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Europe

Paris sightseeing beyond the Eiffel Tower

July 29, 2019

Paris was a bucket list destination for me since I was young. In school I always wanted to study French, but it was never available for me to take. (Unfortunately in my experience U.S. public schools, especially in the South, are extremely limited in language offerings). When I decorated my dorm room I carefully selected and framed two posters: one of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and another of the Eiffel Tower, knowing one day I’d get to see it in person. I fit the famous landmark and lots more Paris sightseeing into just a few days.

Girl in front of decorative doorway at museum in Paris

Eiffel Tower with cherry blossoms

Arc du Triomphe

Glass pyramid at Louvre in Paris

After my experience in Italy I was a little concerned that locals would be unfriendly in France. Especially since I speak little French and have bad pronunciation. This is not the case! Everyone was so kind to me and they were understanding when I tried to practice my tiny bit of French.

Cafe in Paris France

Gardens in Paris

Girl in front of Eiffel Tower Paris

However, I found it a little difficult to find vegan options here. Before my trip I made a list of places to try: Cloud Cakes, Hank vegan burger, Jay & Joy organic vegan creamery, La Potager de Charlotte. But they were quite far from where we stayed (an airbnb by the Arc de Triomphe). I wish I had done more research and read this vegan Paris guide before my trip. I figured that it would be possible to find food at the airport at least and didn’t bring anything. Do not make this mistake! There is a serious lack of anything vegan at Orly airport. You need to bring food with you. While in Paris I mostly had pasta in olive oil with veggies and cheese-less veggie pizza.

Fountain in gardens in Paris

After arriving we walked from our accommodation near the Champs-Élysées to Trocadero Square to see the Eiffel Tower. It is possible to get good photos without the hordes of tourists here, but you have to be creative. By mid-day this area is PACKED. “Did you even go to Paris if you didn’t get a photo with the Eiffel Tower?” is the mindset. There are a ton of other beautiful landmarks to check out as well. I also recommend checking out an in-depth guide to the different arrondissements before going to Paris so you have a feel for where everything is located.

Glass pyramid at Louvre in Paris

Interior of Louvre in Paris

Crowds around Mona Lisa in Louvre in Paris

The following day we spent the morning at Giverny and went to the Louvre in the afternoon. The office of the tour operator for Giverny is right in the museum area so it was easy to do both. The Louvre is huge and although we spent several hours there I could see wandering around the impressive collection for days. Definitely allot enough time here to explore beyond just seeing the Mona Lisa.

Seine River in Paris

Cafe de Flore in Paris exterior

Afterward we walked across the Seine River to Café de Flore to have a drink in the storied restaurant. When I was in Venice I followed in the footsteps of Hemingway and went to Harry’s Bar for a Bellini. I wanted to keep the tradition alive and see where notable writers hung out in the city of lights. The interior is not as impressive as Harry’s Bar (think red booths and art deco) but expect to pay as much. Overall it was the experience I was after and it was a cool spot to see.

Interior of Musee d'Orsay

Monet's painting of water lilies at Musee d'Orsay

On our last day in Paris I wanted to admire some of my favorite works of impressionism in the Musée d’Orsay. We stood in line to enter both museums, but neither wait took more than fifteen minutes. If you enjoy paintings by Manet, Monet, Cezanne, Renoir, Morisot or Mary Cassatt this is a must do. If you’re looking for additional activities there are also a lot of free things to do in Paris.

Gold statue and buildings in Paris

Our last day in Paris was a little stressful due to the planned manifestation (protest) by the Yellow Vests. The police shut down the Champs-Élysées to cars and it was difficult to get to the museum area by taxi. Plus there was an eerie feeling that comes with having tons of police carrying machine guns everywhere. After being scared in Starbucks (the cashier told us bad things were about to start happening, beware, get out of this area immediately) we checked with the ParisCityVision office.

The manager of the tour company was very helpful and printed out the planned route of the manifestation for us. It was completely north and not even near where we would be. He also told us not to worry that the protestors are not looking to hurt civilians and the majority of the conflict happens when the police start using tear gas. Despite these reassurances, I suggest planning your trip to not include Saturday. It just isn’t worth it to get caught up in a big demonstration/march or have any additional fear about your surroundings.

