I’m sorry it’s taken so long for me to write my Paris trip post but it was such a packed and wonderful vacation that I’m still absorbing it and begrudgingly adjusting to being back home. I’ve also still got wicked jet lag. This time last year I had no idea we’d have the opportunity to go to Paris but my husband had a ‘work thing’ come up that took him there and so we decided to make it a family vacation and join him. This was both of my daughters first trips abroad, first airplane trip….and honestly first real destination vacation where we play tourists and sight see all day long with them. I’m really glad they got this experience and we got to turn them into great little travellers. I’m especially glad they got to experience a city with a different language and culture that they had to adjust to.
We walked everywhere!! Last time we came to Paris 11 years ago we where passing through on a road trip so we had to drive and park at the tourist attractions. Yuck! Not the way to see Paris. This time we averaged about 10 miles of walking per day and made good use of a weeklong transit pass and got the kids looking at subway maps and helping us plot our route. Our hotel was somewhat central near a major subway station (the RER line) at Trocadero square near the Eiffel Tower. Every morning we’d decide what tourist attraction we’d visit that day, train it there and then after that destination we would walk, wander and get lost for the rest of the day and then train it back to our hotel and take a break and then find dinner. My favourite part of the trip was the exploring and not so much the attractions (with the exception of the Chalet Versailles).
My kids where really excited about seeing the Eiffel Tower as that is the quintessential cliche image when kids think about Paris and all they really knew about it. We left that attraction for the last day since we got tickets online, and unfortunately that happened to be the coldest day we were there where it had snowed through the night. We made it to the midway point up the Eiffel Tower elevator and then they decided the cables where too frozen to take passengers up to the top. It wasn’t a big deal though since it was blistery cold up there and we where very high up with amazing views. We spent about an hour on this level before we decided the cold was unbearable and we were told it would be another two hours before the elevator could go all the way up so we called it a day and went back down.
First destination was the Musee d’Orsay. We’ve been to the Louvre before but have never been here so this was priority on the list with the Louvre being ‘if we have time’. I completely get what everybody was saying about the d’Orsay being a far better museum experience. Its a way smaller museum with an incredible collection and stunning architecture.
Van Gogh has never been a favourite artist of mine but I was stunned by his work in person. It is so vibrant and so full of movement. I can’t even describe the energy that bounces around each of the pieces but they are definitely something you need to see in person.
After the d’Orsay, we went for our long walk across the love lock bridge. I was amazed that the river Siene is always very, very choppy and fast moving.
In the Opera district there are tons of luxury brand shops, boutiques and department stores such as Gallerias Lafayette and Printemps. This is a photo of the original Chanel store on Rue Cambon. The staircase you see is where Chanel did her fashion shows.
Really close to the Opera Garnier I found the Repetto store. I love ballet flats and have always wanted to check out Repettos so this was like being in a candy store for me. I didn’t realize that Repettos where so hard to find in Canada and that much more expensive so I’m glad that at the end of the trip I went back and got a pair in taupe as my souvenir. Repetto ballet company was founded in 1947 at the Opera Garnier where Rose Reppeto made ballet slippers for all the ballerinas.
The outside front of the Opera Garnier. This is definitely a must see attraction in Paris. It’s an absolutely stunning building and an interesting fact about it is that on the rooftop they have bee keeping. Actually, many buildings in Paris have bee keeping on the rooftops.
The inner stairway of the Opera Gariner
Paris street style. We should be so ashamed here in Lululemon world (not really. Life is different here). People dressed impecably there in every single age group. Everybody wore beautiful wool coats instead of functional jackets and proper put together outfits. Outfits weren’t busy or out there or complicated, they were just sophisticated and elegant. I don’t think I saw a single grandfather out walking his dog without a gorgeous coat on and a nice hat and scarf. All men there wore scarves tied perfectly.
This photo is from our morning Bistro where we had Cafe Creme and croissants. We got to see people walking to work each morning.
Tuesday was the sunniest forecasted day so we made that our day to visit Chateau Versailles. It was a 30 minute train ride and the chateau is very close to the train station. This was my favourite attraction of the trip and you can easily spend the entire day there exploring the chateau, the grounds which are massive and the town.
