A Week in Paris, France
Paris is a foodie’s dream- warm, buttery croissants, baguettes on every corner, escargot, and so much more! While this post is heavy on the food (per usual), I’m also going to give you some tips for visiting Paris, including how much money you need per day, how to get from place to place, where to go… and, most importantly, where to eat.
When I flew in, I had an overnight flight and arrived at approximately 10:00 am. My first stop after picking up my luggage was to buy a a ticket for the RER B train from Charles de Gaulle to the heart of Paris. All you have to do is walk up to one of the self-serve kiosks and purchase it (they have different language options), for around US$10.
Next, I took the train to the stop nearest my hotel (do your research for this first, so you know where you’re going), which took around 40 minutes. The first thing I did was meet up with my uncle, William Dreiman (I’ll include some photos he took), and checked into the hotel. Then, we went to lunch.
After lunch we went to the Arc de Triomphe (entry fee around US$12). This monument honors the French who died during the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars. When standing underneath it, you can see all the names and intricate designs. There is an underground walkway to get from the side of the road to the Arc, so be sure to find that and don’t risk your life running in front of the insane amount of cars circling around it. You can also walk up the spiral staircase to the top for a nice view of Paris.
Pro tip: try to stay awake the entire day, staying busy, to adjust to the timezone quicker- it’s worth it.
After walking around a lot, we stopped at a restaurant for a snack. We tried the escargot, which was very good! It was very tender and drowned in a garlic butter (butter and garlic make everything better). Then, we walked down the street and got a crepe. There are plenty of creperies around the city and this one was on the Champs-Elysees (very nice place to shop). The crepe itself was thin and tender, but held up nicely to the rich, decadent chocolate filling (around US$3). These crepes were delicious, and I have had a lot of crepes. One of the first things I made in the kitchen was a crepe, so I’ve tasted many and know good ones from bad ones!
That evening, we walked along the Seine river and took photos of the Eiffel Tower, then stayed up until 10:00 pm to watch the Tower light up and sparkle which is absolutely beautiful (It sparkles every hour, on the hour until 1:00 am. I hope you enjoy the photo of me in front of the Tower. Now, here’s a picture of the Eiffel by itself:
Upon waking up, we went out for brunch at Zia, which was recommended to me by a friend. We walked in, expecting to have to point or use Google translate to order, but soon found out the chef/owner is from New Mexico. He moved to Paris and opened his own restaurant a few years ago. We started with yogurt and granola, then ordered a Dutch Baby. A Dutch Baby is a popover cooked in a large skillet and topped with whatever you want. The Dutch Baby was topped with a perfectly poached egg, salty and crispy bacon, and drizzled with maple syrup. It was the perfect balance of sweet and savory (breakfast was around US$27).
After breakfast, we walked around the Invalides, which contains multiple museums about the history of the French military. Napoleon Bonaparte is also buried here. We then wandered around town and saw Princess Diana’s monument (Flame of Liberty).
For a late lunch/early dinner, we walked to Maison Mulot (also recommended by a friend). Maison Mulot is a small pastry shop that has phenomenal food. The duck terrine had flaky puff pastry on the outside and was packed with flavor. I also tried a Croque Monsieur, not pictured, which is essentially a ham and cheese sandwich. I cannot tell you how good this sandwich was, though. The cheese was warm and gooey, the high quality ham was slightly salty, and the buttery, toasted bread added the perfect crunch. This sandwich melts in your mouth!! For a small dessert, we ordered some macarons (lunch was US$28 for everything we ordered). I also tried macarons from Pierre Herme, but these were just as good, if not better.
Later in the afternoon, we ventured over to Luxembourg Palace. The Luxembourg Palace has beautiful gardens that you’re free to sit in and relax, eat a baguette, and people-watch. The flowers, trees, and bushes and the immaculate palace make for a wonderful place to spend the afternoon.
We walked down to the Eiffel Tower afterward. It’s truly a beautiful structure, and you can see it from a unique angle if you go in and walk underneath it. We showed up just in time for a band to start playing to celebrate the 130th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower, which was a great way to end the day.
While walking around Paris, I made a life-changing discovery: the best croissant I have ever tasted.
I don’t usually believe something is absolutely the best thing when there is a sign that says “voted best…” but this is an exception. When you walk past this place, the aroma of yeast and tons of pastries drifts into your nose. It’s an irresistible smell: you have to go in. La Maison d’Isabelle was voted Paris’s top croissant of 2018, and for good reason. They are constantly churning out these buttery, light, flaky, amazing, phenomenal, delicious (you get the point) pastries. These croissants come out of the oven and they serve them to you fresh (like US$1.50/croissant). It basically melts in your mouth. Needless to say, I ate my weight in croissants when I discovered this place.
After eating the croissants, I walked around Paris. My first stop was Sainte-Chapelle, a royal chapel filled with the most beautiful stained glass and stunning architecture (entry was US$14). This was a great stop. I wanted to visit Notre Dame, but it was closed due to the terrible fire that occurred a month before I arrived. North of Sainte-Chapelle are multiple shopping centers, in which I spent a lot of time. Later that day, I walked over to Place Vendome and walked through some of the nearby parks.
