Ah Paris, the city of love, lights, and croissants.
Paris was a city I never intended to fall in love with. I thought it would be touristy, overcrowded, and overrated. While the first two are technically true, somehow the plague of selfie sticks and keychain vendors didn’t get to me as much as I thought they would. Maybe it’s because expectations were low — or maybe it’s the fact that eating a baguette out of my purse is socially acceptable — but Paris surprised me.
I recently spent three days in Paris with my boyfriend. Most people will tell you that three days is way too short for Paris, but I thought it was the perfect amount of time to see everything we wanted to without getting too overwhelmed. Here’s how we spent a perfect weekend in Paris.
We arrived back in Paris at about 6am after a sleepless night on the overnight bus from Strasbourg. Our hotel, the Ibis Budget, has 24-hour reception so we were able to drop our bags off right away and get to exploring.
Our first stop was the Luxembourg gardens. The gardens are HUGE but there are lots of benches to sit, eat a snack, and watch the world go by.
After the gardens we stopped at the cutest vegan bakery called Cloud Cakes and I got an espresso and a vegan croissant. I seriously wanted to try everything on the menu but this girl was on a budget.
We went back to our hotel to check in and to our delight, our luggage had arrived. In case you missed it, we had just spent a few days in Strasbourg without our luggage. We almost cried tears of joy when we finally were able to change out of our smelly plane clothes.
After a short nap we made our way over to the Notre Dame Cathedral. Notre Dame is the most visited site in Paris. With 12th century gothic architecture and impressive stained glass windows, this cathedral is definitely worth a visit.
In the area surrounding the Notre Dame there are tons of restaurants, cafes, and shops. Make sure to poke your head into the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore and the coffee shop next door. The cafe has perfect views of the cathedral and they even have a variety of plant based milks for lattes.
After wandering the Notre Dame area for awhile, we decided to go check out the Louvre courtyard. The sun was just starting to set and the pyramids were all lit up. There was hardly anyone there so we ran around like little kids taking pictures and freaking out at how beautiful it was.
Once the sun had fully set, we made our way over to the Trocadero to see the Eiffel Tower up close for the first time. We must have incredible timing because we turned the corner just in time to see the start of the Eiffel Tower light show. Every hour after the sun goes down, the tower sparkles for a few minutes and it is absolute magic.
After standing with our jaws open for a while, we hit the streets to look for food. Being vegan and on a budget, I grabbed a sandwich from a health food store and ate it on the way to the metro. Am I doing Paris right?
Our second day was Jake’s birthday! He really wanted to see the Louvre so we set out early to get in line for the iconic museum. We made a quick pit stop at the Royal Palace next door to take some pictures. Then when we walked up to the Louvre we were shocked that nobody was in line. Until we realized that it was Tuesday and the museum was closed…
Luckily, the Orsay Museum is within walking distance from the Louvre and is one of the most significant art museums in the world. The beautiful museum, once a railroad station, is filled with some of the biggest names in European art like Monet, Gaugin and Van Gogh. The museum only costs 9 euro for students. If you only have a weekend in Paris, make sure you check out one of its famous art museums.
Next up was a visit to Paris’ most picturesque neighborhood, Montmartre. Apparently this neighborhood isn’t quite the hipster haven it used to be but we still had fun getting lost in the cobbled streets, marveling at the Basilica, and admiring the local artists selling their wares.
After a quick stop at the Arc de Triomphe for some pictures, we were getting a little hangry. Jake wanted pizza and I wanted vegan food so we settled on Hank Vegan Pizza for dinner. And oh man it did not disappoint. It’s a little pricey at 5 euro a slice, but I’d say well worth it.
After dinner we hit up some happy hours in the area. Most deals we saw were about 5.50 euro for a glass of wine or a cocktail.
On day three we decided to pay another visit to the Eiffel Tower. We had previously only seen it at night and hadn’t really explored the surrounding neighborhood.
We had a lot of fun finding side streets with the best views of the tower and trying to find the least touristy cafes.
Our weekend in Paris had officially come to an end and we both fell in love with the city. I never thought I’d be a Paris kind of girl, but something about the city charmed me.
I guess it’s true what Audrey Hepburn said,
“Paris is always a good idea.”
Heading to France?
Here are some other blog posts I’ve written about France.
Need a place to stay? We loved the Ibis Budget La Villete.
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