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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Going to Europe!

My friend Peyton and I are planning a trip to London and Paris for early next spring. Neither of us have been to Europe so we are beyond excited! I'm not going to lie, I was majorly bummed I wasn't able to study abroad in college. I don't like to live life with regrets, but I'd have to say that is one of mine. I switched my major a little late in the game, so if I had studied abroad, I would have graduated an entire year late... something I didn't want to do. I've had this intense desire to travel in the past few years.. you could say I've had a pretty bad case of wanderlust, so I am glad I am finally getting my chance! 

Right now we are in the beginning stages of planning. We are for sure going to London and Paris, but are also looking into some options for a possible third stop... Prague, Amsterdam, Monte Carlo/Nice?? We are also definitely considering Reims, France, too (hellooooo all the champagne vineyards). I think we are trying to 'avoid' Italy as that's a completely separate trip I'd like to take some day soon.
London will be great because my best friend Dana just married an Englishman so he will give us a lot of 'local' recommendations, but other than that, I'm just doing a ton of research and talking to friends and family. I have a lot of places already picked out but figured why not reach out and let you all tell me what your favorites are for traveling to Europe! 

Copy and paste the questionnaire along with your answers below into the comments. I think it will be great for as many that can to put in their information, and that way others can use it for recommendations, too! Thank you soooo much in advance :)

London// Paris

Favorite Hotel (or Air BnB):

Favorite restaurant:

Favorite cafe:

Best place to sip champagne:

Best bar/pub/nightclub:

Best place for high tea:

Must see tourist attraction:
Things to skip over:

Best place for a picnic:

Best place to get the best photo/best view:

Best Museum:
 
Best place to shop:

Best kept secret: 

If we are to choose a third location, where would you recommend:

Best piece of advice/what you wish you would have known:

Thank you so much for your feedback!!! 

27 comments:

dWa said...

Sydney, I recently got back from Paris and London and adored my trip! I went with my school and it was amazing. We weren't in London very long so I don't have as many recommendations for there aside from restaurants but I compiled all of my favorites here : http://www.prepinyourstep.com/2015/06/paris-favorites-what-to-do-in-paris.html and here: http://www.prepinyourstep.com/2015/06/london-favorites-what-to-do-in-london.html

ACL said...

We went to Paris in March and loved it. We stayed at Folkstone which was right by the Opera. It is actually a Best Western but I cannot recommend it highly enough. For a city break my criteria is clean, convenient and quiet and this leaves more $$$ for LV and wine :). We had one of the larger rooms but it was perfect- there was no restaurant but who needs that you are in Paris!

One of my favorite stops on the trip was La Guarde Robe (when someplace is recommended by David Lebovitz, it's bound to be good). The meat/cheese plate was great and we felt like it was a great authentic experience.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sydney! A little biased here, I'm an American expat who has been living in Prague for the past year, and after visiting over 20 European countries (and many more cities than that), Prague is still a standout favorite of mine (though Amsterdam is a close second). Amazing architecture and history and it is EXTREMELY inexpensive (the local currency is the Crown not the Euro). I know you are not much of a beer drinker and there is a large beer culture in Prague but the Czech Republic has some great wines as well (from the Moravia region). If you do choose Prague, I would love to give you some suggestions!

I also recommend the South of France. It's gorgeous and a totally different feel and culture from Paris.

Enjoy Europe!! America rocks but Europe is something special :)

Suzanne said...

Look into the Corinthia Hotel in London, large rooms, great location and a fabulous afternoon tea!

another mom said...

Another vote for Prague. We traveled to Switzerland, Germany, and Prague a few years ago and Prague was definitely the most interesting!

Anonymous said...

Favorite Hotel (or Air BnB): Mercure Hotel in Place d'italie, Hilton London Metropole

Favorite restaurant: dont't really have one but Paul and the boulangerie in place d'italie by the Mercure hotel is amazing.

Favorite cafe: Paul/ Waitrose-- not even kidding with this one-- its a grocery store but ask for their Scottish yoghurt-- beyond ridiculous

Best place to sip champagne: fouquets on champs élysées, don't have a suggestion for London

Best bar/pub/nightclub: n/a

Best place for high tea: didn't try this.

Must see tourist attraction: the double decker tour bus in London or the ride along the Thames takes you to see all of the main tourist stops-- really worth the money ( they usually leave from marble arch)

Things to skip over: n/a

Best place for a picnic: the Tuileries garden in Paris, don't know of one for London

Best place to get the best photo/best view: the trocadero in Paris ( a much better view of the Eiffel Tower than on the lawn) or Versailles (such a worthwhile day trip) double decker as you're coming up to the parliament in London views ( you're elevated if you sit atop so you can get the detailing of the carvings/roof in) or Trafalgar Square looking back at the museum

Best Museum: louvre, didn't go to one in London

Best place to shop: Lafayette/ the stores on the champs élysées; harrods

Best kept secret: can't think of any...

