Paris Favorites

By Kate Riley August 2, 2016

This was my third time in Paris and by far my favorite visit. My first two trips were short, only 3 or 4 days and so I was only able to see the main tourist attractions and catch a mere glimpse of the life of Parisians.

On this most recent trip I spent an entire week strolling the streets, visiting museums, and dining in cafes under sunny skies at a leisurely pace, and it was absolutely divine. I’m sharing my favorites to remind those who have been what a marvelous city this is, and to inspire those who have never visited to put Paris on your list!

 eiffel tower paris

 

The Cafés.

Whenever anyone asks me what’s the thing I miss most about Paris, it’s hard to say (see all my favorite things below) but the café scene is at the top of the list. Sitting at sidewalk cafés is a lifestyle in Paris, every one makes time to do it and you’ll find them on every street corner. I love how both locals and tourists make a stop at a cafe part of the daily routine where you enjoy a meal, or simply have a café express or glass of rosé wine.

 cafe buci

 

 paris cafe

 le deux palais cafe

The Architecture.

It pretty much blows your mind walking the streets of this city, looking up at the detail on every bridge and building, seeing those iron railings along streets and windowsills, the big beautiful doors that lead to exquisite courtyards, and the stone flourishes on all the facades.

  pont d'alexander

 paris bridge

 place des vosges arch

 hotel sully paris

 le relais saint honore

black iron railing

 black arched doors paris

 ritz paris

The Parks and Gardens.

Two gardens you must see are the Jardin des Tuileries next to the Louvre Museum and the Jardin du Luxembourg (where children race sailboats), both are formal gardens, filled with trees and flowers, gravel pathways, and many Parisians lounging in the sun.

I also love the very peaceful gardens of the Rodin Museum and the Place des Vosges, the oldest square in Paris, it has four beautiful fountains. We found more informal gardens at Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, it’s a nice walk and has more views of Paris from its highest hill.

 jardin du luxembourg

 jardin des tuilleries

 hotel sully gardens

 place des vosges fountain

The Museums.

Paris is world famous for its amazing museums and massive amounts of art, but you can’t see it all in one trip. There are a few not-to-miss museums, The Louvre of course is top of the list. It can be overwhelming because it’s so big but if you hit the highlights it’s manageable in an afternoon. One of my favorites is the Musée d’Orsay, I love the gigantic clocks inside, the views of Paris from the terrace, and the massive amount of impressionist art all housed in a converted train station.

The Musée de l’Orangerie is lovely, also known for the large Monet ‘Water Lilies’ and more impressionist works. The Musée Rodin is filled with amazing sculptures, and the grounds and gardens are manicured and peaceful. If you want to visit a lot of museums and monuments on your visit, I highly recommend purchasing the Museum Pass, it saved us from standing in line many times! (Buy it in the airport or train station on arrival). Two other museums worth a stop if you have time are the Musée de Cluny and the Maison de Victor Hugo (off the Place des Vosges).

Louvre

 louvre museum

D’Orsay

 musee dorsay clock

 monet dorsay

 dorsay monet

dorsay clock view

Rodin:

 musee rodin

 rodin thinker

  rodin museum gardens

L’Orangerie:

musee dorangerie

 monet lorangerie

The Sweets.

You’ll find patisseries all over the city so you can indulge to your heart’s content! Two places we went crazy for were Aux Merveilleux, they create little bites of confectionary heaven unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. Look here to see what I mean. On our second visit we were the last ones in the shop one evening, and all they had left was the coffee flavored ones but we didn’t care we gobbled them all up when we got back to our apartment.

Another delight was sharing a pot of chocolate at Angelina along the Rue de Rivoli, they also have the most decadent desserts and beautiful murals on the wall, so worth the visit!

 parisian pastries

  macarons

 angelina pot of hot chocolate

 aux mervielleux

 

The Street Walks.

