The Perfect Day in the “City of Light” – Paris

by shaunagardner

On our first official full day in Paris, I had put together a rather packed itinerary of places to go (mostly to eat), to the point that even I thought it was a little aggressive (which is saying A LOT, ha) but as I always tell my husband, it’s more of a guide and we can just feel it out as we go. Sure enough, in the end, we did manage to do it all and the day could not have been more “magnifique!” It was the perfect day in the “city of light” and one that I would recommend to all who want to walk, eat, and feel the magic of one of of the most beautiful cities in the world.

9:00am – Angelina

Do you love chocolate? Of course you do. You MUST go to Angelina for not only their famous hot chocolate but to enjoy all of their beautiful pastries. When you order “Le chocolat chaud à l’ancienne l’Africain” (old-fashioned hot chocolate called “The African”), you will be served a pitcher of steamy, hot chocolate so thick and creamy, you feel a little child-like the moment it is placed in front of you. If the hot chocolate wasn’t enough, they also give you a decadent fresh whipped cream along side of it to add as you wish. Don’t hold back, add it all! Our croissants were also fantastic! Perfectly crispy and buttery.

10:30am – Palais Royal and Louvre

After your very indulgent breakfast, a walk will be necessary. Start along the Rue de Rivoli and turn left on the Rue de Rohan to stumble upon Le Palais Royal and its beautiful gardens. After taking it all in, walk back towards the Louvre, and then continue along the Seine past Notre Dame.

11:00am –   Le Marais

Le Marais is a historic district in the third and fourth arrondissements on the Right Bank with not only many of the designer stores you find all over Paris but incredible boutiques of all kinds. Many stores in this area also stay open on Sundays (when many other shops across the city are closed), so no matter when you visit, it is worth taking a leisurely stroll through this part of the city. The best streets to stroll in the Marais and Haut Marais (Upper Marais) include Rue des Francs Bourgeois, Rue de Saintonge, Rue de Turenne and Rue Vieille du Temple. On Rue de Bretagne, you can also visit the neighborhood’s classic Marché des Enfants Rouge, Paris’ oldest covered market. (NOTE: This part of the day will be a bit of a tease because you could really spend a whole day in this part of the city. We ended up returning on our last day to explore a little more.)

With the little time we had, a few of the stores we discovered and loved were Polene, Fleux and Harold Paris.

12:30pm – Septime

Although a little off the beaten path, dining at the 40th best restaurant in the world is worth the trek to this part of town in the 11th arrondissement. This restaurant warrants an entire post designated to it (coming soon!) but important to note that in order to get a reservation, you must book online or call three weeks in advance from the desired day. Septime is unlike the typical Michelin star restaurant. Yes, it is making beautifully creative food but in a relaxed and rustic intimate space. It is also an affordable experience with a 4-course tasting menu with wine pairing for lunch at under $100 per person. A really reasonable price in comparison to other tasting menus of this caliber. Highly recommend, it does not disappoint.

3:00pm – Atelier des Lumieres

Paris is known for their collections of art – the Louvre, Musee d’ Orsay, Musee de l’Orangerie (to name a few) – but they are also now known for a digital art museum, the Atelier des Lumieres. Built in a former iron foundry dating back to 1835, artists’ works are transformed in an immersive and panoramic digital art exhibition. Images of their paintings are projected using 140 laser video projectors and to a sound track of music using an innovative “motion design” sound system, with 50 speakers programmed to complement the 3D visual experience. It is unlike anything you have ever seen or done before. I would recommend buying your tickets ahead of time on their website.

4:30pm – Paroles de Fromagers

You had me at cheese and wine tasting in a 17th century cheese cellar…And that is your next stop. This small, intimate group tasting in Marais will not only teach you everything you need to know about French cheeses but will give you a new found appreciation for cheese as an art form and the role wine can play when paired with it. We really loved this experience! You can purchase your reservation in advance on their website.

7:00pm – Sacre-Coeur

After the tasting, find a taxi stand to get a ride up to the Sacre-Coeur. If you are lucky, you will see the Eiffel Tower light up as you arrive. 🙂 This really is one of the most beautiful views of Paris so take it all in. Although it is evening, the basilica should be open. There was a service going on when we visited which was really special to peak in on. Whether you want to take a seat on the steps to enjoy the view or head back down the hill to explore Montmarte, this is a special little piece of Paris you will want to be sure to take a moment to capture so you will always have the memory.

8:00pm – Apero – Your choice!

By this time, your wine buzz from the tasting will have worn off so it is time to walk until you find that perfect little outdoor cafe that catches your eye. Although traditional apero “happy hour” in France is from 5-7pm, this is still a lively time of day to people-watch and enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine at a bar or cafe.

10:00pm – Le Bon Georges

I know what you are thinking, “10pm for dinner? That’s so late!” My response is, “When in France.” I think the one thing that is often overlooked by American tourists when in Europe is we do not embrace the cultural norms of the places we visit. In doing so, we miss out on REALLY seeing and experiencing a place. I would not recommend making a reservation before 8:30pm. So 10pm it is. I will let the famed author and writer, David Lebovitz, tell you about Le Bon Georges in this great write-up BUT I will leave you with saying that this was that Parisian meal my husband was wanting, honest French food in a no fuss, cozy bistro. The service was fantastic, they treated us like family and the food…ah, “la perfection.”

WARNING: Your feet will likely hurt and you will be exhausted in following the above itinerary but I can also guarantee you will go to bed smiling with a full stomach and beautiful memories.
TIP: Wear comfortable shoes! 😉

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