If we are to choose a third location, where would you recommend: Edinburgh

Best piece of advice/what you wish you would have known: the cab system in London is amazing -- and cheaper (we were a party of four) than the tube when you factor in such things as evening rates

Anonymous said...

You should visit Scotland! The country has a great culture different from England and you can take a train from London! Edinburgh is a great city to consider. When I stayed a few years ago I was about 15 minutes outside of the city and stayed in a castle renovated into a hotel.

hollygolightly said...

Favorite Hotel (or Air BnB): For Paris, the W Hotel or the Pullman Hotels. For London, the Apex Hotel at Tower Bridge or the Renaissance at St Pancras Station.

Favorite restaurant: (London) Quaglinos, Vappianos, the Yo Sushi at Selfridges (Paris) Any street side Brasserie with red and white awning-mussels and french fries-yum!

Favorite cafe: (In Paris) The cafes in Monmartre next to hundreds of artists or make a trip to Laduree for macaroons, (London) The Godiva Chocolate Cafe in Harrods is rather good.

Best place to sip champagne:The Champagne Bar at St Pancras train station (would highly recommend getting the train between London and Paris)

Best bar/pub/nightclub: The bar up the Shard is fantastic and has stunning views of London

Best place for high tea: In London, the Dorchester or Claridges for its 1920s art deco setting. Both great for people spotting.

Must see tourist attraction: Bit of a cliche, but the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Tower of London in London.
Things to skip over: The Louvre (thats my own opinion!). In London, avoid Oxford Street at the weekends-its horridly busy.

Best place for a picnic: The Tulleries Gardens, Paris. In London, Green Park is beautiful.

Best place to get the best photo/best view: The London Eye (big ferris wheel), The Shard. In Paris, the riverboat tour give great views of all the sights.

Best Museum: The V&A, London. In Paris, Musee de l'Orangerie (you can see Monet's waterlilies paintings which are incredible as he painted some of them with poor vision)

Best place to shop: (this British girl is an extremely enthusiastic shopping devotee). In London, Old Bond Street is good for the expensive stuff. The King's Road is my favourite place to shop. Sloan Square has cute stores and a large Zara, any of the large department stores in London (John Lewis, Selfridges). In Paris, the Galleries Lafayette and Printemps are great department stores. We also explored

Best kept secret: Get an oyster card for the London tube so you can swipe in and out quickly. In Paris, you can buy a Carnet de billets (a book of 10 individual tickets for the Paris Metro). See if you can catch a performance at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. I agree with the person who posted above: Waitrose is an amazing "Whole Foods" type grocery store-definitely worth a stop in.

If we are to choose a third location, where would you recommend: It would depend on the time of year, but Nice and Monaco are stunning in the summer. I would also recommend Amsterdam, Prague or Vienna.

Best piece of advice/what you wish you would have known:

Anonymous said...

I don't have answers for all of them, but here are my recommendations!


Favorite Hotel (or Air BnB):Number Sixteen (London), I did a homestay in Paris but I know people who rented an apartment near the Eiffel Tower and LOVED it.

Must see tourist attraction: London Eye! If you can do a day trip, go out to Bath- a very cute town and the baths were really interesting. As for Paris, Sacre Couer/Montmarte. Also, on your first day in Paris, a Bateau Mouche is always nice to do in the evening (they take you down the Seine and talk about different tourist sights...etc. A good history lesson for sure, and fun for a first night!)

Things to skip over: Climbing the Eiffel tower- lines are long, its expensive, and the view isn't that great (mainly because you can't see the Eiffel tower when youre on it!).


Best place to get the best photo/best view: The best view of Paris is by far the top of the arche de triomphe.

Best Museum:If you like science/odd things, I loved the Wellcome collection in London. The Churchill War Rooms was cool as well! In Paris, the Rodin museum!

Best place to shop: Harrods in London! In Paris I really loved small boutiques and little shops better than the big stores! If you want to buy something VERY French, go to Goyard (they;re pricey, but so worth it).

Best kept secret: hmmm....I can't think of any!

If we are to choose a third location, where would you recommend: Brittany/Normandy. I went on a bike trip there and seeing all of the D-Day sights was so moving! It's also a nice to have a little break from the big cities!