One of the things I really wanted to do in Paris was to check out some luxury brand consignment shops. There are a handful of them that are world renowned and they are each very different from each other. Didier Ludot is probably the most lux and has a well curated mix of couture gowns and is often a destination for celebrities looking for gowns to wear to events. Les Trois Marches de Catherine B is a store that only carries vintage Hermes and Chanel from handbags to small leather goods and jewelry. This was a fun shop because Catherine B is a total nerd girl for Hermes and Chanel and even has the original Birkin Bag in her possession, but not displayed and she clearly loves people coming in to appreciate her collection. We got lost looking for her shop but on the way we fell upon LaGallery (photos below). LaGallery had really beautifully displayed and curated collection of vintage Gucci, Chanel, Hermes and Fendi. It was a pleasure just to see such well maintained vintage handbags displayed so beautifully.
Reciproque was a consignment store about a mile away from our hotel and it is spread out between three different stores with basements and upstairs locations. Dresses in one store, couture upstairs, shoes downstairs, accessories in its own store and all items organized by brand which was nice. It was also the most reasonably priced location and was more ‘consignment shop’ than a gallery of vintage items. I took some time looking through Chanel suits since that is not something you get to see in Vancouver. I was interested to see if I could find an affordable Chanel small leather good but despite a big collection of handbags there was only two small wallets that didn’t strike my fancy for the price. I did however find a pair of Chanel sunglasses from 2010 that I liked so I got those as my other paris souvenir.
We walked past this bistro probably three times and thought it was a funny name. We weren’t enticed to eat there because of the name but now have learned it’s actually a very popular destination so we probably should have at least had coffee there.
The Louvre. It was INSANELY busy. We left this for a day that was forecasted to be very rainy and it ended up being very sunny that day. The Louvre is massive and very overwhelming, especially for young kids. Its so busy with tourists that it is one of the pickpocket paradises that I identified (the other being the Eiffel Tower and Chateau Versaille) We spent half a day there and then left to play outdoors instead.
Another really cool thing about Paris (besides all the things) is that they have the most amazing artisanal boutiques. Artisans stoves, artisanal boar hair brushes and tortuous shell clips, artisanal makeup and skin care. These are functional objects that are treated like masterpieces.
Our second to last day, on our way to the Eiffel Tower, we came upon Paris Fashion Week. I didn’t realize it was overlapping with our vacation but all of a sudden we saw a swarm of paparazzi photographing women coming out of a show and so we decided to sit at this cafe at Trocadero Square and watch it all happen. The first thing we saw when we sat down was this woman with an elaborate headdress on with spider broaches clipped in. Someone on my Instagram identified her as Diane Parnet, a famous fashion blogger.
I don’t know who this woman in green was but she had a ton of paparazzi interested. It was so interesting to see the relationship between celebrity and paparazzi. She paraded for them, posed hard, left for a while and then when they where busy photographing somebody else she came back and pulled their interest away from the other subject while she lit a cigarette and again posed hard.
The lady entering this black car was very elaborately dressed and looked very familiar. I wish I’d gotten a better photo of her to identify her. The paparazzi was very interested in her as well but she was not interested in posing hard for them.
One very regrettable thing about Paris was Laduree. It’s a very touristy bake shop that sells amazing macarons (I love macarons), chocolates, pastries, coffee, souvenirs. I had seen a ton of bloggers and youtube bloggers go on about Laduree (and one is opening in Vancouver) when I was researching our trip so I decided to buy a keychain there that I’d seen on youtube and a small box of macaroons. This was on our first day there so I was bleary eyed and tired from travel and not thinking straight but I ended up paying about $54 Euros for a Laduree key chain (the over blogged one) and a box of 8 macarons (which my kids later stole in the middle of the night). Imagine my horror when I later realized that I’d just spent $80 for a key chain and cookies. I can think of a dozen other things in Paris I could have better spent $54 euros on. Anyways, this Laduree was on the Champs Elysees and it had massive lineups to get in. I managed to go in on a day when there was very little lineup but I wish I’d seen it with a huge lineup that day because that may have deterred me from going in. There is also Laduree at the airport and at various other tourist attractions. My advice to you is if you go to paris, pass on Laduree. It’s not that special and it’s very pricey even for this macaron lover.
The french pharmacy is an essential stop if you love beauty products and makeup. They have amazing, amazing skincare finds there for reasonable prices. I got a few items and stopped in every single pharmacy we saw (much to my husbands annoyance) just to look around. I realized late that CityPharma has all the brands that the other pharmacies carry (each has different selections) in tons of aisles and CityPharma had best prices and bulk packaging for a lot of items. Let me know if you guys are interested because I can do an entire post on what to buy at the french pharmacy and what my haul was (or my wish I’d hauled). I also stopped in at the sephora at Champs Elysees and I have never seen a bigger Sephora. The centre aisle at that sephora is probably a mile long catwalk and every brand that you can find on sephora.com (even the niche brands) are housed there. It was amazing and very overwhelming.
