One of the most embarrassing moments of my life was when I was cautioned by the police in Italy (in front of my kids – even worse) for eating ice cream in Piazza San Marco, Venice. You see, when planning our family trip to italy I had done plenty of research on what to do in Venice but had totally neglected the no – no’s.
There’s kissing, and then there’s French kissing. Which is best? Which excites you more? No, don’t answer that – let’s try something else.
Paris travel tips.
Which do you think would be the best way to see Paris? As part of a tour; following a flag-waving guide around with a bunch of middle-aged men wearing white ankle socks
meandering through the side streets of Paris, hand in hand with the one you love, eating fresh warm baguettes and immersing yourselves in Parisian life and knowing that you will never ever forget this gorgeous vacation.
If you picked the white ankle socks then this is not the Paris tips post that you’re after.
If you chose the latter then we need to be friends. Stay put.
If you are looking to spend 12 glorious days in Paris then stay put.
18 Travel Tips For Paris. Spontaneous, Romantic & Cheap
Once you tell people that you are planning on visiting a new country, especially overseas, they will do is feel it their duty to give you some good old advice. Most of this advice, although well-meaning, turns out to be totally useless and rubbish.
This isn’t a Paris guide on how to jump lines or get closer to Mona Lisa. It certainly won’t tell you which metro goes to the airport.
In this post, I will share some tips on how to see Paris in a different way. Show you how to have a romantic and spontaneous day in Paris without breaking the bank or your husband’s will to ever want to travel again.
Paris With kids
A quick note before we start: While these ideas refer to a couple, it is not to say that you could not do all of the below with kids. Paris is one of the Top 5 European cities for kids – we took our teenagers there last year as part of my midlife crisis world trip, and they had a ball.
If you are traveling with kids in Paris, for the next 12 hours or so, ask them to go with the flow and behave themselves so that Mummy can float around Paris feeling wonderful.
And tell them there is a real treat coming to them in the afternoon – that should do it.
Paris. The perfect place to find your inner romantic and go with the flow.
#1 Get up early In Paris
If you are up before 7 am in Paris, you are on the right track for a wonderful day.
Don’t bother hanging around in the hotel for the free breakfast, not today.
These 12 hours are about spontaneity. Walk out of your hotel and down one of the many side streets. You can’t get lost.
Your husband (if he is anything like mine) will want to wander the streets holding onto google maps for dear life.
You have two options here depending on your relationship.
Either take the phone and smash it onto the pavement (probably ending any chance of a romantic weekend happening ever again) or, (and this is probably the wiser choice of the two), tell him to trust you, and if you don’t find the perfect little cafe in ten minutes, then he can look at the Google map after that.
Smile nicely, please and ignore my previous suggestion – apologies, I haven’t taken my hormone tablets this morning.
#2 Take A Proper Parisien Breakfast
Go into any cafe on the side streets of Paris. Try to pick one without white table cloths.
Order a cafe noisette, this is a shot an espresso served with a small jug of hot milk. Even if latte is the coffee of your choice, just this once, please, order a noisette and a croissant. It will make you appreciate that you are in France (and is cheaper than a latte!)
Sit for 30 minutes at least and enjoy your French coffee and your warm flakey croissant. I advise you to dip the end of the croissant into the crema – it’s acceptable, very sexy (if you don’t dribble it down your chin) and utterly delicious.
Only in Paris can you get the best croissant and coffee for breakfast.
#3 Getting Around Paris
For the next 12 hours in Paris, you are going to walk. Everywhere.
This may seem a little unreasonable considering there is an excellent metro system in Paris with a station on every street corner, but, today is a day where you will see things by foot – the plus side to this, of course, is that it will save you money, and you will sleep like a log when you get into bed tonight.
#4 Making The Most Of Parisien The Weather
If it’s raining, which, if you are visiting Paris in the spring or autumn I highly doubt, either go ‘au naturel’ and don’t blow dry your hair or, take a travel umbrella to Paris with you – these ones are perfect for Paris they are very French and very chic.
If you are not a brolly kind of gal then invest in a stylish rain poncho – this way you will look very gorgeous and remain dry while you are strolling the streets of Paris.
#5 Seeing The Eiffel Tower From the Ground
Today you will not go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, instead, you will look up at this beautiful structure from the ground and watch the clouds float past the tippy top.
People tend to forget that the Eiffel Tower is much more impressive to see from the ground than it is to climb it with a load of other scrambling tourists.
I’m not telling you to miss climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower – you can’t come to Paris and not climb it, all I am saying is that it won’t be today.
The Eiffel Tower is best seen from the ground to capture the enormity of it.
Walk the pavements surrounding the tower.
Watch as the street vendors throw their blankets out in front of them ready to display the sprayed gold and silver miniature Eiffel Tower ornaments that they are going to sell to today’s tourists.
