An Odesza concert brought us to Paris, France but it being my first time there (and his second), we made it into a full fledged trip to explore the city and the flanking countryside. What a delightful place with so many things to see, places to go, adventures to be had. The Eiffel tower, the iconic Paris landmark, was at every turn — visual from most places in the city and mirrored in the trinkets and emblems throughout.
Score Card: 7.6/10
- Transportation: 8/10 (the metro is easy and inexpensive to navigate, and gets you easily around the city. There are also ample bikes to rent and the streets are well kept for driving)
- Price: 7/10 (it’s not an inexpensive city, although there are plenty of free museums and parks to enjoy but it wasn’t a bank breaker either)
- Safety: 7/10 (although we didn’t lose anything, there were signs and warnings for pickpockets everywhere, and graffiti was found throughout the city)
- Food: 7/10 (they had a lot of different food options but not every venue had the best food unless you were willing to spend a lot)
- Culture: 8/10 (there is a lot of culture to take part in from swanky bars with cancan dancers to singers on the metros to shops lining the streets on the weekends)
- History: 9/10 (it was immense, everywhere you looked was something that reflected a part of their history)
- Excitement: 6/10 (there weren’t many thrill factors to indulge in but with some planning you could find yourself in fun spots that get your heart pumping)
- Awe Inspiring: 8/10 (the age of some of the buildings, stunning beauty at night and proximity to the countryside provided breath taking moments)
- Technology Equipped: 9/10 (had 4G service throughout and a lot of buildings had free wifi)
- Female Friendly: 8/10 (It’s a safe city for women aside from petty theft)
- Solo Travel Recommended: 7/10 (the locals spoke a lot of English but weren’t the friendliest – tended to stay in their circle of friends rather than befriend us. However, other tourists were plentiful and eager to chat it up)
- Language Barrier: 7/10 (most people in the city itself knew at least some English (many spoke it fluently) but once you leave the city, the number of English speakers and their fluency greatly declined. We used translating apps to fill in the gaps that helped a lot. As long as you tried to make an effort, most people were really friendly
Where to go:
- Make all your reservations for the touristy things (like Eiffel tower tickets, Catacombs, Louvre, etc.) and great dining spots well in advance if you want to minimize wait times
- Download the Visit Paris by Metro app (on Google’s Play Store). It provides you with metro and RER routes, you can put in locations and it will tell you how to get there. It works with or without GPS and has a host of other features. Makes getting to/from the airport as well as around the city a breeze!
- Be sure to check out the Eiffel tower at night for one of their light shows on the hour through 1am!
- Skip getting the unlimited ride metro pass (unless your hotel is on the outskirts of the city) as nearly everything is walkable or less than €2 each way for stops within the city boundary
- They take credit cards everywhere, cash isn’t necessary but nice to have
- BNP Paribas is a major bank in France and you can use your Bank of America ATM card there to take out euros without any foreign transaction fees!
Description: The iconic fixture that is synonymous with Paris, a must for any visitor
Location: Paris, France
Cost: 7 € per person to walk up to the second floor / 17 € to take a lift to the summit (free to walk around the outside on the ground level)
Hours: opens at 9:30a-11pm all year around, 9am-midnight during the summer
Website / Tickets: http://www.toureiffel.paris/en.html
Notes: You do not need tickets in advance to go to the Eiffel tower but it does make your wait much shorter if you do! You can walk to the second floor or take a lift (prices and wait times vary) or you can walk to the second floor then get a ticket to get a lift to the summit (or just take a lift from the ground to the summit). There are cocktails on the summit level and restaurants on the 1st and 2nd level (most need reservations well in advance but you can bypass the need to get a lift ticket if you have reservations at the restaurant). They have a light show in the evening where the building sparkles on the hour for 3-5 minutes, every hour, through 1am. Also, a great spot to get a fabulous instagrammable photo is from the Palais de Chaillot as there is a pond and it creates a reflection of the tower, plus if you go up the stairs it elevates you a bit for a better angle.
Description: Lurking under your feet as you walk the city are miles and miles of catacombs. They were dug to execavate limestone used for constructing most of the local buildings and later filled with bones of the decesased for various reasons. It’s a unique location with a lot of history and different vibe.
