What can I say, Paris is perfect.
Walking through Paris, past the sidewalk cafes and pastry shops and fruit markets, I felt like I was walking in a movie, in that perfectly imperfect kind of way (funny, because one shopkeeper we spoke to said he feels the same way about New York).
It’s like the whole city was built as a giant movie set, every building painted the same perfect shade of Paris gray.
We’d heard April in Paris can be cold and rainy, but we couldn’t have asked for better weather. I don’t think we saw a single drop of rain the entire 5 days we were there, which, browsing through the thousands of rainy-Paris pictures from the past few weeks, seems like a miracle.
We spent our 5 days in Paris meandering the streets, chasing sunsets, flitting from one delicious location to the next (indeed, we let our stomachs guide us). We didn’t over-schedule, but rather had a general idea of what neighborhood we’d be exploring on any given day, limiting the ‘big’ attractions to no more than one per day (and buying advance tickets whenever possible to avoid lines). I bookmarked hundreds of bakeries and restaurants, my Paris map full of little gold stars, in hopes that wherever we happened to be when we got hungry, there’d be a worthwhile food spot nearby. While I barely made a dent in my list of places to try (5 months in Paris would hardly have been enough, let alone 5 days) I feel the strategy worked well as we were never hungry and rarely disappointed in our choices.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so in lieu of a hundred thousand words, I’m simply sharing an absurd number of pictures. Considering I took literally thousands of photos, culling them down to this number was no easy task.
I’ve got another Paris post in the works as well. While you could say this one covers the sights, the next will touch on all the delicious food we ate during our trip (and I’ll give you a breakdown with links/maps to the places I loved most). This post is long enough as is, I figured fitting it all into a single post would be utterly ridiculous. Stay tuned!
(Select photos now available as prints in my Society6 shop… and if there’s an image—in this or any post—that you’d like see as a print, please let me know!)
I’m sure this isn’t an oft-seen scene in Paris: the empty queue for the Tour Eiffel summit elevator. If you are planning to visit Paris, I highly recommend staying up late exactly 3 months before your desired visit and catch the advance tickets when they go on sale at 8am Paris time (I’m referring to the official tickets, not 3rd party ‘skip the line’ tours; they should only cost you 15.5€). It’s almost as bad as getting Beiber concert tickets (not that I’d know from personal experience or anything). Taylor just happens to be a ticket ninja, and we snagged two advance tickets for 9:30am right when the tower opens (at which time the regular line for buying tickets was probably a 2 hour wait already – no thank you). We were pretty proud of the fact that we were literally the first two people to the top of the tower that day, able to absorb the peace and perfection of the stunning city views without being crowded by other tourists or pickpockets.
(I’m just getting started… click through to see even more!)
(This is the line for what might be the best falafel I’ve ever had. We don’t wait in line for museums or landmarks, but we WILL wait in line for good falafel. Go figure.)
A sunset climb up the infinite spiral stairs inside the Arc de Triomphe was killer on the calves, but made for some amazing sunset views of the city and our first glimpse of the Eiffel tower’s nightly sparkle.
While we couldn’t not see the iconic glass pyramid (from all angles, mind you) we didn’t actually make it inside the Louvre. I know, there are some who say you can’t possibly visit Paris without seeing Ms. Mona. But after mulling it over and considering just how precious and limited our time there was, we decided that we’d rather spend the better part of a day exploring the side-streets of the Latin quarter than wandering around a gigantic museum filled with art that didn’t really interest us. We did, however, take the time to visit the Musée d’Orsay, the smaller size and impressionist collection being more our style.
Traveling shouldn’t be about expectations, what you’re supposed to see or do when you visit a new place; rather, it should be about what truly brings you joy. And if that includes Greek and medieval art, then by all means, get lost in the hallways of Paris’ most famous museum. But if not, you shouldn’t feel guilty about choosing to spend your time elsewhere.
Part way through our visit I just so happened to stumble upon an Instagram from fellow food blogger Stephanie, who was in Paris for a work conference. We’d only met once, ever so briefly, in Atlanta nearly 5 years ago, but that didn’t stop us from meeting up the following day for lunch and an afternoon of epicurean exploration, chasing the golden light of the evening through the Tuileries gardens and along the river to the Eiffel tower.
Big city, small world.
The unexpected company was a true delight. Exploring a new city with a like-minded individual, someone who can appreciate food and light and miniature tart pans in ways that a non-food blogger/photographer simply can’t grasp, allowed me to see Paris without the veil of self-consciousness I had been carrying. No longer was it about trying to fit in, to look, speak, and act like a Parisian so you don’t stand out as a tourist. I loved wandering the streets with camera in hand, knowing that I wasn’t the only crazy standing on a park bench photographing eclairs, or taking a ridiculous amount of pictures of practically the same thing, simply hoping to catch the perfect Eiffel tower glitter.
We rented an adorable AirBnB in the 2nd arrondisment, just off of Rue Montorgrueil. We didn’t quite realize when we booked it just how perfect the location would be: Rue Montorgrueil is perhaps the ‘foodiest’ street in Paris, with at least three fromageries, boulangeries, and a half a dozen sweets and pastry shops within a five-block stretch, not to mention perfectly French sidewalk cafes on every corner. We could easily assemble an entire meal of bread, cheese, meat, wine, fruit, and sweets, all within a few blocks of our apartment.
I felt like the apartment gave us a much more authentic experience, being able to walk to the market and come back with bread and cheese and wine for dinner, not having to rely solely on restaurants to feed our stomachs and our souls. While we might be just a bit hypocritical (we’re adamantly opposed to AirBnB in our own condo complex in Nashville), we adore it when traveling. Not only is it cheaper than a mediocre hotel, I believe it is the key to authentically experiencing a city.
Paris is a city of light, of sights and sounds and shadows, but most of all, it’s a city of food. Produce and pastry and bread and cheese, restaurants and cafes and hole in the wall spots. To say we indulged ourselves would be an understatement. I couldn’t possibly fit it all in a single post, so stay tuned for our epic Paris eats post coming up soon!
All the images in this post were taken either with the Sony a6000 (which we rented specifically for our trip). It’s a nice compact option and while it can’t compare to my dSLR, it produces very nice images overall, for a compact mirrorless camera we were quite impressed.
Anti-disclaimer: this trip was sponsored by no one but ourselves, by five years of saving our pennies and hoarding credit card miles, of planning and dreaming and finally making it happen. Disclaimers seem to get hidden and glossed over these days and I just feel like it needs to be clearer what’s been paid for and what’s been given to us. This post does contain an affiliate link as well as links to purchase prints of select images, of which I do receive a cut, and I promise to always be up front when that is the case. So there you have it.
Select prints now available in my Society6 shop:
(I am happy to add others at your request!)