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13 Jan

paris travel guide.

even though it’s been over a month since I visited Paris, i still daydream about going back! robbie and i plan to go to Europe this spring & i can’t wait to explore the City of Love with my love. in the meantime, i wanted to share with you my Paris Travel Guide from December 2016. even thought it was cold, i highly recommend going around Christmastime. everything is so magical with twinkling lights, the Christmas markets, and high end stores that literally transform into Christmas presents. i explained why i was in Paris in this blog post, and it was amazing to attend some of the behind-the-scenes events of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. below i’ve broken my guide down into a few different sections based on what i actually did, where i stayed, and what i ate. for a more comprehensive Paris Travel Guide, Julia Engel from Gal Meets Glam posted hers a few days ago & there’s many more recommendations on it.

i was in Paris for five full days and one traveling day {the first day we arrived about 10am, so we still had a full day to explore and try to beat jetlag!}. i wasn’t quite on my own schedule, so there were so many things we didn’t hit that are on my list for my next visit. i’ll be sure to add those in below, since many readers & friends recommended the same things. you could easily hit the main attractions in Paris in a few days, but i would say five to seven days is ideal to really explore each neighborhood {called Arrondissements} & get a true feel of being a local Parisian {that’s ideally how i like to travel}. we took Ubers to and from the Charles de Gaulle airport, used the Metro system a few times {it’s super easy!}, took local taxis twice {it was REALLY cold some days}, but mostly we walked! the best part about Paris is that a lot of it can be walked and in my opinion it’s the best way to see everything.

be sure to read until the very end for Miscellaneous Tips, including details about the VAT refund when purchasing luxury goods, the airline i flew, and much more!

where i stayed

i wrote an entire post dedicated to Hotel Balmoral here. while it was a sponsored stay, i would go back and stay at Hotel Balmoral in a heartbeat! it was in a central location, included breakfast each morning, had soft beds {best bed i’ve slept in while traveling!}, and had the most picturesque juliet balcony. the staff was so friendly & helpful, and there was nothing better than coming back after a long, tiring day of site-seeing to a relaxing room {bathtub & heated towel rack included!}.

Hotel Balmoral is in the 8th Arrondissement, which is just a few short minutes from the Champs Elysees {the main & designer shopping area}. it was also about a 20 minute walk to the Eiffel Tower, which was ideal! wherever you stay, i would suggest doing your research to see what’s near by. having food, dining, and site-seeing in walking distance is definitely the way to go.

what to do & see

there’s obviously a million things to see and do in just Paris, but once again, i’m sharing what i actually did and a few things that are on my list for my next visit.

-Eiffel Tower {the Trocadéro is one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower in my opinion}
next visit actually going up the Eiffel Tower is on my list!
also, there’s nothing more magical than seeing the Eiffel Tower twinkling at night. don’t miss it! it only lasts for five minutes on the hour after dark.

-the Louvre
we actually only walked the grounds due to a time constraint, but i can’t wait to get in next visit and finally see the Mona Lisa. however, many friends have told me their favorite museums in Paris are actually the Musée de Orangerie  or the Musée D’Orsay! add those to your list to really spend time there.

-Champs Elysees
as previously mentioned, this is the main shopping area! i love it for all the designer boutiques and if you’re a fashionista, this is the place for you! however, you can also find stores like h&m and zara there. still swooning of the Louis Vuitton flagship store.

-Arc de Triomphe
this was just one block from our hotel and we passed it every single day. i even blogged an outfit right in front of it. for my next visit, i have on my list to actually go up it {you climb stairs} and see the sunset! the views are supposed to be marvelous AND you get the Eiffel Tower in your photos.

-Notre Dame Cathedral
we took the Metro here, as it’s way too far to walk. i love seeing old buildings & architecture, and this cathedral did not disappoint!

-Shakespeare & Company Bookstore
a follower actually recommended this bookstore to me & i’m so glad we had time to go! it’s located just a block from Notre Dame and sells new & second-hand books. it’s a special place because it housed {and houses} many aspiring writers throughout the decades, including Ernest Hemingway. i picked up a small Parisian coffee table book for myself and a popular book from the Beat Generation for Robbie. if you’re a lover of books, you must go! it’s seriously the coolest bookstore i’ve ever been to. you can even leave notes, so i left Robbie’s personal mantra to help inspire others.

-Le Palais Royal
we didn’t make it here, but it was on my list. it’s actually very close to the Louvre, and such a fun photo opp.

-Go for a run
our second day in Paris, my sister in law and i got up one morning and went for a run to a park just off the Champs Elysees. i think it only ended up being a little less than three miles, but it was such a fun way to see the city!