Best piece of advice/what you wish you would have known: Spend a day wandering! Wake up early, walk around and explore. Have a "plans free" day. You might stumble upon something incredible!

Evy Weihs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Evy Weihs said...

I got so excited when I read this post this morning. I am studying abroad in the South of France (Aix-en-Provence) next spring. I have looked back though your older posts to look for advice on packing, outfits, and travel. I can't wait to read your future posts about your trip! It is so relatable and helpful for me!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sydney! I'm Madeleine, a longtime reader. I spent the past 9 months studying abroad in Paris. I couldn't love the city any more :)

Favorite Hotel (or Air BnB): Air BnB is the way to go in Paris. You get a lot more for your money and typically great service/recommendations from the property managers. Put some time into neighborhoods and you won't disappointed. Saint-Germain-des-Prés is my favorite area.

Favorite restaurant: my favorite typically French restaurant is Bistrot des Campagnes on a small street in Montparnasse. Very accommodating and friendly.

Favorite cafe: anywhere there is good people watching! Les Deux Magots is a prime spot.

Best place to sip champagne: sadly champagne wasn't part of my student budget in Paris :(

Best bar/pub/nightclub: Chez Georges is a fun neighborhood wine bar. Le Comptoir Général for more of a nightlife vibe.

Best place for high tea: Carette, Place des Vosges

Must see tourist attraction: enjoying a bottle of wine or champagne at Champs de Mars and watching the Eiffel Tower light up.
Things to skip over: going up the Eiffel Tower. If you want similar views opt for going up the Arc de Triomphe.

Best place for a picnic: daytime, Luxembourg or Marie Antoinette's Hamlet at Versailles. Nighttime, Champs de Mars.

Best place to get the best photo/best view: the terrace at either Printemps or Galleries Lafayette department store near the Opera.

Best Museum: Musée d'Orsay

Best place to shop: boutiques in the Marais or Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Best kept secret: Musée Marmitton, a Monet museum in an old mansion that began with Monet's son's personal collection.

If we are to choose a third location, where would you recommend: Nice! The South of France can't be beat. Nice is a beautiful town and is a great location for day trips to Monte Carlo and other smaller towns. Tip: even in the off-season the local transportation system is an easy and inexpensive way to get around. A trip from Nice to Monte Carlo was ~2€ and the most scenic bus ride you will ever take.

Best piece of advice/what you wish you would have known: My one Paris regret is not getting to dine at Septime. I've heard nothing but great things. I believe you have to book ~3 months in advance.

Anonymous said...

Haven't been to these places myself, but here's recommendations from my favorite travel blogger in the entire world. Emi is awesome, check her blog out:

http://welltraveledwife.com/2013/01/guide-to-london.html
http://welltraveledwife.com/2013/03/guide-to-paris.html
http://welltraveledwife.com/2013/04/guide-to-amsterdam.html

Hayden said...

Paris:

Favorite restaurant:
Berthillon -- It is a MUST.

Favorite cafe:
Any cafe along the Place des Vosges

Best place for high tea:
Angelina -- it's where Coco Chanel hung out & they have amazing hot chocolate, pastries, coffee, and tea.

Must see tourist attraction:
Versailles -- Specifically the Grand Trianon & the Petite Trianon
The Little Island -- Shopping is amazing, and the food is excellent!

Things to skip over:
Going inside Notre Dame
Spending more than 2-3 hours in the Louvre

Best place for a picnic:
Along the Seine {anywhere}

Best place to get the best photo/best view:
Atop the Arc de Triomphe at Sunset

Best Museum:
Musee d'Orsay

Best place to shop:
Printemps -- AMAZING shopping.

Best kept secret:
Sainte Chapelle -- My absolute favorite thing to visit in Paris. It is gorgeous.

If we are to choose a third location, where would you recommend:
Vienna, Austria -- It is seriously amazing, I wasn't expecting to love it but I did!

Best piece of advice/what you wish you would have known:
Don't be intimidated if you do not speak French, you can still do everything.

Hayden // HauteTable

Miss Robinson said...

Favorite Hotel (or Air BnB): N/A... go for a decent hotel but you should be exploring most of the time!

Best place to sip champagne:
-Paris: At the top of the Eiffel Tower! You can make a reservation to go to the top and that will save you some time!

