My Trip to France Part 2: Paris

Aug 25, 2021

I hope you enjoyed The French Riviera with me! Now, let's go to Paris!


When I was planning this trip I thought it would be more economical and easier to travel by train to Paris from Nice. Nope! It was six hours and $200 a person. We flew on Easy Jet instead for $33 a person and it only took 90 minutes. We landed in Paris and hit the ground running. Actually, we took an uber everywhere. I wasn't doing the whole train thing again. It made it so much faster to get to the places we wanted to see. 

First, we checked into our hotel to drop our bags. We stayed in the Le Bon Marche shopping area of Saint Germain. We had stayed in the more touristy Champs de Elysees when we were here ten years ago. It was nice, but when we crossed over to the Left Bank into Saint Germain I completely fell in love with it. It felt like the Paris I had imagined with the smaller streets and more quaint atmosphere. I knew that's where we would stay when we returned. It's also where you will find the famous Cafe de Fiore and Les Deux Magots. Actually, our first meal on this trip was lunch at Cafe de Fiore. I had the quiche and it was great. The French onion soup looked amazing too.

SIAMO ANDATI A FARE COLAZIONE AL CAFE' DE FLORE A PARIGI, BOULEVARD  SAINT-GERMAIN 17 — UNA LUNGA COLAZIONE — | Nel delirio non ero mai sola

Honestly, my favorite thing to do in Paris is to sit in a cute cafe. They usually ask if we're eating because many people come in just to have a drink. We started to going for breakfast, lunch, a snack, dinner and after dinner. It's odd because I don't love to go out to eat much at home, but it's just so easy here. You're already walking by the chairs outside so it's easy just to plop down and have a cheese tray and a glass of wine.

We had Eiffel Tower tickets late that afternoon. The lines were so long my last trip to Paris to go up in it that we decided to skip it. I bought tickets in advance this time, and the lines were much shorter because of covid restrictions. I actually like see it from the ground better, but now I can at least say I did it. My son thought it was really cool. 








Then we did my favorite thing, which is to go to a cafe. We had the nicest waiter, and he insisted on taking photos of us. I'm sure part of it was for a tip, and we definitely tipped him well!









The drinking age is 18 and my son is 19 so we let him try wine and beer. He didn't like either so he stuck to sodas or water. That was until one of our last nights when he tried a sip of Jason's tequila. He ordered one, and after the first few sips he looked like he was enjoying it too much so we took it back lol. It's all fun and games until he likes it! 

I can't remember much about the order of things after the first day. We stopped taking so many photos and just enjoyed our time. I'll focus on the highlights.

Seine River Cruise:

I think one of the my favorite things we did was a Seine river cruise. I scheduled it at dusk so we could see the city in daylight on the way up the river and then at night on the way back. It really is so beautiful. Dylan was really impressed.



Notre Dame









I was hoping so much that I timed it right and the Eiffel Tower would be lit up on our way back. It wasn't at first, but as we got closer it finally lit up. It's seriously magical. This is a must do if you go to Paris!




Versailles:

I can't believe I never went to Versailles when we were here last. Well, I guess I can because I think we were only in Paris two or three nights. You'll spend most of the day there between the palace and the gardens. It's almost like a small city. We took an uber again to get there. I think it was about a 30-45 minute drive.






The famous Hall of Mirrors






The gardens









These are just a few of the photos I took. My favorite part of the garden was the musical fountains. I wish we had time to go rowing on the lake too. I think if I were to come back I would skip the palace now that I've seen it, and spend the afternoon in the gardens. They had people stationed at different areas to buy food and drinks.

The Louvre:

I knew my son would only want a quick tour of the Louvre so we focused on just a few things-Mona, mummies and Napoleon. I got distracted by jewelry and crowns for a minute. 










I swear she's looking at me. 




I think Dylan liked the history of The Louvre the most. He's a history buff so it's not surprising.



Mummy and Mummy


I didn't take photos of Napoleon's apartments, but don't miss it if you go. We were in and out of there in just a few hours, but only because we had been there before. Wear comfortable shoes and plan to spend most of the day there. We were ready to get out and have our daily wine lunch.

