Earlier this year, actually over Valentine’s Day weekend (ha!), I took a ladies trip to Paris with my mother, Dan’s mother, sister, and aunt, our friend, Pryor, and her mother! It was a little reminiscent of our 2016 trip to Italy, but without Dan Dan (SAD!) Since some of the group had never been to Paris and others had not been for years, I took the lead in planning. So, for your reading, and hopefully planning, pleasure, here is our itinerary, which I think is perfect for first time visitors to Paris!
DAY ONE – Arrival, Crepes, and a Champagne Cruise down the River Seine!
We arrived on Valentine’s Day, a Thursday morning, via Charles de Gaulle airport around 11 AM, which is standard to a-little-bit-late for flights arriving overnight from the US. A van was waiting for us at CDG (recommended), and we had arrived at our hotel – Hotel Nouvelle de la République – in the 11th Arrondisement by 1 PM. While not the most popular with tourists, I LOVE the 11th Arrondisement. Its where I lived when I studied abroad in Paris in college, and its really not touristy at all! Needless to say, I was thrilled to be back!!
After settling in, we went for a quick lunch at a small crêperie 5 minutes from our hotel – Crêperie Elo. Crêperie Elo is a small Parisian chain and the actual restaurant was so tiny. Thank goodness we were the only people there! I enjoyed a delicious mushroom and cheese savory crêpe, while others had a variety of sweet and savory crêpes. I paired my crêpe with a glass of real cidre from Breton (Brittany, in English).
After lunch and some settling in, we took a car to the Eiffel Tower (Trocadero stop) to board a cruise down the Seine with a Champagne tasting! This was many people’s first sighting of the Eiffel Tower, and she was looking good!
We boarded our cruise just under the Eiffel Tower, which was with Vedettes de Paris, with the Champagne tasting put on by O’Chateau. For anyone who has been to Paris, a cruise down the Seine is a very popular activity, but these cruises can be super touristy! Luckily, with our O’Chateau tasting, we had our own private seating area and our own sommelier. The cruise lasted about an hour and during the hour, we tasted three (nearly) full glasses of champagne and cruised down to Notre Dame and back. Guests could go outside to take pictures, but we mostly stayed inside to enjoy the champagne.
Our first day ended with a meal at Le Casse de Noix – a not too touristy restaurant about 10 minutes from the Eiffel Tower. Le Casse de Noix offers 3 course prix fixe and the food tasty, especially for a restaurant near the Eiffel Tower!
DAY TWO – the Louvre, Shopping, More Shopping, and a Visit to Le Grand Colbert!
Our second day (and first FULL day) in Paris started early with a morning stroll down the Champs-Élysées to Monoprix’s, a/k/a the Target of France, flagship store! While I missed Dan on this trip, it was FABULOUS to visit Monoprix without Dan asking when we were leaving = ) Needless to say, I made a few purchases… #donttelldan.
After our first retail therapy session of the day, (and there were multiple) we made our way to the Louvre for a guided tour of its highlights by an actual Louvre guide! This was pretty fun and a great way to hit the highlights of the Louvre in a reasonable amount of time (1h30 minutes)! While there are tons of tours of the Louvre, we booked this one directly with the Louvre and it was only 10 euros a person (in addition to an entrance ticket to the Louvre). My favorite piece was, and always is, The Winged Victory! Hands down, the Winged Victory is my favorite piece of art ever. Gorgeous!!
After the Louvre, we had lunch reservations at a lovely restaurant very close to the Louvre (less than a 10 minute walk) – Ellsworth! Ellsworth is an excellent bistro that Dan and I had visited on our trip to Paris in 2016. The menu is limited (so I was a bit nervous for our crowd) but all of the food is high quality, and its speciality is fried chicken! Our meal ended up being absolutely delicious, and one of the best of the trip! Service was great and almost everyone ordered the fried chicken for a main. Hey, know your audience!
After lunch, our crew split up, some of us went back to the hotel to relax and others went out for more shopping. I was clearly in the later group. No Dan, betches be shoppin’! For our afternoon shopping event, we went to the Haussman area, home to all of the big Parisian department stores, as well as the beautiful Palais Garnier (the older of Paris’ two opera houses)! We opted to shop at Galeries Lafayette and treated ourselves to a drink on its roof top bar, among other things… We hit the rooftop bar, the Cube Bar, right at sunset. The weather was warm, and this was the the perfect way to cap off our Parisian afternoon! Pro tip – there is indoor seating at Cube Bar if you don’t get as lucky with the weather!