Must see tourist attraction:
-London: I liked seeing Big Ben... but just kind of a stop through thing... I LOVED going to the markets.. definitely neat.
-Paris: Obvi Eiffel Tower but L'Arc de Triomphe was my favorite, and the Champs D'Elysees is fun in general

Things to skip over: I've heard in London the thing to skip is the Eye... nice view but it takes a long time

Best Museum: Louvre was my favorite in Paris but if you are looking to see a lot of classic Claude Monet lily pads I would recommend going to the museum by the Tuilerie gardens.. Musée de l'Orangerie

Best place to shop: Well this just can't be summed up in one comment. But I would suggest hitting up an Oysho while in France, they have cute lingerie/workout/comfy clothes that are reasonably priced and cuter/better quality and than VS... not necessarily high fashion but it's nice to have more options than we have in the US

If we are to choose a third location, where would you recommend:
I loved Prague when I went there, super touristy but a beautiful city and very interesting history/culture.... However, I would highly highly recommend Berlin. I thought I was more of the typical "warm" and typically beautiful Europe type of girl but this city in Germany captured my heart. Beautiful, a lot going on, great museums, and they have one of my favorite stores COS. It is owned by H&M but much more high end and I have been satisfied with everything I have bought there (they may have COS in France and maybe even London... have only been to ones in Germany). A little more mod than Club Monaco but kind of the same vibe.

Best piece of advice/what you wish you would have known: Bring good walking shoes.... I am super stubborn and still tried to wear shoes that were not the most practical because I thought I could tough it out... but my blisters from my sandals proved me wrong... Also if you are going in spring be sure to bring your umbrella and change of clothes!

Hayden said...

Paris:

Favorite restaurant:
Berthillon -- It is a MUST.

Favorite cafe:
Any cafe along the Place des Vosges

Best place for high tea:
Angelina -- it's where Coco Chanel hung out & they have amazing hot chocolate, pastries, coffee, and tea.

Must see tourist attraction:
Versailles -- Specifically the Grand Trianon & the Petite Trianon
The Little Island -- Shopping is amazing, and the food is excellent!

Things to skip over:
Going inside Notre Dame
Spending more than 2-3 hours in the Louvre

Best place for a picnic:
Along the Seine {anywhere}

Best place to get the best photo/best view:
Atop the Arc de Triomphe at Sunset

Best Museum:
Musee d'Orsay

Best place to shop:
Printemps -- AMAZING shopping.

Best kept secret:
Sainte Chapelle -- My absolute favorite thing to visit in Paris. It is gorgeous.

If we are to choose a third location, where would you recommend:
Vienna, Austria -- It is seriously amazing, I wasn't expecting to love it but I did!

Best piece of advice/what you wish you would have known:
Don't be intimidated if you do not speak French, you can still do everything.

Hayden // HauteTable

Anonymous said...

Favorite Hotel (or Air BnB): Air BnB. If you're near the Northern Line, that's ideal.

Favorite restaurant: You can't go to London without going to Nando's. #CheekyNandos

Favorite cafe: Get a pot of tea and an almond raspberry bake from Costa. Make sure you go to a Pret, even if you've been to one in the US. Pretty standard, but enjoyable.

Best bar/pub/nightclub: Ye' Olde Cheshire Cheese for the atmosphere (it's older than our country). The Knight's Templer by Weatherspoon's on Chancery Lane, again for atmosphere and cheap eats. The Lyceum Tavern on the Strand.

Best place for high tea: Fortnum and Mason or for a bit of a French flair Lauderee in Harrod's

Must see tourist attraction: It would be a pity if you visited London and didn't check out the Churchill War Rooms.

Things to skip over: London Eye. It's quite expensive and St. Paul's has a really good view too.

Best place for a picnic: Primrose Hill

Best place to get the best photo/best view: Climb to the top of St. Paul's.

Best Museum: Often overlooked, but the Museum of London is quite cool.

Best place to shop: Oasis, Warehouse, John Lewis, Liberty, Boots

Best kept secret: Go to Fishcotheque for fish and chips. It isn't tourists, albeit a bit cheesy. Near Waterloo Station. The closest to "proper" fish and chips that I've had in London; however, the Anchor pub on the Southbank is quite good too (chips aren't so great, but the scenery compensates). Take a River Bus to Greenwich and the DLR back to Central London. Check out all the prepared food in Marks and Spencer, it's pretty neat and tasty.

Best piece of advice/what you wish you would have known: Book a mini-cab to pick you up at LHR to take you to your accommodation. No one wants to take the Tube after a long flight. Addison Cabs is quite reliable.

Hallie said...

Favorite Hotel (or Air BnB): In Paris, I totally recommend staying at an Airbnb or VRBO. Make sure it is close to a metro stop/in a central location. We stayed a few streets over from the Champs-Elysses (literally steps from the Arc de Triomphe), and it was fantastic. We had a two floor apartment with a kitchen, and you could see the Eiffel Tower from the window! The 8th Arrondisement is the best.

