Bonjour! I recently went on a trip to Paris and London, and I’m so excited to share the details with you! My friend Jennifer and I started planning this trip in October 2018, and were so excited leading up to it. I not only wanted to do a post on this so that I have something to reference in the future, but also so that YOU have a travel guide in case you are interested in going to Paris and/or London as well. Let’s dive into the details!
Day 1: Thursday, April 18
We left Rochester around 2:30 pm, flew to Chicago, had a pretty long layover there, and then flew to Paris around 8:00 pm.
Day 2: Friday, April 19
Landed in Paris around 10:00 am. Rochester to Chicago is a one-hour time difference going back in time, and Chicago to Paris is a seven-hour time difference jumping ahead in time. Neither Jen nor I slept a wink on the plane, so needless to say, between that and the time zone difference, we were so exhausted when we landed. We took an Uber to Jen’s friend’s house, where we would be staying during our time in Paris, which was about a one-hour ride.
Jen’s friend lives in a beautiful neighborhood which is part of the 16th District, a swanky area home to foreign embassies and renowned museums. We could see the Eiffel Tower from this area, which was really neat to see both during the day and at night (it’s lit up beautifully in the evening). The first thing we did, right after seeing the Eiffel Tower, was stop at a crepe cart for a delicious Nutella and strawberry filled crepe. We walked to the Arc de Triomphe, one of the most famous monuments in Paris, standing at the western end of the Champs-Élysées at the center of Place Charles de Gaulle. We walked down Champs-Élysées Avenue, which is very similar to Fifth Avenue in NYC (lots of designer shops).
We then walked over the Pont Alexandre III, a deck arch bridge that spans the Seine. It connects the Champs-Élysées quarter with those of the Invalides and Eiffel Tower. The bridge is widely regarded as the most ornate, extravagant bridge in the city.
After walking across the bridge, we passed the Grand Palais, a large historic site, exhibition hall and museum complex, and Esplanade des Invalides, a large lawn often used for picnicking and sunbathing. Jen and I wandered around for a while, just enjoying each and every view, until we stopped for a bite to eat at Le Malabar, a super cute Parisian cafe/pub. We ordered a delicious cheese board and drinks, and had great conversation with a couple sitting next to us who were also from the States.
Day 3: Saturday, April 20
Jen and I were on a mission to find Starbucks, and after walking for a while to where Google Maps was leading us, we realized that Starbucks was actually shut down! We grabbed a couple amazing chocolate croissants from a supermarket bakery instead, found a different Starbucks, stopped in another bakery for quiche and donuts, then were on our way to Versailles. Or so we thought!
We figured we would hop on the subway to get from Paris to Versailles, but due to protests, the subway was closed. So we grabbed an Uber instead and spent the entire day touring The Palace of Versailles. It was incredible! We toured the inside of The Palace, ate lunch at Angelina (chicken sandwich and an eclair), and spent the rest of the day and night walking through The Gardens, riding bikes through The Estate of Trianon, and seeing the rest of the grounds. Everything inside AND outside of The Palace was so grand, so over the top, so gold…it was amazing. Seeing where Marie Antoinette lived was really cool, amongst so many other things.
I was an idiot and wore sandals this day without even thinking about it – big mistake! We walked 15 miles and 35,000 steps – not including the biking we did! We stopped for gelato after returning our bikes which was a great treat. By the end of the day, we were SO exhausted, but it was well worth it.
Once we were back in Paris, we stopped at this cute Italian place for dinner where I had a bottle of Chianti, calamari and shrimp, gnocchi, and tiramisu for dessert. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, this entire trip mainly consisted of me and Jen eating, eating, and more eating. Especially desserts!
Day 4: Sunday, April 21
This was Easter Sunday! We had plans to go to a church service, but it was actually sold out. So instead, we decided to take the subway to the Jewish neighborhood, stop for Starbucks (of course), grab falafel for lunch from King Falafel Palace, and went to Sacré-Cœur, a famous Roman Catholic church and minor basilica. We paid a small fee to climb to the top, which was such a great experience. We were originally thinking we would do the top of the Eiffel Tower, but in my opinion, this was even better because you got to see the Eiffel Tower (and the rest of Paris) from this view.
After our trek to the top of Sacré-Cœur (which made me and Jen realize how out of shape we are, haha), we walked to Mr. T, where we had a dinner reservation. We shared torched mac and cheese for an appetizer, and I had seafood with vegetables and oranges for dinner with a side of potatoes.
What comes after dinner? Dessert of course! We finished up the day at Breizh Cafe, a creperie and restaurant in the same neighborhood where we had falafel earlier. I had a crepe with salted caramel drizzle and vanilla ice cream – SO good!
