Once Bubby arrived, we slowed down (with still managing to see and do A LOT!) and had one goal in mind, show her the best time we possibly could! On her first day we took her to The Eiffel Tower so she could see it in all its glory, and went to Galleries Lafayette, Paris’ famous shopping center full of all things glamorous. It’s known not only for its fabulous shops inside, but the building itself is breathtakingly gorgeous, with a huge dome right in the middle.
Our first day trip was to Epernay, the quintessential French town in the heart of Champagne. It’s only about a 2 hour drive from Paris so it’s the perfect day trip. Our favorite thing to do here to the Moët et Chandon cellars for a tour, so that was the first item on the agenda. The tour (€24 for the basic tour which includes 1 glass of champagne. Reservations are good to have!) takes you through the cellars where you learn all about the House of Moët, the Champagne processes and the brands of Moët, and Dom Perignon. The end of the tour is the best part, the tasting! We tried the classic Imperial and also the Imperial Rosé. None of us could pick a favorite! Not a bad problem to have!
On the way back to Paris we stopped in the capital of Champagne, Reims, a city we’ve visited before, purely to see it’s amazing cathedral. It rivals the one in Milan! Each part of it is so intricately designed, a purely amazing sight. It was fun to be here and remember the few days we had here 4 years ago. As if we never left! Reims is also home to Veuve Cliquot, Ruinart, Tattinger and more, if you have a few days, spend some time in this great city!
We spent a day at the Louvre, a first for all of us. There’s absolutely no way one can see the whole thing in a day. We walked in and around as many exhibits as we could, soaking up as much art as our minds could comprehend. We, of course, had to see the Mona Lisa. Crowds and crowds surrounded it, each person hoping to get as close to the front of the barricades that surround it. We realized very quickly that there was no way I was going to be able to push Bubby in the wheelchair we rented for her all the way to the front. (Another good tip! There’s an accessibility office inside the Louvre, all it takes is a trade of your ID to rent a wheelchair for as long as you’d like. Considering how huge the Louvre is and how long it takes to enjoy, it’s a great option if you or your family member can’t stand or walk for long periods of time!) Dean popped up to the front and asked one of the security guards if we could wheel her towards the front so she could see. To our surprise he said “Of course! Bring her here!” Not only did he allow us to go to the front of the crowd, but he insisted that we wheel right in front of the painting! In front of all the people and the ropes keeping them all 8-10 feet back. A true once in a lifetime experience! We were able to view it with zero obstruction just a few inches away. It was amazing! The Louvre is an amazing place, the building itself is so grand with frescos and exhibits from around the world, worth a visit for sure. Outside there are the glass pyramids designed by I.M Pei and Arc de Triumph du Carrousel and the Jardin des Tuileries with a view of Concorde up to the Famous Arc de Triumph…does it get much more Parisian than that? More tips for the Louvre: While buying tickets ahead of time is great because it allows you to “skip the line”, we found out that it actually costs €2/person more to do that. It’s cheaper to buy there! Also, we rented audio guides which we felt were a total waste. Don’t spend your money! They were difficult to use and when we did figure it out for a handful of the exhibits, they didn’t provide that much information. If you rent a wheelchair though, an audio guide is free for that person +1! Why isn’t there just an app for that?
The River Seine, one of the most iconic rivers in Europe, winds its way through Paris, so naturally it has many boats tours running up and down it. I found a tour that also included a 3 course lunch and knew immediately it would be the perfect excursion for a “Bubby Julie day”. We boarded the luxury boat right in front of the Eiffel Tower and were escorted to our table right next to the window with the perfect view of the Seine. As we enjoyed our meal and cruised along, we were able to see major Paris sights such as the famous bridges, the Louvre, Notre Dame, Dorsay etc. It was an absolute perfect afternoon. The meal was delicious and the wine (a different one paired with each course!) was free flowing! One of the best we had, very classic French dishes served up with class and style and not ever seeming “touristy”. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely afternoon activity or a more romantic setting for dinner, I can’t recommend Bateaux Parisiens more!
Another day trip from Paris is the lovely Monet Gardens in Giverny, about an hour from Paris. For €10/person we were able to walk around the home of Claude Monet and the gorgeous gardens that surround it. His house had a huge display of all his paintings and also paintings from Hokusai, including the famous Great Wave print. The gardens were filled with hundreds of different flowers in so many shades of so many different colors all so meticulously manicured. We walked all around and down to the Lily Pad Pond to see the famous bridge that you see in his paintings and in so many people’s photos. Of course, our view was littered with other tourists, but that didn’t change how gorgeous the sight was. So rich in color!
Since the Tour De France was ending during our time here and we found ourselves with some time on its final day, we ran down to the Bir Hikim metro stop to see if we could catch the bikers as they made their way into Paris. Dean turned to me and said “I kinda wanna go see it, but we should go right now if we’re gonna go”. We threw on our shoes and got to the lookout point just in time not only to see the bikers make their way into the city, but to see some more planes fly over and drop their colorful french flag smoke! This time right next to the Eiffel Tower. How’s that for a sight?!
We could go on and on about the food here, the catch is that it’s easy to find amazing food, but also very easy to fall into a tourist trap. Our best advice; go to any neighborhood bistro, if it’s mostly French people and the menu is is French and there isn’t a major tourist attraction nearby catering to tourists, it should be a safe bet.
If you find yourself in a neighborhood, look for the affineurs (cheese ager), Boulangeries (bakeries) and Nicolas (wine shops). Grab some bread, Brie de Mieux and a bottle of wine and go relax in any park and have the best meal for €15! That’s honestly our favorite meal in France! Simple and cheap but insanely delicious and while you can try to replicate at home, it never compares to having it in France! Check out the locals market under the metro on Sundays and Wednesdays for fresh produce and other delicious food! It runs under the Cambronne stop. And please, while you’re there… get some macarons!
Just like all our other visits to Paris, we left feeling the need to come back! Every bit of our stay here was top notch and so much fun. Reach visit is unique and provides so many amazing memories and stories. We love you, Paris!
As we start to wind down on this amazing adventure with one month left, we head into central/eastern Europe. From Paris, we head to Berlin! We go from bellies full of wine, cheese and bread to currywurst, kebaps and schnitzel! See you all there!