Romantic, Retro Paris: Part 1 – Organizing your trip
Writing one blog post about Paris (and basically about every other place we have been or intend to go) can be very daunting. One page about a 1/2/3 weeks stay? Seriously? After a looooooong consultation and some very awesome Camembert in a Parisian Jazz cafe, we decided to break our posts in multiple articles to make it easy to navigate, read…but above all, it will now take you less than 3 hours to arrive to the end and get the information you need. You are welcome.
When you think about France, what comes up in your head?
It is not just the Louvre, the Eiffel tower, the little cafes and restaurant with chairs outside facing the street so everyone at the table can enjoy the view,
France is also small perfect-seemingly villages and castles like they show in the “Beauty and the Beast”, or in “Chocolat”.
Is wine regions, cheese regions, hidden treasures, lavender fields, amusement parks, music, romance and so much more.
So beware, as the spell of this Country can and WILL get to you no matter WHERE you go.
As we only had four days on our way back from Italy, we decided to focus on Paris for this time.
Organising the trip
When to go to Paris
Paris is stunning any time of the year. Also, yes, there tourists all year round, no exceptions.
You’d rather see it in the snow, drinking some vin chaud (hot wine) while strolling among the Christmas decorations? Than go Nov/Jan.
You are a flowers lover? Try to get there in Spring. We went there in April, and it was amazing with all the Easter chocolate eggs and bunnies sitting in the shops’ windows, making us crave for chocolate all the time, and the trees starting to blossom.
Summer can be charming: lots of concerts, events, all the services up and running, but also consider the heat and the inevitable endless lines. Make sure to book and plan well in advance.
What to Pack
Weather can be unreliable, pack light clothes for the sunny days when Paris gives its most attractive (and literally HOT) picture, chuck in a sweater for the chill in the evening and bring a raincoat – unless you are a True Romantic and want to go around with your Chat Noir Umbrella holding tight your lover, or worse, you are a #MidnightInParis fan and want to walk sexiliy in the rain like Owen Wilson.
Also, don’t forget your light scarf to keep in your walking bag. With all the hard-core Aircon in the buildings, you don’t wanna catch a cold in Paris and miss out on all the flavours and the smells.
Other than that, you don’t need much. a big city, so you will find everything you need.
Save room in your luggage for your “Parishopping!” (Em disagrees on this, but I must write it for all women’s sake!)
Our favourite Areas in Paris
Paris is huge and there is so much to be seen, so we planned three full days around the city and one just for Disneyland Paris – totally worth it, read about it on the dedicated post (yes there is a dedicated post).
You need to live Paris, so don’t be shy, stroll, stop at the cute little cafes and enjoy the wine with the live music.
Little piece of advice for places not to be missed out (excluding the Louvres, the Eiffel Tower and all the other things you already know about):
- Le Marais:
- Artistic, foodie, hipster and as “Parisien” as it gets. Get lost in here for a good afternoon.
- Musée Picasso, we found it much different from the overwhelming huge museums around Paris. In one hour we saw it all and exited feeling fully satisfied and richer with actual knowledge.
- Nightlife – Big time.
- Moulin Rouge (pre-book your tickets if peak season. If you didn’t book in advance, show up to the ticket office like we did: on the spot, late shows on weekdays are usually cheaper).
- Chat Noir original cafe’, serving delicious dinners till 5am everyday.
- Stunning sunset view from Le Sacre Coeur’s hill (every night hundreds of people sit to watch it, you can also get a beer for 2 euros if you are good at bargaining with the ambulants),
- stroll amongst the little shops and let the talented artists draw you a portrait,
- find Amelie Poulain’s favourite spots
- Have a drink in the same cafes where the all the major poets and painters of all times used to meet and get inspired, just like in Midnight in Paris.
- Île de la Cité
- All the monuments you want to see: from Notre-Dame to the Palace of Justice, plus the little Saint Chapelle (which you should save for a sunny day, to get the most spectacular view of it from inside)
- Souvenir shopping.
Getting Around in Paris
Forget about the car.
Public transports will take you anywhere and if not that, you can take a ride on one of the cute (or sometimes tacky, maybe another reason to ride one) pedicabs around the city, enjoying fresh air and stunning views you would miss out in the Metropolitain (Subway).
There are options for unlimited public transports in Paris and the surroundings (i.e.Versailles), while Disneyland have its own private line so to get there you will most likely need to get a separate ticket (unless it is included in your Disneyland ticket deal- some of them do offer transportation).
We chose the 10 single-ride tickets bundle. You can buy them directly from the self-machines in most metro stations -just like the return tickets to Disneyland.
The 10 bundle price is ok (don’t expect it to be cheap, c’est Paris) and the tickets were enough for three days around Paris.
Most attractions are concentrated in the same areas, and strolling in Paris is just so attractive you don’t wanna miss out by catching the metro for just a few blocks.
What is an ARRONDISSEMENT?
Good question mes amis...
To explain it the easy way, the “centre” of Paris is organized in 20 Arrondissements. We could translate them as districts, or neighborhoods, but what we need to know is that they start from the number 1, where the Louvre is, to go spirally around until the number 20.
Each Arroundissment has at least one or more POI(points of interest), .
So, if your hotel is within the arrondissements, you are still around the city.
…or you can always ask for a lift to THIS guy
Where to stay in Paris
Ok so, here’s the thing:
Yes, there are plenty of hotels in Paris.
Yes, they are expansive.
Yes, most of them are characterized by small rooms.
We waited waaay to long to book our hotel, and after looking everywhere, we were just starting to accept that it would have costed us a fortune to get a decent place to sleep.
Than we opened Groupon… and… BAM!! A few not-too-bad hotels offering a 2-4 nights stay (most of them including breakfast).
If you do not speak French, you can go on Groupon.uk and see what you can find there. They tend to have the same travel deals for the same price in Europe.
If you choose to look on Groupon we recommend to look from 3 stars hotels, and check the reviews before booking.
Watch out as sometimes hotels with renovations will use Groupon to get some extra cash while renovating. We were pretty lucky with the hotel we picked cos they had JUST finished renovating (and were trying to get back in the market through Groupon).
Also, make sure the hotel is near a metro station, it is the easiest way to get around Paris, and possibly within the 20th Arrondissement.
And remember to check on Trip advisor if the area is safe.
This is where we stayed .
Safe and quiet Area, XV Arrondissement, a few steps from the “Porte de Versailles” Metro and the tram stop, easy to get around, Nice breakfast, Friendly staff, Spacious rooms, Good Wifi reception, French Feel and Modern mixed to Retro Parisian Style.
Thumbs up 🙂
This is all from now. Hope you got some heads up on how to organise your trip, remember you can simply click on the “Holiday Search” button from the menu to find cheap flights and hotels.
In our next article you’ll find some info and tips about what happens once you are there. Stay tuned!!