Every girl should have the chance to live her dream in Paris at least once their life. When I was a little girl, I loved a TV show called about a French schoolgirl called Madeline, who lived in a boarding school with all her friends, had an adorable pet dog and was looked after by a sweet old nun. This is where my dreams of France began. Now it’s 15 years later and I’ve finally had the opportunity to chase that little girl’s wanderlust for Paris.
I spent my days in Paris following in the footsteps of my favourite blogger World of Wanderlust, because she has so many fantastic posts and guides to this beautiful city. Definitely check out her site if you’re planning a trip to Paris.
Day 1 – The icons
After checking in, pick up baguette and some fromage, before taking the metro to Place du Trocadero. Here, you’ll find a the best view of that iconic hunk of iron you’ve been dreaming since you were old enough to dream: the Eiffel Tower.
After taking your selfies, find a welcoming patch of grass for a picnic in the afternoon sunshine. Perhaps read a few pages of How to Be Parisian while you’re here.
Then go for a wander past the carousel to get up and close to the iron lady. It’s only 5 euros to climb up the stairs to the second floor, a bargain if you ask me.
The second icon you’ll visit today is the symbol of French patriotism and military success, the Arc de Triumph. You can cut through the Parc du Champ de Mars and across the Seine, through a few backstreets to reach this landmark. See the graves of those lost in war that lie under the monument and marvel at the magnificently sculpted walls. It’s worth paying the fee to go up the top for the amazing views of the Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysees.
After you’ve feasted your eyes on this view, go for a wander along the Champs Elysees, being sure to poke your head into Tiffany’s if you consider yourself an Audrey Hepburn, or Chanel if you’re more of a Marilyn Monroe. If you are looking to splurge, I’d advise against the material temptations and embrace the life experience for sale at Laudree, a beautiful dessert shop. Soak in the elegant decor, pick up some macaroons and have a chocolate frappe.
Day 2 – Quirky Paris
Take the metro to Garibaldi to explore the massive flea market: Marche aux Puces de Saint Ouen. If you like all things retro, vintage and quirky, you will love it this place. Friendly shopkeepers will gladly show you their wares, whether they be second hand clothes, pre-loved books or used home furniture. Although the prices aren’t exactly rock-bottom, it might be worth spending a bit more to get a piece of vintage Parisian style.
Next, take the metro back to Anvers to visit the quintessentially Parisian suburb of Montmartre. These beautiful streets will make all your dreams come true. The Rue Des Martyres is particularly charming, with it’s gourmet shops of French produce lining the footpath.
Places worth your attention include the charmingly decorated Patisserie of Sebastien Guadard and coffee geniuses at KB coffeeshop. Nearby you’ll find the quirky concept store Le Rocketship, where you can peruse their fun selection of stationary, cards and gifts.
Just before the sun goes down, head up to the Sacre Coeur Basilica for a spectacular sunset view over the city. This is a particularly special place for fans of Amelie, where she finally returned her boy’s book of photos, but didn’t stay long enough for them to connect.
Nearby, you’ll find Le Consulat, a little cafe once frequented by famous artists. Although it’s touristy and overpriced nowadays, it has a classically Parisian feel nonetheless, and it will look lovely on your Instagram!
Day 3 – A big day of culture
A less popular area of Paris is Le Marais. Take the metro to Saint Paul and start at the lovely park square: Place des Vosages. Here, you can have a croissant and cup of tea at Carette, and pick up some macaroons to nibble on later.
Make your way to the Picasso Museum. It’s a small, specialised gallery and much less overwhelming than massive museums. The building this gallery is housed in is also very impressive!
Although I missed it this trip, the Marche des Enfants Rouges is nearby. There’s nothing quite like a visit to the produce market to get acquainted with a new place, so I’ll have to try this one out next time.
When afternoon rolls by, go across the Seine to the Ile de la Cite. Stop by the cute Flower Market Queen Elizabeth II, before heading to the enchanting Notre Dame to experience this iconic gothic church.
Just around over the bridge from Notre Dame is an unmissable stop for any book lover, Shakespeare and Company. Take your time enjoying the feeling of being surrounded by books in an adorable little shop.
Now head over to the Latin Quarter for dinner. Dessert is the priority in Paris, so there’s nothing wrong with eating it first. Paris’s best known ice-cream shop, Berthillon, is right around the corner. I had a fruity combination of Rhubarb and Pineapple with basil, SO GOOD!
From there, head to L’As du Fallafel. You’ll be tipped off by the insanely long queue of people waiting for 6 euro falafel wraps.
Day 4 – Art and window shopping
Start today with a visit to The Louvre! Arrive early if you don’t want to wait an eternity in the queue. Also the earlier you can get to the Mona Lisa and get it out of the way of the ferocious selfie snappers… the better.
Once you’ve had enough art, head to old-world Verlet teahouse for a croque and a cuppa. Then, go for a stroll for a look at some shops. Stop by Colette – Paris’s ‘cult-store’ store dedicated to all things French and trendy. Also worth a look is the shop famous for starting the ballet flat trend: Repetto. This shop actually makes pointe shoes for ballerinas, so no wonder they make such lovely flats. However, be warned, they are expensive!
If you’re already in need of another fancy cafe stop, Angelina isn’t far away. The hot chocolate here is particularly indulgent.
You might pass through Jardin de Tuileries and across the hideous but worth-seeing love-lock bridge over to the Saint Germain district. Like Montmartre, it’s a classically Parisian neighbourhood, with lovely boutiques and cafes to visit.
Finish your afternoon with a stroll through Jardin de Luxembourg to enjoy the sweet flowerbeds and manicured lawns.
Day 5 – You decide!
Now you’ve had a taste Paris’s many flavours, spend your last day revisiting some of the sights you didn’t get to, or perhaps go on a day trip to the Palace of Versailles. If art is your thing, the Musee D’Orsay would be worth checking out for its collection of impressionist painting (definitely on my list for next time!).
I actually spent my last morning in Paris in a graveyard! The Pere Lachaise cemetery is an absolutely fascinating destination. It tells you a lot about the history of the city, as you see the social divide between families with huge and elaborate memorials, to unmarked and overgrown graves. It’s fun to spot the graves of famous writers like Marcel Proust and Oscar Wilde, famous musicians such as Jim Morrison, Chopin and even Ahmet Kaya (For any Turkish readers out there!!).
Visiting cemeteries are such a poignant reminder to seize the day and make the most of our lives. So go and enjoy a few days of living your dream in Paris!