National Lampoon's Family Vacation Part One: Paris Recommendations

By Blonde Bowhemian - November 04, 2015

Hello! Sorry it's been so long - between trying to finish everything before my parents arrived and our actual vacation I've been all over the place. I never got a chance to blog about our group trip to Normandy but know that it was incredibly beautiful, moving, at times uncomfortable, and that I learned about my ancestor, Harold who was a throne-stealer and set off a whole lineage of badasses (or so I like to think).

Anyways, last week 3/5 of the Harrold family was reunited as my parents came for a visit! I (somewhat) had a week off of school so after a quick visit in Tours, where my real parents met my host parents for dinner (me translating + endless flowing champagne and wine = some miscommunications but shh) and a quick day trip to Amboise (on their 32nd wedding anniversary! #younglove <3), we headed off to Paris and Tenerife!

In what is probably the least surprising news ever, my parents had us going and going and going until we saw every inch of Paris. BUT, I got my mom addicted to croissants and macarons in the process so major win there. However, I figured that rather than boring you with all the details, I'd make a list of some of my favorite Paris activities and sights for you to consult should you ever find yourself in the City of Light! (Side note: the majority of these come from our lovely family friend, Hannah, who spent a semester abroad in Paris and almost an equal amount of time writing us an incredibly helpful "guidebook," so thank you Hannah! As always, I am using your hand-me-downs :)

The Louvre: Tbh, I had no desire to go here. It's crowded and huge and overwhelming which is just not my thing. We did the "Masterpieces Tour," which was a pretty good way to see all the major works of art in the Louvre and takes about an hour. (Yes, I saw the Mona Lisa, and no, I do not get the hype #overit). However, if you're not a huge art person like me but still feel like you should visit the Louvre, definitely visit Napoleon's apartments - they were less crowded, insanely over the top, and super cool to look at. If you've ever visited some of the mansions in Newport it was kind of a similar vibe.

Musée D'Orsay: If you only have time (or patience, like me) for one museum, I'd pick this one. It's much more manageable and the art is more recent, with Impressionist works by Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, etc. Plus, it didn't hurt that all of the paintings in the "Van Gogh in Arles" room were of places I've been to.
hey, looks familiar!
Café Kitsuné: (actually found this place myself!) After being dragged to the Louvre, I dragged my parents here (it was only fair!) - best latte in Paris, adorable little shop, gluten free cookies, and highly instagrammable-cups. What more could you need? 
Notre Dame: I mean, you just have to. The place is so so so much older than our entire country so that's pretty cool and it's crazy big. Plus, there's a rockin' cheese shop nearby called La Ferme Saint Aubin on Ile Saint Louis where the guy gives better samples than Costco and they have truffle cheese aka heaven aka you need to go.
kinda impressive
Florence Kahn Bakery: Realizing we were going to the Marais, the old Jewish neighborhood (and a great place to spend a Sunday exploring!), my mom and I decided it would be criminal not to hunt down some good old Jewish babka (#babkaorbust) to get back to our roots and my dad is basically always down to eat so he was just as eager. Although we didn't find babka, we did find this delicious kosher bakery with all the 'nitzels, 'nishes, and 'ntzes a yiddish heart could dream of noshing on. And I even found a kosher-gluten-free almond croissant that was basically the stuff dreams are made of. Not gonna lie, we had a moment. Definitely go.
I had already devoured half of it before I took this pic #noshame
Eiffel Tower Tour: Yes, I've been to the Eiffel Tower a bunch of times, but this time we did a tour with Fat Tire Tours (book ahead of time!!!) which allowed us to go to the second floor with the tour guide, and all the way up to the third floor if we so desired (we did, or should I say my parents did, as I considered how long the plummet to my death would take from the tiny elevator 1163 feet up). Sadly, we didn't realize that France does the time change earlier than the US so it was kind of dark and freezing when we went at 5:30 but still an incredible view. Do this if you have the time/aren't a broke college student! Also, if you do a lunch time tour, definitely pack a picnic and enjoy it on the Champ du Mars!
you have my heart
Les Cocottes Christian Constant: After you've worked up a sweat worrying about falling 1163 feet to your death, head to this super mod and totally-my-style restaurant I stumbled upon by the Eiffel Tower. All of their dishes are served in little individual casserole pots and are unique, delicious, and easily instagrammable. Either order individually or share them like tapas. A great little find!
cod and vegetables - couldn't tell you which, but they were good
Top of the Arc de Triomphe: Champs-Élysées is so not worth it - super crowded and mostly stores you'll find at home, but if you find yourself over there, climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe! I can't say anything about the lines seeing as my parents bought the Museum Pass that let us skip the lines (like the Disney Fast Pass but for things that are actually cool, sorry Disney people) and I pretended I was 17, an easy feat considering I basically still am. The stairs up are mildly vomit-inducing but the view at the top is great. 
so much symmetry it bestills my little OCD heart 
Angelina's: I know I talked about this in my previous post, but it's just so good. I can't believe I didn't get a chance to bring my parents... I'm ashamed. Hands down the best, most fat-inducing, cheat-day-worthy hot chocolate you will drink in your young life. Go on a weekday morning for less wait time, or get it to-go. Your pants and wallet may not thank you, but your soul will.
Les Vedettes de Pont Neuf: (or any boat cruise on the Seine) We did this at the end of our trip, which is why I wasn't that excited going into it (read: I was forced) because I figured we'd just see everything we'd already seen, and I was kind of right so I recommend going at the beginning of a trip to get a good lay of the land. Either way, it was a cool way to see the city from another perspective, learn some new facts, and I didn't pay for it so it was a win-win minus the annoying amount of small children on the boat. If you have an hour to spare and some extra cash, check it out.
a little taste of fall
St. Germain des Près: This is the area where I stayed with my parents. It's perfectly located in Paris and full of art galleries, cafés and reasonably-priced stores, specifically in the area around Rue de Rennes. My mom and I found some great little boutiques there and did some damage, while my dad found some shop with books about cars or something, idrk. And my host mom just told me my new shirt looks ravishing, so if that isn't a ringing endorsement, I don't know what is.
mid-shopping creepy taxidermy break at Deyrolle
Au P'tit Grec: I literally do not care how you feel towards crepes or galettes, you need to go here. I think I talked about in my post about John's visit, but idc it deserves a second mention. It looks like nothing special at all, just a hole in the wall crepe place with little to no seating and a long line. Omg wait in line and get the galette with chorizo and potatoes and cheese. Once you get over the feeling like you're going to vom from ingesting so much food so quickly you will thank me. That is all.
average pic, beyond average galettes
Reims: Okay, so not technically in Paris, but just a 40 minute train ride away is the Champagne region where we went on a lovely tour with just 8 people to two different champagne producers who use Dom Perignon grapes. I think I had six or seven glasses full glasses of champagne, the last ones were a little foggy tbh, but I learned a lot before I started slurring my words and had a great time throughout. Definitely visit if you're in the area for an extended period of time!
crew love(s champagne)
I could definitely keep going with the recommendations but I'll stop for now for your sake. My one last thing to add is that my favorite way to see a city is just to start walking around a neighborhood with no set intention - that's how I found a bunch of the smaller places I mentioned. Anyways, onto Part Two....

À bientôt!


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