La Vie en Rose: Paris

20 July 2015

It’s been about a month since we returned from France and I have all our photos sorted, so it’s time to share our adventure! Instead of sharing day by day, as I did with our California trip, I’m going to share by location. First up will be Paris, then Versailles (it deserves its own post!), Provence, Cassis, and finally Mougins.

This was mine and John’s first trip to Europe, which meant it was our first trans-Atlantic (and overnight!) flight! We took off from Montreal around 10pm on Air Canada and landed at Charles de Gaulle around 9:30am local time. We stayed awake long enough to sample our hot airline dinner (surprisingly delicious), then attempted to sleep for the rest of the six hour flight. One tip: we packed a few Burt’s Bees face wipes as well as Wisps, and both helped us feel much fresher going to bed and then again in the morning!

From CDG we took the RER (commuter train) and then the Metro into Paris. This was easy – there was a kiosk to buy tickets right in the airport. The ride to Cambronne, our stomping grounds in the 15th arrondissement, took about 45 minutes. Once we hopped off at our stop, I was amazed when John strode confidently in the correct direction! His trick? He had “walked” the route from the station to our apartment on Google street view. That man is a genius! We successfully met up with our Airbnb host, dropped our luggage, and made outfit changes.


And then we dove in! We walked from the 15th toward the Seine, stopping at a stall along the river for a foccaccia, tomato, and mozzarella sandwich (yum!). Along the way, we saw the Invalides, the Ecole Militaire, and even got a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower!



Our destination was the Musee d’Orsay. We didn’t have a ton of time in Paris (really only two days, since most of one of our days was spent at Versailles), and we knew ourselves: while we appreciate art, we are not the biggest art history buffs. So instead of the Louvre, we chose the Musee d’Orsay, which came highly recommended by many people for its art, its architecture, and its more manageable footprint.




We walked the Orsay for about an hour. Sadly, we were feeling the effects of an overnight flight, 24 hours of travel, and the time change at this point, and were dragging pretty hard, so I don’t think we quite did this lovely museum justice. We did, however, love the observation patio on the top floor – the view was completely majestic! If I were to go again, I would listen to an audio tour while walking, because there wasn’t much context for the pieces from signage.


After exiting the Orsay we crossed over the Seine and wandered through the Tuileries. So beautiful! I would love to spend an entire afternoon reading in one of the reclined patio chairs that cover the grounds. One surprise: the Tuileries, as well as many other parts of Paris, were very dusty! The paths are mostly finely crushed gravel, and the wind really whips it into the air. Both John and I had mildly sore throats for our three days in Paris (a small price to pay, though!).


As we walked toward the Champs-Elysees, the crowd definitely got thicker and thicker, and a bit more touristy. But we didn’t mind, because we had a destination in sight: Laduree! We splurged on a sample box of eight, including lemon, chocolate banana, rose petal, and raspberry. The store was as elegant and lovely, and the macarons as delicious, as everyone makes them out to be! A little jewel box. I would definitely recommend a stop, though beyond that I wouldn’t spend much time on the Champs Elysees.


After a brief glimpse of the Arc de Triomphe, we hopped on the Metro (we had purchased unlimited rides, which I would also recommend) to the Trocadero. We got a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower from on high, and successfully avoided all of the selfie stick sellers!



From there, we walked down under the Tower to Cafe Constant, a restaurant that was one of the most often-recommended in our pre-trip research. We arrived right when they opened, as recommended, to avoid a long wait, and were seated promptly. The meal was very good and reasonably priced – classic French food (I got boeuf bourguignon). Our night ended with a walk back to our apartment past the lit-up Tower.


There’s that Paris light – this was taken at 9:30!


On Sunday we started the day with worship at Hillsong Paris. It was similar to the Hillsong NYC service we went to this spring (also in a theater), but a smaller crowd. The whole service was delivered in both French and English (aside from the songs, which were in French). Such a neat way to experience true Parisian life!

After church we headed to Versailles, which I will report on in my next post!

I do have to mention, though, that on Sunday we had dinner at Les Cocottes back in Paris, a restaurant owned by the same chef as Cafe Constant. We LOVED our late (10pm!) dinner at Les Cocottes – definitely one of our favorites from the whole trip. The vibe is kind of like an upscale diner, the food was absolutely delicious, and the whole experience felt very Parisian. Highly, highly recommended.


Even though people always split Paris into the Left and Right Banks, we split our days a little differently: on Saturday we stayed to the West of the Louvre, and on Monday, we were mostly to the right of it. We started our second day in Paris (third day in France) with an escargot (not the snail – a pistachio pastry that looks like a snail!) and a pain au chocolat from Du Pain et Des Idees, another boulangerie that had come highly recommended. We ate them on the bank of the Canal St. Martin, then wandered Le Marais until it was time for lunch. (Can you tell our days were structured around food and sights? But what else is there??)




For lunch, we split from the French fare we had been enjoying and indulged in street-style tacos at a true hole in the wall, Candelaria (recommended by our friends as well as Anthony Bourdain). The “kitchen” was a teensy galley on the other side of the counter from the bar stools where we sat, and the food was delicious.

Fortified, we walked across Pont Neuf to Ile de la Cite.


For our first foray into a Paris historic site, we waited in line for about a half an hour to see Saint Chapelle. It was most definitely stunning, with more than 1,000 Biblical scenes depicted in stained glass!


