Our Opinion of the Very Best of Paris

Now that we’ve been back almost two months and I’ve had time to think about our trip to France, I wanted to summarize some of the things that were recommended to us about Paris and some of our experiences.  Hopefully this will help someone else who is planning on visiting The City of Lights.

Renaissance Le Parc Tracadero – great service, most employees speak English very well, very nice accommodations, courtyard between buildings with couches/chairs/heating towers

Frenchie Wine Bar – first come, first serve (opens at 7pm); small plates dining; dine with other customers; get the pulled pork
XVIeme Avenue – wonderful French Onion soup, beautiful bar and interiors, sidewalk dining available, no reservation required
La Petite Retro – reservation required (but can get one the day of, just get your concierge to make one); good wine and good food
Others recommended to us that we didn’t visit:
Frenchie Restaurant
Chez Janou
Ches l’Ami Jean – good for dinner; great rice pudding
Cafe Marley – good for lunch; view into Louvre courtyard
Spring – Wine bar with restaurant; requires reservation
Les Papilles – good for dinner; set menu; “authentic French meal”
La Petite Cler
Taillevent – very expensive but good
Market – American style brunch on weekends

Walking Streets/Areas
– Rue Montorgueil – bakeries, deli’s, etc with shopping on surrounding streets
– Rue Cler – florists, deli’s, cheese shops, bakeries, etc
– Rue St. Dominique
– Booksellers on the Seine – the famous green awning covered booksellers sell everything from books to art prints to vintage magazines, either go to them with a view to check everything out or just searching for something in particular because the variety of items sold is huge

– Best street crepes that we had were at the kiosk in front of the entrance to Orsay
– Laduree – stop in the tea room at the corner of Rue Jacob and Rue Bonaparte to rest and enjoy; you can also buy Laduree macaroons throughout the city, including in Printemps
– Stohrer – rue Montorgueil; famous for their Eclair
– Hevin – chocolates
Others recommended to us that we didn’t visit:
– Angelina – rue Rivoli across from Tuileries Garden; supposedly the best hot chocolate (chocolate chaud) in the city but there was a huge line when we walked by
– Les Petits Mitrons – Monmartre area; tarts
– A La Mere de Famille – 9th arr; candy and chocolate
– Jacques – chocolate chaud
– Almondine – across from Jacques; pain au chocolate, croissants

– Boulevard Haussman – Galleries Lafayette, Printemps
Others recommended to us that we didn’t visit:
– Bon Marche – department store
– Le Grand Epicerie – gourmet grocery with contemporary fashion on the 2nd floor

TheParisKitchen – food tours of the city along with a blog with lots of info
Mr and Mrs in Paris – childhood friend who spent time living in Paris with her husband, she no longer writes on this blog anymore but it has lots of “Behind the Scenes” details about the city

– You can get cash from an ATM in the airport to get the lowest conversion rates.  We chose to get cash from ATM’s every day as opposed to carrying a large sum around.  Just make sure that you’ve notified your banks that you will be using your cards internationally, otherwise they’ll get rejected.
– We called AT&T and got a very limited international calling plan for the time that we would be abroad.  It was very affordable and allowed us to call home when we needed to.  They also helped us figure out what to turn off on our phones so that we weren’t accidentally downloading data all the time and didn’t end up with a huge bill at the end of our trip.
– I put all of our information (hotel, Embassy info, copies of passports and insurance cards and driver licenses, itinerary, places we wanted to see) in a document and had it converted to a PDF which I then opened in iBooks on my phone.  This allowed us to have all of that information electronically on both of our phones in case we needed it and our parents had it all also on their devices.  VERY easy to do for FREE and has been invaluable not only while we were gone, but since then when I’ve needed things like passport numbers quickly. (If you don’t have the option to save to PDF in your word program, there are various programs out there that allow you to do this.  I’ve always used Online PDF Converter, just as an FYI).
– Utilize conversation tools that work over Wifi like Facetime or Skype while you’re abroad to keep you in touch with home without paying the international phone charges.
– Map out an idea of where you want to go each day, but make sure and check that where you want to go is open when you want to go before you head out!
– Utilize the concierge at the hotel for last minute reservations or recommendations for places to eat near your hotel.
– Get your tickets for the Eiffel Tower before you go but know that you’ll still have to wait in line.
– We found that none of the city passes would be worth it for us since we weren’t planning on seeing everything that was in the city.  Make sure you compare prices of passes before you purchase.  Also, we never had to stand in really long lines to enter a museum (other than the Eiffel Tower which wasn’t included in the passes anyway) so getting a pass to bypass the line wouldn’t have helped.  If you’ve got little kids with you or are there during the height of tourist season you might consider the pass though to avoid the lines.
– A lot of the “upper scale” restaurants book with reservations months in advance.  Be prepared for that.
– Be courteous to the shopkeepers, restaurant staff, and others that you come in contact with.  The polite conversation (that we were told and gathered us very polite help) is “Bonjour Monsieur/Madame” when you enter and “Merci Beau Coup” when you leave.  We never had any rude interactions while we were in Paris and I can only guess that our meager attempts to “speak” the language helped.
– The Metro is nice in Paris.  It’s not sketchy and is pretty nice and clean.  Use it! Taxi’s are expensive!

Hope this helps if you’re planning a trip to Paris!  If you’ve been and I left out a “must” on your list let me know, I’d love to add it to my list!

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