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Partaking in the moveable feast: Everything you need to plan a romantic vacation in Paris that will stay with you for a lifetime

Our 10th anniversary trip to France was so romantic, so dreamy, and so special. I find myself daydreaming often about our time in the Loire Valley (see my Loire Valley travel guide here, and my scenic Loire Valley chateaux driving route here), where we stayed in a chateaux, feeling the Downton Abbey vibes. But as perfect as it was in Val-de-Loire, something was lit in me in la Ville Lumière, Paris. I've always known Paris was special, but in this trip, I felt a connection.

Maybe it was the fact that the city is so damn stylish. I was there to attend Paris Fashion Week in addition to celebrating our 10th anniversary. Not only did I love dressing the part (see my post on what to wear, and where to get the best photos, during a vacation in Paris), but the history of fashion is so significant in the city. Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Christian Louboutin... I could go on and on, just naming names, and the point would speak for itself. Plus, the street style is something else. "French girl style" is a real thing, and women of all ages seemed so effortlessly chic. #Goals, ladies.

Or perhaps it was the history. So much art, literature, and history has been documented in or about Paris. Like many old and cosmopolitan cities in Europe, walking the streets of Paris is to feel transported through the ages and into pages of classic novels. But Paris itself seemed to fuel artistic inspiration. To spend even a day (and night) there is to understand why artists from all over the world came to fan their flames. The title of this post was inspired by a Hemingway quote and his perceptions about Paris: "If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast."

Maybe it was the beautiful language. I studied French throughout high school and in college, so it felt tres naturel to hear it spoken everywhere.

I'm sure the food had a significant part of it. French cooking is renowned worldwide for a reason. Having enjoyed cuisine from around the world myself, I have firsthand experience in why the food in Paris rises to the top of lists of the best food in the world.

But even with all that, I think a big reason it was so special to me was experiencing it with mon amour. The city of love it surely is, and for all that Paris offered and that I listed above, the little champagne-spiked moments with my husband, wandering the streets or enjoying the views of la tour Eiffel from our hotel balcony, are the sparks that lit a slow burn of memories that will stay with me my whole life. What is it about this city that provides such a romantic soundtrack that it can transcend a regular moment into something spectacular? I'm not sure I'll ever quite know, but I know that I'd love to experience it again and again.

My parents in front of the Louvre in 1982

My husband and I recreated the photo in 2018

Though I'm sure it goes without saying at this point in the post, I very warmly recommend Paris as a destination for a honeymoon or anniversary with someone special. And while I am sure your moment will burn for you in its own special ways, I am happy to share my recommendations and reviews on where to stay, how to get around, where to eat, and what to do for your planning inspiration.

Where to stay in Paris

Hôtel La Comtesse Tour Eiffel. I know it sounds like a cliché, but I wanted a hotel room with a view of the Eiffel Tower, where I could enjoy my morning coffee, in my robe, just taking in the view. Several hotels offer this, but most of the ones that do cost an extraordinary amount per night. Somehow we managed to find one that did not, and it offered so much more than just a view! Hôtel La Comtesse is a really chic property with comfortable and stylishly-appointed rooms, all of them with an Eiffel Tower view (though some rooms offer more of a view with varying sizes of balcony). The service both during the reservation process and during our stay was friendly and accommodating. The location was perfect, being either a walk or quick Uber ride from many main attractions. It was also easy to get to from the train station if you like to use mass-transit.

Transportation in Paris

We found ourselves using the RER train system to get around Paris quite a bit during our trip thanks to a recommendation from our friend Naomi (of @thecouplecafe) who lived there. Our hotel was easily accessible from the Invalides or Champ de Mars stations, and we loved the walk to and from. If you plan to stay for several days, a Navigo pass is a great deal, and more than pays for itself with round-trips from Charles de Gaulle airport and Versailles alone (the train takes you straight to Versailles).

While we could technically walk to the Champs-Élysées from our hotel, when we wanted to go there or some place farther (like Montmartre, for example), we found Uber to be a well-priced and reliable way to get around Paris.

Where to eat in Paris

Since Naomi and her husband are major foodies and chefs themselves (hence the account name for @thecouplecafe), she was the first person I trusted to ask where to eat. I thank her for inspiring several of the recommendations below.