Watch how they compete with each other when a potential customer walks by.
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#6 People watching Around The Eiffel Tower
It used to be (in the olden days when I was young), you could lie on the grass underneath the Eiffel Tower but sadly, you can no longer do this.
Not to worry. I have something just as romantic for you. Walk around the base of the tower and at the back you will find a shady boulevard lined with beautiful trees.
You may see a few models posing for a glossy magazine if you hang around long enough.
If you enjoy people watching as much as I do, take ten minutes and sit on one of the many benches and indulge. This is real people watching heaven! It is a fascinating and entertaining way to spend a quarter of an hour in Paris.
Get up early and you will see the street vendors laying out their blankets in preparation for the onslaught of tourists!
#7 Buy A Picnic lunch
After you are done people watching and gazing at the tower from the ground, you are now going to take a stroll from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame.
But, not before you have shopped for a picnic lunch.
Remember, people live in Paris. They go to work in Paris. They have kids that go to school in Paris. Paris has convenience stores that cater to all of these people and are an excellent place to pick up your food essentials for your romantic and spontaneous day in Paris.
Shop where the local’s shop and you will be rewarded with delicious goodies at a reasonable price.
15 Rue de Monttessuy is where you will find Magda, an impressive delicatessen run by a friendly Greek lady. Stock up on lots of delicious delicacies for your lovely picnic lunch – it won’t cost you much more than $20 (I can’t give you the link as they don’t have a website so you will have to trust me on this one.)
You can buy whatever you choose – we were travelling with two teenagers who eat gazillions of carbs and sugar (I’d like to lie to you and say that they are both vegan and only like curly kale, but sadly, no.)
Take your picnic (remember to buy some paper cups if you have purchased a bottle of light Rose wine which I sincerely hope you have), if you don’t drink wine, please treat yourself to something sparkling, cold and non alcoholic – and then write to me in the comments and tell me why you don’t drink wine.
Don’t judge me here ok? I told you, we went to Paris with our two kids and so had to keep them happy with crisps and stuff. Honest.
#8 Walk Along The Seine
It was in the summer of last year that we visited Paris. Since then, as you know, the fire at Notre Dame has taken down a large chunk of this beautiful cathedral. This won’t stop you from visiting today; this is Paris, and you have to see Notre Dame – fire or no fire.
The walk along the river Seine to Notre Dame is nothing short of magical. Romantic, atmospheric – Abba had it right all of those years ago.
There are lots of bridges and places to rest along the way.
Walking from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame along the river Seine. There is nothing better.
# 9 Bathroom Stops Along The Seine
Don’t worry about getting dehydrated or needing the loo. There are drinking fountains with cold fresh water all along the river Seine and there are plenty of toilets – clean ones too, which are always a surprise in the middle of Paris.
Plenty of fresh water fountains and clean bathrooms to be found along the river Seine
Top Paris Tip! Take a refillable water bottle with you wherever you go. Saves your money and the environment!
Along the seine, you are going to pass office workers who have met with their personal trainer for an hours workout. You will see young lovers staring into the eyes of each other and giggling; you will see Parisien skateboarders and women walking with their dogs.
A note on dogs in Paris, it used to be, many years ago that you couldn’t walk the streets of Paris without standing in something stinky and horrid.
This was not the case when we were last there.
I’m happy to say that the Parisian dog owners have finally discovered the existence of poo bags and have cleaned up the streets.
#10 Take A Romantic Lunch Along The Seine
Find a bridge where the steps are in the shade, preferably one where there is lots of activity and people for you to watch. You may have guessed by now that people fascinate me. Are you the same?
Open up your picnic and your wine (or fizzy water) and sit and watch the tourist boats gliding by.
Notice how many of the people on those boats are staring into their phone or taking selfies! I love doing this; strangely, it makes me feel both old and virtuous.
Find a shady spot on one of the many bridges of the Seine chill out, people watch and eat your lunch. Perfect!
#11 Walk To Notre Dame
It takes approximately an hour to walk from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame. It is a beautiful walk.
As you get closer to the cathedral you will come across amateur artists who have set up their easels hoping to catch the right light falling onto the golden building. Take the time to stand and watch them paint. Observing an artist is relaxing and romantic and you have plenty of time today.
Check Out Our Video Of A Romantic Day In Paris! ⇓
#12 Visit Notre Dame
Notre Dame is free and beautiful, and because of this is almost always busy.
Don’t worry though, if you arrive and the queue looks huge, it takes no more than twenty minutes to get inside, I promise.
I won’t write here of this iconic structure that dates back to 11690; there are plenty of other blogs that will tell you that.
Just know to take your time, light a candle for someone that you love and breathe in the smell of the ancient sandalwood – an aroma that you can only ever seem to find in churches.
If you happen to visit Notre Dame on a Sunday afternoon, you may catch a church service, which is very special.
