was that for some reason, everything we wanted to do was more centrally located or on the other side of town, so we spent a lot of time on the Paris Metro. But again, that’s the great thing about a city like Paris. Public transport is fantastic! (Although not as many escalators as London.)
Here’s what we got up to while we were in town:
Musee de l’Orangerie: Don’t laugh but I’d never been here before! I know. We stared at Monet’s waterlilies — the oblong room setup is honestly perfect — and had a good value breakfast at the compact cafe downstairs. With our Eurostar ticket, we also got half off admission, which was great. Of course you should go here.
Foundation Louis Vuitton: We made the mistake of 1. walking here from the metro (it’s a long walk) and 2. arriving 35 minutes before it opened and 3. arriving the day after an exhibition had closed so the building was *empty*. It was also pouring rain and freezing cold during our visit which made hanging out on the building’s terraces less appealing. (The terraces are a key selling point on a nice day!) Keep this for a warm day when the sun is out and the building is at its best and there’s an exhibition! We still loved the architecture and took a ton of photos of the building (a Gehry building) from many angles.
Sainte Chapelle: Another place I had never been to before! I’ve hit Notre Dame more times than I can recall, but never Sainte Chapelle and it is so stunningly beautiful I could cry. The stained glass! Never have I seen stained glass like this. Amazing. Go.
The Pantheon: I vaguely remember visiting The Pantheon when I was 19 years old but I hadn’t been back since. We were awed by Focoult’s Pendulum (telling the time correctly for years!) and spent time paying our respects to Voltaire, Louis Braille, and Marie Curie. In hindsight, it would have been nice to have gotten the audio guide here so that we knew more about the history of the edifice.
I was a little tired of organizing everything at this point so I put my cousin in charge of food for 18 hours. He got to pick our dinner choice one night and lunch the next day. I of course wanted a reservation. He just wanted to “wing it.” “It’s Paris! everything is good here.” Sigh. Luckily, he did well on Friday night even though I was deeply, deeply worried.
Rouge Bis (Opera/Bourse): George slid us into one of the very few remaining tables at Rouge Bis, across the street from Moulin Rouge. I was SO worried about this. Across the street from a major tourist attraction? It couldn’t possibly be good. But our tough, wisecracking server was awesome and the food was not bad. (I had the steak and chips.) Rouge Bis feels young and hip and it’s very convenient for pre-show at Moulin Rouge. Would I seek it out again? Probably not. But if I found myself in the area again and needed a meal, I would gladly eat here again.
La Creperie, Sorbonne: We popped in here after our visit to The Pantheon as it was very very convenient. It was also very very crowded and my cousin had never experienced French tables before, where they stuff you in like sardines. (Even at Rouge Bis, we had space.) It’s fair to say we were both pretty miserable here and the food was pretty average.
Le Casse Noix: When you are in Paris, you *must* use the wonderful Paris by Mouth website, where Parisian bloggers share their favorite Parisian restaurants. (We London bloggers should do the same.) Paris by Mouth directed us to the very sweet Le Casse Noix, within a 10 minute walk of the Eiffel Tower. Service was friendly and efficient, the place was packed with locals, and I had a rice pudding for dessert that was as big as my head. I probably made a mistake in ordering cod with endive — Why do I always forget that I’m not a huge endive fan? — but I would go back here again and recommend it for a nice, cozy meal close to the Eiffel Tower.
Moulin Rouge: Neither of us had ever done Moulin Rouge before and we were in full tourist mode. In my head, I wasimagining something fairly seedy. I was imagining tightly cramped tables and lots of boobs. And while there were certainly a lot of boobs, they were pretty classy about it. Also, while the lower tables looked a little cramped, they were certainly nowhere near as cramped as what I was imagining. In fact, the whole venue was pretty classy. I had booked us VIP tickets up in the balcony, which included VIP entry, a bottle of champagne, macarons, and some tchotchkes and a souvenier guide. Some of the signing and dancing acts were pretty terrible but the ACROBATS WERE AMAZING. Now that I’ve seen Moulin Rouge once, I don’t think I need to see it again, but this was still fun and a lot better than I expected. Book the VIP package with Champagne here. There’s also a VIP package with four course meal.
I feel like I crossed a lot of things off my list this trip. Which means my next trips to Paris can be more devoted to eating, drinking, and shopping…