I have been looking for a reason to go back to Paris for a long time now having been there almost 20 years ago! I was quite young so I don’t remember much and probably unappreciated it’s beauty but this time that was not going to be the case. This trip was actually a surprise Christmas present from my boyfriend with Disneyland booked too so it’s safe to say I was a very happy lady Christmas morning. This won’t be my last things to do in Paris post because being honest, four nights just wasn’t enough there, I would’ve loved at least another two. Or at least planned it a bit better. But don’t worry, it’s just an excuse for a return visit!
Why not Paris. It’s one of the top destinations in Europe to visit, and a city with so much to do, see and experience. Just wandering around had me with such a smile on my face taking it all in. It’s a place notorious for its amazing food and wine, two things very close to my heart, and to top it off there’s Disneyland. I absolutely love thrill rides and magical kingdoms like no other so I was really looking forward to returning there and being a child again, Mickey Mouse ears and all.
How to get to Paris from Ireland
Ryanair flies to Beauvais airport which is just an hour and 20mins from here, flights for 2 people from a Thursday to a Monday cost around €180, and we just brought carry on. Once you arrive there is a bus (that you can book before hand here) waiting for your flight to land (around 9am) to bring you to the city centre just over an hour away to Porte Maillot bus station. The same with the way back which was ideal. As this was our plan we booked our accommodation near here so that we would have the least amount of travelling! I would have highly recommended this way if it wasn’t for the experience when we were departing from Paris in the airport. We had to stand in a (badly managed) queue for over 2 hours before getting to passport control and security, and had to go straight to our gate for Dublin then once we got through. It was a disaster and it really deters me from using Beauvais for departures in future.
I would consider travelling to Charles De Galle next time, even just for the return flight in order to avoid that again. I’m not sure if it was a once off or if it is just for morning flights though so this might not be the usual. In terms of transport around the city and to Disneyland or Versailles we used the Metro / RER. Google maps tells you exactly which one to get onto and which exit to take when you hop which makes it even easier to use, just follow the signs to the correct trains and exits! We walked most places too as we were quite central. You can get city passes and day tickets for the metro / RER etc but we didn’t use it a whole lot and single way tickets for most of our journeys cost only €1.70 per person.
Where to stay in Paris
If you stay almost anywhere near a Metro you’re sorted! Given we were getting a bus into the city to Porte Maillot from the airport and the same on the way back at the early time of 6.25am, we wanted to stay close to here and also with a Metro nearby. So we stayed in the Acacias Etoile hotel which was absolutely perfect location wise, around the corner from the Arc De Triomphe, and about a half hour stroll from the Eiffel Tower (or 10 mins on the Metro). We generally always book through booking.com (you can get 10% cash back using my affiliate link) and it was €533. This excluded city tax of €13.20 which apparently varies in cost per person per night depending on the category of accommodation, somewhere between €0.20 and €4!
We were told by friends ahead of our trip that the rooms in Paris are generally small if you stay in the city centre and they weren’t incorrect. We were upgraded on our arrival to the top floor to the biggest room and it was definitely smaller than what we would be used to but not too small, although it had the tiniest bath! Immaculately clean and really very lovely and cosy, I really couldn’t recommend it more! The staff here were so friendly and greeted us with smiles every morning and evening. The only downside was the tiny lift that could fit max three people (cosily) so if there was ever a queue you might be waiting a while – this didn’t happen though so all good.
Things to do in Paris
Need I say more. Disneyland for adults can actually be done, and in 1 day covering 2 parks too! When planning your visit, there are crowd forecast predictors you can use to give you an insight into the best dates to attend. You should also keep an eye on the Disneyland park calendar which tells you when certain rides are scheduled to be closed which is handy incase you have a particular ride in mind that you don’t want to miss. We booked our actual tickets through AttractionTicketsDirect – very reliable site I used this site for all my Orlando theme park tickets years ago too and they’re great value! We got the 1 Day 2 Parks ticket for €85 per person. In terms of transport we got the RERA from Charles De Gaulle around the corner from our hotel to Gare De Marne La Vallee Chessy and it took about 45mins and was less than €8 one way per person. You will see all the signs for the train to Chessy, it has a little Mickey Mouse head beside it too! And the train practically drops you into the resort so there’s no missing your stop.