Favorite restaurant: L'avenue (king crab salad is a MUST!). There was really no bad food in all of Paris though.

Favorite cafe: Café de Flore. perfect for people watching.

Best place for high tea: Angelina! amazing hot chocolate.

Must see tourist attraction: Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Mussé d'Orsay, The Louvre, The Seine, Top of Notre Dame, Versailles, L'Opera Garnier. For the Eiffel Tower and Versailles, I totally recommend booking a private tour. For Eiffel, ours was around $100, but saved us probably 4-5 hours of waiting in line. Going up at night is really cool. Versailles was more expensive (I think 200-300 depending on what you do), but it was 1000000% worth it. You get to skip all the lines (praise- usually 3-4 hours).

Things to skip over: Galeris Lafayette/Printemps- like a French Barney's/Neimans. They are super crowded and have a lot of the same things we have here. Would much rather go to actual stores. Sacre Coeur at Montmatre was also skippable, but in a cool neighborhood. AVOID CHAMPS-ELYSEES!!! so touristy.

Best place for a picnic: the Seine

Best place to get the best photo/best view: Top of Notre Dame- so worth the wait to see the cool gargoyles.

Best Museum: Musée d'Orsay.

Best place to shop: the Marais district. Maje, Sandro, ba&sh, comptoir des cottoneirs (not spelled right at all), acqua di parma for perfume. I asked girls in the stores where they shopped and they had great suggestions. Colette is cool but kind of weird- go for the smaller knick knacks downstairs. Following your nose is the best thing to do. St-Ouen flea market is really cool on Sundays. Chanel/Hermes/Dior are my favorite high end because the stores are gorg. Eric Bompard makes the BEST cashmere. The street with the Eric Bompard boutique had other shopping too. It was higher end, but fun to poke around.

Best kept secret: Saint-Chapelle! amazing stained glass. Pierre Herme macaroons. Secret gardens in the Marais district. I'm forgetting what it's called but Paris's version of Target had great staples and cheaper. The Tuleries has a fair in the summer that has the cutest hot pink swings!

If we are to choose a third location, where would you recommend: St. Tropez, Nice, Aix en Provence, Santorini.

Best piece of advice/what you wish you would have known: Everyone dresses up. Bring dark colors and comfortable but cute shoes. I wore my converse a lot and my Nike blazers. Buy the book "Parisian Chic" by Ines de la Fressange. It is a lifesaver. I also under packed once thinking I would buy clothes there, and I spent all of my money on accessories. Just dress really chic. Try to speak as much french as you can. Take the metro and avoid taxis for the most part. Lunches are extremely long. The best days we had were the days we just followed our noses and walked around. It is a beautiful city. Also check out pinterest and other bloggers who have been and blogged about it (off the top of my head I remember galmeetsglam, damsel in dior, and prep in your step.)

I haven't been to London in forever but notting hill, the parent trap house, the eye, and Harrod's are always super cool.
Have SO much fun!!!!

Emily said...

London
Favorite Hotel (or Air BnB): Splurge - Corinthia Hotel Save - Portobello Hotel in Notting Hill.


Favorite restaurant: Power lunch at The Wolseley; Thai at The Churchill Arms; Brunch at Electric Diner; Pizza at Pizza East; Sunday Roast at Pig's Ear; Oysters & champs at J Sheekey.


Favorite cafe: Healthy lunch at Daylesford Organics - does that count as a café?


Best place to sip champagne: Dukes Bar!!



Best bar/pub/nightclub: Churchill Arms, The Windsor Castle, & Angelsea Arms; Chiltern Firehouse if you can get in.


Best place for high tea: I went to Fortnum & Mason - it was ok. I've heard great things about The Orangery Room (Kensington Palace) and The Dorchester.


Must see tourist attraction: I'd recommend a tour on a double-decker or the Fat Tire Bike Tours. You can see the whole city in 3 or 4 hours.


Things to skip over: Regent & Oxford streets (shopping) is always packed with tourists. The same with Trafalgar Sq!


Best place for a picnic: Green Park or St James Park



Best place to get the best photo/best view: Big Ben & Parliament.



Best Museum: V&A Museum & Natural History Museum - next to each other.


Best place to shop: Harrods (be prepared for LARGE crowds); Sloane Square & Kings Road.


Best kept secret: Skip the taxi's and get an oyster card for the subway/metro.


