How I Make the Most of Paris
For a while last year, it seemed like I was escaping to Paris quite frequently. But something has gone horribly wrong this year - I haven't been to France once! Something I think I need to remedy shortly (please hold as I pull up Skyscanner...)
But simultaneously, Paris has been on my mind recently - what with France going to the World Cup Finals, chats with some lovely French friends, Bastille Day this weekend, and my never ending obsession with all things pastry/macaron.
All this to say, I wanted to reminisce about some of my absolute favourite Paris memories and share how I tend to make the most of Paris each time I go, no matter how short of a time I'm there.
How I make the most of Paris
1. Make time for the things that matter most
For me, this revolves almost entirely around 2 things: eating delicious foods and wandering aimlessly through the city (well, not entirely aimlessly, as I'm usually on the hunt for the next delicious treat).
One of the ways I most enjoy this step is by immediately getting out into the city, wandering the streets in search of some local cuisine. I absolutely love walking down the small side streets, there's usually some sort of hidden gem of a restaurant with no signage that is just waiting for you to pop in.
In Paris, this usually means heading to a patisserie or the nearest macaron shop! However, the last time I was in Paris, I finally went to Frenchie To Go and got a Reuben. So basically, I'm ruined forever.
2. Choose a neighborhood/find the river
I think this holds for pretty much every city I've been to, but my favorite memories of visiting said city has revolved around getting lost in a neighborhood and finding the nearest water to walk along. Whether it's a river, loch, lake, canal, ocean or pond, I find that once you find that body of water, peace just washes over you (pun intended). It's usually the place with the best people watching because these are usually natives showing us how they are enjoying their city.
It's such a love letter to a city to watch others truly enjoying being exactly where they are. In Paris, one of my best memories is finding a Seine-side bar that had a pop-up horseshoe pit, tables and chairs along the river, with a bridge above us and boats floating on by. We spent the evening just pretending we were one of the locals and watched the sun fade along the river.
Basically, the tip is find your happy place. For Dan and me, that is quite often near water. But as far as Parisian neighborhoods go, we always gravitate toward Montmartre. Who doesn't love the old-school class of art and the utterly Parisian chic architecture and culture at the top of a hill overlooking the city?
3. Try something new/take a walking tour
While it always gives me that warm fuzzy feeling going back to the familiar, cozy feel of a well known and explored neighborhood in Paris, I also love to try somewhere new each time. It's a BIG city with so much to offer and each arrondissement has a personality. Even the touristy options seem to be endless. So I try to at least do one more touristy thing each time and one sort of off-the-beaten-path thing.
On our most recent visit, we finally made it to the Luxembourg Gardens!! And it seemed to be a blend of both touristy AND local. While not off-the-beaten-path at all, it was so calm and peaceful as old men played Petanque and kids played on the jungle gyms.
Another very fond memory I have is taking the free Sandemans tour of Paris. Every time I take one of those tours in cities, they are always quite informative and interesting. However, I'd say Paris is one of the top ones I've been on. I think it was a combination of our very engaging and passionate tour guide and the fact that I hadn't fully appreciated so much of the rich history of Paris beforehand. These tours are my favourite thing to do early on on a trip so that I can get the lay of the land and then maybe choose to explore something more based on what I learned on the tour.
4. Make a plan to return
No matter how much you fit in, or how much time you have in Paris, it's best to just plan the return trip as soon as you can! I think this city gets better each time I go. Partially because it becomes less and less intimidating, more and more familiar, but also more and more of a mystery. Seriously, I gotta go book a flight.