Girl in front of Eiffel Tower Paris

Paris is a beautiful city, it is ethereal just to walk around and admire the ornate buildings. Paris has the most gilt I’ve ever seen and the architecture is stunning. Besides the usual Instagram spots there are so many hidden photo opportunities and vantage points. Plus, in the spring the addition of the cherry blossoms make Paris even more picturesque.

  • Reply
    Rachelle
    August 13, 2019 at 9:05 pm

    To be honest, Paris wasn’t even on my wish list until I religiously watched the Women’s World Cup soccer games. I’d love to spend time perusing around and viewing the paintings of the masters. I’ve seen a few Monets and Renoirs up close and wow, they are truly beautiful. I can only imagine what it would be like in the spring to walk around with the blossoms!

  • Reply
    Anda
    August 13, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    Ah, old Paris that never gets old! Your post brought back some sweet memories about my last trip to Paris last spring. Café de Flore is one of my favorite spots in the city, but lately it became a little too touristy.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth
    August 14, 2019 at 2:22 am

    Beautiful photography!! I’m not vegan, but I always think it must be hard to travel when vegan or any other dietary restrictions. I would think it would be challenging ordering if you don’t speak the language and not know exactly what you are getting. Good to everyone was really friendly. Its nice to hear the negative stereotype is just a stereotype.

  • Reply
    Jane Dempster-Smith
    August 15, 2019 at 2:35 am

    Who does not love Paris? I can’t remember how many times I have been, but it is one city that I can keep returning to over and over again and find new and interesting streets and areas to enjoy. Yes, it is touristy, but it is one destination that I believe you can go any time of the year. It still gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Thanks for bringing back memories.

  • Reply
    Clare
    August 16, 2019 at 5:17 am

    Paris is my fiancé’s and my favorite city. Normally, we would say we don’t have a favorite but there’s something about Paris that just captivated us. Paris is so picturesque, and there’s amazing food at every corner. It’s so cool that you went to the Cafe de Flore. We chose to go to their rival, les Deux Magots! We didn’t go to the Musée D’Orsay which is such a shame since my fiancé is an artist and would love it! And ABSOLUTELY about Parisians and the French! I always get really baffled when people have a terrible time there because of the locals. I speak French but my fiancé doesn’t, although he did try (very poorly). They were SO nice and they even took the time to decipher what he was saying, and then give him pointers. What I think is there are mean, impatient people everywhere, and there are nice and lovely people every where, so it’s not location specific.

  • Reply
    Suma
    August 16, 2019 at 7:36 am

    I have been to Paris only once, and it was truly amazing. I would love to visit these sites someday in future and relive the Parisian magic again! Being a vegetarian myself, I found it tad bit difficult finding veg food while I was in Paris. I haven’t visited Cafe de Flore, certainly adding that to my list, thanks for the share.

  • Reply
    Daniel
    August 17, 2019 at 11:33 am

    Old sweet Paris. I don’t anyone who doesn’t love or fantasize of spending a vacation in this pretty country. I have been to Paris several times yet I still get super excited when I get the chance to visit it again. Sometimes it gets a bit tricky to communicate with the local people as I personally speak really little french (mostly gibberish). Never the less I would recommend any first-time traveler to carry a French to English dictionary or probably a good translation app.

  • Reply
    Bhushavali N
    August 17, 2019 at 8:38 pm

    Awwww. That’s adorable! Glad you got to see the place of your dreams since childhood! I know that feeling. It was Athens to me. I know how the heart goes into jubilation mode!
    I’m a vegetarian and myself I find food totally tasteless in Europe (except Italy), when it comes to veggie options. I can’t imagine how limited it would be for you!
    Oh yeah! Lourve needs days together to just see it!!!

  • Reply
    Jennifer Prince
    August 20, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    I adore this list!! So many people only think of the Eiffel Tower, which I will admit is a must, but it is so refreshing to have other things to talk about. Your photos are lovely, too!

  • Reply
    Shubham
    September 11, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    Since I got a bump of traveling, It is my dream to explore Paris. This is something that I can call a dream city. And you have explained it very nicely. Being an Indian, it is my dream that I propose my better-half under the Eiffel Tower.

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