Best piece of advice/what you wish you would have known: I would definitely buy the oyster card. I'd get to museums right at 10am when they open to miss the crowds. Pubs close early (9pm) so find a friend with a membership to a cool club (Lou lous/ Annebel's or Chiltern).

Emma Brace said...

Hi Sydney! I was just in Paris in March and have a few Paris recommendations!

Favorite Hotel (or Air BnB): Hotel de Londres Eiffel (Website: http://www.hotel-paris-londres-eiffel.com/en/) The hotel was beautiful, the staff are amazing, and its location near the Eiffel Tower as well as walking distance to so many other sights (or with 2 nearby metro stops if you prefer) makes it absolutely unbeatable!!!

Best place to sip champagne: the top of the Eiffel Tower. Seriously, take the ride to the top and buy rose at the champagne bar at the summit - you will not regret it!

Best Museum: Musee D'Orsay! Make sure to go to the impressionist galleries on the top floor.

Ellen Stanovich said...

Favorite Hotel (or Air BnB): Hotel de la Porte Doree (It is a cute little boutique hotel in the 12th arrondissement of Paris. It is owned by a couple where either the wife is American and the husband is French or vice versa)

Favorite restaurant: In Paris, either Chez ma Belle Mere (right down the street from the hotel above) or Pirouette.

Favorite cafe: Le Morny's Cafe in Deauville (They have the best Croque-Madame)

Best place for high tea: This may not be high tea, but l'Institut de Monde Arab, which is the Arab World Insitute, has a tea room on the terrace. After tea or a quick snack you can go out on the terrace and see some of the best views of Paris.

Must see tourist attraction: The Marie Antoinette Gardens at The Palace of Versailles, The Tuileries, Bateaux-Mouche boat ride, and Montmartre.
Things to skip over: The Palace of Versailles (It was a very neat place, but the crowds were unreal and definitely not worth it)

Best place for a picnic: I don't think you can bring in food for a picnic, but Marie Antoinette's gardens are a nice place to sit and relax with a picnic blanket and a book. There is also an adorable little lake/pond in the 12th arrondissement of Paris that many people go to for picnics.

Best place to get the best photo/best view: The terrace at l'Institut de Monde Arab

Best Museum: The Musee d'Orsay (beautiful views from the clock)

Best place to shop: Rue de Rivoli (Many people probably think the Champs de Lysee, but Rue de Rivoli has great shopping too) and the green stands that line the Seine river (perfect for art prints and little French trinkets)

Best kept secret: There is a linear walking trail/park that runs through Paris called Promenade Plantee. It starts in the 12th arrondissement and takes you straight into the city center. It's like 2 miles long or more, but it used to be an old railway. The tunnels and lights are still in tact, but now it is a walking trail lined with greenery and flowers. Also, when I went to Paris, we had a private food tour with a very popular French food blogger by the name of Clotilde. Her blog is called "Chocolate and Zucchini". She gives food tours in the Montmartre area where she lives. It lasts a few hours, but was one of the best experiences of the trip as we got to sample many different kinds of cheese, bread, and deserts.

If we are to choose a third location, where would you recommend: I would recommend going to Deauville which is in the Normandy area. It is about a 3-4 hour train ride from Paris and a few hours ferry ride from the southernmost tip of England. It is a cute little port town that is kind of like The Hamptons of France as it is where manyl of the Parisians have summer homes. It is pretty low-key, but it has great shopping and beaches. It is also home of the annual Deauville American Film Festival. There are many day trips that can be taken from there like to the beaches of Normandy or the cute port town of Honfleur.

Best piece of advice/what you wish you would have known: Some advice for traveling to France...

Paris has a lot of sandy walkways. I would advise you to wear shoes that will not show sand. I walked around the Tuileries one day and my simple black flats were covered in white sand by the end of the day.

In France, there is like zero humidity so temperatures can range from warm to pretty cool. I went in the spring and the weather was pretty consistently cool. I would advise you to always carry around a light jacket and a scarf.

Finally, If you are not fluent in French, do not be afraid to use what french language you know. In restaurants, they will not get annoyed with you for taking a long time to order in French. The waiters just really like for you to make an effort to speak their language. They would rather you take longer speaking French than order quickly in English, even though they most likely speak both languages.

France is such a magical place. You really do not realize how wonderful it is until it is almost time to leave!

Ellen Stanovich said...

Favorite Hotel (or Air BnB): Hotel de la Porte Doree (It is a cute little boutique hotel in the 12th arrondissement of Paris. It is owned by a couple where either the wife is American and the husband is French or vice versa)

Favorite restaurant: In Paris, either Chez ma Belle Mere (right down the street from the hotel above) or Pirouette.