-Christmas markets
i mentioned that we were in Paris around Christmastime, and they markets were incredible! they are filled with delicious food {easily ate the best crepe of my life here}, Parisian made crafts and souvenirs, and really good people watching opportunities. i’m not quite sure when they open, but we were there November 27th-December 2nd and they were already booming!

where to eat

as previously mentioned, our hotel included breakfast so we always ate there in the mornings, but there are many adorable patisseries, cafes, and bistros that you can easily find a very Parisian breakfast at. my list is short, so i would suggest asking your hotel concierge for recommendations or see this list here.

my personal favorite spot for macaroons, pasties, and hot chocolate. it’s a classic and you shouldn’t miss the sit-down experience.

-Pierre Hermé
these are said to rival Ladurée macarons & pasties! i didn’t make it here, but it’s on my list for next time.

again, another spot i didn’t make it to, however many, many friends & followers said to come here for the ‘world’s best hot chocolate.’ can’t wait to try it next time!

-Maison Lacomb
my sister in law and i stumbled upon this hot pink bistro when we were shooting a hot pink outfit. not only did it turn out perfectly for photos, but it’s also delicious! i mean, look at that pastry! this was just a few blocks from our hotel.

-Bistro d’italie
i know, you’re probably thinking, ‘Italian food in Paris?!’ but really it was one of my favorite meals while there. this restaurant was right next door to Hotel Balmoral, came recommended by locals, and the owners themselves served us. it’s one of those hole-in-the-wall places i can’t wait to go to again. the homemade pasta was amazing!

anywhere, everywhere. enough said.

{a fun photo with celebrity hair stylist Sarah Potempa, founder of The Beach Waver! she’s on the right.}

Victoria’s Secret model Devon Windsor at the Eiffel Tower the day before the VS Fashion Show!

miscellaneous tips:

-i flew WOW air out of SFO and paid $440 roundtrip! this was not sponsored in any way, just wanted to share my experience! WOW is a discount airliner and i was nervous at first to book. BUT, i booked so last minute {about three weeks before leaving} and it was the cheapest option. luckily, the airline is actually very nice! the plane was new, the seats were comfortable, and i did feel like i had enough legroom, especially on the two-seater aisles. the only downsides are bag weight is very strict {can only be 44 lbs, otherwise have to pay an overweight fee}, you have to pay for each bag {checked AND large carry-ons… so basically anything besides a handbag}, and food/drinks are not free, not even water {this one makes me eye-roll/laugh}. so my suggestion is pack smart {i was the exact weight each time AND as a blogger packed nine outfits to shoot!}, bring your own food/drinks with you, and be sure to request a two-seater aisle when checking in at the airport. otherwise, the discount airliner is totally worth it!

-while in Paris, i bought this Louis Vuitton card case! it was just a little souvenir i wanted for my first trip to Paris. i bought it from the flagship LV store & a few people asked how my experience was! i had a great purchasing experience; it was quick, easy, and the sales associate was very helpful & nice. i did use the VAT refund, which if you’re not familiar is a European tax that you can get refunded upon departure {read all the details here}. this makes luxury goods ‘cheaper’ in Europe and a great place to buy. you can either have the refund back in cash or put onto your credit card. cash is immediate, but a lower percentage of refund. if you choose the latter route, you get more money back BUT must wait two months for it to be refunded back onto your card. i choose to have my money refunded by credit card since i wasn’t in a rush. it was about 12% if i remember correctly that way and the cash option was about 10% or so! my purchase wasn’t a large one, but if you’re buying a luxury bag, that’s a lot of money to get back! i definitely plan to purchase a bag the next time we are in Europe. don’t forget to bring your passport with you for the store to process the VAT refund. you’ll finish out the process at your departing airport at Customs before getting into the Security line. in Paris, it was as simple as scanning the paperwork they gave me at the LV store and sealing an envelope. all airports might not have the exact same process, so be sure to as when checking in. hope this information has been helpful!

i didn’t do this, but everyone else i was with had the extra $20/day international data plan on their phones. that made it very useful for calling Ubers, keeping up with social media, texting about locations, etc. although, i personally did find it nice to be unplugged AND my phone was the only one not always dead or needing to be charged. but in the future, i’ll most likely get that plan. i just used my phone on wifi when i was back at the hotel or in restaurants, and would call Ubers with wifi when i needed one.

-i also had a few friends ask about converters while in Paris, and yes, you need them. i bought this double pack and the best part was each converter had two plug-ins!

all photos by Chantel Marie Photography