Today I have the first of four posts about my France and Iceland trip for you. Part one is our first two days in Paris, part two will recap Bordeaux, part three will cover the second half of our Paris trip, and part four will be a photo diary of Iceland, which has cemented itself as the most amazing country I’ve visited.
A WHIRLWIND TRIP
Everyone has asked how Paris was, and my honest answer is “a bit stressful.” Neither Adam nor I had been to Paris before, and we did all we could to see every single landmark in the city. The Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, Jardin du Luxembourg, Versailles, you name it, we did it. So, it goes without saying that we were a bit busy. The lounging outside cafés with a bottle of wine and people watching trip that I thought we might have did not happen exactly, but now we can come back without any specific sights on the itinerary.
ARRIVAL, WHERE TO STAY AND WHERE TO STORE LUGGAGE
We arrived in Paris around 6 AM, jet lagged but ready to take on the day. An easy RER train from the airport into town dropped us off right near a city locker location. The city locker was a lifesaver since we got in so early and couldn’t check in to our Airbnb until 2 p.m.
Our first Airbnb was in the St. Germain neighborhood, which was perfect for our first few days in Paris. Stepping onto a Paris street from the train, St. Germain is exactly what you expect from Paris. I felt like I was transported into every French movie or image I’ve ever seen.
START OFF WITH A CROISSANT
We started our morning off with a stop for coffee and the first of many croissants at Café de Flore, one of the most classic cafés in all of Paris. Relaxing for a few moments, taking in the scenes, people watching — I was glad we took a bit of time to reset before starting our day. While I’m glad we stopped by one of the well known cafés, honestly any sidewalk spot would do. We actually had a better croissant the next morning at a tiny café across the street from our Airbnb.
SEE THE SIGHTS
So, what did we see those first couple days? Short answer, everything. We went to the Musée d’Orsay where we saw Degas’ dancers, marveled in the sweeping heights of Notre Dame, had a picnic outside the Jardin du Luxembourg, walked around the Panthéon, went up in the Montparnasse Tower at night for a true view of the city of lights, and spent hours strolling around the the 6th and 7th arrondissements.
END YOUR DAY
The first day ended in a very Parisienne way as we spent a few hours drinking wine (and not enough food…) at a café near our Airbnb, which is perhaps what we should have done a lot more of. Our second day concluded with dinner at Le Timbre and an amazing apple dessert that I’m still dreaming about. Yup, there was a non-chocolate dessert and I was into it.
My first couple days did leave me with a few takeaways. First off, I would have done a lot more low key relaxing to ease into Paris and a little less running around. However, I am glad that we saw so much in a short amount of time. Second, if you are well organized and have an itinerary and an idea of where you want to go, you don’t need to bother with the Paris Pass. We saved probably half by just buying our timed tickets online and going at those times. And third, utilize the metro. We ubered around for our first day or so before venturing into the metro, but once we did, we saved so much money. It’s super straightforward, super reliable, and gets you where you need to go.