It's officially August and as I read on a meme on Instagram somewhere just yesterday, "August is like the Sunday of the summer"-- that annoying feeling you have looming over your head where you just know a good thing is going to end soon. And with that came for me the great deep saddening feeling of finally accepting no longer being in the la-la land of vacation and France. For those who follow me on Instagram @iamfashionlaine, you saw my travels in full force where I took you with me on my daily adventures. With the months leading up to my big escapades in France, I had both a large feeling of excitement and nervousness on deck, wanting to make sure that I correctly handled seeing and doing any and everything that there was to possibly do there. As I can say that I feel like I only got a little taste of France (I mean, two weeks between Paris and the South of France are never enough... actually no amount of days in France are ever enough...), I can definitely say that I have learned a thing or two about what to do and what to see while there. Therefore today (upon surprisingly many overwhelming requests) I am sharing with you some of my must-have places that you definitely need to check out if you ever head to France.
When you think Paris, the first thing that pops into mind is the obvious-- the Eiffel Tower. Clearly making this a definite number one priority and must upon your visit (as it was mine), what I recommend is not just swinging by and taking a quick picture with Eiffel, but instead, making a morning or afternoon of it with a classic Parisian picnic at the park-- Champs de Mars. While I was there it was Bastille Day (France's national holiday) so it was double the magic, but it's always busy every day with people picnicing, so stop by your nearest little Parisian market and get some cheese, baguettes, and wine so that you can have the most scenic dining experience in front of one of the most iconic monuments.
And for a night (it can be separate from the day you go from your picnic), I highly recommend swinging back around to check out the Eiffel Tower when it's all lit up because that's just a site within itself.
When you think art, you probably instantly associate it with one of the most famous paintings around-- the Mona Lisa-- which is housed (in extra extra protection) at the Louvre in Paris. Now, as more of a pop culture fan personally who appreciates the popularity of art (I mean, who didn't grew up learning about the Mona Lisa in school?!) I felt like it was a necessity and must to pay my respects to Mona. Yet, for those like me who may not be all into museums and art, unless you're dying to see Mona, I would say the wait in line and walking through the super overheated museum isn't too worth it. YET, it is definitely worth walking to the Louvre to visit the courtyard because during the day and night, it's a beautiful sight to see (and obvi great photo opp). And if you are deciding between multiple museums as you might want to go to at least one in Paris, there's another in town called Musee d'Orsay to which I didn't have time to go to, but to which many had recommended as being even better than the Louvre.
And while you're at the courtyard of the Louvre you'll see from a distance a huge Ferris Wheel that will take you to a little pop up amusement park (that may only be there for the summer). If you're around while it's still going on though, I'd totally recommend following the path to the ferris wheel for some amazing nutella crepes alongside cute park rides that are so quaintly placed in the middle of the city.
**NOTE: If you do want to go to the Louvre, bypass the incredibly ridiculous long line outside and go INSIDE the shopping mall that is there as there's an astoundingly shorter line that gets you in all the same. It's totally a secret that not many people know about.
In the words of Christina Aguilera, Maya, Lil' Kim, Pink, and Nicole Kidman-- "Voulez vous coucher avec moi ce soir". And thus in the words of pop culture history that means, oh yeah, Moulin Rouge! How can you go to Paris and not check out the popularly acclaimed little building that has become such a musical hit after so many years? Moulin Rouge is located in the city of Montmartre which goes from really sweet and adorably cute to really... interesting just within a few blocks. Within Montmartre there are two places that are must to check out, one of them being Moulin Rouge because who doesn't want to see that iconic red ferris wheel? Yet really it can just be a stop by and go kinda of deal as if you can remember from the movie, you can imagine what kind of other shops and people are around. But once you've swung by to see that, I'd highly recommend heading over to the cuter part of town towards Place St Pierre where they have a little square of adorable restaurants and shops. And while there, you must climb the stairs to head to the church at the top of Place St Pierre where you'll catch a breathtaking one of a kind view of the whole city (highly recommended for a sunset setting).
While on the topics of churches, you must check out the popular Notre Dame. Making this a last minute stop on our journey, this doesn't really need to take up a lot of your time as you can just quickly pop in and out but is worth stepping inside.
LOVE LOCKS BRIDGE
You may have heard of this bridge that has just recently made headlines about a portion of it collapsing because it has too many locks (and love) on it. Such a beautiful sight and located along the Seine (close to the Notre Dame), this is definitely a view worth seeing and adding a lock to with your loved one (even though apparently the new thing is that you're only allowed to add ribbons).
**NOTE: I discovered there are two of these bridges, one a few blocks after another. But both filled with lots of love.
For those who have sweet tooths as big as mine, you know that you have to stop by the ever so popular Laduree. There are two of these shops with the main one being located on Champs-Elysees. For its ambiance and amazingly delish macarons, this is totally worth a quick sit down break from all your walking adventures and is well-worth the overpriced espresso and dessert.
PALACE OF VERSAILLES
If this wasn't the largest landmark in all of Paris, it sure at least felt like it! Actually recommending to do this on your first full day in France while you still have all of your sightseeing energy ready to go, the Versailles Palace really does take most of the day to do (as everyone forewarned me and I didn't believe). I'd highly recommend waking up early for this as the morning half of your day is going to be taken away with a 30-40 minute train ride along with two long lines you're going to have to stand in (one to buy your ticket and one to get inside the building). Yet once you're inside it's well worth it as the Palace is beautiful. But of course, my favorite part was the garden right afterwards which you can really spend all day getting lost in. There's cute little restaurants there as well as a little lake that you can rent a boat there for. This day can really be endless if you want it to be.
