May 5 2012

Weekend in Paris

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to fly to Paris for the weekend – yes, the weekend! I felt very fancy. But even though I spent only two days in the City of Light, I managed to see the classic sites and get a feel for Paris life. Here are some tips on making the most of a short trip.

la Tour Eiffel

Take a night flight. I slept on the plane and arrived on Saturday morning, rested and ready for an adventure. I had a short list of places in Paris I wanted to visit – the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Notre Dame – but I also kept the schedule flexible to allow for time to relax.

Stay in a convenient location. When you’re short on time, location is key. The Hotel Castille (right down the street from Chanel!) was within walking distance to The Louvre and Tuileries Gardens. My husband booked our room just a few days before our trip and got a great deal on Jetsetter.

We had lunch Saturday at Madeleine 7, a cozy bistro that had beautiful salads and delicious house wine, and then headed to the Eiffel Tower, taking a detour to walk by the Opéra de Paris and The Réunion des Musées Nationaux.

Lunch at Madeleine 7

Walk whenever you can. One of my favorite ways to explore a new city is on foot – I feel like I get a greater sense of the place that way. Paris was no exception. Hearing snippets of conversation from other pedestrians, seeing towers of chocolates stacked in a confection shop window, and feeling the crunch of gravel under my feet in a park all made for a more immersive experience.

I spied this spectacular store front down a side street near Notre Dame.

On Sunday, after spending a few hours exploring The Louvre and taking in a special Leonardo da Vinci exhibition (and, of course, the Mona Lisa), we strolled along the Seine River toward Notre Dame, passing street vendors selling watercolor prints, musty old books, and quaint souvenirs. I think French architecture is stunning, and the muted cream of the stone walls and slate blue of the roofs mingles with the expansive sky. After reading this article in Harper’s, I almost wished it had rained on our trip. Almost.

The Louvre Museum

A highlight of the weekend was a stop a The Hemingway Bar in the Ritz Paris hotel. While drinking what was perhaps the most delightful (and, at 30 euros, most expensive) cocktail I’ve ever tasted – the Serendipity, made with Calvados, apple juice, fresh mint, and champagne – sitting in a cozy leather arm chair in the wood-paneled space and surrounded by photos of Ernest Hemingway, the manager announced that the next day the bar would close for 2 1/2 years. How lucky that we happened to stop in…serendipity, indeed.

Notre Dame Cathedral