While Paris is still fresh on my mind, even in this jet lagged/head cold fog I have going on. I wanted to start typing up a recap to share with all of you. I tried to share as much as I could in real time as it was happening on Instagram stories, because well I feel like you are all my friends now and I love sharing special moments with those who are special to me.
Ben and I both agreed we wanted to do something special to celebrate 10 years. We really try to be grateful for eachother every day, but let’s face it, most of the time we are focused on trying to keep up with our own businesses, both of which we are the “bosses” of 😉 keep up with the kids schedules, our own health/interests, home and friends. We don’t always make our marriage a priority as I know we should. About 8 months ago we started discussing a special trip for this big milestone. Paris is a city we always thought would be a beautiful destination to visit, the food, architecture and style just scream romantic anniversary getaway, right?
We both love exploring new cultures, and since having kids have chosen to stay mostly travel with the kids on this side of the pond. Choosing destinations like California, Florida and Mexico but knew this time around we didn’t want to just sit on a beach all day. Instead experience another culture, together.
After realizing we still had some travel points saved up to use for the hotel, with our reward points (we stayed at the Renaissance Republiqe Paris Hotel) all we needed to find was a great deal on flights. Over Labor day weekend the prices dropped and we booked with Norwegian airlines. By September we had booked our dream anniversary trip.
Some of you asked if we spoke the language. I wish we could say yes to that. However, neither of us speak french. Honestly it wasn’t a big deal. I was worried about this, we brushed up on the most basic phrases and greetings and that definitely got us through. I even downloaded an app to learn french called Duolingo (highly recommend) Luckily most French people speak a bit of English and if you are polite and pleasant to them they don’t mind helping you out. I always recommend starting with a “bonjour” and ending with a “merci” I mean at least it’s something 😉
Like I said before, brush up on the greetings at least to get you in their good graces. I would definitely remember “parlez vous english?” which means “do you speak english?” this phrase helped us out greatly.
For dining out we sometimes couldn’t understand the menus, some restaurants offered english menus, while others didn’t. If we were really stuck we either googled some words on my phone (we paid for my phone to have wifi for the week to help us with navigation outside the hotel and for any emergencies). However, some really nice servers would help us translate certain things.
If you are having a hard time with a menu, I suggest to ask for whatever is the most popular item on the menu or what they are “known” for. This always worked, as we got to try some of the most delicious food I’ve ever had. Also, please remember that dining in Paris is different then here, they aren’t super friendly or attentive. When they come over they want to know exactly what you want and sometimes you have to wait a bit. It’s nothing against you its just how they roll over there.
For planning our day time activities I’m typically I’m a planner. I like to have everything figured out. However for this trip were somewhat flexible about certain things yet also had some things planned. We knew we wanted to do a couple museums, go to Versailles and have a beautiful dinner view of the Eiffle Tower.
I always recommend making friends with the concierge. Everyday we would check in with them in regards to suggestions or how to navigate the metro. The first day or two was VERY helpful to have them help us with the metro and give us a good understanding of the lay out of the city.
I found the concierge at our hotel to be extremely helpful and knowledgable. Not sure if all hotels are the same but if they take their jobs seriously they should be. We also googled things if we were stuck, and I also used the Local Milk Blog for a lot of AMAZING suggestions on traveling to Paris.
I suggest making reservations for meals especially on the weekends as early as you can and getting tickets to museums through the hotel or online to help skip some of the lines and avoid having no options left when it comes to dining. A couple times we waited to the last minute and some restaurants we really wanted were booked.
Safety- we always felt safe, but we were also careful about our belongings and kept passports in our hotel safe. We always made sure to keep our bags wallets close by, the usual travel stuff.
Have a good wander… We loved not always having a set plan and just seeing where we ended up… like here we stopped in the beautiful Tuileries Garden which took our breath away.
I coordinated a photo shoot for us, I really wanted to remember this trip and didn’t want to come home with 100 selfies of us, which other than these is what would have happened. I didn’t want to ask strangers to take photos either. This may not be for everyone. It was an investment in something we will alway cherish. Ben is such a good sport. I mean he’s been married to me now for a decade, so he knows what to expect, haha! We used Federico, Iheartparis photography and these are a few of our photos which they sent early, as I wanted one to share on our anniversary night. They were so kind to help with that (husband and wife team).
(this dress is almost sold out but find a similar dress here)
After these photos we made our way for a cocktail and then to our dinner reservation overlooking the Eiffle Tower at Cafe De l’homme. I wanted to be sure we spent our anniversary night at a special spot. So I searched for one from early on, a few suggestions in my search were to eat inside the tower for a romantic setting but
a. I’m scared of heights
b. we wanted to see the tower all lit up, if we were inside it we wouldn’t see it.
