Paris, also known as the “City of Light” or the “City of Love,” is on most people’s travel bucket list and for good reason! Paris has it all: art, culture, cuisine, churches, and architecture. Although Alex and I had both been to Paris before, we had never visited the city together. When planning our 4th wedding anniversary vacation, it seemed like the perfect place to spend our actual anniversary and a great jumping off point to begin our trip.
We used points to stay at the Park Hyatt Place Vendome. I cannot speak highly enough of this fantastic hotel. We had previously stayed at the Park Hyatt Sydney last year and it was equally impressive. The Park Hyatt in Paris is a 5-star hotel located near the fashionable Rue de la Paix and is an easy walk to the Louvre. The hotel decor is a mix of classic design and contemporary art. The room truly felt like a luxury apartment from the comfortable bed to the large bathtub to the blackout shades. Whether you have points or are paying cash, if you’re looking for a 5-star hotel in a fantastic location, the Park Hyatt is a great pick!
Since we had both already been to Paris, we decided to do a mix of touristy and non-touristy things. Our first activity was a free walking tour with Sandeman’s. We’ve done a number of walking tours in various cities and find them to be a great way to begin our visits. The guides are always locals and show you popular sites and provide recommendations for things to do in the area.
Our walking tour included stops to:
- Fontaine Saint-Michel, the site of many protests and antics, including when crazed soccer fans climbed up the fountain and placed World Cup jerseys on the figures, which took weeks to remove!
- The famous Rue du Seine with art galleries and antique dealers
- The famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore on Paris’ Left Bank, a gathering place for famous authors like Ernest Hemingway and Ezra Pound
- Cathedrale Notre Dame
- Square René Viviani and Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre, one of the oldest churches in Paris (from the 13th century)
- Pont Neuf (New Bridge), the oldest bridge in the city, which was built by Henry IV
- Louvre and Jardin de Tuileres
- Pont des Arts, the former “love lock bridge.” The locks were removed last summer because the more than 700,000 locks weighed 45 tons and were causing parts of the bridge to crumble.
After the tour, we decided to visit the Arc de Triomph to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Unfortunately, it was briefly pouring rain while we were there so the line to visit the top of the tower was quite long with people trying to get out of the rain. We opted not to wait in it!
After snapping a few pictures, we took the metro over to the Eiffel Tower. Even though it was my third time to the top, it is always impressive to see the incredible panorama views from the tower. Throughout our time in Paris, the French repeatedly told the story about Guy de Maupassant, who ate at a restaurant in the Eiffel Tower almost daily, so he wouldn’t have to see it, exemplifying the disdain of the French for the Tower.
After leaving the Eiffel Tower, we ducked into Les Cocettes, a Christian Constant restaurant that was highly rated on TripAdvisor and that we found in an article on Paris By Mouth. It is the quintessential French bistro. The menus, including the wine and beer menus, were written in chalk behind the bar and baskets of fresh baguettes were replaced before they were even finished! What to order: Arugula bacon egg salad and Parmesan risotto with squid. Have the waffle with salted caramel for dessert.
On our second day in Paris, we wanted to see some impressionist works, but since we had only two days in Paris, we didn’t want to spend the entire day at a large museum like Musee d’Orsay. We walked to the impressive, but less overwhelming Musee de L’Orangerie from the Park Hyatt. Monet’s “Lilies” panoramic paintings take up two rooms in the museum and are phenomenal. The museum wasn’t too crowded, so we were able to view the paintings up close and actually see the brushstrokes. L’Orangerie also has a great private collection of works from other famous impressionist works.
After, we walked to lunch nearby at the Cafe des Ministeres, which is near the Assemblee Nacionale. We had a lunch of a croque madame, croque monsieur, and wine, which was delicious! Looking around, everyone else dining at the restaurant appeared to be locals on their lunch breaks.
After lunch, we walked to the Musee Rodin and visited the sculpture garden. It was a beautiful day to walk around and admire Rodin’s famous works, including The Thinker and the Gates of Hell.
Our next stop was Sainte-Chapelle. We almost didn’t go in because we thought 10 euros to visit a church was a bit steep considering the many churches we have seen in Europe, but I am so glad that we did. Sainte-Chappelle is one of the most stunning churches I have ever visited. The church has 1,113 stained glass windows encircling the room that each tell a biblical story. What makes it even more impressive is the fact that it was built in only seven years and recently underwent a six year restoration (completed in 2014) in which each window was meticulously cleaned.
Next, we walked to Cathedrale Notre Dame, where we walked into the cathedral and almost immediately spotted my aunt and uncle who also happened to be in Paris that day! It was so fun to see them and we had a glass of wine with their friends at Le Quasimodo. It’s a memory I will always cherish and will never forget!
Before dinner, we walked around the famous neighborhood of Montparnasse. Montparnasse is famed for its reputation as a center of artistic and intellectual life during the 1920s and 1930s when household names like Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Man Ray, and Jean Cocteau lived there.
For dinner, we went to Frenchie, near the Sentier metro stop. We had been warned to arrive by 7 because the restaurant gets packed and does not take reservations. We should have listened! We arrived around 8 and there were no tables. We were told the wait would be around 2 hours (the French, and Europeans in general, love long dinners!). We enjoyed some wine and a cheese plate at the bar and soaked in the lively atmosphere before seeking out a restaurant for the rest of our dinner.
We walked around the neighborhood to look for a place that looked like a local hotspot. Cafe du Centre was it! The restaurant was packed with young people only speaking French so we snagged a table facing the street so that we could people watch over our dinner and wine. What to order: Duck and frites
To cap off our time in Paris and to celebrate our fourth anniversary, we shared a bottle of champagne at the Park Hyatt and then took a taxi to see the light show at the Eiffel Tower. The light show happens every hour on the hour for five minutes.
After taking some anniversary photos, we took a one-hour night cruise with Vedettes de Paris. The cruises are 14 euros and are given in English, French, and Spanish. At times, it was hard to hear the recording over the sound of the boat’s engine, but since I am somewhat conversant in Spanish, I was able to get most of what I missed during the English portions during the Spanish portions.
And that concludes our 48 hours in Paris! We had a wonderful time and I hope this post provides some inspiration for your travels to Paris. Have you been to Paris? What are your favorite things to do? Did you have a memorable meal during your stay? Thanks for reading and see you next week!
Les Cocettes, 135 Rue Saint-Dominique, 75007
Cafe des Ministeres, 83 Rue de l’Université, 75007
Frenchie, 5 Rue du Nil, 75002
Cafe du Centre, 57 Rue Montorgueil, 75002
Sandeman’s New Europe Paris, Walking Tour
Arc du Triomph, Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008
Eiffel Tower, Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007
L’Orangerie, Jardin Tuileries, 75001
Musee Rodin, 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007
Sainte-Chappelle, 8 Boulevard du Palais, 75001
Notre Dame, 6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004
Vedettes de Paris, Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007
Park Hyatt Place Vendome, 5 Rue de la Paix, 75002 Paris, France