When you’re route is transatlantic, there’s no good excuse not to make a stop in Paris.
So, there we were. In Paris on a beautifully crisp fall day, strolling the Luxembourg Gardens, sipping espressos (and a bit too much wine) and ordering up cheese platters like nobody’s business while we made our leisurely way through the city. This girl – coming off of a week in LA that set my clock back three hours – had a bit of trouble adjusting to the new time zone. But no worries. I mean, it’s Paris, so you must. You just must.
Our two-day itinerary was as serendipitous as it was strategic, and wonderfully ideal. If you’ve never been to the City of Lights, here’s a quick glance at what – and how – you may want to plan.
We made our home base in Saint Germain’s Hotel Recamier, in Place Saint-Sulpice, a quiet but lovely square that’s conveniently located for walking around the city. I’d researched my heart out, and booked room 64, which includes the hotel’s only guestroom terrace, a small square of space with bistro table that overlooks fellow neighbor’s rooftops in an irresistibly quaint – but not especially scenic – sense.
11 AM – Grab a baguette and beverage and head over to Luxembourg Gardens, where you can find a patch of grass or a table to sit on while watching kids float sailboats in the water.
1 PM – Continue your leisurely walk toward the Eiffel Tower, and pick up a bottle of wine along the way (glasses too). Make cozy on the grass again – and soak up the sights and sounds – before you head toward the bustle along the river. Remember, this slow itinerary was based on a jet-lagged American that arrived at 8 AM ;)
4 PM: Indulge in your own Latin Quarter strolling dinner, ordering up aperitifs and wine alongside fromage plates as you move from one scenic cafe to the next. Finish with sweets, naturally. Take your time. Everyone else does.
7 PM: From the Latin Quarter, head toward Notre Dame, to take in the lit-up magnificence of the structure at night. Quietly walk through the church, in awe.
8 PM: If you’re with your guy, bring along a small padlock (or buy one for a euro or two from a peddler) and attach it to the Pont des Arts bridge, or any other, in a sachrine and touristy – but also romantic – pledge of your love. Toss the keys in the Seine.
9 PM: Pick up tickets for an evening river cruise. We opted for Bateaux Vedettes du Pont Neuf’s 10 PM cruise. Go a few minutes early to pick up a mini bottle or two of chardonnay for your float, and then wait in a short line to score seats on the top deck of the boat, near the front.
11 PM: When the city is quiet, walk to the Louvre Museum (it will be closed by this time), and take up a seat outside the glass pyramid, where the crowds are non-existent and you can enjoy the architecture in peace and serenity.
9 AM: Find a cafe, like the sweet spot right in Place Saint-Sulpice, and order up breakfast with caffeination. Croissant – or an omelet – if it’s more your vibe.
10 AM: While you’re in the area, wander through Saint-Sulpice Church, the city’s second-largest.
11 AM: Time for dessert? Of course. Everyone eats dessert between breakfast and lunch in Paris, no? We zipped into a choclatier and picked up some macaroons, too. The perfect setting seemed to be the river, so we headed that way to hang our legs off the edge and enjoy the sweets al fresco.
1 PM: We hopped the Metro to Gard de Nord, one of the city’s primary train stations, which transports you into a former era, trains spewing in and out of the station, and crowds buzzing. From there, we grabbed a cab to Montmarte.
3 PM: Montmarte. I didn’t realize the grandeur that awaited us after our climb to this hill-top church. It was stunning. After approximately one gazillion stairs, I can attest that the ascent is worth the effort. After touring the cathedral, peruse the village beside it (maybe indulge in some hazelnut gelato – like I did?).
7 PM: Wrap up your evening with some fantastically French cuisine. There are so many options that I won’t even list any here. We asked our concierge for a recommendation (which was also based on the few places open on a Sunday evening), but it was excellent and the perfect way to round out our 48 hours in Paris. Long and leisurely and filled with plenty of wine, naturally.
Of course, the rest of the evening was spent curled up in robes back at the hotel, before hopping onto another European flight in the morning. More details on that coming soon…