Making a French 75 Cocktail: Travel to Paris, France

Love in the City of Light: What to Do in Paris

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The first time I visited Paris, I was 20 years old, blissfully naïve, bright-eyed, and simultaneously ecstatic and fearful for the months to come. I’d only been outside of North America once before and had never traveled alone—I had no idea what to expect exactly.

Paris, France

That first night in London, fresh off a transatlantic flight, I vividly recall crying in my attic hostel room. What had I done? What was I trying to prove—and to whom?

I’d never felt so alone—fear of the unknown can undo even the most staunchly self-sufficient soul.

Paris in springtime
Paris in springtime

But all it took was arriving in Paris that following day to erase any uncertainty I had; that first week in the French capital—my official and final au revoir to the fear that held me captive—was responsible for helping me assert my independence; for making me fall in love with travel in the first place.

Paris, France

By the time I took that three-hour train trip to Paris via the Eurostar, the doubt that I could navigate Europe for a month alone had faded in the distance with the gloomy London skyline; I was ready to make the City of Light my own.

Paris in springtime
Paris in springtime

In the week that followed, I climbed to the top of Notre Dame, drank pinot in the Latin Quarter, photographed the Eiffel Tower from every angle, attempted to pass for sophisticated at the Louvre, window-shopped along Champs-Élysées. The people there were glamorous, the energy intoxicating, the city skyline unsurpassed. It was so unlike the 20,000-person rural Tennessee town in which I was raised. In no time, I was officially and unapologetically smitten with Paris.

Paris, France

It’s been 12 years since that initial visit, and Paris has become somewhat of a constant in my semi-regular journeys to and around Europe; I’ve now been at least a half dozen times, and each trip is so different than its predecessor. It helps that many flights from the US pass through Charles De Gaulle Airport, making it easy to schedule a weekend stopover (for “business” purposes, of course… if you’re in the “business” of eating all the cheese and drinking all the wine, that is).

 Paris, France

In my early trips to Paris, I tackled all the touristy parts: the Arc de Triomphe, Versailles, the Opera House, Musée d’Orsay. Nowadays, I let my stomach guide my travels, and I’m more interested in Paris’ day-to-day life, as I am with any city I visit: what the locals do, where they eat, what they drink, what makes a place tick. Each time I’m back, I seem to unearth a new patisserie; discover a new, charming family-owned boutique hotel; find a new favorite cup of coffee in Saint-Germain or a new-to-me corner in the 7th arrondissement that I claim as my own.

Paris in springtime
Paris in springtime

Paris is a city of hidden gems—they’re everywhere you look.

On my most recent visit, the May before last, I had two free days and no agenda whatsoever, so I set out on foot and took photos of everything I saw. After all, there’s no place better than Paris in springtime. And there’s no better way to explore a city than to get lost in it.

Paris in springtime
Paris in springtime
Paris in springtime

There’s one thing I’ve yet to do in Paris, however, and that’s something that’s been weighing heavily on my mind. I’ve explored it on my own, I’ve toured it with family, I’ve visited with friends, but to date, SVV and I have never done Paris as a couple. That’s something that absolutely must be remedied; we’ve visited more than 30 countries together in the past decade and never the world’s most romantic city? For shame. (What I’m saying is this: If any of you hold the key to teleportation, please let me know and I’ll make sure we remedy that, like, tomorrow.)

Paris in springtime Do you find Paris as much of a temptress as I do? What’s your favorite pastime in the City of Light?

Paris travel: The Eiffel Tower at night
Paris travel: The Eiffel Tower at night

Want to discover more about Paris? Check out Expedia Image Library for inspiration.

This post was created in partnership with Expedia to inspire more travel, though all opinions expressed are my own.
  • March 18, 2015

    Yep – Paris is my favourite city too. Last year we had a month there and for that visit I enjoyed sitting and people watching in parks I hadn’t been to before. It was parfait!

  • March 18, 2015

    Gosh, I think you’ve convinced me that I need to return to Paris! Lately, I’ve been facing a conundrum (of the best sort) – do I return to London and Paris this fall (particularly London, as I didn’t get to see much of it when I was there) or do I visit somewhere new? I probably do 2-3 international trips most years, and I’ve yet to revisit anywhere, because there’s so much of the world I haven’t seen yet that I feel bad going back to somewhere I’ve already been. But, the pull of returning to Paris and London is strong at the moment, and I’m kinda taking this post of yours as a sign that I should go ahead and buy my ticket and not feel the least bit guilty about it!