Day 5: Monday, April 22
Time for London! We took a train from Paris to London, which took about 2 and a half hours, and bam – we were in another country! We checked into our boutique hotel, which was super cute, chic, and trendy – The Hoxton Holborn. Then we stopped at Starbucks (lol, just can’t help it), walked by the British Museum (right near our hotel), Big Ben (which was under construction), and Westminster Abbey (such a long line to tour the inside, so we skipped out on that).
We walked through St. James’s Park, which was so beautiful, saw Buckingham Palace, walked through Green Park, and walked through the Piccadilly area until we reached the SoHo area, where we stopped for lunch at Poppie’s for a traditional fish and chips meal!
After lunch, we walked through the West End, stopped in Lush (Jen’s favorite store) and Selfridges, a high-end department store in the UK. As soon as we walked in, I was in makeup HEAVEN. They had everything from Pat McGrath to Charlotte Tilbury, and everything in between. I couldn’t help myself, and had to stock up on some Charlotte Tilbury goodies, including foundation and lip products. Jen and I went to the second floor of the department store to have a drink and dessert at Aubaine, a very cute and quirky cafe.
Next up: time for our dinner reservation at Sketch! We waited for our table in the “Glade” room, then had a drink and dinner in the “Gallery,” aka the pink room. I had scallops for dinner with mac and cheese on the side.
Day 6: Tuesday, April 23
This day was a big one for Jen, as she is a huge Downton Abbey fan. She toured Highclere Castle all day and loved every minute of it! Since I haven’t watched the show and would have had no idea what was going on, I stayed in London and had my own little solo day. I hopped on the subway to St. Paul’s Cathedral, walked across the London Bridge, and spent some time wandering through Borough Market and had a falafel pita (really cool market to walk through for a bite to eat or drink). Then I strolled through Oxford Street and New Bond Street to drool over all the pretty window displays, and went back to Aubain at Selfridges for a second lunch (whoops!) where I had a really good salad with warm goats’ cheese, cereal toast, baby gem lettuce, mixed leaves, apple, grapes, walnuts, and French dressing…and two glasses of champagne 😉
Jen and I wrapped up our long day over a delicious meal at Chiltern Firehouse. I had the confit cod with hispi cabbage, lemon, and capers with a side of mac and cheese (THIRD NIGHT IN A ROW). But we weren’t done yet! Jen and I were determined to find a dessert because that’s just how we roll. And let me tell you – Pinterest did not disappoint. We wound up at Bubblewrap in Chinatown. Wow. One week later and we’re still talking about it! The “cone” is both a crispy and soft waffle that melts in your mouth, stuffed with ice cream and toppings of your choice (I did vanilla with strawberries, pecans, and caramel drizzle).
Day 7: Wednesday, April 24
This day was a bit rainy, but not too bad (our only “rainy” day). We toured this historic Kensington Palace, walked through Hyde Park, and then had lunch at Cecconi’s with two other friends: my boyfriend’s older brother and one of his best friends (both of them went to high school with Jen and I)! It was so nice to catch up over Italian food and drinks. Then we hopped on the train to go back to Paris, which ended up taking forever because there was a fatality on the tracks 🙁
Day 8: Thursday, April 25
Since I had never been to Paris before, we decided to tour The Louvre, but I’ll be honest…you can skip this, haha! Unless you’re a HUGE museum, history, or art person, which I am not. Jen and I sort of breezed through and did the highlights, such as the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory of Samothrace, and Venus de Milo (amongst many other paintings, artifacts, sculptures, etc.). Then we walked to this tiny restaurant called Juveniles Wine Bar, which was delicious. I had the chicken special which came with cauliflower puree, spinach, and potatoes and a glass of red wine.
After lunch, we walked to Angelina (the same place we had lunch inside of Versailles, but this was a different location) for hot chocolate and macarons. We also wanted to check out the Notre Dame Cathedral to see what kind of shape it was in since the fire less than two weeks ago. It looked okay from certain angles, but you could definitely see some major damage in other spots. We also went into the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore to browse the selection for a bit, stopped for ice cream at a small place called L’Escale, grabbed some pastries from Sebastien Degardin, and then had Thai food for dinner!
Day 9: Friday, April 26
Our last day! 🙁 Kate, Jen’s friend who we stayed with in Paris, joined us for lunch at the same falafel place we went to on Sunday, then we also had crepes at the same place as Sunday, walked through the Luxembourg Gardens, Tuileries Gardens, and had a delicious “final French meal” at Aux Cocottes.
Day 10: Saturday, April 27
Au revoir, Paris – until next time! We flew from Paris to Charlotte (our Chicago flight back home was cancelled) and had an extremely long layover until the flight back to Rochester. I think we ended up traveling between 22 and 23 hours this day, from the time we left Paris until we got back to my apartment! But well worth it. I would…no, I will…be going back to both Paris and London one day!
I hope this little “travel guide,” journal, blog post, whatever you want to call this, helped you out in some way if you by any chance are planning an upcoming trip! If you are, or if you’ve traveled to either place before, let me know!