Street crepes. I love to try street food in different countries. Not only does it help when you are budgeting, but you often find some of the best food in a city served this way. There are great street crepes in different pockets of town, but I found some great ones at the Esplanade des Invalides park not far from our hotel.

Macarons. You can find amazing, authentic macarons all over Paris, but we found some great ones at Christophe Roussel in Montmartre. 

Croissant and pain au chocolat. For breakfast in Paris, no need to spend a lot of money. Many cafés and bakeries sell delicious, fresh pastries that will tide you over along with a cup of coffee. Fresh croissants and pain au chocolat were our go-to breakfast choices each morning in Paris.

Angelina. Touristy, yes, but it lives up to the hype, I can assure you of that! They are famous for their hot chocolate, so trying it is a must. We also loved trying a few of their other pastries, especially their signature Mont-Blanc.

Comptoir Principal. This brasserie is near the Eiffel Tower, so a great stop after paying the Iron Lady a visit. It is an authentic French local joint that doesn't feel the least bit touristy.

Le Tourville (1 Place de l'École Militaire, 75007 Paris). This café has ample outdoor seating, delicious food, late hours, and is in walking distance from the Eiffel Tower (and very close to Hôtel La Comtesse). We loved the escargot and steak frites.

Café des Officiers. Another great traditional French restaurant near the Eiffel Tower and Hôtel La Comtesse. I loved the French onion soup.

La Fontaine de Jade (54 Avenue Bosquet, 75007 Paris). If you're in the mood for something different, this Chinese restaurant near the Eiffel Tower and Hôtel La Comtesse was delicious and had a great selection of fine scotch.

What to do in Paris

Eiffel Tower. Touristy and cliché? Maybe. Iconic? Definitely. We didn't take the time this trip to take a ride up, but we loved watching it from the nearby parks (such as Champ de Mars or Trocadero), as well as marveling at the light shows that sparkle hourly at the top of each hour after nightfall.

Champs-Élysées. The shopaholic and fashion-lover that I am couldn't visit Paris and not shop on Avenue des Champs-Élysées (in fact it was a bit of a necessity given that my husband's luggage never arrived to us in Paris - but that's a story for another day). I also lived a bit of a dream by shopping at Louis Vuitton's flagship store. I did my research first (this post by La Jolla Mom has everything you need to know about buying Louis Vuitton in Paris), and found that I saved hundreds of dollars on a Neverfull MM by purchasing it in Paris (with the cheaper price in Euros, the VAT tax refund, and not paying the sales tax in my home state). There are definitely steps you will need to take, so make sure to read this post in advance so you know what to expect. All in all, it wasn't that tough, and was well worth it for the cost savings. 

Musée du Louvre. One of the premier museums in the world, the Louvre is a must. I recommend booking tickets in advance, otherwise the line is insane. Also, be ready to spend most of, if not an entire day here. Fortunately there are restaurants (plural) on site, which makes spending a day there a little easier. It was incredible to see so many famous, historical, even ancient pieces all in one day. Be aware that it is a cluster while trying to see The Mona Lisa. My husband and I did a little silly scavenger hunt while there, and tried to find a piece by each of the Ninja Turtles' namesakes. We did, BTW.

Château de Versailles. Also recommended to get your tickets in advance (for the same reasons as the Louvre... the line gets insane), and also recommended to plan to spend most of, if not your entire day here. Versailles is just incredible; one of the most magnificent buildings and grounds I have ever seen. We walked our butts off, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes, especially if you want to see the Estates of Trianon (which you should!). We loved taking a break in the shade of the gardens with a sandwich, and rowing ourselves around one of the ponds.

Montmartre. Famous historically for being a haven for artists, Montmartre has a lot to do and see, including the Moulin Rouge and Montmartre Cemetery (where Alexandre Dumas and Edgar Degas are buried).

There are a few other places we wanted to visit but didn't have time, including Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, the Seine (though we saw it several times, we didn't take a cruise or dine on the water), Catacombs, and Père Lachaise Cemetery (where several famous and historical figures are buried, like Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Moliere, Oscar Wilde, Frederic Chopin, Marcel Proust, Honore de Balzac, Georges Bizet, and many more). 

It seems there was a reason this post came last in my coverage of our trip to France. Not only was there so much I had to share, but there was so much for me to process from our experiences there. I can't wait to explore the City of Lights more during future trips throughout my life now that Paris has lit something in me.

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