They say that Paris exists to remind you that your dreams are real, and I can attest to that being 100% fact.
I had been dreaming about Paris for what seems like forever! The beauty of its art and architecture has always been a source of continual inspiration to me. I’ve been to London a few times and had hoped to hop over for a quick visit on the Eurostar always, but it never managed to happen! So when I found some amazing flight deals on Google Flights, I decided to jump at the idea to make this bucket list trip come true!
But I will say that my maiden voyage to the city of love got off to a less than dreamy start when I found out my outbound Norwegian Air flight got delayed 32 hours! That was over a whole day being taken from me! I about had a heart attack since my trip was already a short one. But after 2-hours of sweating profusely as I tried to get things cleared up by phone, I was able to snag a new flight that, while no longer direct, still got me into Paris on my original arrival date just 4 hours later. Phew!
One would think it’d be a sigh of relief once I landed on Parisian grounds…but after dealing with the stress of the last 24-hours and just a long day of international travel in general, I landed in a different airport than I had originally intended – Orly instead of Charles De Gaulle – so my mapped out route on public transportation to the Airbnb went away with the wind! I already get a bit of anxiety while navigating public transportation in big cities (It’s the midwest suburban car-owning gal in me!), but when you add in me not being fluent in French, it being nighttime, and I was also traveling by myself…I ended up quite panicky as embarked on my first Parisian adventure! Lol.
After trying to calculate the EASIEST route in my Citymapper App about 6 times while I still had airport wifi, I bought a bus ticket, headed out the door that I was told should lead me to the bus, but I found a tram instead. Eek! As I hurried to get off the tram before the doors shut, this started the 2-hour trek from the airport to my Airbnb that should have taken 50 minutes. Lol. After that first bus ride, I walked 4-5 loops in the dark around a plaza which was directly above the catacombs (eep!) looking for my next bus stop before giving up and heading into the metro station that was right there. I got directions and a ticket, only to end up standing at the WRONG platform! Got redirected to the correct train platform and got to my next metro stop to switch trains. But there I got on the train going in the WRONG direction! Lol. Went 2 stops before I realized, so hopped off and got back on going back in the correct direction towards my finale stop at Bastille station. From there it was a quick 10-minute walk to my Airbnb. I entered the door code into the keypad for the building only to find myself standing in a pitch black courtyard space not knowing which dark stairwell to enter to my rental! Thankfully, my travel buddy Rhiannon, that had gotten there before me, had sent a screenshot of the wifi code earlier, so using that, I Facebook called her and she came down to get me. Let me just say, I was never so glad to see a bed in my life! What a welcome to Paris! Haha.
Paris Day 1 – Arc de Triomphe, Grand Palais, Pont Alexandre III, La Palais Royal, + Louvre Museum
Don’t you worry though! That travel day was the worst of my trip! While I lost that first evening exploring the city, we made up for it packing in the next 6 days! You will see a mix of both iPhone and Canon 5DM3 images in my recap that follows.
First up was the Arc De Triomphe! We didn’t make it up inside but the view from the streets was breathtaking! The Place Charles de Gaulle where it stands was mesmerizing to watch as traffic hastily maneuvered around the roundabout.
Next we wandered around Champs-Élysées taking in all of the beautiful Haussman Style architecture which I love so much, and fancy Paris boutiques! We found this fun little nook of greenery that seemed like it would lead to a mansion, but actually, lead to like an Abercrombie & Fitch Store! Haha.
Next up was a stop to take in the architecture at the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais.
From there we continued our trek towards the Pont Alexandre III bridge over the Seine River where I got my first views of the Tour Eiffel.
We continued our walk along the Seine river as we made our way towards our next destination of the day – the Louvre Museum. I mistakenly thought that the Louvre was JUST the pyramid and not the surrounding building as well. This museum is massive with so much beautiful art – including the Mona Lisa!
Some Tips: There’s a “secret” entrance into the Louvre near the Carrousel Arc de Triomphe that will save you loads of time in the queue! Also, hold your bags tight while viewing the smirking beauty…it’s a packed house and hot spot for pickpocketers!
After the Louvre, we finished our first evening with a spin around the la grande roue de Paris! It was quite chilly and high, but the views of the city were to-die for up there!
Paris Day 2 – Eiffel Tower, Palais de Chaillot, Notre Dame, and Rue Chanoinesse
We decided to start our second full day at the iconic Eiffel Tower! We knew that the queue would get longer as the day progressed, so we headed there early. And despite getting there early, the line was still extremely long! If you have the option, I would book your tickets online in advance (ie, like a few weeks in advance!). If you want to walk up to the 1st-level as we did though (instead of taking the lift), you will have to suffer in the queue because you cannot book those online in advance! The line to get through to security was a few hours long, but I think if we had pre-sale tickets we could have entered via a separate line that was MUCH shorter.