Location: Paris, France
Cost: 8 € +
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday from 10am-8pm (last entry is allowed at 7pm)
Notes: Be prepared to wait in line for at least a hour and spend at least 45 minutes walking through the maze of underground passages
Le Louvre Museum
Description: The former royal palace built in 1190 was turned into a museum in 1793 when King Louis XIV moved the royals residence to Versailles. It is a massive building that has been expanded on over the years and currently encompasses over 625k square feet of space that many great works of art from around the world call home. Famous works include Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo by Alexandros of Antioch and Winged Victory of Samothrace by Pythokritos of Lindos (to name a few). The entrance is through the iconic Louvre pyramid (see through, glass-like shape made famous by the Da Vinci code movie) which was added to the building during a renovation that was started in 1983 and inaugurated in 1988.
Location: Paris, France
Cost: 15 € +
Hours: 9am-6pm daily
Notes: It’s a very large museum, if you are into art dating from the times of ancient Egypt through 19th century classics — leave a lot of time to explore (we called it quits after 4 hours).
Arc de Triomphe
Description: It is a homage to the Grande Armee (former French army) as the conquered most of Europe and built upon request by Napoleon, the French emperor, in 1806 (and finally completed in 1836 — after his death — at a cost of 9.3 million French francs) which makes it older than the Eiffel tower and extremely expensive for the time. 128 battles of the first French Republic and Napoleon’s Empire are written on the walls along with the names of the generals. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was added in 1921 and the ‘eternal flame’ is re-lit every night at 6:30 pm.
Location: Paris, France
Cost: free to see, 8 € + to go in
Hours: 10am-10:30pm daily (summer hours are extended until 11pm)
Notes: If you want to cross the street to go to the actual Arc de Triomphe, use the underground tunnel located at the Wagram exit of the metro on the Avenue de la Grande Armee side of the circle.
Description: Get a fabulous view of the city from this hidden gem and at no cost to you! Head up to the highest point the elevator takes you then take the escalator to the top where there is a cafe with 360 views of the city and an outdoor terrace.
Location: 64, boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris, France (Opera / Bourse)
Cost: Free (although not mandatory, you can buy drinks and/or snacks)
Hours: 9:30am-8pm daily (closed Sunday’s)
Notes: You can see the various churches and, of course, the Eiffel tower. Great spot for brunch on a sunny day, too, or to catch the sunset when that happens before 8pm (as that is when they close).
Description: You can’t do Paris without crepes and Crepe Avenue does crepes well! With lunch/dinner crepes as well as desert crepes, there is a lot to choose from!
Location: Paris, France
Cost: 10 €+ per crepe
Hours: noon-3:30pm & 7-11:30pm everyday except Sunday
Notes: It’s a local spot so not everyone working there speaks perfect English. We suggest getting a few different kinds and splitting, for the two of us we got 2 regular crepes and a dessert crepe (we shared them all). It was delicious! To go the traditional local route, enjoy them with a glass of cider.