There are four favorite strolls we loved, the first was a walk along the Rue Saint Andres des Arts (off the Boulevard Saint-Germaine) and it’s so charming it feels like a fairy tale. It’s filled with cafes and shops on small pedestrian-only cobblestone streets, we walked down it several times just to soak it all in.

 striped chairs parisian cafe

 cafe french flag

 

The Rue Cler is a pedestrian market made popular by Rick Steves (his travel guide is great by the way), and worth a visit since it’s a great place to stroll and buy fresh market or specialty foods.

 rue cler florist

 cheese shop

Le Marias is an exquisite neighborhood, you’ll find street after street filled with specialized shops and lovely little cafes, we stayed in an Air B&B apartment here and it was a wonderful neighborhood to “live” in for four days. We walked everywhere but also rented bikes to ride around, so fun! A stroll down the Rue Rambuteau will show off some great shops and cafes.

 le marais florist

 le marais shop

  chocolaterie le marais

 

If you love high end fashion and jewelry, start your walk at the Hotel Ritz, stroll around the Place Vendome to window shop, and walk down Rue Saint Honoré to see the clothing shops.

 place vendome shops

  van cleef doors

  rue saint honore

 

The Iconic Landmarks

Paris is famous for its many landmarks from the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triomphe! Always worth the trip for the photo opp.

Notre Dame:

 notre dame seine river

The Eiffel Tower:

 la tour eiffel

Invalides:

 invalides

Champs Elysees & Arc de Triomphe:

 arc de triomphe

Les Halles:

 les halles

Basilica Sacré Coeur:

 sacre coeur

Moulin Rouge:

 moulin rouge

 

Like other metropolitan cities, you can rent a bike in Paris and ride it from one place to another then return it at any of the stalls all over town. Remember pedestrians always have the right of way!

 bike rental

 

Paris is one of those cities where you’ll never know what you’ll find around the corner, you just need to go there and explore it, on foot or by bicycle.

 paris carousel

 

I’ll end with this charming video I shot to give you a taste of the festivities of Bastille Day. My travel companion Karin and I celebrated the national holiday there on July 14th and all around Paris people were joyful and dancing in the streets like you see below. Tragically, this was also the evening of the Nice terrorist attack which I wrote about here. But we must remember to not live in fear, and so I am looking forward to my next visit to France, and most definitely Paris.

bastille day from CentsationalGirl on Vimeo.

We saw much more but I’ll stop here, this post is already long enough! What things have you seen or tasted in Paris that you loved?

See also 20 ultimate things to do in Paris, that article lists a few more great stops!

13 comments

  1. Your pictures capture Paris so well!! We just returned from a family trip to Europe and spent the last few days in Paris. I hadn’t been there in 20 years so I was glad to be able to show my kids the highlights of this beautiful city. We were also there on July 14th and loved the enthusiasm of the city and its people. Can’t wait to go back!

  2. i had the best and most colorful quiche at a cafe on rue cler! climbing to the top of notre dame and looking out amongst the gargoyles was one of my favorite things. glad you enjoyed yourself. i am sure it must have been scary being there at the same time as the nice horrors. we were in austria, germany, and slovenia for almost 3 weeks and while europe is the place that holds the most interest for me, i felt a little uneasy in vienna and at the airport.
    b

  3. My friend and I are to be in Paris September 13th for three days before we set out on our river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest. I must admit we’re both a little anxious regarding the many terrorist attacks. But you would recommend still going?

  4. Oh WOW! Going to Paris in October and your pics really captured all I want to see. Can’t wait! Tks for sharing:)

  5. Ahhh Gay Paris! It’s been too long. The last time I was there I was pregnant with my daughter 5 years ago!

    We had a great time, including Basilica Sacré Coeur and L’Orangerie, even getting caught in the rain and trying to run heavily pregnant was fun!

  6. I agree with the other comments. Your photography skills are amazing! Would you happen to have a gallery wall that you can share?

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