Favorite cafe: Le Morny's Cafe in Deauville (They have the best Croque-Madame)

Best place for high tea: This may not be high tea, but l'Institut de Monde Arab, which is the Arab World Insitute, has a tea room on the terrace. After tea or a quick snack you can go out on the terrace and see some of the best views of Paris.

Must see tourist attraction: The Marie Antoinette Gardens at The Palace of Versailles, The Tuileries, Bateaux-Mouche boat ride, and Montmartre.
Things to skip over: The Palace of Versailles (It was a very neat place, but the crowds were unreal and definitely not worth it)

Best place for a picnic: I don't think you can bring in food for a picnic, but Marie Antoinette's gardens are a nice place to sit and relax with a picnic blanket and a book. There is also an adorable little lake/pond in the 12th arrondissement of Paris that many people go to for picnics.

Best place to get the best photo/best view: The terrace at l'Institut de Monde Arab

Best Museum: The Musee d'Orsay (beautiful views from the clock)

Best place to shop: Rue de Rivoli (Many people probably think the Champs de Lysee, but Rue de Rivoli has great shopping too) and the green stands that line the Seine river (perfect for art prints and little French trinkets)

Best kept secret: There is a linear walking trail/park that runs through Paris called Promenade Plantee. It starts in the 12th arrondissement and takes you straight into the city center. It's like 2 miles long or more, but it used to be an old railway. The tunnels and lights are still in tact, but now it is a walking trail lined with greenery and flowers. Also, when I went to Paris, we had a private food tour with a very popular French food blogger by the name of Clotilde. Her blog is called "Chocolate and Zucchini". She gives food tours in the Montmartre area where she lives. It lasts a few hours, but was one of the best experiences of the trip as we got to sample many different kinds of cheese, bread, and deserts.

If we are to choose a third location, where would you recommend: I would recommend going to Deauville which is in the Normandy area. It is about a 3-4 hour train ride from Paris and a few hours ferry ride from the southernmost tip of England. It is a cute little port town that is kind of like The Hamptons of France as it is where manyl of the Parisians have summer homes. It is pretty low-key, but it has great shopping and beaches. It is also home of the annual Deauville American Film Festival. There are many day trips that can be taken from there like to the beaches of Normandy or the cute port town of Honfleur.

Best piece of advice/what you wish you would have known: Some advice for traveling to France...

Paris has a lot of sandy walkways. I would advise you to wear shoes that will not show sand. I walked around the Tuileries one day and my simple black flats were covered in white sand by the end of the day.

In France, there is like zero humidity so temperatures can range from warm to pretty cool. I went in the spring and the weather was pretty consistently cool. I would advise you to always carry around a light jacket and a scarf.

Finally, If you are not fluent in French, do not be afraid to use what french language you know. In restaurants, they will not get annoyed with you for taking a long time to order in French. The waiters just really like for you to make an effort to speak their language. They would rather you take longer speaking French than order quickly in English, even though they most likely speak both languages.

France is such a magical place. You really do not realize how wonderful it is until it is almost time to leave!

Anonymous said...

(These answers are all for Paris because I have not been to London!)

Favorite Hotel (or Air BnB): I went to Paris last April and stayed in the Best Western Hotel Villa Des Artistes in the 6th arrondissement- it was extremely accessible to all locations in Paris and right near the metro. Also the staff was very helpful! I have also heard good things about the Pullman Paris Hotel.

Favorite restaurant: So many good restaurants in Paris I can't just choose one!

Favorite cafe: Definitely Laduree on the Champs-Élysées.

Best place to sip champagne: Probably on the Champ de Mars (the lawn of the Eiffel Tower).

Best bar/pub/nightclub: N/A

Best place for high tea: Laduree

Must see tourist attraction: Eiffel Tower of course, Arc de Triomphe (go to the top of it also!!), Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Palace of Versailles, Louvre.

Things to skip over: Possibly the Louvre? I didn't actually go inside the Louvre when I went to Paris but since you are older than I am you might enjoy it but it does take a lot of time!

Best place for a picnic: Champ de Mars.

Best place to get the best photo/best view: The view from the top of the Arc de Triomphe is amazing- you can get great photos of the Eiffel Tower and all of Paris. I would recommend going to the top of the Eiffel Tower as well- you can see the shadow of the tower and some people think it's pointless because you can't actually see the tower but it's still a great view of Paris and just one of the things that everyone needs to do when in Paris.

Best Museum: Probably the Louvre.

Best place to shop: Champs-Élysées.