Once past security we had the option to stand in the queue for the lift or to the stairs to climb up to the 1st-floor observation deck. We chose to climb the steep 328 steps up to this level (the line was MUCH shorter and we will always choose the walking option if given a choice when traveling! Lol). Along with it being a windy ascent, we were a bit winded when we got up to this level, but it was a beautiful sight to see here. In the iPhone image below right…those little dots/ants below my feet are actually people standing in line to head up the tower!
While we had stood in line waiting to get inside the tower, we realized our plans for lunch were going to the wayside since it was taking us longer than expected to get inside. So my friend called in a reservation for us to eat at the restaurant inside the tower – The 58 Tour Eiffel. The service was a little sub-par, but the food, drinks, and views from our lunch spot were stunning and made it worth the quick service!
After lunch, we took the lift then to the top floor and the elevator ride to the top was so very cool! I did a phone video of it, so if you want to experience the ride with us, head over to my Instagram and check out my Paris stories that I have saved at the top. The views from the top of the tower were unbelievable! If you ever get the opportunity to take in this experience, I highly recommend it!
After the tower, we hopped over to the other side of the Seine River to the Palais de Chaillot to capture some more views of the beautiful architecture of the tower and some fun people watching.
Next stop of the day was another iconic Paris spot – Notre Dame Cathedral. This beautiful church is free to visit and view, though the church does appreciate donations inside.
The streets all around Notre Dame Cathedral are so cute and colorful, so we explored many of them including Rue Chanoinesse and we enjoyed some amazingly delicious gelato from Amorino while strolling the streets.
Paris Day Three – Catacombs, Luxembourg Gardens, and Night Shots around Paris
We started our third day in Paris at the Catacombs. We thought we were doing well by waking up early so we could head to stand in line about 45 minutes before they opened. But others had the same idea, so alas, another long queue we stood in! And by long, we are talking 4-hours long! Haha. Thankfully, my friend and I made friends with some fellow Americans that were in line behind us, so it made the time pass a little bit more quickly. Standing in the line was where I learned the art of how low poor Parisians will go to pickpocket tourists. While standing in line, a small boy around the age of 7 or 8 came through the line with a cup for change…but thankfully we caught wind of him early because his eyes were on my heavy camera bag that I had set down at my feet. I picked it up and he quickly hurried away to his mother that was standing on the sidelines guiding him through the throngs of people. But after four hours of waiting, we finally made it down into the Catacombs of Paris! It’s quite chilling down there and it just mind-boggling that there are over 6 million deceased with their bones stacked meticulously on top of each other!
After a morning in the dark and cold tunnels below the city, we chose to eat a picnic lunch in the Luxembourg Gardens. Many of the trees had still yet to bloom, but I can only imagine how gorgeous this must be in the spring and the summer to enjoy a book or coffee and people watch.
We took a late afternoon reprieve from our exploration back to our Airbnb for a few hours before we headed back out on the town to do some full moon nighttime photos (me) and videos (Rhiannon). First, we hit up the Panthéon.
Then we headed back toward Notre Dame.
Next, we headed back towards the Louvre, the Eiffel tower, and la Grand de Roue.
Paris Day 4 – Ballerina Bride Shoot + More Nighttime Photos
After a late night, me and my travel buddy Rhiannon decided to sleep in a bit and then it was time for a little fun with a Ballerina Bride photo shoot! If you want to check out images from that, click HERE to see them!
After a fun afternoon of shooting, Rhiannon and I headed out for another evening of nighttime images. We headed back to the Arc de Triomphe, then we wandered over to Moulin Rouge and Opera de Paris.
Paris Day 5 – Montmartre, Sacré-Cœur Cathedral, and Père Lachaise Cemetery
We started day 5 by heading to one of my now favorite parts of Paris – Montmartre area. We roamed around taking photos of some of the famous spots in the area – La Maison Rose, Le Consulat, and we ate the most amazing crepes at Comestibles
After indulging in the most amazing crepes, we headed to Sacré-Cœur where we heard some awesome street performers and I climbed to the top dome in the Cathedral…the views were breathtaking of the entire city of Paris below!
Later that day we headed to Père Lachaise Cemetery where you can find the graves of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Chopin and many many more. It was one of the prettiest (and most intricate) cemeteries I’ve ever been in.
Paris Day 6 – Final day of exploration with a photographer friend
On my final morning and afternoon in Paris, I was able to catch up with my friend Amanda to do some fun photos of each other in Paris. I actually met her when I was in Tennessee for the Forest and Falls workshop and we magically linked up via social media when we learned we would both be in Paris at the same time. She had joined me earlier in the week for the ballerina bride fun, and now we decided to do some photos for each other in this amazing city of love.
Here’s hoping I can make it back on another trip because I am so in love with everything about this city! If you think you might want to elope/get married or just want some dope-ass photos of yourself in Paris and you want me to tag along, please contact me!