Here we are at the end of summer. Can you believe it? It went so darned fast. Our summer travel posts are coming to and end and in September we’ll return to our normal split blog personality of interiors and cars. The final stop on the Mary Grace Tour landed us in Paris. It isn’t hard to find things to do in Paris, but having a plan made it easy. Despite record high temperatures and terrorist activities, here is how to have a delightful four days in Paris.
If there is two things one thinks of when they think of Paris, its food and clothing. Paris is full of Michelin star restaurants and as enjoyable as they may be, and expensive, we chose a less heady route to enjoying French gastronomic delights. Inside of four days we only had two true dinners, the rest of the time we sampled, okay indulged, particularly in foodstuffs we wouldn’t get at home of similar quality.
The French revel in the culinary arts. From the first bite of the thin, crisp, buttery layers of a real Parisian croissant found at a corner boulangerie (bakery) or patisserie to a plated meal, artistry is at the forefront. Parisian food is a feast for the eyes.
Want a macaroon from Laduree? Don’t waste a moment standing in line to eat at the touristy places along the Champs-Elysees. Hit one of the various boutiques or the airport where they also have a store.
The multi-story Lafayette Gourmet provided us with ample opportunities for prepared take-away or dine in. Creating our own charcuterie platter with L’Eclair de Génie eclairs for dessert was a great way to sample scrumptious French goodies without the fuss of making a reservation. When you don’t speak the language the opportunity to look, point and purchase makes life easy.
For the best of the best, if you like truffles, Maison de la Truffle will meet your epicurean expectations. You can have truffle in every course including dessert. And if it isn’t on the menu ask, try the truffle ice cream for dessert. As much as you would NEVER consider putting a mushroom in ice cream, it works, oh does it work.
We made the final night of our trip special by dining at 58 Tour Eiffel, part way up the Eiffel Tower. Since the point of being up so high is to drown yourself in the views, we booked the early seating next to a window well in advance of our trip. The food and the views were exceptional, a must do.
Shop Because It’s Paris, Because It’s Paris Buy Fashion
The point of my trip was to recreate the trip my mom made in 1961. Her travel journal recounts the purchase a pair of trendy shoes. The shoes, a pair of gold pointy-toe high stiletto heels, she kept for decades, I used to play dress-up in them as a child. While it may not sound like much, her Parisian experience was very much about food and fashion.
The thing about Paris is it is easy to shop high/low. You don’t need to spend a lot to score big on fashion or closet basics. Check out local stores and labels you’ve never heard of. I found a beautiful sleeveless linen blouse (worn in the photo above) with impeccable details which would have been three times the price at home. Yes, even with duty, Louis Vuitton is less expensive in Paris and the options are much larger. If you want the skinny on luxury handbag shopping in Paris consult the guides at PurseBlog.
Speaking of duty, don’t fret it, but do pay it. I itemized everything on my iPad and made a full accounting on the customs forms.
Do you need to see every painting or visit each museum to partake in the cultural history, no. In fact Paris was so busy we coudn’t get into some museums. No bother, from almost every vantage point in Paris there is a building or vista of historical interest. We walked every where, from the Louvre to the Arc de Triumph. For a great French experience, remember it costs nothing to walk into the lobby of many famous hotels and take in the splendor.
From almost any point with a view in Paris, you can’t miss the enormous Dome of Les Invalides, let this be your guide. What began as a hospital for invalids in 1670 under the Sun King became a glorious complex and museum to celebrate French military history. Even if military stuff is not your bag, the colossal nature of the architecture, built before major machinery is reason enough to visit the massive marble rooms with their featured sarcophagus and vaults. These curvy carved marble columns are jaw-dropping.
Take A Day Off
Rather than spend another day eating eclairs and shopping ’til we dropped, we took a half-day excursion to Versailles. I’ll post more pics at a later date, but trust me Versailles is a place to see. The opulence almost hurts your eyes. Room after room of gilt, marble busts, flourished molding, paintings of over-the-top men in long luscious wigs, extravagant furnishings all of extraordinary proportions, can make one dizzy. I mean its cool, really cool and if I did it again I would expend a whole day, hot a half. If the inside of the world’s most well known French palace is ostentatious, the extensive manicured grounds and gardens are every bit as fabulous as one can imagine they should be.
We had a super time in Paris. The only advance reservations we made were the Versailles trip, and the two dinners. Everything else was on the fly. We had a rough plan of where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see, however because of the timing and security issues a few places had to be avoided. We didn’t let the terrorist attacks prior to our trip dissuade us from traveling. We were aware and consulted the state department (easy-peasy to do) prior to and during our stay. Paris is a wonderful city and always enjoyable.
Check back next week for our final post in the summer travel series, Get The Right Hotel, yes it really matters.