This particular trip to Paris was mainly planned around the finale of the Tour de France, and secondly, since our high school daughter has been taking French, we thought it would be nice for her to put some of those new words to use. Let’s just say she needs more practice! A lot! We were in Paris for four days and we didn’t see the sun until the day we departed. Thank goodness I packed a jacket, but I didn’t pack enough pants, which I was in need of by day three. Those pants came in handy because I ended up wearing them a lot throughout our trip, which proved to be quite cool and rainy until we arrived in Barcelona. The up side to the cool weather was not having to worry about getting sunburned or overheated while touring, which I think was a blessing in many ways with the kids……no complaining about the heat. Not an issue at all.
For a change of pace we stayed in the 7th arrondissement this time around instead of the 16th arrondissement. Both neighborhoods are wonderful, and have access to so many things…….so where would I stay next time? Honestly I would stay in either neighborhood because both are fabulous in their own way! For this trip, which I started booking back in December, I found an adorable apartment on Home Away and it worked out perfectly for our family of four. Staying in an apartment this time was nice because it was fun to walk down to the local bakery in the morning for coffee and croissants, and to walk down to Rue Cler, which we were just a few blocks from, to pick up delicious fresh produce to enjoy at our charming Parisian apartment.
This is, yours truly, having another delicious chocolate croissant at my favorite neighborhood bakery on Rue Dominique. Thank goodness we were walking around a lot! 😉
Nice to walk out of our apartment each morning and see the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
Rue Cler, considered one of the best street markets in Paris, was nice to visit in the early morning hours before the crowds arrived. A lovely place to take a morning stroll to watch the shopkeepers set up their stands for the day. And to have first dibs on the wonderful produce.
I love the cute packaging for the raspberries……the containers look like little cradles.
After dinner we took evening strolls down to the Champ de Mars- Eiffel Tour. If you’ve never seen the lights twinkle at the top of the hour it is quite a beautiful thing to witness. If you are looking for other places to view the Eiffel Tower and take pictures, I highly recommend taking the Metro to the Trocadero station. Walk out of the station and up to the square. You will know what I mean when you see it….trust me. We had a peek a boo view of the top of the tower from our apartment and we always made a point of running over to the window to see the show if we were still up.
One of my favorite memories from this trip was waking up early on Sunday and walking over to the Orsay museum. Paris was still sleeping and it felt like we had the city to ourselves. No crowds to contend with, no noisy traffic, just us and the beautiful scenery for a few peaceful hours.
Love the beautiful Metro signs. Shouldn’t all subway signs be that elegant?!
When we arrived at the Musee d’Orsay there was a very short line and we were able to get in within 5 minutes. The Orsay was originally a railway station and it is truly beautiful and a destination to put on your list, if only for a short visit. The only museums we went to this time around were the Orsay and the Les Invalides…..best known for housing Napoleon’s Tomb. Did you know that Napoleon really wasn’t that short…..he was 5’7″!? Once inside the Orsay we “hit the highlights” as I call it. We were with the teens so we certainly were not going to be spending the day, or even more than a few hours, so we saw the major highlights of the Orsay…..Monet, Cezanne and Van Gogh, and a few extras, and then we were on our way. Everybody was happy.
We happened to pass by the Louvre on our bike ride and it was packed. I’ve only been to the Louvre in the winter and it was a great time to visit because we walked right up to the entrance and there were very few people inside. I definitely recommend an off season visit to the Louvre.
The beautiful Musee d’ Orsay
Walking back to our apartment we crossed the Pont des Arts bridge…..aka: love lock bridge. From what I understand they are now taking the locks off, but there were still vendors on the bridge selling new locks for those who were interested.
It would not be a family vacation for us if it didn’t include a bike a ride. We used Fat Tire Tours and it was a history lesson, as much as it was a bike tour. Our kids loved it and we really enjoyed our sweet Irish guide who helped us navigate Paris traffic with expertise. I would probably not recommend this tour for kids who are not completely comfortable on their bike. We were on the streets of Paris a lot more than I thought we would be……a little nerve racking trying to cross some of the traffic circles, but exciting for our kids! For mom not so much!
We stopped in the Tuileries Garden, which connects the Louvre to the Champs-Elysees, to have lunch during our bike ride. Our bike ride was four hours long, so it was nice to stop and refuel for a bit. I just love how this garden supplies chairs for its visitors. As you can see, some of them even recline back a bit…..the French seriously know how to relax and enjoy!
We had to stop by the beautiful Laduree macaron shop on the Champs de Elysees. No line out the door thank goodness! Pistachio is always my favorite, but I had to try the Marie Antoinette……I was in love with the color alone, and it was delicious I must say.
The employees wear cute little aprons and the macarons are packed in the most beautiful boxes. And look at the selection. This picture doesn’t really show you the the full extent of what they carry. The macaron case was very long and I was able to get a picture of only half of it without really annoying the people in line around me. The robin egg blue macaron is the Marie Antoinette. I think Marie would be very happy to hear that there is a delicious macaron with her name on it in Paris.
No trip to Paris would be complete for me without a visit to the charming Montmarte neighborhood in the 18th arrondissement. It was quite chilly the day we went to visit this fun neighborhood, so instead of stopping for cold drinks, as one would expect in July, (I was thinking a glass of champagne for mom) we stopped for hot chocolates at a darling cafe to warm up. Everybody was inside the cafes and not outside on this particular day. The neighborhood was extremely busy, and I learned my lesson to only visit this neighborhood in the early morning, and not in the afternoon like we did this particular time. Note to self.
The beautiful Sacre Coeur Basilica located on the top of Montmartre hill. You will have a beautiful view of Paris when you stand on the steps of the Basilica. On this particular day the building was as gray as the sky.
Walking back to our apartment, after the Tour de France race, there was a slight break in the clouds over the Pont de Alexandre Bridge. Finally some blue sky!
The riders from the 102nd Tour de France coming into Paris along the Champs de Elysees.
192 riders start the race in 22 teams of nine. They cover a distance of 3,360 kilometers.
One afternoon the girls and I did some shopping in St. Germain (they read that there was a Brandy Melville in the area) and we stopped at Cafe de Flore on Boulevard St. Germain. Cafe de Flore is a Barefoot Contessa favorite and a great place to people watch! And the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. The lively St. Germain area was walking distance from our apartment. St. Germain is known for great shopping, famous cafes, and many chic brasseries….. and there are many lovely side streets to stroll. You could seriously spend an entire afternoon or more in this area.
This was just a glance of some of the things we did while we were in this beautiful city.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, Paris is a beautiful place to visit. I love discovering new places in Paris and revisiting places I’ve enjoyed in the past. It just never gets old. Walking the city at a leisurely pace is really the best way to enjoy this lovely city. Nothing should be rushed. Getting lost and discovering new neighborhoods and cafes, with no agenda in hand, is really a wonderful way to acquaint yourself with this beautiful destination.
What are your favorite things to do in Paris? I would love to know!
Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for more posts about our European trip in coming weeks.