  • March 18, 2015

    Oh I love Paris!!! Admittedly, my travels are not as plentiful as I would like, but Paris cast a spell on me and I have yet to find a city that compares. I’ll be travelling there with my boyfriend next May (dream come true!) and I hope you two find your way to Paris soon! Thank you for your post!

  • March 18, 2015

    Ohhhh, I posted about Paris today too! Looks like you got better weather than I did!

    • March 19, 2015

      Yay! Heading over now to check it out =)

  • March 19, 2015

    Oh Paris…toujours dans mon coeur (always in my heart)! Like you I went for the first time at 21 for my first transatlantic voyage. Since I have been back a few times, most recently with my husband for Christmas. One of my favorite Paris moments is hearing the church bells from around the city chime at the stroke of midnight on Christmas. As you say, having seen the sights, I prefer to wander and savor the city. One sight, though, I don’t mind seeing over and over is the Musee de l’orangerie..the Monet panels are breathtaking.

    • March 19, 2015

      Ahhhh Paris at Christmas with a significant other sounds like the best time to visit, hands down.

  • March 19, 2015

    I’m so sorry to say this, but…..

    I really don’t care for Paris.


    I know. I’m so sorry. I’ve been a couple of times, and I liked it just fine, but I have no desire to go back there. It’s kind of been-there-done-that in my mind. Not all of France, mind you, because I would love to do some exploring in wine country, and I have a special place in my heart for the south of France, but Paris…

    I think, however, I may have a change of heart if, the next time I visit, I take a page out of your travel playbook and let my stomach do the guiding. 😉

  • March 19, 2015
    mary @ minutes per mile

    of course i have a teleportation key! it’s right next to my magic carpet.

    i also went abroad for the first time when i was 20 — on a BusAbout tour through spain! obviously the best and most authentic way to explore europe 😉

  • March 22, 2015
    Will Hatton

    Many (including myself) people wanna go to Paris and see the Eiffel Tower . it really is a wonderful place!

  • March 27, 2015

    Beautiful pictures! I will go this year!

  • April 2, 2015

    I can relate to the fear of the unknown when traveling, im about to head to London in 7 weeks, want to see paris also. Excited but scared at the same time.

  • April 3, 2015

    Nothing like your first travel love … for me it was Bangkok. Oh, the memories thinking back!

  • April 6, 2015

    I’m really ashamed to admit this, but I have never been to Paris. It’s only 2 hours away by Thalys.. but.. mhh I don’t know why I never visited. I’m being stubborn for no reason I guess. Love the 19th and 20th century majestic architecture <3 Maybe one day…

  • June 18, 2015

    i love paris. this post is really beautiful!

  • October 31, 2016

    Amazing pictures. It makes me want to go back asap.

  • January 20, 2017

    My husband and I are headed to Paris in just 3 short weeks on a trip I earned with my company! I knew I had to come find out what you had to say about the city. We’ll be there for 7 days and honestly since we rarely get to travel abroad this may be the only time we ever visit the city! (because there are so many places to go!) We’ll do the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre (maybe!), tour Versailles… but what I REALLY want to know are the not so touristy things we MUST do? Your favorite coffee shops or restaurants? My husband is NOT a city or museum guy, he’d rather be snowboarding, mountain biking, or at a music festival – I want to make sure and find some things for him to enjoy! For most of the trip we’ll be at Hotel Grand Hotel du Palais Royal which the website says is ‘steps from the Louvre’.

    What’s your top 3 list of things NOT to miss in Paris?! Thx!

  • January 30, 2017
    France Visa

    Hello, I love reading your blog. It is really very impressive. I want to leave a comment in your support. Carry on with good continuation. Best of luck for your blogging efforts.

  • December 22, 2017
    Christina @TravelingwithThyme

    The photos are absolutely beautiful! I loved the one where you girls were jumping underneath the iconic Tour Eiffel! 🙂 I’m visiting Paris in the summer so I’m excited to discover the city.

  • August 28, 2023

    Your enthusiasm has me convinced – a return to Paris is a must! Lately, I’ve been pondering a delightful dilemma. Should I explore London and Paris again this fall (especially London, which I barely experienced), or should I venture to a new destination? I typically embark on 2-3 international journeys annually, always seeking new horizons. However, the allure of Paris and London is hard to resist. Your post feels like a sign – I should book that ticket guilt-free!

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