I would highly recommend you download the Disney World app to keep an eye on waiting times throughout the day, you can really use it to your advantage because it is pretty accurate! As soon as you get there grab a fast pass for the ride with the longest wait time (I’d recommend Ratatouille) because you won’t be able to grab another fast pass until that one has almost expired, and potentially by then all the fast passes might have run out! We arrived around 11.30am and our first fast pass said to come back to the ride at 4.15pm, meaning we weren’t able to get another fast pass until 2pm, and by then there were no more left! And you can’t pay for fast passes so you have little choice in the matter.
By using the app we were never waiting any longer than 20 – 25mins for any ride other than The Tower of Terror which was 45mins (and worth it). I’m so glad we got the fast pass for Ratatouille because it never decreased further than 70mins waiting time which I was never going to bother doing. Crush was another ride that never decreased below 70mins either so we didn’t go on that one, and Tower of Terror had a lengthy wait time all day too so we went straight over to it as soon as it dropped to 45mins on the app. A majority of the adult rides are in Disney Studios and this park closes earlier than Magic Kingdom, so go here first and get all your rides done and then head over to complete the rest!
Here’s a bit of an adult itinerary for Disneyland – the rides worth going on in Disney Studios would be: Rock n Roller Coaster (we did this twice!), Tower of Terror, RC Racer, Ratatouille, Armageddon, and potentially Crush but we didn’t get to go on that! And in Magic Kingdom: Star Wars Hyperspace mountain, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, Phantom Manor and Big Thunder Mountain (we didn’t go on this because the queue time never died down) In terms of food in Disney Studios we grabbed a Coffee and Crepe at one of the food vans for breakfast which was around €8 each, and then a burger, chips, drink and dessert in Blockbuster Cafe which was around €15 each. There are lovely themed sit down restaurants and buffet restaurants but we were in a rush so we just grabbed fast food between rides. All these options are viewable on the app, along with showtimes, entertainment and shops.
Champagne Cruise on the Seine
On our first day when we arrived we took a stroll from our hotel to the Eiffel Tower – from here (Port de Suffren) you can do cruises on the Seine that run Monday to Sunday 11am to 9pm. There are a few options other than champagne, you can have a crepe and you can also have dinner. We did this during the day and had just had lunch so opted for the champagne cruise (€21 per person). This lasted about an hour and it was ok, wasn’t blown away. Got to do a little sightseeing but I found it a little difficult to hear the audio (repeated in 3 languages) as there were children aboard running around. So wasn’t as romantic as it sounded, I imagine the dinner one might have been more up my alley but I’m unsure! You could easily just get the hop on hop off Batobus boat tour and skipped the champagne and use this at your leisure and as a mode of transport. €17 for one day, €19 for two, and it stops at 9 locations!
Climb the Arc de Triomphe
I had read online that the Arc de Triomphe had one of the best views of Paris, and friends said the same so this was a must see on my agenda. I had climbed the Eiffel Tower before but at the top of the Arc you get to see sights you can’t from the infamous tower – you get to see the Eiffel Tower in your view for one, and the Champs Elysee. We went at night and everything was lit up – it was fab! Almost died climbing the stairs being the unfit person I am, all 285 steps and 50 metres up. You get a break half way though at least. We got skip the line tickets for this for €11. There are queues everywhere in Paris, you even have to queue in the skip the queue lines – so opt for these ticket options where you can and book online! The first Sunday of the month most places are free – so probably best to avoid this day unless you love a good queue!
