I got home from a trip to the PNW with my brother on a redeye Monday morning, the 10th of October at 6am. I landed and told myself I would stay home for the rest of the month.
Thursday morning my sister asked if I wanted to fly to Paris the next day. Needless to say, I am powerless against my never ending wanderlust and intense desire to chase #theendlessadventure. Less than 24 hours later we were boarding a flight.
Many people want to go see Paris, and for those of us in the states, it’s a decent amount of travel to get there, so you want to take at least a week. However what we learned is that unless you like being in one place for a long time (lol we don’t) 2-3 days in Paris is enough, and we wanted to get out and see the countryside and the coast! In this blog we have recommendations for both! Below is a recap of our experience with recs, photos and links for you to find the same adventure we did. Be on the lookout for a travel itinerary coming soon but in the meantime, enjoy!
Day 1: Saturday, October 15th
We landed in Paris Saturday morning at 11am and hit the ground running. We got kicked out of our first hotel because Sarah’s son was with us and apparently we were only supposed to have two people in the hotel. When booking hotels in Paris, make sure to state how many people will be with you. They will kick you out if you have more than you claimed!
We sat at a little cafe called JUJU, chilled out and found another place that would allow us to have three people in the room. Juju, like every other restaurant in paris was completely perfect. It's going to be hard to make any strong recommendation for cafe's, as every single cafe in Paris is amazing. The coffee is always good, croissants perfectly warm, buttery and crumbly, and the food was always good. They also have a knack for deserts! We tried one at almost every spot we visited!
We got moved across town and immediately headed out to see the Eiffel Tower. I had never seen it in person, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Would it live up to the hype?? I will say that it was absolutely stunning and in no way a let down. The energy was beautiful, we just wanted to be near it and hang out in it's presence. We took some photos, walked around it to admire it's beauty from every angle possible, ate some crepes & ice cream and reluctantly wandered away once it got dark.
We stayed at a hotel in the Montmartre area. The pictures online showed us a view of the Eiffel Tower, and we bit on that bate all day long. Once we showed up, we got a room on the first floor with no view at all, lol. However, every single place we stayed in Paris had these little doors that open up to either a huge window or a small balcony, and basically everything outside that window was beautiful. No complaints here. We nestled in for the night and fell asleep!
Day 2: Sunday, October 16th
We all woke up in the middle of the night thanks to jet lag. Because of that we slept till like 10am and got a bit of a late start. Regardless, we woke up, showered and got going for a day of exploration in Paris. We had brunch at a little cafe in the Montmartre area called Vrai Paris and it was so good. The chocolate croissants were generously buttered, flaky and delicious. After brunch we went to see Sacré Cœur Basilica, which is also in the Montmartre area. Sacré Cœur is a Roman Catholic Church that was started in 1875 and completed in 1914. The day we visited was quite busy, but the view of Paris from there is fantastic! The church is open daily from 6:30am - 10:30pm. You can find out more about the beautiful old Bascilica here.
After the Sacré Cœur, we walked the windy and narrow streets of Montemartre, enjoying the little shops, street art and views. We grabbed our car and drove to our next hotel, in the Latin Quarter area. We really loved this area, it was easily our favorite spot to stay in Paris. The streets were beautiful, adorable shops and restaurants everywhere, not to mention Notre Dame and The Louvre close by!
We arrived at our accommodation's, Hotel Central Saint Germain. Our room wasn’t quite ready so we dropped our bags, found parking and started walking! We found some crepes at an awesome little stand called Les Galandines which is close to Notre Dame, down this narrow, extremely picturesque street.
We walked over to Notre Dame and took in the view. Even with the construction taking place, the Medieval Catholic Cathedral was breathtaking. It's size, beauty and architecture was pretty incredible to see and I couldn't help but imagine this place being constructed in 1163!! Notre Dame suffered a fire in 2019 and construction is expected to last into 2024 when they plan to reopen.
Image taken from National Geographic.
We walked along the Seine River and made our way to Musee du Louvre. We really wanted to see the Mona Lisa, so we bought tickets to get inside. *They only sell a certain amount of tickets to allow people in every half hour and you have to buy the tickets online. It was not busy when we went, so we were able to buy tickets 2 minutes before our time slot, but if you visit Paris in a busy season, you may want to purchase tickets days ahead of time. You can view hours and purchase tickets here!
We spent about an hour and a half inside The Louvre and I gotta say, it was pretty stunning. Yes, seeing the Mona Lisa was awesome, but the amount of art that is in that place is just staggering. We read that if you wanted to see every single piece of art there, it would take you 200 days if you spent only 30 seconds looking at each piece!Some notable art on display at the Louvre at the moment is:
Venus de Milo
Liberty Leading the People
The Wedding at Cana
The Raft of the Medusa
The Coronation of Napoleon
The Horse Tamers
And like a 34,993 more pieces.
After The Louvre we were hungry so we found a place to eat an early dinner. We found a sweet little spot in the area called Non Coupable. We got a salami pizza, tar tar, and ham and cheese crepe. This place was actually very affordable and the food we got was great.
By this time we were pretty exhausted so we went back to our hotel for a couple hours or so to take a nap and freshen up. We dressed for the evening and headed back out to explore the city by night, deciding to explore via scooter!
I’m going to have a little commercial break here to tell you that if you’re riding scooters in Paris, use the brand Dott!!! Sarah and Justice were riding Limes and my Dott scooter was much much faster than theirs by a long shot! All the ones I rode were also in very good shape, had shocks on the front, and was rear wheel drive so you could ride wheelies!