So we ended up inside a museum in Trocadero Square. You would never know there was a restaurant inside if you were walking by because it is actually in the back of a museum. The only thing that gave it away was this beautiful lit up balloon in the front entrance near a valet. This dining experience was one we’ll never forget. The epitome of a romantic dinner. We had the most beautiful view, we sat outside under a heat lamp it was cool but not cold. We were very comfortable. Our thoughtful Maid of Honor ordered a bottle of champagne sent to the table. Somehow she figured out where we were and sent us a bottle. It was so magical, I seriously almost cried. The food was delicious, I can’t remember every detail of the food other than it tasted so good, we were so busy enjoying the moment.
Basically any Boulangerie/cafe have amazing fresh bread, pastries and cheese & charcuterie boards.
Frenchie – (we ate at this tapa/wine bar the first night but wish we had made reservations across the street at the main restaurant)
Cafe De L’homme– Salmon was actually amazing!
Le Petite Celestin – Two words, Truffle Linguini
Chez Janou– All I can say is get the Chocolate Mousse for dessert
La Cave de Septime– a little whole in the wall tiny bar, serving natural wine ( SO GOOD) great little tapas to go with different types of wine.
Holy Belly – Brunch so amazingly good
Hardware Societe Paris– One of the best breakfast’s I’ve ever had.
In France culture is literally everywhere. We opted out of those touristy-bus situation and followed the locals by walking and using the metro. One day we clocked 11 miles on foot. Let’s just say that justified all the decedent food. On Wednesday we visited the Picasso Museum which we had already been to one in Spain 7 years ago, we realized once we were there, so we wish we had seen another artist work but its always is so spectacular to see these works in person. We also went to the Musee d’ Orsay to see the great impressionists work which was so fun for me since I used to teach my students all about some of these painters like Van Gogh and Matisse.
Our big day trip on Thusrsday was to
I would recommend getting tickets the night before or in advance anyway, we got them through concierge and got the tip to get there at the opening hour of 9am. Then we decided to save money by taking the metro to the commuter rail vs. an organized tour bus. I’m not huge into the organized tour kind of things. Travel there took an hour and was under $20 each to get there and back. It was SO worth the trip. I love period pieces so going back to that time period and see the lavish detail of the interior just BLEW MY MIND. We just used their walking tour guide, for free that you put up to your ear. However I would have maybe liked to hire a real tour guide had their been a group of us.
We also bought tickets to go out into the Gardens. Wow, there really are no words to describe how beautiful the landscape was. They play baroque music in the background and it really just transports you to another time. I wish it had been a sunnier and warmer day but it was fine. When we left around 2pm the line was absolutely insane! So we did it right!!
On Friday night we knew we wanted to see some live music as we are both big live music fans. We inquired with concierge about any local jazz happening and they gave us a few recommendations of which we ended up choosing something in the Jazz distract. The band had Caribbean influence and they were just so talented, they even sat with us and explained some of their music and how it evolved plus the meaning behind it. Truly such an enriching experience!
WEEKEND MARKETS- I knew I wanted to find a market on the weekend to find french treasures. And boy oh boy did we! We were hunting around trying to find one and just like magic, we came up from the metro and saw tents lining the sidewalk. It was exactly what I hoped to find. I asked about it and the concierge said it’s a traveling market that pops up all over town. I wanted everything! I did walk away with this vintage LV wallet.
For anyone looking to hit up an antique market, I was told by an Instagram friend “JesseLauzon” that his favorites “Porte de Vanves” which was just a little too out of the way for the short amount of time we had left. I recommend just asking around on Saturday and searching online when you are there.
The last morning we went to Montmartre, this was something we wish we had done in the evening or on a nicer sunnier day. We took the metro to 18th arrondissement and walked up the steep hill to see the Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur it was stunning! The view from up there was incredible! Unfortunately it was really cold and overcast that day. I would totally recommend this on a clear morning or evening with the city all lit up. We were justhappy to have seen it, climbed the gigantic set of steps and had the most delicious brunch we’d ever had at the top at Hardware Societe Paris.
It would take me forever to write down every detail but I hope this is helpful for anyone traveling to Paris soon. We also loved just strolling along the Siene river, like probably one of my favorites was walking, hand in hand down old cobble stone streets. As cheesy as that sounds 😉 oh and the cheese, lord the cheese.
YES, it feels like we lived in a dream world for a week. We feel so enriched not only as a couple but also just seeing more of the world just makes us feel more alive. Soaking in all the richness of France, from the food, to the history to the arts… it really made us have an appreciation for so much. Especially of course for our own home and kids. Do I wish I could go back to my 20’s and live a couple years there? YUP! We’ll definitely be back to see more and probably with the kids next time. For now, I have to say we’re very happy to be home. I’m so grateful for this wonderful experience. Thank you all for joining along and all your kind comments over on Instagram. If you aren’t following me, I’d love for you to here!