It was my first time leaving the country as a mom and I had a rough time to say the least (hello, my mother-in-law came down with the flu as we were leaving for the airport). I mean I already suffered mom-guilt for leaving my girls for 8 days. Once I made it to Paris I was blown away by the stunning city! I learned a few tips and tricks along the way and thought I’d share my experience. First and foremost, we flew business class and let me tell you, it made ALL the difference. In fact I told my husband I don’t know if I can fly International ever again without it. 🙂 He researched this guy who purchases blocks of unused business class tickets and sells them at a lower price. His contact is here. My personal feeling is if you’re spending the money to travel abroad, do it right. You want to be comfortable and business class (which isn’t much different than first class) is totally worth the extra money.
My husband couldn’t get over the trash and graffiti as we were driving into Paris. Our driver told us there are no laws against graffiti, which is sad considering how much history is there. I would be devastated to see it destroyed. *This was written before the fire that destroyed Notre Dam. I am beyond devastated but so grateful we were able to visit. We stayed at the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand and would definitely recommend this hotel. The bar was full of life at night and the hotel staff went above and beyond to make our stay extra special. The hotel was just beautiful and the rates were reasonable. They even supplied us with outlet connectors, which is something you totally forget about when traveling abroad. *tip* Most hotels will have them if you ask.
We ate at this awesome little truffle restaurant, La Maison de la Truffe Madeleine, that had everything -you guessed it – truffles. We shared a truffle risotto and a black truffled burrata to start. There were tons of locals in this small space, so we knew we hit a great spot.
The food was fabulous and we had to take their homemade truffle oil home. A couple other restaurant recommendations were from this book a friend of ours gave us, called “Where the Chefs Eat” and it has become our food Bible when we travel.
Pick up a copy here. It has some great recommendations such as Le Restaurant Laurent. This place is a Michelin-rated and is one of those restaurants you should try at some point in your life. I don’t love eating at super fancy, use-all-your-manners type places, but the experience was really neat. The food was incredible with white glove service. Another fun restaurant if you’re feeling Italian in Paris is Gambinos. We found it on Yelp last minute and the food was amazing! Lots of locals and they were very friendly towards Americans. We made a reservation to have brunch at The Ritz *note* you need to make reservations in advance because it sells out. It was such a unique experience and so over-the-top you need to go! It’s so elegant (too classy for me haha) and the food was unbelievable. I typically don’t think hotel brunches are outstanding but the experience is worth the price. It’s expensive I’m not gonna lie. The hotel is s-t-u-n-n-i-n-g. Even if you don’t eat there, it’s worth a walk around or have a drink in the bar. The Ritz Paris has no affiliation to the Ritz Carlton. Actually, the Ritz Carlton was modeled after the Ritz Paris (a little nugget of info for ya).
Shopping! We definitely did our fair share of shopping, mainly because there are so many cool spots to browse. Besides the over the top name brands one place in particular was this really cool vintage second hand store Thanx God I’m a V.I.P. Everything is organized by color and so fun to browse. I found a really neat pair of vintage YSL sunglasses. There are so many cool “off the main” shops you really want to walk around and explore the beauty.
Our last *tip* which I would highly recommend is a tour guide! I know it sounds cliché but if you’re visiting a city with a lot to see, a tour guide can cut through lines and show you the meat and potatoes rather than just walking around looking at a map. We saw Notre Dam, Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, and did a boat tour in 6 hours! Our tour guide was able to show us the best parts of Paris without wasting time on things we didn’t need to see. You can also hire a tour guide with a small group, not just private, to cut on the cost. It’s definitely worth it to maximize the most out of your vacation. I often think about our time in Paris. The beauty of the city, the history and the rich culture was a once in a lifetime trip. Not to mention spending quality time with my husband. It was good for our marriage, and my soul. 🙂