Exploring the city by night was a dream, and we found this spot on a bridge to watch the twinkle light show that happens on the Eiffel Tower every hour, on the hour.
We ended the nice with desert and a drink at a little spot near the Eiffel Tower called Le Dome. We got this desert called Profiteroles and it was so out of this world delicious that we actually had them bring a second order. He said you can buy that desert at a lot of places but nobody makes it like they do, and I believe him! One thing that’s kind of nice about Paris, and much of Europe, is that you don’t tip. Everything is a bit more expensive but think of it like the tip is built in. This means that sometimes you don’t get the best service because there isn’t any added incentive for them to do a good job since they aren’t getting a tip. However, our waiter at Le Dome was an incredibly kind and helpful man.
Day 3: Monday, October 17th
This day was chill! We woke up, had breakfast at our hotel and drove about 40 minutes to a city call Versailles, which is right outside of Paris. The largest castle in France is there and surrounded by 2,000 acres of perfectly manicured gardens. The word gardens might be misleading: There are fountains, hedges that are immaculately maintained, pools, pathways and more.
We weren’t actually able to get into the castle itself as Netflix was filming and the entire castle was closed down! For future reference, the castle is generally closed on Mondays, so plan your visits accordingly. It was pouring rain, but we still managed to walk the gardens outside the castle for around an hour. You can also rent golf carts if you want, but you’ll be limited on where you can go. Learn more about the castle here.
Because of the rain, we stayed in the hotel most of the day and worked (we do still have to run the brand, even when we’re off adventuring!) but we did manage to grab lunch at a little cafe called Cafe Marion, and it was great, like every other cafe in France!
Day 4: Tuesday, October 18th
We ate at the hotel, packed our suitcases and jumped in the car at around 10am for our first proper road tripping day. We drove straight to Étretat. which took about two and a half hours. Be aware that on the way there is a ridiculous amount of tolls. Most of these toll stations don’t have an assistant there, but they do take credit cards.
We arrived in time for lunch but wanted to explore a bit and build up an appetite before eating. Étretat is a beautiful little town withchalky cliffs overlooking an azure blue sea and is really quite stunning.When facing the sea you can either hike up to the right which has an old church building at the top, or you can hike to the left, where you can get a closer look at the beautiful cliffs with arches launching up out of the sea. We went left.
After hiking and exploring for a bit, we went back down to the city where we had lunch at a little spot near the water called L'Huitrière. It was good but pretty expensive and the portions were tiny. I think I paid $30 for 3 pieces of ravioli. I wish we would have had more time to explore the town as it was filled with quaint little shops, coffee shops and history, but we had to get moving to check into our Airbnb which was about 2 hours away.
*If you visit Étretat in the summer of fall, there are apparently some really great camping sites you can stay at. If you’re not a camping enthusiast, you can also find places on Airbnb for under $200 a night!
We arrived at La Maison Villeneuve which is a beautiful old chateau in the countryside with a couple of modern a-frame cabins built on the property. Sarah found this place in the french countryside and we were extremely excited about it.Staying in the modern a-frames only cost $200 a night and was a fantastic stay and experience. We went into town to shop for some dinner and spent the evening reading, working and of course having a soak in the wooden hot tub!
You can find out more about this pace and book a stay here.
Day 5: Wednesday, October 19th
We took our time waking up in the morning as we were reluctant to leave the beautiful modern cabin we’d stayed in for the n ight. We got on the road and had about an hour and a half drive to Mont-Saint-Michel. This was honestly one of my favorite places we visited this entire trip because it was one of those spots you just can’t believe is real. It’s a french village built into an island on the beach & is completely surrounded by water during high tide!
You can learn more about Mont-Saint-Michel here!
You have to park a little ways away from Mont Saint Michel, but you can either take a free shuttle there, or it’s about a 45 minute walk, which is really enjoyable. Inside you can wander around much of the village and purchase gifts, visit restaurants and explore. You have to pay to go inside the Abbey/Castle at the top, and a full day guided tour is about 129 euros, which would be totally worth it if you you had the time.
Here is a short video that will give you some more context as to how big, beautiful and unique this place really is: https://youtu.be/YXqCKsQXqbQ
After our visit to Mont Saint Michel, we headed about 30 minutes away to a small town called Cherrueix to do some sand yachting. What is sand yachting you may ask?? I had the same questions, but due to my love for boats, I was interested. Sand Yachting turns out is a small go-cart with a huge sail attached to it, that you drive on hard packed sand on the beach. Super fun turns out! There are a couple places in this city that do Sand Yachting, but we went with Séance Découverte Char à voile. The cost was around $30 a person and in our opinion was totally worth it!
We opted to drive all the way back to Paris, which was about 4 hours VS. getting a hotel nearby and having to drive in the morning. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express right near the airport and were extremely happy with our decision, especially the next morning!
Day 6: Thursday, October 20th
We woke up in our hotel, had some breakfast and headed to the airport early, and I’m glad we did. Returning the car was fairly painfree, but the lines in CDG were unbelievable and airport staff in Paris are not the most friendly of people. The airport was also huge so you may want to arrive at the airport early when flying out of CDG.
If I was going to do it again, I would take another day or two in Paris as well as a couple more days in Normandy. Étretat was a place I would love to spend the evening rather than just a day visit.
Keep an eye out for a Paris/Normandy trip itinerary coming soon!
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