Oh the croissants in Paris. I went there loving macarons and came away obsessed with the perfect croissant and totally bored with macarons. I can’t even describe how superior the croissants are to the ones you find here even in specialty high end bakeries. I think the ratio there is one pound of butter per croissant and they are thick and crisp (yet somehow soft?) on the outside and flakey only on the very inside. It is my goal in life to learn how to make them like this and if I ever do I will open up shop and sell only croissants.
I was surprised at how many Starbucks I found in Paris. I think we saw at least 20 but we refused to partake since there are so many better options for coffee there. This cute little bistro was on Avenue Victor Hugo which we discovered our last day. Avenue Victor Hugo had some really great shops as well – dyptique, Zadie & Voltaire, Zara home. Lots to see in this neighbourhood.
What I wore in Paris. I had a few bathroom selfies for you. I packed two scarves to dress up my plain outfits and I packed my Kit and Ace Pencil Pants, &Go City Trek Trousers, Hudson Jeans and for the flight I wore my Align Pants. I packed all my Kit &Ace Tees (Noosa SS x 3 and Noosa LS x1) a couple of Aritzia floral tees and a couple of cashmere sweaters. My jacket situation was interesting because I packed 3 jackets because I was uncertain about weather but they were all a bit wrong. I packed my leather jacket for stylishness (only got to wear it on flights), my Down For A Run Jacket for warmth and my &Go Anorak to layer over my down in case of rain (it did rain a lot). The weather was a lot colder than I thought it would be and so I wish I’d packed gloves for all of us and maybe a warmer jacket for myself although after an hour of walking I was warm enough in a tee and my down jacket. I was only going to take rain jackets for all of us and at the last minute I made my kids take their winter jackets and I grabbed my Down For A Run. For shoes I brought my heeled booties (didn’t wear other than the first flight) my ballet flats (wore them once) and my nike runners which I wore every single day. I’m really very glad I wore my runners most of the time because we walked so much. It would have been bad to have gotten overly sore feet or blisters on the first day. My husband had very sore feet from the week before being a work trip and having to walk a ton in dress shoes so I was glad to sacrifice a bit of style and save my feet. I feel like I wasn’t dressy enough for Parisian culture and I was clearly a tourist but I was a stylish and comfortable tourist I think.
My flight outfit was the Align Pant in black, my Aritzia tee shirt, leather jacket and I was deciding between my heeled booties and my ballet flats. I ended up wearing my booties and carrying ballet flats in my All Day Backpack.
All Day Backpack was my carry on.
Kit & Ace Pencil Pants with my Nike Pegasus Runners. My husband had a good laugh about my pant/shoe combo. I didn’t mind though.
A blurry selfie outfit. My Down For A Run Jacket, Kit & Ace Pencil Pants, Nike Pegasus, Aritzia Scarf.
Deciding on my Chanel sunglasses here. lol! Down For A Run Jacket, Noosa Tee, &Go City Trek Trousers
We loved Paris so much! We are so sad we could only spend a week there but we really packed in a ton in that week and got to see everything we wanted to. The people in Paris are so different from our first time there 11 years ago. Back then it was very rare for anybody to speak English and it wasn’t an especially open culture for tourists but this time around just about everybody spoke English to us (and we attempted to speak french as much as possible when ordering) and we where stopped and offered directions several times. People weren’t just very approachable, they approached us and went out of their way to be welcoming. I really recommend Paris if you are thinking about a vacation abroad. So fantastic!! I also want to note that we were warned about pick pockets but there were only a few places where we could see it was a problem area. I am pretty savvy about pick pockets having grown up going to Barcelona every summer (where pick pocketing is a sport) so I know how to spot pick pocket groups in a busy crowd, know the game and know the signals they have for each other. It’s something to be aware of but not something to be afraid about. Also, post Paris attacks we where not fearful at all traveling around. Every location we went to had very strict security protocols so we knew that they were taking safety precautions without being invasive or intrusive. It all felt very safe and very easy to travel around.
*one area we didn’t get to see and definitely wanted to was Sacre Coeur in Montmartre. The day we opted to go to the Louvre we where going to go to Montmartre but opted for an indoor day as it was supposed to be the rainiest. And then it was a beautiful sunny day. We don’t regret going to the Louvre since the girls got free reign of picture taking and had a great time but Montmartre would have been great to see too.