Showing posts with label Paris. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paris. Show all posts
Paris has always been on my top 10 places to visit in the world. Prior to our trip, I have heard nothing but good things about the city, and how it was romantic with stunning architectures. It was very enticing! We finally went in September 2015, and that was where my (now) fiancé proposed to me. Cliche? Yes, but I have always wanted it to happen under the Eiffel Tower.

7 reasons to visit Paris, France

The Eiffel Tower:
The Eiffel Tower is definitely one of Paris' iconic monuments that is synonymous with the city. The tower is 324 metres (1,063 ft) tall, and is the tallest structure in Paris. Getting there was pretty easy, as it was very accessible using the Paris Metro, as you can get off at Trocadéro (line 9) or Bir-Hakeim (line 6) stations. The walk from either station to the landmark was about 10-15 minutes. We wanted to go to the top of the tower to the observation deck, but the lines were incredibly long that Saturday (I was quoted a 2 hours wait so, no thanks). If you are able to brave through the lines, you'll have views of major Paris landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, the Seine River, and the Champ de Mars from the top.  

The Palace of Versailles:
 The Palace of Versailles is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. It was the home of several generations of monarchies until the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789. It is now a popular tourist attraction, and tickets were €15 per adult. 
How To Get There: Try to catch the RER-C train before 9 am, so that you can get there before the afternoon crowds. Take the direct train to Versailles Rive Gauche (station).
There are plenty of beautiful gardens in Paris, but the one that stood out to me was the Gardens of Versailles. It was massive with tons of lush greens and trees. Unlike the Palace of Versailles, the garden grounds are FREE on the weekdays, and I saw plenty of people having picnics and jogging.
  I have a major sweet tooth, so my love for macarons are quite strong. There are several well-known cafes and smaller ones all throughout Paris that sells these delectable sweets. I was able to visit the both Ladurée and Pierre Hermé, where I bought a couple of boxes.

Personally, my favorite out of the two brands was probably Ladurée. We ended up getting a few more boxes of macarons to bring back home as souvenirs. I found Paris' customer service to be quite lax and slower than what I am used to in Toronto. There were about 8 people ahead of me at the Charles de Gaulle Airport location, and it took them nearly 35 minutes for them to serve everyone with 3 staffs on hand. Price-wise, it was €17.50 for a box of 6 macarons.

Got a few boxes as souvenirs before we left Paris for Toronto (YYZ).

Up next was a visit to Pierre Hermé who also has multiple locations worldwide, including Hong Kong and Tokyo. The macarons were pretty good, but they were not as sweet as Laduree.

The prices of macarons in Paris are significantly more expensive than in Toronto. At Pierre Hermé, a box of 7 macarons was €18.

Notre Dame de Paris:

The Notre Dame de Paris is one of the symbols of the French Capital along with the Eiffel Tower. 

There are endless options when it come to food in Paris. Everywhere you turn there are restaurants, cafes, bistros, and bakeries on all corners.

The Louvre:
 I enjoy learning about world history, so The Louvre was definitely something that I had to visit during our 5-day visit in Paris. It is undeniably one of the most well-known museums in Europe, as there are plenty of amazing exhibits and artworks here. Tickets are €15.00 each (adult), and the museum is open every day except every Tuesday.
 TIP: Go through the Carrousel du Louvre underground mall to line up for tickets. I found the lines to be a lot faster, and you'll beat the heat in the summer, and won't freeze outside in the wintertime.
I will admit that the infamous Mona Lisa painting was a little disappointing. Not only was it small, but the entire area was insanely crowded with people pushing towards the front. Don't fret - there are plenty of other artworks to be seen in the other wings.
The Louvre was huge! We spent about 4 hours walking around the museum, and I believe that we only covered about 20% of The Louvre.

Cafes and Coffee Culture:
The city was bursting at the seams with their abundance of cafés serving caffeinated drinks and pastries. Coffee was introduced to Paris in 1644, and now serves as a center of social life in Paris. The below photo is from our visit to a little cafe situated in the Montmartre area (near Moulin Rouge). 

Ladurée is a very popular French luxury bakery and sweets maker house in Paris. They have several locations in France, and also worldwide, including London, Tokyo, Hong Hong, and more. I actually passed by a Ladurée in Tokyo back in 2013, but regrettably didn't know about the brand. I only learned about them when I was doing some research for our Paris trip (so sad).

Our hotel (Elysées Bassano) was centrally located in Champs-Élysées, and we came across Ladurée on our way to dinner at Léon de Bruxelles. I was planning on going to Ladurée the next day, but couldn't help getting some macarons before dinner.

 The shop was pretty chaotic, as it was super busy that Friday evening.  I read some reviews where people were asked firmly to not take any pictures inside many Ladurée Paris locations. Fortunately, the staff that day were really friendly, and they were okay with us taking photos (we asked first). I have noticed that a lot of fancy pastry shops based in Europe frowned upon photography ... it's pretty much free advertising!

Anyway,  I got a box of 6 macarons (€17.50 / $24). I got the following flavours; pistachio, rose, iced mint, coconut, Marie Antoinette tea, and strawberry candy "guimauve". I enjoyed all six flavours, and the shells were lightly crisp with smooth filling that was flavorful. I prefer Ladurée over Pierre Hermé cause they are more sweeter. 

 Compared to Toronto, macarons based in Europe are not very wallet-friendly. They average out to be about $4 CAD per macaron, so choose your flavors wisely. I really liked the macarons from Ladurée Paris, so we got more boxes as souvenirs at Charles de Gaulle Airport on our way back to Toronto. JJ couldn't believe that we spent a little over $100 on macarons alone that morning, as he's not a fan of macarons. They all made it back safely with no cracks (except the one box that we ate on the plane).

We actually almost missed our flight back to Toronto, cause I had to wait for the macarons to be packed. It wasn't just Ladurée where service was lax and slow. We experienced it in several restaurants and cafes in Paris, so I think that's just the norm. Our Air Canada flight was at 11:00 am, and we had to be at the boarding gate by 10:40 am. We were running down the corridor like crazy expecting the worst - since it was already 10:55 am. We got to our gate, and to our surprise the line just started moving. People were now being boarded! I know a lot of people complain or hate flying with Air Canada, but in that moment ... I was so happy. We were on-time to board our flight =) It was a super risky move, but luck was on our side that very morning. 

Address: 75 avenue des Champs Elysées, 75008