Paris, à nouveau | Recap + Tips

"Paris, à nouveau" means "Paris, again" and it honestly still feels a bit surreal to me that I was there less than a week ago. The way this trip came about was completely out of my comfort zone. When one of my work friends asked me and the other girl in our circle to go on this trip with her, along with two of her friends plus two of her cousins (bringing us to a total of 7 girls), I hesitated. I'm friends with my two coworkers of course but traveling together is a whole other beast and the other 4 girls were total strangers to me. And yet, the urge to travel abroad was strong and none of my friends were free so I decided to take the leap and go for it. I'm incredibly grateful I did! It ended up being an amazing trip (not without its hiccups though) and we all buddied up, with our own itineraries, so it was the perfect balance of doing our own thing and meeting up with everyone for the occasional dinner / breakfast / activity. I was with one of my work friends the entire time and we ended up being very compatible travel buddies. I don't know if I'd travel with 7 girls again but would I travel with my two coworkers? Absolutely. 

Since I've talked about my last Paris trip in detail and revisited a lot of the same spots, I thought I'd approach this post differently. I'll break it down by what we did and where we ate but then cap it off with some useful and new-to-me tips I picked up on this vacation. 

Where we ate

  • Le Plomb du Cantal Rive Droite - known for their aligot 
  • Café de Flore - quintessential French bistro
  • Comptoir des Archives - we only got appetizers here so I can't speak to the entrees
  • Angelina - I dream about their white hot chocolate but the croque monsieur was excellent as well
  • Le Bistro - cozy little bistro 
  • Kitchen - the one and only time I didn't have French food in Paris; great for a quick meal!
  • Au Metro - do not recommend for dinner (breakfast looked better but we didn't try)
  • Le Flore en l'Ile - best escargot we had on the entire trip (we had it like 3-4 times), my first time trying foie gras (I'm a fan!), and they have Berthillon ice cream
  • La Bécane À Gaston - one of my favorite dinner spots 
  • Comptoir Breizh - if you need a crepe and coffee break
  • La Marine - beautiful restaurant and really good food

Pastries/Dessert only

What we did 
Museums (always buy tickets ahead of time)
  • Musée d'Orsay - I've been there twice and it's my favorite museum in Paris
  • Louvre - I hadn't been here since 2011 and it still gets claustrophobic quickly (at least for me); we had a list of 5-6 things we wanted to see which I highly recommend doing. 
  • La Galerie Dior - I was just there for the dresses and while certain parts of it were certainly beautiful, I wasn't overly impressed but it's a fun little stop that takes under an hour to peruse. 

Tourist Sights
  • Eiffel Tower - an absolute must; we only saw it during the day but I have seen it sparkle at night
  • Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris - unfortunately still under construction 
  • Sainte-Chapelle - I've seen it three times and it never fails to take my breath away
  • Sacré-Cœur - it's an iconic church I recommend seeing at least once plus it's in one on my favorite areas, Montmartre
  • Palais-Royal - great spot for photos 
  • Tuileries Garden - peaceful garden if you want to sit down and relax

  • La Grande Epicerie de Paris - we kept calling it the fancy grocery store but we could've easily spent a whole afternoon there buying goodies
  • Shakespeare & Company Bookstore - my favorite bookstore in Paris
  • Librairie Galignani - my other favorite bookstore
  • E.Dehillerin - this shop was frequented by Julia Child so a must-stop for cooking/baking lovers
  • Place Vendôme - beautiful plaza with surrounded by luxury stores
  • Champs-Élysées - the street for shopping
  • Ile Saint-Louis - quaint little island with lots of shops and places to eat at, plus it's surrounded by the Seine
  • Telle Mère Telle Fille - best fashion jewelry boutique (IMHO!); I shopped there during my last trip to Paris and loved their pieces so much I continued to order online (even though paying the shipping hurt). I was so happy to shop in person again! 
  • Pharmacie - they're everywhere (go for the skincare products!) but the best one is located at the Gare de 'lest train station. 

Christmas Markets
  • Tuileries Garden Holiday Market - cute but definitely geared more towards kids
  • Abbesses Christmas Market in Montmartre - exactly what we were looking for in a Parisian Christmas Market! We loved all the local vendors and shopped quite a bit. 

Tips for traveling to Paris 
  • Unless you plan to visit holiday or flea markets, you can pretty much rely entirely on your credit cards and not exchange money beforehand (but if you do -- do it through your bank weeks ahead of your trip).
  • If luxury shopping is on your agenda, download the app Global Blue. It tracks your VAT refunds automatically and shows updates on when you'll get your money. Plus it made getting through customs 100x faster. (Note: You have to spent > 100 euros to get a refund)
  • Along the lines of shopping, always check how the euro compares to the dollar. Right before our trip, the dollar was stronger but by the time we went it was more or less equal. Which is honestly still amazing! The price difference between US and Europe is wild. It was totally worth it to splurge because it was so much cheaper.
  • This was the first time I did serious luxury shopping on a trip. Weeks beforehand, I went into the city to check out all the things I was interested in buying because I didn't want to have any buyers remorse (wishing I had or hadn't gotten something). I'm so glad I did this! In Paris, the wait at each luxury store can be up to an hour or longer (this shocked me!) but because I knew exactly what I wanted and didn't need to aimlessly browse, it allowed me to be really efficient and not waste precious time that could be spent seeing Paris. 
  • Set up mobile passport control. I was most worried about entering the US thinking it would take forever but the airline told us to download this app as we were landing to make exiting the airport faster and wow, what a tip! It only took me 20 minutes to get through. Although, if you can get Global Entry like my friend did, that's definitely the way to go. 
  • I said this already but if there are specific museums you absolutely know you're going to see, don't wait in line. Buy your tickets ahead of time! 
  • Louvre Tip: To enter, go to the "Carrousel du Louvre" aka mall entrance. You can gain entry directly from the Palais Royal-Musee du Louvre Metro Line 1 and 7 and it saves you a ton of time compared to lining up at the Pyramid, which is ridiculously long. 
  • I finally understand duty-free shopping! Seeing the stores at the Charles de Gaulle airport is worth it. 
  • Beware of train strikes. We originally planned to go to Amboise for a few days but our train tickets got cancelled and we ended up just staying in Paris (which I preferred anyway!). If you plan to visit other towns, have a backup plan or rent a car. 

Wow, this post ended up being a lot longer than I anticipated! 
But I hope you'll find it useful if you ever plan to go to Paris. 
I will never get tire of visiting and would 10000% go back again. 


with love,