Cruise Day 1: Ciao from Venice! And happy Friday! D and I are currently making our way to our beautiful floating resort and we'll be setting sail in just a few short hours! YAY! We absolutely cannot wait to get our last big European vacation underway. So many exciting places to see, so many buffets to indulge in. I can already taste the Mai Thai's that await me. ;) While we're jaunting across the Adriatic Sea these next 14 days, a few sweet bloggers have been kind enough to share some stellar content to help keep my blog afloat during this vacation hiatus. I hope you'll stop by from time to time and give these ladies a warm hello! First up, I have Margo from Gutenblog Y'all--a girl who I've got so much in common with (Germany, travel, wine, photography…the list goes on and on!). Come read more about Margo and have a great weekend, friends!
Hi, there! I'm Margo from Gutenblog Y'all!
Getting right down to business, here's all you need to know about me:
1| I called Virginia my home until August 2013 when I followed a job opportunity to the beautiful little town of Heidelberg, Germany. I dragged my sweet fiancee, Dan, and our schnoodle Stuart right out of Arlington to join me. We're tying in the knot in one month! (Dan and I, that is…)
2| In this order, I love: travel photography, wine, running, and TripAdvisor.
Today I wanted to share some guidance for conquering one of our favorite destinations in Europe: Paris. The City of Light has it ALL - a hub for yummy eats, beautiful architecture, and fantastic museums. There are endless things to see and do. After all of our visits and zillions of hours on TripAdvisor (see how I've accepted my addiction?) I've come up with a list (with a custom map at the end!) of 10 easy steps for the perfect Parisian getaway:
1| Stay in St. Germain.
This is hands-down my favorite neighborhood - convenient, fantastic shops and restaurants, and perfectly-Parisian. There are millions of options in Paris, but there, I just took out the guess work and told you exactly which androssiment (district) to stay in.
Want to make your visit even better? Get a place with a balcony for people-watching, it's the best in Paris. One of my favorite memories involves sitting on our airbnb apartment balcony, sipping wine, tearing off generous pieces of baguette and eating fantastic cheese with our dear friends. We found an exquisite assortment of cheeses at Fromagerie Saint Charles: 77 Rue Saint-Antoine.
2| Visit Musee d'Orsay.
With the extensive collection of Impressionist and Neo-impressionist work (Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, Sisley, Renoir) it's hard not to be blown away. Dan and I lingered here for hours, mesmerized by all the famous work that we'd seen in books so many times before. This place is the real-deal and absolutely worth a visit. If you don't remember to make reservations online, arrive prior to opening to minimize your wait time. Pictures in the galleries are prohibited, but we sure did love the main hall and cute cafe on the 5th floor.
Imagine seeing this piece in real life, it's spectacular.
3| Take a food tour.
4| Relax in the sunshine with the world's best crepe.
When it's sunny, head to Hors d'Oreuvres in St. Germain for a crepe to-go and scoot over to the Luxumberg Gardens for a picnic. Hors d'Oreuvres is my absolute favorite creperie. Serving as the to-go stand for one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the city, Le Comptoir, it's no wonder they know exactly how to turn out the perfect crepes. I had the crepe du jour with egg, chicken, fresh cheese, salad and artichoke for 6 euro. It's not just the toppings, the magic is in the crepe mix itself. It's just so darn delicious. The Luxemburg Gardens are just around the corner and a beautiful place to relax right in the city center.
5| Drink wine on the steps of Sacre Coeur.
At dusk, claim a spot on the steps for spectacular views of the city as it twinkles to life. After you've head your fill, stroll Montmartre and get your sketch done by one of the numerous artists that call Montmartre home.
6| Stroll the grounds of the Eiffel Tower.
As charming as it sounds, taking the elevator up isn't worth the wait. After all, there's not a whole lot to see on the Paris skyline aside from the Tower itself. The grounds are a fantastic place for a picnic and to take a few classic shots. Don't forget, in the evening the tower SPARKLES on the hour!
7 | Buy macarons.
Not just any macarons, Pierre Herme macarons. Hands-down the best sweet I've EVER had in my entire life. Each time we visit, Dan and I scoop up 5 or so of these delicious bites and try our best to split them, and believe me, it's not easy to split something so delicious. Most recently, our favorite flavor was Pistache & Compote de Framboises (Pistachio & Raspberry Compote). Why are they so delicious? Pierre Herme studied in Japan for a period of time and became a master at mixing unique flavors. It's not your normal chocolate and vanilla show here, imagine: Rose-Litchi-Raspberry, Olive Oil-Vanilla, and Milk Chocolate-Passion Fruit, to name a few.
8| Celebrate your love!
Hubba-hubba. Grab your travel buddy (friend, spouse, parent, attractive stranger) and hop over to the love lock bridge. Street vendors sell locks nearby (3 E) and provide markers to doodle. Grab a lock, your sweetie, and find a special spot on the bridge to lock-up your love forever. Turn your backs to the Seine, give the key a quick KISS, and toss it over! It's a classic Paris tradition that you need to take part in!
9 | See Notre Dame.
The sheer size and architecture are a sight to behold. The spectacular history makes this the most interesting and beautiful church in all of Europe. If the lines aren't too long, head inside to gawk at the stunning stained glass.
Afterwards, I recommend strolling the grounds of the Lourve. No, do not go inside - I don't think it's worth the time. There are too many tourists and unless you are an art enthusiast, the exhibitions gets old quickly - your time is better spent at the Orsay. (Yes, I really just said to skip the Lourve.) Sure, the Mona Lisa is always interesting to see, but she's tiny and a little disappointing. The 'beware of pick-pockets' sign warning the mob of visitors is probably larger than Mona herself.
10| Stroll the Rue Cler in the 7th District.
Perfectly Paris, this is a go-to spot for shopping and charming restaurants. A great place to pick up fresh fruit, cheese, and wine for a picnic at the Eiffel or relaxing in the hotel.
If you're a visual person like me, here's a rundown of the names and locations of all the places I just recommended:
* Note: there are numerous Pierre Hermes Shops throughout Paris, I identified two of the most convenient options. I learned this cool map building trick from Casey here. She's the best, isn't she?!
I built a similar list for anyone heading to Venice, check it out here!