For dinner, we went to Canard & Champagne – a restaurant that specializes in duck. The fat on the duck breast was perfectly rendered – not chewy and extremely crispy and the breast was cooked to a perfect medium rare. The breast was served with duck fat fries, which are basically heaven on earth. Alongside, I ordered some foie gras topped with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and served with a chutney – all of it together on a piece of bread was divine (dinner was approximately US$40)!
It’s always been a dream of mine to eat Belgian waffles in Belgium (small dreams, I know), so on day four I took a train to Brussels. You can book a ride on Thalys’ website in advance and get your train ticket for around US$70 roundtrip, The trip takes a little under two hours. Upon arriving, I walked from the train station to Manneken Pis, then onto the Grand Place. The Grand Place was beautiful. The buildings (the Town Hall, guild halls, and a couple others) are stunning works of medieval architecture.
After seeing the Grand Place, I got to fulfill my lifelong dream- eating a Belgian waffle in Belgium. I went to Maison Dandoy and ordered both a Liege waffle and a Brussels waffle. The Liege waffle was dense and crispy on the outside. It was also sweet without any syrup, with a few chunks of caramelized sugar throughout. The Brussels waffle was fluffy and really good with whipped cream and ice cream on it. You can order them anyway you want, but my favorite was the Brussels (both waffles were US$13).
I continued touring the city, then went for frites.
There are several shops that serve frites in Brussels. Frites are crispy fries that are topped with your choice of sauce. I chose their traditional sauce which was almost like a tartar sauce (they have ketchup, garlic sauce, mayonnaise, and many others). These frites were light and airy with a great crunch on the outside- a perfect snack while walking around.
The next stop I made was (of course) a chocolate shop! I sampled and purchased a lot of Belgian chocolate. I love chocolate so I was really excited about this. The chocolate truffles were extremely dark- bitter, rich, and had a deep flavor.
To be honest, I got a little tired of Brussels and decided to take an earlier train back to Paris. I got back to Paris in time to enjoy a nice dinner and evening stroll.
I went to L’avant Comptoir du Marche for tapas and told the woman at the counter to surprise me with a few different dishes. First, she brought out foie gras and red pepper kebabs. The foie gras had been cooked to create a crust on the outside, which provided a nice textural contrast, while the red pepper added a slightly sweet note to the dish. The cheese croquettes oozed delicious, melted cheese when bitten into and the lime zest on top brightened the fried bites of goodness (everything was US$35). This was a great way to end the day!
The fifth day started out on a high note- breakfast at Angelina. The location I visited is located near the Louvre. I had heard tons about Angelina’s hot chocolate, and being a chocolate lover, I knew I had to go. I ordered a very savory breakfast (sarcasm) of a Mont Blanc, a chocolate eclair, and hot chocolate. A Mont Blanc is a chestnut dish that had creamy strands of chestnut puree on top, a nice firm meringue below that, then whipped cream inside. The eclair was made out of a light and crispy choux and filled with a very flavorful cream, topped with chocolate. These two dishes were good, but nothing compared to the hot chocolate. This hot chocolate wasn’t overly thick, but also not thin – it was a perfect creamy texture that coats your mouth. The chocolate flavor was intense and decadent. Hands down the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. Altogether, it cost around US$30.
After indulging in amazing pastries and hot chocolate, I walked down to the Louvre. The Louvre Pyramid (pictured above) is a beautiful glass pyramid in the Louvre courtyard. This pyramid makes for a great photo op, but be sure to go in the evening for shots like the ones above. Keep in mind that the Louvre is closed on Tuesday, which reduces the crowds if you want photos outside, but tour it on a different day! The Louvre has thousands of pieces of art, so it will take you a long time to go through, if you want to see everything (entry US$18).
Another thing we did was explore some of the alleys in the city. There are a lot of neat alleyways lined with shops in Paris. You can find anything from postcards to canes to food (and anything in between) in these stores.
On our final full day, we went to Montmartre. Montmartre is a hill with lots of small restaurants, shops, nightclubs, and Sacre Coeur. Sacre Coeur (pictured above) is a beautiful basilica that sits atop Montmartre. I found this area to be a huge tourist trap and was not a huge fan, other than the pretty views around the basilica.
For dinner, we went to Chez L’ami Jean, which is a small restaurant “off the beaten path” that has been visited by Chef Andrew Zimmern. This was hands-down the best meal we had in Paris, and I highly recommend anyone visiting Paris tries it (about US$95 per person)! I would rank it up there with The French Laundry in Yountville, CA. You can find my full review of the restaurant here.
How Much Does It Cost?
So, you could easily “do” Paris much cheaper than what we did, but you would have to cut out a lot of delicious food. I highly recommend spending some extra money to eat all the food you can! Below is a summary of what everything cost this trip.
Food: $60/day (average-some days were more)
Hotel: $200/night for upper-mid range, but you could stay in hostels for much, much less
Transportation: $50 total (Paris is a walking city- I took an Uber maybe three times)
Entry fees: anywhere from $12-$20 per attraction
Paris is a city that everyone should visit at some point. The food is incredible, the city is beautiful, and the people are wonderful! I highly recommend eating lots of pastries, chocolates, and good-quality meals (not fast food).