Costs: $926 per person for 5 days/4 nights including flight and shared accommodations
- $800 RT flight from SFO to Paris for 2
- $72 Odesza tickets for 2
- $315 Airbnb for 3 nights
- 20 € RER/metro tickets from CDG airport to Madeline stop in Paris
- 30 € Louvre tickets for 2
- 22 € 3 pizza’s from Matteo’s
- 14 € Eiffel tower tickets for 2
- 24 € Catacomb tickets for 2
- 29 € Crepe dinner
- 36 € Buddha bar
- 68 € Dinner at Non Coupable
- 36 € late night pizza & burger at Pizza Pino
- 58 € Car rental for 1 day
- 37.80 € tolls to Normandy and back
- 90 € gas for car
- 14 € Battle of Normandy tickets for 2
- 26 € dinner near Omaha beach at D-Day restaurant for 2
- $130 for metro tickets, trinkets, snacks, lunches, desserts, souvenirs — for 2
*Converted everything to USD (when 1 dollar = .88 Euros) prior to totaling
- 2:45pm: boarded our flight from SFO to CDG (Paris, France)
- 10:30am: arrive din Paris, France
- 11:30am: hopped on the RER from the airport into Paris, transferred at a station to our stop (Madeline) (Cost: €10 each way)
- 12:30pm: stopped at a shop outside our metro station and grab some macaroons to celebrate making it to Paris
- 1pm: got to our Airbnb location and dropped off our bags
- 2pm: headed to the Louvre
- 6pm: walked back from the Louvre to our hotel, took a few business calls then grabbed pizza at Matteo’s down the street and snacks for breakfast at the nearby grocery
- 8pm: fell asleep — could barely keep our eyes open
- 1pm: woke up much later than anticipate, jet lag got the best of us
- 1:30pm: walked from our accommodations to the Eiffel Tower
- 2:30pm: took photos outside the Eiffel tower
- 3pm: got in line for the Eiffel tower and walked up to the second deck
- 4:30pm: left the Eiffel tower area and grabbed lunch at a nearby cafe
- 5pm: walked to the Arc de Triumph
- 6pm: went to the Catacombs via the metro
- 7:45pm: left the Catacombs and headed back to our neighborhood
- 8:30pm: ate crepes for dinner at Crepe Avenue
- 9:30pm: headed back to our Airbnb
- 10:30pm: went to Buddha Bar for their 20th anniversary event
- 12:30am: headed back to our Airbnb
- 11am: woke up and ate a quick breakfast
- 11:30am: went on a 4 mile run to see the Louvre, Love Lock Bridge and Notre Dame Cathedral
- 1pm: headed back to our Airbnb, grabbed a salad and amazing fresh squeezed orange juice from a nearby grocery store
- 3pm: got ready for the evening
- 5:30pm: headed out for dinner
- 6:30pm: went to Printemps and checked out the view from the rooftop
- 7:30pm: headed to L’Olympia for the Odesza concert
- 10:15pm: left the concert and headed back to change my shoes
- 11:15pm: decided to go explore the city at night
- 12am: got nearly to the Eiffel tower and noticed a light show, learned that there would be another at 1am, walked around trying to find the best location for photos/videos
- 1am: saw the Eiffel tower light show where they cut the lights and only the white flashes existed before turning off all the lights for the remainder of the night
- 1:15am: decided to walk to the Arc de Triumph to see it at night
- 1:45am: left the Arc de Triump and went on a quest for late night food — nearly everything was closed by 2am
- 2:20am: found an open pizza place called Pizza Pino (address: 31-33 Av. des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris, France — open until 5am) and grabbed food. Their pizza was delicious but their burger was shockingly even better!
- 2:45am: walked home to our Airbnb
- Sunday (Normandy road trip)
- 11am: grabbed our rental car but got detoured to a different location as our pickup location was closed (unbeknownst to us) due to the Paris marathon
- 12:30pm: grabbed our stuff from our Airbnb/checked out and headed out to the French countryside
- 1:30pm: checked out an abandoned hospital 15 min off the highway in the back of a sleepy town
- 2:30pm: took a detour and see a mansion but stopped and checked out some cute picturesque farms before we got there then saw a parade of vintage cars cruising by when we finally got to the mansion
- 4:30pm: made it to the Museum of the Battle of Normandy
- 6pm: made it to the Omaha monuments
- 6:45pm: grabbed dinner at a nearby diner
- 7:15pm: cruised the countryside in search of cute areas for photos and the perfect sunset spot
- 7:45pm: headed back towards Paris, stopping at Omaha beach again to place a lock
- 11:35pm: made it back to Paris
- 12am: watched the Eiffel tower light show we barely missed the day prior
- 1am: saw the second Eiffel tower light show
- 2am: had a silent disco dance party by ourselves on a roundabout in the streets in the rain (forewent a hotel for the night, decided it was better to stay up all night so we sleep on the plane and better for fighting jet-lag)
- 4:30am: headed to the airport to fill up gas, take a 2 hour nap, then return the rental car
- 8am: entered the airport
- 10am: got our on our flight from CDG to SFO
- 12:30pm landed in SFO
- As beautiful as the city is during the day, the city comes alive at night. Take time to walk around when the moon is out — love is in the air and the city glows with romance.