Visit the Gardens and Palace of Versailles
The Gardens and Palace of Versailles is definitely a must see in Paris. The gardens are huge and the Palace itself is lovely to venture through. Reminded me of my trip to the Vatican museums in Rome as we went from room to room – and the Hall of Mirrors was naturally my fav! We got the RERC from the Eiffel Tower to Gare de Versailles Château Rive Gauche stop which was €3.60 each way per person and about a 12 minute walk to the palace. As we approached the golden gates we could see it was mobbed with people. We didn’t get a Skip The Queue ticket for this – not sure they exist or else they were sold out, but if you can get your hands on them then get them! After we walked around the fabulous gardens with very little queueing, we then had to wait for 2 hours to get into the palace. I actually couldn’t believe it, and only it came so highly recommended and we had travelled all the way there we couldn’t not queue! We grabbed some food from the cafe (as one of us stayed in the queue) and ate while we waited, the 2 hours flew because it was constantly moving, so at least that’s something! We got the Access All Areas + Fountain Shows or Musical Gardens for €27 per person.
Do a Wine Tour at Le Caves De Louvre
We are lovers of wine so we couldn’t not go here! There are a couple of tour options here depending on what takes your fancy. You can visit The Winery, the Terroirs room, the Aromas room, bottling room and labelling room – but then you can take your tour up a notch by tasting wine in the bar, creating wine in the lab, and taking home a personalised bottle! Our personalised bottles are now sitting either side of the TV holding candles that are currently burning, we kept them for the memories because they have our photos on them. You will have to drink your wine when you’re in Paris though because you can’t bring it back in your hand luggage. We grabbed some meats and cheeses and had an impromptu night in in our hotel room with the wine one of the evenings, was very cosy! The cost for the Caves De Louvre ranges from Free to €75, the €75 being the winemaking workshop and it’s a couple of minutes walk from The Louvre
Eat a Croque Monsieur by the Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is of course a must see and a great photo opp! We passed by it and were near it loads of times throughout our trip but when we decided to actually go an climb it the queues were insane. So instead we grabbed a Croque Monsieur and a coffee from one of the food vans by the Eiffel Tower and people watched! Can you tell I used every opportunity to each french style foods? I do this every time I visit a new country – make my way through the local delicacies, and who doesn’t like cheese on toast!
Shop the Champs Elysees with a Coffee
This is a 2km long avenue to fulfil your shopping needs! We grabbed a coffee and macaroon as we strolled up one of the most famous and beautiful avenues in the world – although it was around €17 for the pleasure so maybe grab your coffee elsewhere first! I probably spent way too much time in the Nike, Sephora and Nespresso stores, the Publicis Drugstore is a must visit too for all things cute and stationary!
Eat and Drink your way around Paris
This is a must above all else. I used every opportunity to try as many french dishes as I could and any excuse for a glass of wine! So take your time to venture around and do just this. I will post all the places I dined in further down along with recommendations
Other things to do
So I didn’t get to do everything on my list, mainly due to queues and very little forward planning – which is very unlike me! I also enjoyed taking it easy and not trying to pack too much in to the 4 full days we had there. But hey, it’s an excuse to make a return visit!
- Aquarium by Night – This can be visited during the day too but I loved the sound of the evening version, which I think is only on Saturday nights which I realised too late.
- The Louvre – I just couldn’t deal with the queues and there weren’t any fast pass tickets available either when I went to go. So if you are planning, book in advance, book fast pass, and dedicate at least 3 or more hours to it!
- Museum D’Orsay – Another museum that was highly recommended, we had spent so long queueing in Versailles that this was closed when we got back so couldn’t go!
- Moulin Rouge – A must see! Again lack of planning meant there were no tickets avail when we wanted to go.
- Notre Dame – This needs no intro, but time didn’t allow us to visit.
- Sacre Couer – I really wanted to have a picnic here the view is meant to be amazing, devastated we couldn’t find the time to do this!
- Get a Caricature – I love these, I kept putting it off to the end of our trip when I wasn’t rushing around and then when I eventually found someone I liked there was even a queue for that, typical! I have one from the last time I visited though.
Queues are really not my thing, I am so impatient, so this is the reason I missed out on loads but I will go back better prepared next time and book as much as I can in advance!
