We are back from our vacation and it was wonderful. I had a whole post written up regarding our itinerary but then got so busy trying to finish things up at the office that I never got around to posting it. Steve and I spent 9 days in France this trip. We flew direct to Paris from Dallas and spent two nights there and then took an Air France flight from Orly to Nice on the French Riviera and spent 3 nights in Nice and 3 nights in Antibes, which is about 45 minutes west of Nice. Steve and I have been to Paris three times before so we have done all the major museums and sights. This trip we agreed we would relax and just visit some of our favorite neighborhoods, restaurants and do some low-key sightseeing.
We stayed in the fifth arrondissement, known as St. Germain de Pres, on the Left Bank. This area is well known for its famous cafes, including Cafe Deux Magots, Cafe de Flore and Brasserie Lipp. After our long and bumpy flight, which prevented any decent sleep despite the nice business-class lie flat seats, we arrived in the City of Lights. We checked into our hotel and immediately went out to see some sights.
We stayed in a lovely boutique hotel called Hotel Esprit St. Germain, which I’ll write about in a separate post. Our first day we were pretty tired and jet lagged so we walked over to Notre Dame cathedral and the Seine River. I was surprised to see that there was a line to get into the cathedral now. Last time we visited 10 years ago, you could just walk into any of the doorways but now you have to go through only one door and be security screened. I guess that’s the world we live in now.
Notre Dame is always a little dark but the stained glass is still lovely. After walking through the cathedral, we headed over to Ile St. Louis, which is the smaller island behind Notre Dame for lunch and to visit my favorite ice cream place in the world, Berthillon. If you are ever in Paris, don’t miss getting some ice cream from here – it really is the best I have ever had. Even better than gelato in Italy!
We ended up crashing and taking a long nap after lunch and then had a lovely dinner near our hotel (separate post on restaurants to come). We walked along the Seine and stopped by Shakespeare and Co. and went to bed early to sleep off the long flight.
The next day we were up early and took the metro to Montmartre to walk around and take some pictures. It’s one of my favorite neighborhoods in Paris but I suggest going early because it does get crowded and the streets are very narrow so it can get annoying and you’ll feel like you are being pushed around. Early morning was perfect, though! I love to go up to the Sacre Coeur church and you get a great panoramic view of Paris from there.
We walked around and took some pictures as Montmartre is very instagrammable.
When it started getting crowded, we hopped the Metro again (we bought a 10 pack “carnet” and split the tickets so it allowed us to use the metro all day long for 5 trips each) and headed to Trocadero to get some great pictures of the Eiffel Tower and to have lunch nearby.
We had an amazing lunch nearby with a great view of the Eiffel Tower. I’ll provide a separate review of our favorite restaurants but after our huge lunch, we ended up just hanging at our hotel and having a big cheese plate and wine for dinner, which were complimentary. We also went to bed early as we had to be up the next morning to head to Orly airport to catch our Air France flight to Nice and the French Riviera. It was a lovely two days in Paris – it kind of felt like catching up with an old friend. My observations on this visit as compared to 10 years ago was that Paris is a lot more crowded and everyone is way more easygoing about speaking English now. I do speak a little bit of French (enough to get by in a restaurant just fine) but I barely got to use any of it because everyone was so helpful about speaking English now, even without asking.
Next up will be reviews of our Paris hotel and restaurants!