OMG Paris! Where do I begin? Okay, I’ll start at the beginning.
It all began when I fell in love with France during my French class at CNM. I had an incredible teacher and who wouldn’t fall in love with the French language – so romantic! I stressed to my husband that I needed a graduation trip, from working so hard at school. Duh!
Because I have the best husband in the world, and I always get what I want… we booked it! I asked my French teacher and Drew did his research online, Reddit.com, etc. and we decided that May would be the best time. It was right before the big tourist season in Paris (typically June-August) and it was also right after I finished school and graduated.
We found some incredible and affordably priced tickets.
Drew set up a google alert. He set up some alerts from Albuquerque to Paris as well as Denver to Paris. Denver, Colorado is just a 6-hour drive for us and is a much larger hub than Albuquerque, NM. Around a month later, we discovered an awesome option. We were able to book our tickets roundtrip from Denver to Paris (with a small, 1-hour layover in Reykjavik). We booked the tickets through Iceland Air and the grand total was $737. That is cheaper than flying both of us round trip to Oklahoma, where are family is. We were ecstatic! We booked the flights around 6 months out.
Airbnb is the way to go.
Drew did a really great job at researching Airbnbs in Paris and Nice.
Oh! I should probably tell you that although we spent most our time in Paris, I am a huge old Hollywood fan. I love Grace Kelly, among many other silver screen stars, and I’ve been dying to go to Monaco even before I fell in love with Paris in French class. Therefore, we spent a few days in Nice.
Back to Airbnb. Again, I asked my French teacher on good locations to stay in and Drew spoke with a friend he knows that is familiar with Paris. They both named similar areas. We booked a tiny, albeit perfect for Paris, Airbnb. Our host was a super host and he lived up to his expectations. We stayed near Notre Dame and were within walking distance of what felt like everything!
Our Airbnb in Nice was much larger, not hard to be, than our Paris apartment. We enjoyed the space as well as the views! Our hosts again were incredible. It exceeded our expectations. It was another great location. We were close enough that we could walk to Old Town Nice, the bus stop where we caught a ride to Monaco for the day, and several restaurants, bars, etc. I highly recommend that if you’re in Nice you look up La Shounga. It’s a great mojito bar. The food and service is wonderful as well!
I highly recommend doing your research as far as location and on your Airbnb hosts if you choose to do what we did. It made all the difference for us. If we had stayed in a location that wasn’t centrally located, it would have dampened our trip for sure.
Rick Steves’ European Tours are the way to go.
I’m assuming you’ve probably never heard of Rick Steves. That’s okay, I hadn’t either. If it wasn’t for my mom I still wouldn’t know of him. I am so grateful that she told me about him! Rick Steves’ is an American travel guide. My mom got me a couple of his travel books for Christmas and thankfully my husband got into them and the entire process of planning our trip – another score for me! I do need to give Drew a shout out because he literally booked everything but my Airbnb Fashion Experience and he did such an amazing job for us!
Back to Rick Steves. Absolutely get his books! They come in pocket size and it’s 2018, he does have an app. The app was perfect because we could plug in our earbuds and do walking tours. We took advantage of this. It was great for the museums, the Louvre and the Orsay are huge. It was nice to have a guide in your ear telling you where to go, what you’re looking at and why it is special. With how large the Louvre is, one of the largest (if not THE largest) museums in the world, it was awesome to have Rick Steves telling you what to see and what is okay to skip. Drew and I aren’t necessarily too big on art so again, this was perfect for us. We made sure to see the things we wanted to and were happy to skip the rest. Rick Steves also had an app tour guide for Notre Dame, a few hot spots in Paris, and Versailles.
Another tip that I have for you is to get up as early as you can to see the tourist spots. For each of the places I listed above we were always up and waiting in line for it to open. We got a good laugh because on Rick Steves’ tours he’s always saying things like “now push your way through the crowds of people” and Drew and I never had to do this. We did see the Louvre in the evening, around 5pm, and it wasn’t horrible, but it was busy. I enjoyed beating the crowds early in the morning much more than trying to push through people just to take a shot of the Mona Lisa without other tourists in my picture (BTW Mona Lisa is much smaller than you think). I know what you’re thinking. I’m on vacation I don’t want to get up early. Trust me, just do it! And then you can come back to your Parisian apartment, or one of the many parks in the city and take an afternoon nap. Most businesses, especially restaurants, are closed between lunch and dinner time anyway. Why don’t we do this in America??
One more tip that we got from Rick Steves that was valuable was purchasing the Paris Museum Pass (Note: this is different than the Paris Pass). The Paris Museum Pass is a 2, 4, or 6-day pass. We purchased the 6-day pass for about $99 each. It gets you into all of the museums and monuments as many times as you want, and you get to use a fast lane to enter which comes in hand if there is a line.
Other tourists things to do.
I recommend doing a boat tour on the River Seine as well as a hop on hop off bus tour. You do a lot of walking in Paris, like, a lot of walking, and it’s nice to get off of your feet and enjoying viewing the city and listening to the guides and just relaxing.
Time is everything.
We spent 7 days in Paris and although I don’t have any regrets, we are already planning our next trip to see the things we didn’t get to. I’m so happy we went to Nice and spent a few days on the French Riviera but if I could do it all over again knowing what I know now, I would have made them two separate trips. If we had a few more days, we could have seen Montmartre and caught a show at the Moulin Rouge. I also feel that although we got to see Nice and Monaco, we were so exhausted from exploring Paris that we didn’t do much other drink, eat and relax. Which was perfect, but I do want to go back and spend more time on the riviera.
I hope you enjoyed my first blog post. I would absolutely appreciate any and all feedback. I tried to summarize and highlight important points of booking and what we did during the trip. I didn’t want it to be too long. I have considered doing a day by day summary, let me know if you would be interested in that!