This evening, we had dinner at a somewhat touristy Parisian standard, Le Grand Colbert (of Something’s Gotta Give fame). My mom and I ate here 15 years ago, and it was just as great as we remembered! As expected, the food was excellent, as was the service. Everyone enjoyed their meals. Especially Betty, who had an entire pot of mussels and the rest of Pryor’s pot of mussels…
DAY THREE – Versailles & Dinner on the Eiffel Tower!
Our third day in Paris, Saturday, began with a trip to Versailles (about an hour from Paris via car) to tour the famous Chateau of Versailles. We arrived about 30 minutes before the Chateau opened, and we took a guided tour at 9:30 AM (pre-booked with Versailles, of course). The tour took us through a private area of Versailles that is not open to the public, which gave us a great opportunity to see the chateau and some of its treasures up close and personal without the masses!
After our touring the interior, we walked through the areas open to the public, including the Hall of Mirrors, and the gardens by ourselves, which was extremely crowded compared to our private tour! Pro tip, take the private tour!! It was only about 14 extra euros per person, and you get to skip the line.
After the craziness at Versailles, we all enjoyed an outdoor beverage at O’Paris Irish pub in Versailles town. I went with a Guinness (come on, what did you expect?), most of the others had Champagne, and Betty downed 2 pina coladas in the span about about 40 minutes!
After about an hour drive back to Paris, it was time to get ready for our big dinner on the Eiffel Tower! Our dinner started at 6:30 and we arrived right on time! The sky was perfectly pink and purple. However, we did manage to run through a group of Yellow Vest Protestors on our way to dinner…. Luckily, that went by pretty quickly and no one seemed to get too upset.
Despite being touristy, dinner on the Eiffel Tower was totally awesome and well worth the 110 euro per person cost. We enjoyed a 3 course meal at Restaurant 58 on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower and 3 glasses of wine! Our waiter was fabulous and everyone seemed to enjoy their dinner! I would highly recommend this to tourists in Paris, especially first timers!
After dinner, we ALL (even Betty!!) ascended to the very top of the tower for views over Paris! Ooh la la!!
DAY FOUR – A FOOD TOUR OF MONTMARTRE, THE ORSAY, PHARMACY SHOPPING, AND AN ALSATIAN DINNER
Our Sunday, our fourth day in Paris, started with food tour of Montmartre with Secret Food Tours Paris. While only scheduled to last 3 hours, we spent about 4.5 hours touring around Montmartre, trying everything from freshly baked bread to cheese to wine to dessert, even meeting Owen Wilson in one of the shops (not planned)! The tour ended in a central square in Montmartre with Champagne and crêpes! This tour was absolutely amazing, and I would absolutely take it again!!
After our tour, we took a Uber (G7 was not cooperating) to the Musee d’Orsay for about an hour and a half to check out some of the famous Impressionist paintings. We also did a bit of shopping in the Orsay… If you are planning a trip to Paris, I really LOVE the Orsay and recommend a visit, at least for an hour!! The Orsay is much more manageable than the Louvre, so its not that difficult to squeeze into an already packed itinerary.
Our evening ended with some French pharmacy shopping (French pharmacies are the best!) on the Place de la République and dinner at an Alsatian restaurant called Chez Jenny, just a few doors down from the pharmacy. We all enjoyed French Onion Soup and I had Crémant (an Alsatian sparkling wine) and an Flammkuchen (a thin pizza from the Alsace) – very Alsatian!
DAY FIVE – NOTRE DAME AND LUNCH AT GEORGES!!
On our final morning in Paris (always so sad!), we took a car to Notre Dame and explored the outside and inside of the cathedral. Even though I’ve seen it a many times, Notre Dame is so impressive!! We were super lucky to visit Notre Dame before the tragic April fire. I hope the renovations are able to restore Notre Dame to her former glory.
After Notre Dame, we did some more shopping (Paris really has the best shopping!) and then walked through the Marais to the Centre Pompidu, Paris’ very modern art museum!
We skipped the interior of the museum, but had lunch at its rooftop restaurant – Georges! Georges is seriously fantastic and was probably our best meal of the trip! The weather was absolutely perfect; we were able to sit outside and enjoy views over Paris while having lunch. Our lunch ended with some dessert and French 75 cocktails to celebrate Joanne’s birthdays!
We caught our Norwegian Air flight back to JFK from CDG about 6 PM in the evening, after almost missing it due to major traffic and an airport evacuation… All in all a great trip and a fabulous way to spend a long weekend!!!
STEAL OUR TRIP
Hotel La Nouvelle République: 9 rue Moret, 75011 Paris, France. Free breakfast and WIFI, elevator, decent sized bathrooms with heated floors. 10 Euro discount for booking directly on their sight.