However, for me, our next destination, Notre Dame, was even more beautiful. Even though the line outside looked long, it moved briskly (we probably only waited five minutes), and there is no entry fee. They’ve done a wonderful job with signage and description inside, and I loved learning more about the cathedral’s history as well as drinking in the amazing architecture.



What’s that? Time for a snack! Next up was Berthillon ice cream, on Ile St. Louis. Warning: as you approach the actual Berthillon location, you will see signs for many, many other shops advertising Berthillon. It’s like the ice cream district! These other shops actually do sell Berthillon, but if you want it from the original location, keep walking. It’s delicious – more icy than creamy, and very intensely flavored.


With our ice cream in hand we strolled around the Jardin du Luxembourg area (beautiful! I liked it better than the Tuileries) before heading back to our apartment to clean up for dinner. En route, we stumbled across a Longchamps store, and I was able to replace my seven-year-old bag (tip: the same bag goes for MUCH less when bought in France!).


Dinner was at Le Coupe Chou, a perfect date night spot. From the outside, it looked like it belonged in England; the inside is a maze of cozy rooms with fireplaces galore.

These two city skeptics were completely charmed by Paris — John especially. Despite the Parisian reputation, everyone we met was INCREDIBLY friendly; there was beauty and history at every turn; and we loved walking everywhere (45 miles in three days!). I also loved that all of the stereotypes about French people and baguettes are 100% true – there was one sticking out of almost every tote bag we saw, or being munched right on the sidewalk! To conclude, we would go back in a heartbeat.

Even though this is a long post, I left out a lot of detail, so please ask questions about specifics if you have them! And if you have been to Paris, I would love to know: did we make it to one of your favorite spots? And if we didn’t, what did we miss?

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July 20, 2015 7:48 am

Hooray!! Loved reading your recap, and seeing all your cute Paris outfits :)

July 20, 2015 8:04 am

Oh my stars, I am SO glad you made it to Les Cocottes! That wsa a highlight for me (all. the. butter.) We ducked in there during a rain storm and were completely blown away. Your trip looks like it was wonderful! I am heading to Italy this week and am definitely feeling your travel style vibe. Thanks for sharing!

July 20, 2015 9:01 am

Your trip looks wonderful! Any airbnb tips? We’re staying in a bunch when we do a Scandinavia trip this fall & I’m a little nervous!

July 20, 2015 10:05 am

Oh I love this so much! Just one question–where is that adorable white skirt from? :)

Victoria B
July 20, 2015 11:40 am

Yes! My husband and I just recently decided that our trip next year is going to be Paris! We are still figuring out where else we want to add on to it, but Paris is a definite. I’m sure I will have more questions as I get into the nitty gritty of planning. I love these recommendations and have already written them down! Would you say that your time in Paris was too short or just right? So far, I’m thinking of staying 4 or 5 nights in order to take our time with everything. Plus we want to do one day at Versailles and one day doing a Champagne area tour and tasting. We are big city travellers, so going from sightseeing to eating is how I love to travel! Are there any places you didn’t go but wish you had had time for?
Also, you look so adorable, good job on the packing!

July 20, 2015 12:18 pm

This is delightful and you look so cute!

July 20, 2015 1:06 pm

I loved reminiscing through your photos in Paris! One of my favorite areas was Montmartre and seeing Sacre Coeur; it was such an artsy area, and I saw the happiest man alive playing his violin on the steps of the cathedral. I will always remember that moment!

July 20, 2015 7:56 pm

@Morgan It sounds basic, but read the reviews! We not only look at the star rating, but read many (if not all) of the reviews. That way, we can see if anyone had anything negative to say, and if their issue would be a deal breaker for us!

@Ana It is from Francesca’s!

July 20, 2015 10:12 pm

Your account of Paris is magnifique Emily! I like that you included your food selections and the details of each place that you most enjoyed :)

July 21, 2015 10:05 am

Isn’t Laduree a-ma-zing?! It may be a Parisian cliche, but who cares – those macarons are so delicious and totally worth it! I haven’t been to the one in Paris, but I’m pretty thankful that there’s a Laduree in NYC!

PS: Loving the white skirt + chambray combo!!

July 23, 2015 12:38 pm

This post makes me so happy! I’m actually quite behind on blog reading (over 1K posts in Feedly!) but I thought to myself just now as I opened my browser, “I wonder if Emily has started posting about France yet.” So excited to read the other posts, this one was absolutely lovely! (And delicious looking!)

July 24, 2015 3:49 pm

Your pictures are so beautiful. I am impressed by the level of research and time y’all put into planning in the trip. Definitely important when you only have a short time to see so many places. I am not much of a planner myself, but it amazes me how it pays off when we take the time to research and plan what we want to do (of course it does!). I have been to Paris twice, both for short trips though. I hope to go back someday for an extended trip sometime! I did get to the Louvre my first time around, but never went to Musee D’Orsay, so I will have to add it to my list. My first time there I went to Notre Dame and took the elevator up the Eiffel Tower, which was pretty cool for the views and experience! So those were definitely the highlights of the trip. My second time around I went to Notre Dame, but also Sacre Couer, which is worth the long hike up. It’s an amazing basilica and it has the most gorgeous view of the city.

August 9, 2015 5:47 pm

My aunt and uncle lived in Paris for 15 years (in a boat on the Seine!) but I was very young at the time and never got to visit. I’m dying to go and see all the sights and eat all the food! Can’t wait to read about the rest of your trip!