Now to the fun stuff...shopping and champagne!

Galeries Lafayette




Here's the lowdown on shopping in Paris and saving!

I didn't think I would buy a thing because of the exchange rate. Everything is about 18% more. However, if you buy merchandise over $100 you get 12% back. The countries in the European Union (EU) charge 20% tax that's already added in the price. If you are not an EU resident you get 12% back. Plus, merchandise made in France doesn't have the import tax we have in the United States. So here's an example.My husband bought a wallet for 325 euros that cost $495 plus tax in the US. That's $383 in Paris with the exchange rate compared to $535.84 (including 8.25% tax at home). Then we get 12% back so it is $337.04 in Paris. That's $337 compared to $535.84. If you're brained turned to mush just now, we saved $152.84!

I had been eyeing a Chanel handbag when we were out shopping that was insanely expensive. Aren't they all?! I kept thinking about it, but thought there was no way I'd spend that much money. I did the math and realized it was a great deal if I bought it. I would save over $1000! I was still on the fence. Then I had some champagne, realized I only lived once and would regret it if I didn't buy it. I'm getting to know myself after all of these years! I've been kicking myself for not buying one years ago when they were almost half the price they are now. They really do hold their value.

Is it the pink or the black one?



My husband was on board for the whole experience. He asked for champagne while we waited lol. Everyone turned around to look at us since it wasn't something they had offered. He said you won't get it if you don't ask. He's right! The sales lady didn't mind. She kept telling me, "You're so nice!" That made me a little sad. What kind of people do they get in here?



It's the pink one! I always thought I would get a classic black flap bag, but it just didn't grab me like this one. I also already have two black bags I love so that would be impractical. I know, the whole thing is impractical! I have been wanting a pink bag for a while. The hardware is hard to see, but it's gold. 



So what started this whole shopping thing? Champagne!

Remember in my last post when I gave the tip to spend your time at a fancy hotel bar instead of staying there? 

We did just that at Plaza Athenee. It's a beautiful hotel, but the clientele was a little odd. I felt the same way in Monte Carlo at Cafe de Paris. There was just an odd under current I couldn't explain. Well, I was convinced the guy at the table by himself next to me in Monte Carlo was an assassin. He had the vibe. I probably read too many spy books. 




We also checked out the George V. I felt much more comfortable here and it's just as upscale. 










The wine was good, but they really need to work on their cheese tray. Those napkins are real linen. I could almost forgive the cheese shavings.



Disneyland Paris:

I can't say I was on board with this, but Jason and Dylan really wanted to go. There are two parks there and you can do them in just a few hours. I would have rather been in Champagne. Dylan would have probably refused to leave his room if we went there. Next time, Moet!



Takeaways from the trip:

Very important shopping information! Do not carry your fancy shopping bags through the airport on the way home unless you want to pay a duty tax. I knew this was a thing, but somehow it slipped my mind. Newark doesn't play! We got stopped twice and for some reason they did not charge us. Maybe we looked nervous and they felt bad? Maybe it was our honesty? Southern charm? I don't know. I'm not saying conceal your bags and not pay your tax, but everyone else is!

Don't spend a lot on a hotel. You won't be doing much but sleeping there. 

Take advantage of Uber drivers so you can get the attractions out of the way. 

The best part of Paris is adding just a bit of historical fun in with the shopping, eating and drinking. 

Visit Amorino for gelato. I just discovered they have one in Houston!

Don't worry about what you wear unless you're doing it for yourself. Athleisure wear is the second pandemic of Paris. Ten years ago I couldn't imagine Parisians dressing like American rappers (or my kids), but here we are. However, always dress for your feet first.

The food has turned from traditional French to American to appeal to more people. I'm disappointed. I wanted the traditional beef bourginon, coq au vin, etc that I had on my last trip. It's either hamburgers, pizza, or cow brain. Sad. The wine is still the best ever. 

I've always felt safe in Paris, but even more so ten years later. It actually feels much safer than Houston or other big American cities I've been to in the last few years.















































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