Despite our late water taxi to the airport, we made our flight to Paris from Venice without too many problems. We flew Air France – where we had exactly zero checked bag fees. (I’m telling you – the US should get back to this – there’s just something that makes me salty about paying for bags. Just put it in my ticket price and move on. Don’t make me feel like you’re nickel and diming me.) We quickly found ourselves at CDG and were ready to start the next part of our honeymoon in Paris – a city I have romanticized in my mind since the first time I set foot in it in during my study abroad semester in October 2004. (I know they sing songs about springtime in Paris… but fall in Paris? Even more beautiful. Don’t believe me? More Paris travel photos.)
Honeymoon in Paris – Where to Start:
- Let’s start here: Marion. She’s the AMAZING tour guide we booked through Discover Walks. We ended up being the ONLY people on the tour – and she was still absolutely incredible. I feel like a lot of people would have cancelled or phoned it in, but Marion made us feel so welcome in her beautiful city. Contact her directly through her Facebook page. You cannot go wrong. HOWEVER. Learn from our mistake: this was one of the last things we did and it should have been the first. She has a million suggestions about things based on your interests and she knows SO MUCH about her city. She loves to share. We did a night walking tour on what was supposed to be our last night of our honeymoon in Paris and we ended up canceling the London leg of our trip to stay and experience more of the things she suggested. Take my word for it. Marion is amazing.
Honeymoon in Paris – What to Do:
Buy tickets early or arrive before it opens to skip the lines. Every time I go to the Musee d’Orsay, I forget about this option and I stand in line for longer than necessary… but I absolutely adore the Musee d’Orsay. I always have to go say hello to Degas’s perfect ballerinas; they feel like my old friends. The museum was definitely busy and crowded, but it is definitely my favorite museum in Paris. I chose it over the Lourve this trip – and I would probably choose it over the Lourve every trip – it just seems way more manageable!! (Did I mention that I love the ballerinas?)
Watch the sun set over the Eiffel Tower – we did this the first night we arrived. We staked out a place on a bench and just watched the light change. I waited for that magical moment when the tower begins to light up and then someone flicks the switch and it begins to sparkle for 5 minutes. It may be touristy, but it’s one of my favorite moments. We also went back at 11:00 on our last night to see it sparkle (it sparkles on the hour – every hour) – and there were still throngs of people on the Trocadero, dancing, selling cheap Eiffel Towers, and generally just appreciating the greatness that is the tower. The collective gasp when it sparkles makes me smile.
Take the funicular on the way up. You can take the stairs down… but the funicular on the way up is the way to go. I promise. It’s a beautiful church and on a clear day (our day was hazy) you can see all the beauty that is Paris stretching ahead of you. It might also be the only good way to get a photo of Notre Dame. Exploring Montmartre is great too – there are numerous grand prix baguette winners around there… there is Smurf ice cream (seriously)… it’s just beautifully picturesque.
Honeymoon in Paris – Where We Stayed:
Renaissance Arc de Triomphe – Location, location, location, oh and did I mention location? This was absolutely perfect for us. It’s right near the Arc de Triomphe and the Etoile station, so the entire metro is at your fingertips. It’s easy to get anywhere from here. There were several restaurants nearby, though we didn’t frequent any of them… and it felt very safe at night. We took cabs to Bastille (for dinner), St. Germain, and a few other places when we didn’t want to navigate the subways – fares were always reasonable and, even during rush hour, it didn’t take that long to get around.
We had an Architectural Room that faced the main street but we didn’t hear any noise. It was fairly good size, the bathroom was small (and one of those strange half shower things that I manage to leak water all over the floor with), and the service was friendly and efficient. They sent up a nice box of chocolates and a large bottle of water when we arrived as our platinum arrival gift. We could have had free breakfast, but we opted for the points instead.
The biggest selling point of this hotel was the location – and after seeing the Champs Elysee location – I’m glad we chose this one! We passed the Renaissance Parc Trocadero – which I was intrigued by – but my husband maintains that the Arc de Triomphe is the most convenient location.
Honeymoon in Paris – Other Favorite Things:
- Monoprix, un baguette, and Les Berges, Luxembourg Gardens, or any other beautiful spot you find. I bought one of the winning baguettes for a euro, picked up some olives and proscuitto at Monoprix, and settled down on a bench for the BEST MEAL EVER (for less than a couple euro)! Les Berges near Pont Alexandre III has great people watching late in the day… and the Tuileries or the Luxembourg gardens provide some of the most beautiful park areas in central Paris. You cannot go wrong with this idea.
- Notre Dame – go late in the day and appreciate the stained glass in this beautiful gothic cathedral. Read the history and marvel at how they managed to build this massive cathedral so long ago. Thank Victor Hugo for launching the campaign to save it. Let me know if you ever figure out a good way to get a picture of the outside. Bonus points if you head over to the Ile St. Louis find the original Berthillion AND if it is open – because definitely did not happen for me. le sigh.
Honeymoon in Paris – Hit or Miss:
- Pantheon – It’s currently being renovated, so you can’t really enjoy all aspects of it – and the ticket price is a little steep. I like the architecture, but I’m not sure you need to spend this much to see another beautiful building – particularly one under construction.
- Hotel Les Invalides/Napoleon’s Tomb – If you’re super into military history, this is the place for you. If you’re not, it’s okay to skip it. 😉 We were sad because the World War II was a special exhibition and our tickets didn’t cover it but my husband really enjoyed wandering around the rest of the museum. Their exhibits are really well done – and I liked seeing the uniforms… it’s amazing how well preserved they are!