Where to eat / drink in Paris
I’ll post these in the order of when we went to them over the 3 days.
Brasserie La Maison
This place was a 5 minute walk from our hotel and one of the first places we saw that had a (covered) outdoor terrace section so we could sit in the sun. This was the first of our french food experiences so we of course ordered a cheese dish and a steak tartare. And naturally, lots of bread and some wine! The food was great and it’s a lovely place – but perhaps avoid if you are on a budget for lunch though, €40 for 2 glasses of wine, and 2 of the smaller lunch dishes.
Highly recommend here and it is very cosy! Clearly quite popular too, we felt bad for people waiting on tables so we didn’t stay for too long after our dessert. It was very reasonably priced at €32 for 2 courses and €38 for 3 courses, with lots of choices on the menu. None of the food disappointed and the staff were really very friendly with great and quick service! I had gnocchi with white asparagus and mushrooms for starter, he had escargots, for our main we both opted for the duck, and then a creme brulee and cheese platter for dessert!
Disney Blockbuster Cafe
As you can probably guess this place was where we ate lunch in Disneyland – we had arrived a bit late so didn’t want to waste time waiting for food too so popped into one of the fast food places! Definitely hit the spot and was a reasonable price given where we were. Costing approx €30 for 2 meals, which included a burger, chips, drink and a dessert! If you do have time (and the budget) there are some lovely themed restaurants around the place
Le Bistrot D’Yves
Loved this menu! I had the Caramelized Leek Upside Down tart, himself the Sea Bream Carpaccio, for main I had the Beef and he had shrimp, and for dessert the Salted Butter Caramel Cake, and of course cheese! Washed down with a carafe of wine each. The man (who seemed like the owner) was really lovely and engaging, and even gave us some mustard to try with the cheese as a recommendation and he was not wrong about the pairing! Will definitely be complementing my cheese with it going forward. Price was very reasonable here too at €26.50 for 2 courses and €34 for 3! Location wise it was a short taxi journey away from our hotel and the Arc de Triomphe.
Le Garde Robe
A treasure find! We were waiting for the Caves de Louvre to open and really wanted some cheese so we found this cute place to have lunch. The guy was very welcoming and pleasant and when we order our mixed cheese and meats platter to share he went off to the bar and start cutting with an old style cheese cutter! We didn’t even need to ask / choose our wine, he did it for us with a fab recommendation. This came to just under the €30 mark. We were intending to go to Fromagerie Denard but it was fully booked, it had quite a clinical feel to it though as opposed to cosy so I’m glad we ended up in Le Garde Robe for lunch instead!
Didn’t love here as much as the other places but it was still lovely. I think I ordered the wrong starter in the Duck Foie Gras with Porto, didn’t love it, himself wasn’t blown away by his either, the trio of Salmon. The main was gorgeous, the Iberian Pork with Creamy Polenta, as was the dessert, a Salted Caramel and Chocolate dish. And of course cheese again! Price wise it was definitely on the more expensive side, starters ranged from €12 to €19, main courses range from €19 to €35 and desserts €12, cheese €14. Our food bill excluding drinks came to €113 in comparison to around €76 / €68 for the other places which had nicer food.
We found here on our hunt for traditional French Onion soup around the Eiffel Tower. We were able to sit outside, people watch and drink our wine and just relax! €40 for 2 soups and 2 wines though, I think this was down to the location, a very tourist heavy spot! We don’t really stick to any budget when we are on holidays (although we should try!) but if you are, steer clear of the typical tourist areas, although I was struggling to find French Onion soup anywhere and it was on my food bucket least for here, naturally!
Cheese and Wine from G20 Supermarche
This was an impromptu decision – we were too wrecked after our trip to Versailles and had to be up early for our flight so we went nearby our hotel to the G20 Supermarche and grabbed some meats, cheeses and dips, and went back to our room to accompany it with the personalised wine from the tour we had earlier in the week! It was actually the perfect ending to be honest.
So much food, wine, and walking! Paris, I’ll be back!