People drool over Paris. Literally, they do. Pretty sure I’ve seen babies start drooling on the plane ride over. Honeymooners, vacationers, helpless romantics, families, whoever. All walks of life visit or call this place home, and I’ve always thought of it as just another big city. I never had anything against Paris, but if you were to ask me about the most romantic city I’ve ever visited, I’d probably say Venice, Italy. If you were to ask me where I’d take a honeymoon, I might reply with Patagonia the Maldives. Maybe 4th times a charm, or perhaps seeing the sights with a few locals changed my mind for the better this time around.
Where to Stay
I started the weekend by checking into the brand new Renaissance Paris République hotel, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. This is the real Paris, outside the touristy corners of everything the Eiffel Tower touches. Between the 10th and 11th arrondissements (or districts), the local feel of the neighborhood and the amazing staff at the hotel sold it for me. The Navigators (aka the Concierge) let me in on a good mixture of off-the-beaten-path sights as well as classic landmarks to tour. I decided to live like a local by riding the Metro (one of the densest in the world with 245 stations!) biking, and taking the bus!
What to See, Do, & Eat
Another reason to love the Renaissance is due to its close proximity to a metro stop. I rode from République to Lamarck – Caulaincourt and made my way towards the highest point in the city. To explore the curvy, intimate streets of Montmartre should most definitely be on everyone’s itinerary.
I typically carry around a bulky camera bag in order to adequately capture a destination as I walk through it. What if I needed to change lenses or get an action shot with my GoPro? Always have to be prepared!
This time around I wanted to really feel like a local, to try and to lose myself in the steep cobbled streets of one of the most historic neighborhoods in Paris (and let’s be honest, not have sore shoulders at the end of the day). I grabbed my camera and cross-body for a day of discovery. Even though it’s no Mary Poppins bag like my Seville, my Lo & Sons Pearl held everything I needed for the day with its two zip compartments alongside various inside pockets. It’s chic, versatile, and the most important thing in any city – it’s safe. Gotta love a good cross-body bag!
The highest point in the city is the Sacré-Cœur Basilica where a 360 degree view meets and greets everyone who visits. It’s almost impossible to get lost here since you can’t really miss the white church on top of the hill. Also, don’t miss the artists sketching masterpieces or buy an overpriced crepe at a cafe. MmMmMmMmMm.
A walk down to Moulin Rouge was next on our list. I didn’t need to go in. I simply wanted to revel in its rich cabaret history from afar. After a photo opp, I hopped on the bus and did some shopping at Printemps since that’s what you’re supposed to do in Paris, right?! Helloooo fashion capital of the world! Tip: Don’t miss the views from up top!
One of my favorite spots in Paris is the Jardin du Palais Royal. It’s not as touristy as some of the other gardens (ahem, Tuileries), but just as pretty. Tip: Grab a coffee at Cafe Kitsune while there – you’re not nearly done with your day yet. So much to do, so little time!
What’s a day in Paris without a Notre Dame sighting? OH. Oh oh oh. I can’t forget about my favorite cafe in the city, Odette Paris. I don’t know what they put in their creme puffs (crack) but I’ve never had a better caloric intake in my life. This tiny jewel of a bakery on a charming cobblestone street is why life is worth living. Move over macarons, hello choux a la crème.
I don’t know what it is about bridges, but they bring the romance factor up a notch. A walk along the Seine River is a must. Pont du Bir Hakeim is a good choice due to it’s photogenic ability and proximity near the Eiffel Tower, but not right next to the Eiffel Tower so as not to be flooded with tourists. Score!
Okay, so all the somewhat negative talk about the Eiffel Tower and…here I was, about to take the metro to Trocadero, the stop that includes the Eiffel Tower. As a photographer, I do love getting allllll the angles, especially angles that aren’t typically posted, such as the below. Sometimes you just gotta change up your perspective!
When the lights go down in the city, the romance really comes alive. Some advice: Don’t only see the Notre Dame by day. Come nighttime, the locals are alive and well here! As the day comes to an end, my Lo & Sons Pearl cross-body converts into a clutch by unhooking the strap – a perfect addition to any chic, evening look! If you’re like me and in and out of airports, hotels and destinations all over the globe, these bags are everything!
More Activities You’ll Love While in Paris:
- Cooking Class it up at L’atelier de Chefs. Note: Most classes are in French, which could be a motivator to learn a few phrases in order to create (and understand) the very best pastries in the world.
- What’s a trip to the fashion capital of the world without some shopping? I adore Le Marais neighborhood with its cute shops and quaint vibe. Le Bon Marché department store doesn’t suck, either.
- If you like vibrant colors and good photos, take a stroll on Rue Crémieux. It’s really stunning, and I swear it increases your serotonin levels just by looking at it!
- I’m not a huge fan of spending oodles of time at museums, but Paris has some of my favorites including the Pompidou, the Louvre and the d’Orsay. There are LOADS more, but these are some of the most popular, (and rightfully so!)
- Get in a nighttime stroll in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood after stuffing yourself with dinner at Allard and before getting a nightcap at Prescription Cocktail Club.
I could live in Paris for years and not scratch the surface. All recommendations and tips welcome in the comments below for subsequent trips!!