O’Chateau Seine River Cruise: Booking online in advance mandatory for Champagne tasting. Cruise departs from the Trocadero side of the Eiffel Tower, down the stairs to the right (when facing the Eiffel Tower) from the Vedettes de Paris dock. 3 full glasses of Champagne and an hour-long cruise to Notre Dame and back. Arrive at least 10 minutes prior to departure to collect tickets.
Le Casse Noix: 56 Rue de la Fédération, 75015 Paris, France. Open Monday – Tuesday, Thursday – Friday, 12h – 14h30, 7h – 22h30. Reservations recommend, as the restaurant is tiny. 3 course prix fixe menu with multiple choices for each course. A great option near the Eiffel Tower that’s not too touristy.
Louvre: Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France. Open Thursday – Monday, 9 – 18h, until 22h on Friday. Recommend to purchase tickets in advance, but not required. Note – for Fall 2019, the Mona Lisa will require a pre-purchased ticket due to a special Da Vinci exhibit. We did the Welcome to the Louvre tour of the Louvre’s highlights for about an hour and thirty minutes, at a cost of 26 Euro per person for entrance to the Louvre and the Welcome to the Louvre Tour. For the tour, checkin is just to the right of the main entrance into the museum (i.e. underground). The tour was quite worthwhile.
Ellsworth: 34 Rue de Richelieu, 75001 Paris, France. Open Tuesday – Saturday, 12h15 – 14h15, 19h – 22h30. Reservations recommended and can be made online, as the restaurant is small.
Galeries Lafayette: 40 Boulevard Haussman, Paris, France. Open Monday – Saturday,, 9h30 – 20h30, Sunday 11h – 20h.
Cube Bar: 8 ème étage, 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris, France. Closed Wednesday. Open 11h30 – 18h30 except Sunday, 11h – 20h. There is a bar a top Galeries Lafayette, but I’m not sure its always called the Cube Bar. I also think it was open later than 18h30 when we visited. Double check Galeries Lafayette’s website to confirm before visiting. An excellent spot for a sunset drink or snack!
Le Grand Colbert: 2 Rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris, France. Open daily 12h – 00h. Reservations recommened and can be made online. Of Something’s Got To Give fame, its touristy but a fun and tasty spot.
Versailles: Place d’Armes ,78000 Versailles, France. Palace grounds open Tuesday 7h – 20h, last entry around 18h. The actual palace does not open until 9h. Check the official Versailles website (linked) for the most up to date opening information. Highly recommended to arrive early or late and buy tickets in advance online. There are many options for tickets – we did the Palace Ticket with the King’s Apartment Tour, which takes you to rooms not accessible to the public, admits you to the main Chateau, and provides access to the Palace Gardens, at a total cost of 28 Euro per person. Recommended, as its really nice to visit the palace, or at least a portion of the palace, without the crowds. Plus, the King’s Apartment Tour is guided! If you plan to spend the entire day and its nice weather, buy the Passport. Note that Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet and Petit Trianon are about a mile walk from the main palace.
O’Paris Pub: 15 Rue Colbert, 78000 Versailles, France. Open daily 16h – 2h, 14h – 2h Saturday and Sunday. Great Irish pub without door seating a 5 minute walk (if that from Versailles). If you’re walking away from Versailles, its to the left before heading into town. No real food, but excellent drinks!
Eiffel Tower: Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France. Open daily 9h30 – 23h45. Highly, highly recommended to buy tickets online in advance. Dinner reservations almost always must be made in advance online. Read my blog post on the Eiffel Tower for all things Eiffel Tower!
Secret Food Tours Paris: Offering multiple food tours of Paris, we did the Montmartre tour at 89 euros/person, which included all food and drink mentioned in this blog post. Book online in advance, as tour participants are capped and these tours sell out. Note that there is also a drink addition, that permits guests a few extra adult beverages. We did not to this option. Wear walking shoes, bring a bottle of water, and do not eat much before the tour! There’s often a 10% coupon on the website.
Orsay Museum: 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris, France. Open daily 9h30 – 18h, until 21h45 on Thursday. Closed Monday. Admission 14 Euro person and can be purchased online, but not required.
Chez Jenny: 39 Boulevard du Temple, 75003 Paris, France. Open daily 12 – 0h, until 1h on Friday and Saturday.
Georges: 6ème étage Palais Beaubourg Place Georges Pompidou, 75004 Paris, France. Open daily 12h – 23h30. Reservations recommended.
G7: Great taxi app that works like Uber. Set up an account before arriving in Paris. You can also request pick ups up to 2 weeks in advance – works like a real charm!! We used this every day.