After Bruges, we set off for a Tour de France that would take us through Paris, Burgundy, and Provence. In Europe we’ve been able to see friends in most of the countries we visit, often designing our itinerary to make sure our plans line up with friends on their vacations. So we were very excited to overlap in Paris with my best friends Paige and Jameson, and Jamie’s wonderful parents, Paige and Jay.
Our last trip to Paris was three years ago for our first wedding anniversary and on that trip we rented an apartment in Le Marais with a big window looking out over the Parisian rooftops. This time around we wanted to explore a different part of town and booked into the beautiful Hotel Daniel near the Champs-Élysées, and I was thrilled to discover that our room on the top floor had an even better panoramic view of the rooftops and a big window seat.
As a member of Relais & Chateaux, Hotel Daniel was bursting with the collection’s characteristic charm and personality – and I loved the eclectic chinoiserie-inspired interiors. Chinoiserie is the European interpretation and imitation of Chinese and East Asian artistic traditions, and after spending three months traveling throughout Asia it was so fun to return to the hotel’s glamorous east-meets-west aesthetic after a day out exploring Paris. From the cheerful and unexpected color palatte to the living room’s bold pattern-mixing, I was taking notes for when we have a home for our own and I can decorate with the treasures we’ve gathered from around the world.
It would take a lifetime to explore Paris thoroughly, and in addition to revisiting old favorites on this trip it was fun to explore new aspects of the city with our friends, from a private tour of the beautiful Assemble Nationale organized by Jameson, to discovering Marie Antoinette’s rustic farm behind Le Petit Trianon in Versailles. (The farm feels a bit like Disneyland in that it’s a fake rural village on the palace grounds where Marie Antoinette would escape the pressures of court life to milk cows and pretend to live like a peasant. It’s idyllic, albeit a bit quirky.) With all the fabulous places to visit and things to see, my favorite moments from the week were seeing Paige try escargot for the first time (she loved it!) and when we met up with Paige and Jameson to share a bottle of wine on the banks of the Seine during sunset.
For those of you planning your own Parisian adventures, here’s a list of some of our favorite experiences in Paris:
1. A Cooking Class – Take the macaron-making class at La Cuisine Paris. Macarons can be intimidating to make at home, and this class gave me the confidence to try the delicate recipe. I’ve since made these delicious cookies countless times and cannot recommend La Cuisine enough for all the tips and tricks they provided!
2. The Paris Flea – My idea of heaven on earth, this massive flea market in Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, which bursts with life on the weekends, where treasures can be found in every stall.
3. Park Lounging – Paris has so many beautiful parks and whiling away the hours next to stunning architecture and changing maple trees is a treasured Parisian pastime. Thankfully, these parks are evenly sprinkled throughout the city so there’s always a place to rest if you’re tired from walking. Jardin de Tuileries (near the Louvre), Palais Royal, Place des Vosges, and Jardin de Luxembourg are a few of my favorites.
4. Parisian Flower Shops – In Paris flower shops spill out onto almost every corner, but there are two very special spots in the Saint Germain neighborhood worth a visit if only to inspire your centerpieces when you return home. The first is Odorantes which designs their dramatic bouquets around aromatics rather than color and form. The owner is incredibly kind and walked me through his favorite – and the most fragrant – roses out there. Secondly, Moulie across from the Assemble National is a dream with massive bouquets set on pedestals.
5. The Eiffel Tower (of course) – The two best times to visit the Eiffel Tower are at sunrise and sunset, and the Trocadero is my favorite spot to appreciate it’s beauty and get a photo without a thousand tourists in the frame. (That’s where the opening photo in this blog post was taken.)
6. A Portrait Session – One of the best souvenirs you can bring back from Paris is a set of photos, and we love love love the images our friend Katie captured during our last trip. (She’s on sabbatical right now, but you can find her website here.)
7. Museum Hopping – I prefer the smaller museums around Paris to the crush of people at the Louvre, such as Musee National Gustave Moreau and Musee Carnavalet, which is dedicated to the history of the city. Although I hope to get back to Paris before the end of the year to see the Dior exhibit at Les Arts Decoratifs!
8. Cafe Society – No trip to Paris would be complete without a few hours spent people watching from a Parisian Cafe, and my favorites include: Cafe Bonaparte and St. Antiquaires in Saint Germain and Carette and Chez Janou in La Marais. The people watching is also excellent at the inner courtyard brasserie in Hotel Costes, and I love lunch or afternoon tea in the gorgeous chinoiserie-style dining room at Laduree Bonaparte’s location.
What are your favorite things to do in Paris? Let me know in the comments below!
All photos by David and Stacie Flinner for stacieflinner.com