Paris in 8 Days: The Ultimate Itinerary

Continued from
Free Trip to Paris + 3 Weeks = Winter Tour of Europe

Photo by Stephane Enten

Photo by Stephane Enten

So, as I was saying:  Back in 2003 we won a trip to Paris…for a weekend.

From a raffle benefiting the Saban Free Clinic, our prize was two round-trip tickets from L.A. on Air France and two nights at the Four Seasons George V. Nothing to shake a stick at, just a little short for 12 hours of flight time.

To my surprise, Adam suggested we turn our airfare windfall into a 3-week grand tour of Brussels, Bruges, Amsterdam, London and ultimately, Paris.  I managed to turn our short Paris weekend into 8 exciting days in January 2004.

Here’s what we did:

Took the Chunnel from London to Paris.
Took the Métro  to the Cardinal-Lemoine station…and walked up a great big hill.

LODGING #1: Hôtel des Grandes Ecoles

DAY ONE
Strolled along:
Boulevard St-Germain
Boulevard St-Michel
Mouffetard
Place de la Contrescarpe
Checked out gargoyles outside the candlelit St-Severin
Browsed through nearby comic book stores
Gaped at incredible historical murals in the Panthéon
Dinner at ChantAirelle, designed like a rustic village in France’s Massif Central

DAY TWO
Couldn’t get over the astounding size of Notre-Dame
Walked hand-in-hand across the Pont Neuf
Marveled at the soaring stained glass of Sainte-Chapelle
Took a deep floral whiff of the Marche aux Fleurs
Almost overdid a Moroccan lunch at Mansouria
Took the funicular to the top of Montmarte
Sat quietly inside Sacré-Coeur
Puzzled over the Salvador Dalí Museum
Experienced true Parisian “hospitality” at the famed Aux Charpentiers;
if you go, book post-9m and downstairs…and don’t order your beef well done

DAY THREE
*Best to do this itinerary Wed-Sat to avoid museum closing days
Strolled through the Marais and Paris’ oldest square, the Place des Vosges
Popped in and out of amazing clothing stores and little galleries
Learned all about Pablo at the Musée Picasso
Made up our own translations of the all-French signs at the Musée Carnavalet
Just missed a (reportedly) magnificent tour of the Opéra Garnier…so lingered in the lobby instead
Smiled at quirky, chatty Denise Acabo at A l’Etoile d’Or as she chose her best chocolates for us
Dinner at the modern, spectacular Ze Kitchen Gallerie

DAY FOUR
Wandered along the morning-gray Seine eating apple croissants from Calixte
Gorged ourselves on antiquities and Impressionists at The Louvre
Fell in love with modern French design at the Musée de Arts Décoratifs
Bundled up against the leafless chill in the gardens of Les Tuileries
Tried not to make phallic symbol jokes in the center of Place Vendôme
Walked all the way back to the Île St-Louis to see Notre-Dame at night
Despite freezing temperatures, stopped for ice cream at the heavenly Berthillon

DAY FIVE
Spent four glorious hours in our dream museum, the Musée d’Orsay
Freaked ourselves out a little in the Paris Catacombs
Prowled the Père-Lachaise Cemetery, and found Oscar Wilde’s grave
Strolled along the Seine at night, watching the Bateaux-Mouches twinkle on the river

DAY SIX
People-watched and window shopped around the swanky Champs Élysées
Paused to admire the Arc de Triomphe
Combed through gorgeous fruit stands along the cozy Rue Cler
Stumbled across the finest Art Nouveau house in Paris, No. 29 Avenue Rapp
Went all the way up to the top of the Eiffel Tower
Crossed the Pont Alexandre III with a huge Japanese tour group
Delved into France’s military history at Hôtel National des Invalides
Craned our necks skywards in the Invalides’ Dome Church
Talked about our plans for the future in the garden of the Musée Rodin

DAY SEVEN
By 10am, we hopped in a cab and headed to:
LODGING #2: Four Seasons George V
Zoomed around our posh digs for awhile, laughing at our good fortune
There was a view of the Eiffel Tower from our room!
Immediately booked massages in the hotel’s spa/womb
Emerged in time for (exorbitant, impossibly elegant) high tea in the lobby
Repaired to our suite for a bath, robe-lounging, French MTV and Japanese animation
Ordered room service and watched the Tower’s holiday lights sparkle and blink

DAY EIGHT
Actually left the George V to go exploring
Popped our heads into the lobby of the legendary Plaza Athênêe
Discovered the exquisite macarons of Ladurée
Gilded the lily by also discovering La Maison du Chocolat
Elbowed into the (insane) January sale at Au Bon Marché;
here at Paris’ oldest department store, I scored 1/2 price perfume and shoes
Enjoyed our last dinner in Paris in the Art Nouveau-glass-winter-garden of La Fermette Marbeuf 1900;
as a little white terrier snoozed beneath the table next to us, we sipped the year’s first Beaujolais Nouveau

We wafted away from Paris with little sign of weariness, despite days on end of long walks in the bitter cold, and our (free) flight home was blissfully uneventful.
Someday we’d love to go back in the green warmth of Spring.

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See also

Free Trip to Paris + 3 Weeks = Winter Tour of Europe

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