This look coming to the blog soon.
Bonjour! I’m so excited to share our Paris itinerary with you. This was our first trip to this beautiful city and I can assure you, it won’t be our last. We absolutely fell in love with Paris while celebrating our 25th anniversary. Check out where we stayed, ate, shopped, went sightseeing and much more. Be sure to bookmark this post for future reference.
You might wonder why I designated this title “Paris, France in the winter”. Well, that’s because I learned that even though I had hundreds of great recommendations from friends and subscribers, Paris in the winter is a different trip than lets say in the warmer months. For example, you will not find yourself sitting outside at cafe’s unless they have heaters. It’s cold! On average, it was around 40 degrees each day. And some days it was also rainy and grey. Just know that you will need to pack accordingly. I had three coats with me because Lexi Dennis checked the weather before she packed me for this trip (refer to this blog post). However, there are some wonderful reasons to travel this time of year as you will see below.
I am giving you our exact itinerary and how we tackled the city as well as some trip tips at the bottom. In general, I always secure airfare first and then figure out where to stay. From there, I start laying out our siteseeing plan and book restaurant reservations. Once I get to my destination and start living out the plan, I cancel anything I no longer want to do. I would rather have a plan and adjust it than no plan at all. This is key in trying to maximize your time.
Our week in Paris – December
Day 1: Dallas – Paris CDG flight non-stop. This is key for us. Non-stop flights mean you will have a much higher chance of effortless travel avoiding connections and lost luggage. Also, we have Global Entry which is key in international travel and gets you TSA Precheck. Upgrade or book business class if you can. These long flights is where it matters! We were on the American Airlines 787 Dreamliner in business class and it was well worth it. Get yourself on Paris time as soon as your board the plane.
Stay: We wanted to feel like Parisians so we booked this apartment with OneFineStay. It was everything the listing said and more. Beautiful and in St. Germain which meant we could walk to everything. The best brassieres and cafes are nearby as well as the Musee d’Orsay. A metro stop right on the corner and only two blocks off the Seine River on the left bank. This look was shot near the apartment.
Do: We checked in, got an orientation from the fine folks at OneFineStay and went to a late lunch at Brasserie Lipp. On the way back to our apartment, we stopped by a flower market and local food market to pick up a few items for the kitchen so that we had snacks at our place. A fresh baguette, butter and coffee – staples in any French house. We also just walked around a bit (trying to stay awake) to orient ourselves to the neighborhood. After unpacking we enjoyed dinner at Le Bistrot de Paris. There we met Sebastien, our waiter who was from the US but had lived in Paris for many years. He had excellent recommendations for our neighborhood and week in Paris.
Day 2: Paris Panorama Tour in the morning. This was a guided tour of Paris highlights by car that lasted half a day. We decided early on to book some tours with tour guides so that we could maximize our time there. I highly suggest doing this if you have never been to a destination. When I was younger, I would buy a book about the destination and learn all I could prior to departure. Now, I book a guide. This tour was an excellent way to learn a lot in a short amount of time. Christophe from Paris My Way was excellent! We walked around Montmartre and visited the Sacre-Coeur, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe learned about the “arrondissments” and how they develop. He also explained the left bank, right bank and how the city of Paris expanded from the times of the Roman Empire.
Lunch: Monsieur Blue – Fantastic lunch in a beautiful location. If it is warm, sit outside because you will have the best view of the Eiffel Tower. (16th Arrondissement). The afternoon we spent strolling and we looked at Notre Dame. The small island that the church is on is the original city of Paris. It is surrounded by the Seine River. Also, did you know that the Crown of Thorns is located at the back of the church (behind the alter)?
We spent time shopping at the Galeries Lafayette which is Paris’ version of Harrods. In other words – a ginormous department store! There is an amazing Christmas Tree made out of colorful balloons hanging from the center ceiling during the holidays and its worth popping in to see. The window displays are also marvelous and much like those in NYC. This is the day that we shot pictures (seen in this blog post) at the Palais-Royale. There are some great cafes surrounding this spot so be sure to pop in for coffee.
Dinner: Chez Julien – OMG! The best little restaurant for dinner. We highly recommend it! (4th Arrondissement)
Day 3: We fully intended to get to the Dior Exhibit but the line was too long. Instead we strolled along the Champs Elysees and had a lovely lunch at Laduree. While everyone will tell you to get macaroons here, the absolute best ones are at Pierre Herme. The Arc de Triomphe is spectacular and a must see. I know everyone will tell you to shop while you are on the Champs Elysees but I found it rather annoying. There are lines to cue up to go into Louis Vuitton. Really? I don’t need to do that because we have all of these fine luxury stores in Dallas. Instead, I enjoyed shopping in the smaller French boutiques and there were many of them in our St. Germain neighborhood.
