A long weekend in Paris was not what I expected my first time in France would be like, but it is one I do not regret. Earlier this year I decided to do something crazy and propose to my longtime girlfriend in her favorite city all while keeping it a secret. Now that proposal is a story for another day, but it led me to spend a magical weekend in what is now one of my favorite cities in Europe.
The idea of a long weekend in Paris might seem kind of crazy to some especially since we would be flying from the U.S. but honestly, I would recommend it to anyone. I was able to find us some decently priced flights that would let us get a red eye into Paris directly without any layovers. Depending on how time zones affect and how you can sleep on planes this is very doable.
We would be spending three full days in Paris leaving the U.S. on a Thursday afternoon, landing in Paris Friday morning and finally leaving Paris for the U.S. Monday morning. Now this might sound like a lot of travelling to some but luckily my partner has the same sense of adventure that I do and was ecstatic at the idea. I might go into details of the actual proposal later but for now want to focus on a bird’s eye view of what the weekend entailed and in later posts cover more in detail the places we went.
We landed at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris around 8am local time and immediately headed into the city. My first piece of advice in Paris is not to rely on Uber from the airport into the city since they are not able to enter the terminal area to wait for you. There are plenty of Taxis right at the arrival’s terminal with set pricing into central Paris. You can go directly to the Paris Airport website for more information on taxis, but the average cost will be around 50 euros depending on where you are heading.
Our taxi dropped us off right at our hotel Hôtel Britannique which I cannot recommend enough and will cover more in-depth later. The hotel is located centrally to most things you will want to visit such as the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral.
If you are in one of the single digit arrondissement districts you will be within walking distance to most tourist attractions in the city. I would not recommend going too far out on your first visit unless you have plenty of time to explore since you will be spending a lot of time in the metro or taking taxis around town.
The first day in Paris we spend mostly just acquainting ourselves with the city and wandering around without a clear plan. This is probably my favorite way to explore a new city since sometimes you need to get your bearings by getting a little lost in a new place.
The funny thing about day one was just how confusing it was to use the train system in the city. I want to cover transportation in-depth later but must strong suggest you do not get the Paris Pass for transportation or museum entries. The deal might sound like a good money saving decision but unless you are taking trains all day and hitting multiple museums a day you will just end up losing money. Not only will the savings not make sense, but you might feel rushed to just cross off places from a list to make the pass worth it.
Our second day in Paris was more exploration continued from Day 1, we decided to seriously walk most of the inner city of Paris. After leaving our hotel we walked to Notre Dame Cathedral and all the way until we stumbled across the Luxembourg Gardens which is a must if you are in Paris.
I am a sucker for nice gardens and parks, so I genuinely enjoyed spending time people watching at the Luxembourg Gardens enjoying a nice coffee. They have a row of chairs in the center of the park that are a perfect spot to unwind and enjoy the scenery. While it was still winter the park is beautiful, but it would be much better in the Spring and Summer when it is blooming.
We decided to visit the Arc de Triomphe this day and on the way there we walked down Av des Champs-Elysees which I cannot recommend enough. The avenue is considered one of the most famous commercial streets in the world and has about everything you could imagine. Grabbing lunch or dinner in this area is highly recommended especially if you get a table near the window or outside of a restaurant.
This street is also covered with street performers and about every clothing designer you could want, so if you came to Paris for the fashion you are in the right area!
We did not go to the top of Arc de Triomphe since it just did not seem worth the money but if you plan to make sure to get tickets since there might be a wait time.
The day ended by visiting the Montmartre neighborhood to grab dinner and see another side of Paris that some people miss out on. We ended up at a hole in the wall bar that I loved and really gave us that Paris experience.
The last full day in Paris for us would be quite jam packed to make sure we could cross off all our must do stops. This was the day we visited the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre which are almost obligatory for your first time in Paris.
Yes, some of the sights might be very touristy but at the same time they are touristy for a reason. The Eiffel Tower is just magnificent to look at and the Louvre is just well the Louvre. Not sure if anyone needs a reason to visit one of the most famous museums in the entire world.
The highlight in a funny of way of our last day was my failed attempt at eating escargot (snails) for the first time. Let me just say those things are slippery!!!
I cannot recommend Paris enough even as a first stop in Europe for anyone. The city is full of history and charm, which truly encompasses that European city vibe. Yes, there is a lot of touristy areas and depending on the time of year you will run into crowds but there is a reason there are crowds. While I love the road less travelled sometimes you need to dive right into the tourist hot spot to enjoy some things as well.
Stay tuned for more travel posts on Paris with information on how to get around the city, how to get into the Eiffel Tower without reserving tickets and why the Louvre is just a must museum visit for every traveler!
Have you been to Paris before? What was your favorite place to visit?
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