NOTE: If you're with a group of 4 people or more, I'd recommend splitting up when you arrive for tickets where two go to stand in the line to get the tickets for the group and the other two or so stand in the line to enter Versailles because it'll save you a bunch of entry time.
For those spending more than just a few days in Paris and have time to venture outside of the city, I'd highly recommend taking a day trip to the city of Giverny. You can rent bikes upon your arrival off the train and discover the cute little countryside that's the famous town to painter Claude Monet. You'll get to tour his home and garden which was the inspiration for many of his famous paintings. And while this little town is very quite and calm unlike the hustle and bustle of Paris, it's beauty and simplicity makes it what I think a precious gem in France.
There were so many restaurants recommended to me as places I have to go and try while in France, but as I quickly found out, as you're running around hopping from one attraction to another, you find that you don't really have the time to quite coordinate all those specific dinners you were looking to do, and instead, you go for what looks good and is closest in sight. Yet, there was one restaurant that numerous people had mentioned going to that my friends and I made the effort to make time for-- Le Relais de l'Entrecote in St Germain. Only with one main entree on their menu-- steak and fries, they are well-known for this out of the world steak sauce delicacy. But have no fear, for you vegetarians, they'll give a cheese plate instead which is what I had and while it may not have lived up to the steak my friends ate, I can say it was definitely a well accepted substitute. Plus the salad and desserts are out of this world.
20 Rue Saint-Benoît, Paris, France
**You can't make reservations ahead of time but the wait to get a table is fairly quick
For all of my fashion lovers, a clear and obvious sight to see (that I COMPLETELY forgot about) is obviously Miss Coco Chanel's apartment. Located on 31 Rue Cambon, I thankfully got to pay my homage to it as I was coincidentally in the neighborhood.
Practically equivocating to me as the Central Park of France (with an addition of flowers, pretty buildings, and tables on tables of cute older men playing checkers and chess), this was actually one of my favorite places to visit in Paris and a very short-lived one as we quickly walked through it after a long day of seeing so many other sights. If you have the time, I'd recommend sitting around and spending at least a hour or so here as it's really so beautiful and peaceful!
Purposely saving the best for last, if there's definitely one last place I would highly recommend for you to check out and visit while in Paris, it's the Marais neighborhood. Considered the hipster, upcoming and popular place to be, this is not only a great location for some of the best shopping, but it has a million cute little restaurants including this AMAZING place that I literally still dream of everyday called Miznon that just recently opened up. Having seriously the best pita sandwiches I've ever had (mine was the Cauliflower pita) and incredibly well-known for their side of baked Cauliflower, this food goes straight from the oven into your extremely happy stomach.
22 Rue des Ecouffes, Paris, France, 75004
**NOTE: Miznon is right across from an extremely popular shawarma and falafel place called L'as Du Fallafel that many travel to as well (but if you had to go to one, Miznon wins in my book 100%).
SOUTH OF FRANCE
For those traveling to South of France and looking for the best way to do it and see it all, I'd recommend finding a cute little place by the ocean in Cannes (I did Air BNB) and then traveling to all the other cities via train. Cannes is a small little place with not much to do or see but perfect for a very needed R&R under the sun and at the beach.
If you're looking to go out at night, there are two places that I would recommend going to-- Baoli and Gotha. Gotha is the main nightclub over there that just opened up when we had arrived (replacing the popular Palais) and Baoli is a really pretty outdoor restaurant that turns into a bar and nightclub as the night goes on.
Everyone told me that there was this little town in the South of France that I just HAD to stop by, and boy were they right. The train from Cannes took about 30-40 minutes but it was seriously so worth it. This little "village" was not as little as I thought it out to be. Taking a bus ride from the train station to what was the main and central hub of the town, this place that seemed so quite and peaceful was oozing with acres of beauty. Eze is the home to the popular Fragonard Perfurme factory as well as this stone built hotel that has little shops and restaurants through every alleyway and staircase. Such an adorable little town, it's SUCH a must to visit if you're in the South.
Getting over the beach in Cannes and wanting a switch up in locations, I'd recommend taking the metro over to the next beach town called Juan-les-Pines which is known for it's water activities where you can parachute, jet ski, and more.
If you're in the South, along with Monaco, I'd definitely recommend taking a trip to the highly talked about Saint Tropez. The most challenging to get to from our place in Cannes because it was the farthest in distance, while we had the option of taking a train or a boat, we decided to rent a car for our travels to make the traveling options the easiest for our return. If you're looking to go out to places during the day, I'd highly recommend the popular Nikki Beach which has a lineup of themed parties and events on their website. Next to them is a place called Bagatelle which for all you LA and NY'ers, you are very familiar with that as the same brunch party vibe as it's US locations.
For night, I'd recommended heading to the town for a nice dinner and where you'll get to see a view of all the beautiful yachts lined up against the water. If you're looking to go out at night over there, there's a club called VIP Room which is the must-go to.
Last but not least, there's a little island right off of Cannes (a 15 minute boat ride away) called Sainte Marguerite which is a cute little place to visit if you have the time. Not really a beach beach, it does have a gorgeous rock-cliff view and ocean that people were lying around and is a little island that you can fully walk and discover.
While already in the South of France, to me, Monaco is beyond a necessity to stop by to! Having a special place in my heart, I think it was actually my favorite stop of all. I only spent got to spend a few hours there to which I would really recommend spending at least a full day so that you can take in the whole city and sight without feeling rushed. We walked all the way up to visit the Prince's castle that had the prettiest view of Monaco and then walked all the way down and across the way to go check out the famous grand Casino. In the square of the Casino you'll find some shopping, restaurants, and their popular nightclubs like Jimmy's which everyone had recommended to me to check out. Such a cute little area for a super nice dinner.