Day 4: Versailles. Again, we engaged a guide to do this. When I book guides I always ask for ones who have an art/history background. I have found that this aids in our learning about what we are touring. Cerise was booked through Elizabeth Seitz and her company French Affaires. She met us at our apartment and we took the train (30 minute ride) to the town of Versailles with her. This provided an excellent time for her to give us an overview of King Louis XIV, XV and XVI as well as King Louis XIII whose hunting lodge was used to start the Versailles Chateau. The palace is enormous and you will focus on the “public” rooms, Hall of Mirrors (which was the balcony and was converted to be a gallery), courtyard and grounds. If you have time be sure to visit the stables, Estate of Trianon and walk the gardens. Cerise also explained to us how the French Revolution began while we were standing in the front courtyard exactly where the revolutionary mob confronted King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Amazing!
We took the train back to Paris and ate a delicious late lunch at Cafe de Flore. Now this is the place you want to sit outside and people watch. It has heaters so it doable in winter. Be sure to order the hot chocolate too!
Day 5: Highlights of the Louvre tour. Again we had Cerise, our guide from the day before. We met her at the statue of Louise XIV out front by the “pyramid”. Musee du Louvre is enormous and it would take you 3 1/2 months to see everything in it. This is where having a guide who is an art history major is hugely beneficial. We decided to concentrate on the things that are obvious and important. Clearly the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is the number one piece of art that most visitors are there to see but be sure to check out the other exhibits as well. Your options are endless.
Lunch: LouLou We happened upon this great restaurant after our visit to the Louvre it was fantastic! Another great spot to sit outside in the summer months and enjoy the view of the Eiffel Tower. Featuring French and Italian cuisine. We then hit the Four Seasons George V bar for late afternoon drinks.
Dinner: Frenchie for the most amazing seven course dinner! This was the hardest reservation to secure and I had Elizabeth at French Affaires make it for us. The food is unbelievable and the service impeccable! This is Gregory Marchand’s restaurant and it only seats 24 people. They do two dinner seatings, 6:30 and 9:00 PM. It’s on a tiny cobblestone road (Rue du Nil) in the 2nd Arrondissement. From there we went to the Moulin Rouge. Yep, we did! OK, just know that it’s a tasteful topless cabaret show. And its in the original location where the Cancan dance was born and is still performed today. So we will call it historic, especially since it opened in 1889.
Day 6: Musee d’Orsay – This museum was only two blocks from our Parisian apartment and one of my favorites. Lots of work from Van Gogh and many other famous artists. The Degas exhibit was there during our visit and it is lovely. We took our time with this museum because it’s in an old train station and just lovely to stroll through. If you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat (@tanyafosterblog), this is the museum where the street ensemble was playing outside and the little old lady was dancing. She stole my heart!
Anniversary Dinner: Le Jules Verne at the Eiffel Tower – This is the restaurant inside the Eiffel Tower and it is spectacular. I booked this reservation as soon as I had the dates locked for the trip. This was a five course dinner (you can do the 6 course dinner too) and we opted to do the wine pairing with it. You also get to enjoy the private elevator and observation deck. Spectacular views all over the city! You can also book lunch reservations and enjoy the view during the day. (7th Arrondissement)
Day 7: Depart after enjoying one last croissant and cup of French coffee. By the way, all the taxis and Uber’s are lovely cars and we used them often. Everyone takes credit cards but it is good to have Euros on hand for shorter trips. Allow a solid hour to get to the airport due to traffic. And remember that international flight check in is 2 hours prior to departure. You will need it at Paris CDG airport.
Packing: I am linking you to everything I packed below. Be sure to refer to this blog post for how Lexi helped me prepare for this trip. It’s key to layer for Paris in the winter. Bring lots of flats and coats as well as gloves and scarves. Leave your high heels at home. I had on these tights under everything I wore, even my jeans.
Eat: Although I try to avoid carbs at home, I just went for it in Paris. I could live on a baguette loaf, butter and a glass of French wine. The French enjoy a simple breakfast of these staples with coffee (not wine). Don’t expect eggs and bacon in the morning. In fact, you will find omelets on the lunch menu. Pete and I are foodies and always make reservations ahead of time. We don’t like to eat on the go and the French don’t either. Be prepared for long meals with lots of conversation.
Weather: As I said before, it was cold. Expect around 40 degrees during the day and the mid-30’s at night. On rainy days it felt colder so be sure to have an umbrella or rain jacket with you. Also, sunrise was at 8:30 AM and sunset at 5:00 PM. You’ll be out and about when it is dark outside. Bundle up!
Transportation: The Metro and RTR are excellent and super safe. It’s how everyone gets around. Just grab a map and know where you need to get off and/or connect. Do not be intimidated. Also, you will walk everywhere which is refreshing after all the delicious meals you will have.
Other restaurants that we didn’t make it to (that you recommended): LeCinq Mars, Carbon, Cafe’ Kitsune, Le Societe, Manko, Angelique, Chez Henri and Chez Georges
We loved everything about this trip and felt like we got it all in. I highly suggest going this time of year because its not crowded and there were no lines at main attractions. Our tour guides were even shocked that there were no lines. I’ll have several more fashion posts with what I wore but for now, enjoy the vacation plan. Did I miss anything? Leave a comment below to let me know your favorites in Paris.
Merci! xoxo- Tanya
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Photo: Pete Foster