Paris, city of love. But also a city of cliches and full of tourists. I (Christianne) have been there twice when I was younger, and for a long time didn’t feel the need to go back since I had seen the main tourist attractions and with all those tourists in the back of my mind, I preferred to go off the beaten track. But then Vincent and I were looking to go somewhere for a long weekend which wasn’t that far away (from Amsterdam) and a place we hadn’t been before, or at least not in the last couple of years. Since Vincent had never been there, and the thought of a couple of romantic days overtook the touristic view I had of Paris, we decided: let’s go to Paris!
And of we went, in the beginning of December. Eventually we went by plane. We were planning on going by train, if you plan long enough beforehand it will be cheaper by train (and more comfortable) without taking much longer, but in the end we found a plane ticket that was slightly cheaper. Do take into account that you have to take the train from Charles des Gaulle to the city center, which will cost you an additional €13 pp, while Gare du Nord (the main train station) is in the city center!
We rented a super cute Airbnb in the upper part of Les Marais, which was perfect as the neigborhood is full of nice restaurants and shops, and many of the touristic highlights are within walking distance. Since it was Vincent’s first time in Paris and my last time was already quite some time ago, we decided to go for all the touristic highlights in the three full days that we were there, while making up for it by going to really nice (non-touristy) restaurants that we found along the way, or heard of from friends. We’ll share our itinerary and the walks we did by dividing everything up into the neighborhoods that we visited.
This neighborhood is all about shopping and food, and all of that in streets with the cutest little houses. Just go for a walk here, wander around with no specific goal (except maybe the Picasso museum, which is really nice!) and hop into one of the small boutiques or cafes. There are plenty of good places to go, but we’ll name just a few here:
- Café Méricourt: perfect spot for brunch! You might have to wait for it, but it is definetly worth it, especially when you go for the ‘Pancakes sucré‘!
- Ob-La-Di: quick breakfast in a cute litte place
- Paperboy Paris: breakfast or lunch, especially if you want something ‘on the go’, this is your spot!
- PNY Marais (Paris New York): all about burgers! They have multiple venues around the city, but this one has the best interior.
- Le Ruisseau: another great place for burgers, they just never disappoint. The best thing about this one, is that you’ll have a burger, fries and a soft drink for €12, while still of great quality. Go here if you are a short on time: quick service while you won’t feel rushed!
- Pain, Vin & Fromage: we stumbled upon this one kind of per accident, and it was a real gem. Hidden in one of the small streets, this cute little place only serves fondue or raclette (French cheese only) and you will not find (many) tourists here.
- Le Mary Celeste: we didn’t go here as it was too packed, but the food is supposed to be good (small dishes though, so more of a shared dining experience), as well as the cocktails, and they have a oyster happy hour!
- Candelaria: while you can also get food here (take-away), the real attraction is the hidden bar. The cocktails are not your ‘standard mojito’ and the bartenders make a real show of it, while a dj plays some nice tunes and the atmosphere is relaxed. Must go to!
- Merci: large concept store on the upper side of the neighborhood with something for everyone.
Since we wanted to do most of the highlights, we decided to do two walks: one full day walk in which we visited the Louvre, walked through the Jardin les Tuilieres to Place de la Concorde, up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomph, and down to the Eiffel tower. We finished our walk at the Rodin museum. Another nice museum along the way is the Palais de Tokyo with modern and contemporary art. Tip: if you want to take a nice photo of the Eiffel Tower, take one bridge earlier (Passerelle Debilly).
The second walk started at Centre de Pompidou, on to the Notre Dame, and from there on to the Pantheon. We finished our walk at Jardin des Luxembourg. All of this can be done in three hours. We did this walk in the morning and had lunch at Judy’s, near Jardin des Luxembourg, which offers healthy but tasty food! We can also recommend to visit the Notre Dame and Louvre during the evening, as the lights really give an extra touch to the beautiful buildings!
18th arrondissement (Moulin Rouge & Sacré Coeur)
One thing that should not be skipped when going for the full touristic weekend in Paris is the Moulin Rouge. We went during the evening, first walking up to the Sacré Coeur and after walking through the neighborhood’s small streets to the Moulin Rouge. Next time we will definitely go to the Sacré Coeur by day as well, as the view should be amazing! We didn’t actually go in the Moulin Rouge, but just the views of it is fine as well.
Since we were there in the evening, we were planning on having dinner in the neighborhood as well. It was a Saturday night and didn’t make any reservations, so that’s why we decided to go to Pink Mamma, as they don’t take any reservations. However, we were too late since the queue was very long and the restaurant was full by the time it was our turn. So if you are planning on going there: go early!
Fortunately for us we found another great Italian restaurant: Tentazioni. This restaurant slash caterer serves the best Italian food and wine you can imagine. Go for the shared burrata as a starter, get the truffle pasta as a main dish, and let the friendly staff recommend a wine and you will feel like you are in Italy.
Unfortunately, being in Paris for only a couple of days limits you in what you can do. Next time, we definitely want to go off the beaten track. Do you have any tips or questions? What do you think of Paris? Let us know in the comments below!