Best kept secret: This might be weird but the Starbucks in Versailles is the best Starbucks I have ever been to. Definitely stop there if you decide to visit the Palace.

If we are to choose a third location, where would you recommend: My family and I actually took a day trip to the medieval city of Bruges in Belgium. Belgium is bordering France so you could maybe go somewhere there. Another great country is Ireland- it really does not get enough credit for how beautiful it is.

Best piece of advice/what you wish you would have known: Take the metro in Paris- it saves a ton of money and you can buy a book of tickets. It is definitely a very efficient way to get around the city instead of taking a taxi!

Enjoy your trip! :)

Anonymous said...

London:

best indian food: Dashoom - Covent Garden

best place to shop - bond street (smythson is a must); kensington, harrods

picnic: hyde park or st. james park





LeBarron said...

If you're looking for something different, I LOVED the Imperial War Museum in London, especially if you like history. The London Museum was also great. The British Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) are your more traditional options and obviously are must-see.

I did a summer study abroad program in London and we stayed at a hotel that included breakfast. Then we would typically eat fairly cheaply for lunch (ie student union, a quaint little cafe or grabbing a sandwich and having a picnic in a park or on the Thames), leaving us a bigger budget for dinner/going out. It worked really well for us, so it's always a tip I give to people heading to London. We stayed at the Mentone Hotel, just a couple blocks from the Russell Square tube station. On another trip, I stayed at the London Marriott County Hall which is very conveniently located on the South Bank of the Thames right next to Westminster Bridge. Very close to Parliament/Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, St. James Park and the London Eye. Not too far from Buckingham Palace and the Mall either. I've also stayed in an apartment-style place in Islington (near Angel tube station and not too far from King's Cross). It was nice having a full kitchen (and free wifi), but that would probably work better for a longer trip.

Haven't been to Paris yet, so I got nothing there.

As for a third location Prague and Amsterdam are great choices. You'd be happy with either one. Prague would give you a taste of Eastern Europe. It's also incredibly beautiful. If you're going in spring, I'd check and see if when you're going lines up with when the tulips will be in bloom in Holland. If it does, I'd go to Amsterdam. Not to make it a harder decision, but I'd also consider Munich, Germany (with maybe a quick trip to Schloss Neuschwanstein, which was the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland).

If you want to stay closer to the UK/France, I second the suggestion of Bruges in Belgium. It's an adorable, quaint little town packed with charm. There's also a Colin Ferrell movie that takes place there (appropriately called "In Bruges"). It's a little dark, but it really shows off the town.

Have fun planning! Europe is wonderful and there are many great places, so don't worry you won't pick the right one. There are no wrong ones. :) And you can always go back!

LeBarron said...

Forgot to mention one of my favorite random (to us at the time) finds in London - Vinopolis, which is a wine museum in Bankside, Southwark, (on the south side of the River Thames) close to London Bridge, Tate Modern and the Globe Theater (it's a replica not the original - I wouldn't really recommend it). Obviously, it involves wine tasting. :)

www.vinopolis.co.uk

Also, now that I think about it, Aspiring Kennedy would be a great resource for your trip. She's an American expat living in London and travels frequently around the UK and Europe. She basically has my dream job.

www.aspiringkennedy.com

Enjoy!

Emily said...

As someone who works in museums - I absolutely have to recommend the Sir John Soanes museum in London. It's in Lincoln's Inn Fields (very close to the British Museum) It consistently is rated extremely highly amongst visitors and within the museum profession. Tip - ask someone to unfold the walls in the see all the amazing Hogarth & the building itself! You can't go wrong at the V&A either.

Dukes is great for champagne / cocktails in London too!

Cambridge is a great day trip from London - lots to see, great architecture & punting along the river Cam (with champs) is a British staple. I live/work near Cambridge, if you'd like more specific recommendations, or any museum recommendations feel free to email me at emily.louise.allen31[at]gmail[dot]com

For Paris I would recommend the muse d'Orsay & avoid the cues to climb the Eiffel Tower, it takes forever to get up there & I personally think the views from the arc de triomphe are better. Don't stress too much about hotels, you'd be doing Paris a dis-service if you spent any more time in your room than the bare minimum!

Amsterdam is a great 3rd destination, its such a fun place & a very short (& cheap - use EasyJet!) flight from London. It's an easy city to navigate, fantastic museums - I recommend the Rijksmuseum & Anne Franks house, great shopping & a really vibrant & fun culture (and nowhere near as seedy as it's sometimes portrayed) It's a great weekend break, 3 or 4 days is enough to cover all the highlights. Plus there's amazing Indonesian food in Amsterdam!