With a line this big, we waited approx 15 minutes to get into Notre Dame
#13 Take An Afternoon Walk To The Champs Elysees
Now for the late afternoon itinerary. It includes more walking, but you are going to treat yourself with the money that you have saved at lunchtime.
Take your time and walk back from Notre Damn up to the Champs Elysees where you will end up at the Arc de Triomphe just in time for Twilight.
Hopefully, if you have timed it right you will see the Arc de Triomphe at twilight.
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#14 Visit Angelinas ~ The Best Hot Chocolate And Cake In Paris!
Here is the best part (and if you are in Paris with kids they will love you forever after today). Traveling with kids is easy if you bribe them with sugar and technology.
On route to Arc de Triomphe, you will stop at the famous Angelinas for the most delicious hot chocolate you have ever tasted in. your. life. This stuff is like liquid gold.
Angelinas is an iconic establishment in Paris. Coco Chanel and Audry Hepburn were said to have frequented these gorgeous tea rooms regularly, and, after all the walking you have done today, you deserve to go and relax for an hour or so too.
Indulge in a French pastry and sit and breathe – if it’s busy and you don’t want to do crowds then grab a take away and walk with it.
Probably the best hot chocolate in the world ~ Angelinas in Paris
Top Paris Tip! Ask for tap water when you have a meal. The water in Paris is perfectly fine and you won’t be charged.
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#15 Go Window Shopping Along The Champs Elysee
The Champs Elysee needs no introduction, but on this occasion, you will be window shopping only!
Gaze at the diamonds and pearls in the jewellery shop window, look at your husband drooling as he checks out the new Apple store.
And then move on.
We didn’t buy a picnic so that he could blow the budget on a new Fitbit watch that has a map of Paris built into it.
If you have time, you could pop into Sephora and get one of the lovely assistants to give you a free trial makeover with the latest concealer and foundation – I expect by now you have very rosy cheeks and they are always looking for people to practice on.
Just enjoy being beautiful and taking your time, you’ve had a busy day.
Are you ready to keep tight hold of your wallet? You will be blissfully window shopping along the Champs Elyse
Top Paris tip! Remember, if you do buy gifts from Paris, keep your receipt and claim your tax back at the airport!
#16 Spend The Evening In Paris
The evening is yours to with as you wish.
Paris at night is simply beautiful, it hasn’t been named the romantic city in the world for nothing.
Go and relax.
Eat a delicious meal at one of the side street restaurants. Look and feel gorgeous. Paris has a special knack of making every woman feel beautiful.
I hope you enjoyed your spontaneous and budget style day in Paris tips, by the end of the day you should feel blissfully rejuvenated with a sense of achievement for having seen Paris as it should be seen.
Now that you’ve had your romantic 12 hours in Paris, you may want to do some tourist style sightseeing.
There are so many beautiful things to see and do in Paris and if you are planning on taking in as much as possible (because now you will feel totally rejuvenated), you will need a way to save money on museums and bus/boat tours
The Paris travel card has saved us stacks of cash every time we use it. You buy it online and it is there, bang, straight to your phone or device – it’s very convenient and very much worth buying.
You can buy the pass for one, two, three and five days – perfectly flexible. Check it out here.
We bagged ourselves a beautiful apartment on the banks of the Seine and kept a fat ginger pussy cat company for a week and you can do the same.
If you haven’t ever done housesitting before and you are open for something different then I suggest you give it a try. It’s the best and perfect for those who like to experience countries the real way.
Housesitting is very, very easy. Please don’t think that it is for seasoned travelers – it is not. You simply sign up (I think it is about $90 if I remember rightly) and every day you are sent two emails filled with lots of beautiful European properties looking for people like you to come and stay.
If there is anything you need to know about housesitting then message me or leave a comment. It is one of the best things I have ever signed up for in my life and I would love to help you enjoy it too.
There is only one way to kiss in Paris…
If you enjoyed these tips on how to see Paris in 12 hours without breaking into a sweat at the cost then please share with someone who would benefit them too!
And just for the record – there’s only one way to kiss in Paris…X
Ireland. You’ve read the blogs and guide books, listened to the stories from your Great Grandfather who was born there, but what is Ireland really like? If you are visiting Ireland for the first time, then you need some Ireland tips. Real good old fashioned honest ones.
It throws you a little bit does Ireland.
It’s part of Europe (Northen Ireland we are talking about here) the people speak in English (well, not quite, but more about that later in the post) and the countryside is comfortingly familiar, yet somehow, the minute you step foot on Irish soil you know that you are in one of the most unique destinations in the world.
Ireland is like nowhere else you will have ever been.
Without sounding too woo and coming over all purple velvet and crystal bally, the famous saying that Ireland is like a balm for your soul is never more real than when you land in Ireland for the first time.