MUST DO: PARIS
"Paris is always a good idea." - Audrey Hepburn - Michael Scott.
I was inspired to visit this city as I took a 23 & Me DNA test and found out that I am part french. (Asking for a DNA test for christmas was probably one of the most extra things I've ever done, I realize how ridiculous that is). HOWEVER, as someone who has always been obsessed with Parisian style and culture finding out I had some long lost familial peeps that lived there quite literally made my year. Even though I ended up being about 4% French... that tiny number was all I needed to justify How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are being one of my favorite books.
Shangri La Paris: This isn't a "must do" but we had a fantastic stay at the Shangri La in Paris. It was an absolutely stunning hotel, centrally located in the city and about a 10 minute walk to the city view of the Eiffel tower. The room we were in had an UNREAL view of the Eiffel Tower, which was especially cool to see at night when it lights up every hour on the house.
The Louvre: Next to the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre is one of the most popular tourist destination in all of Paris. Home to THEE Mona Lisa herself, the Louvre is a massive museum... they literally have pamphlets for sale titled " How to spend 5 days in the Louvre." Whether you're an art lover or not, you can't help to be in awe of the incredible collection spanning over the course of hundreds of centuries.
I highly recommend buying tickets in advanced as the walkup line, as most tourist spots in Europe, was beyond long. The Louvre also has airport type security, so if you're able to leave your bag at home do so- there's an express lane, woot woot.
Notre Dame: This is one of the most spiritual experiences I had during my Europe travels. Notre Dame is am absolutely stunning church, both the outside architecture and the interior. You wait in a small line and then are are able to roam about the church, free of charge. We were there during a mass, so it was a wonderful experience to walk around through the space, while having the Italian priest speak in the background. There are endless areas sectioned off to sit and pray, or light an offering candle. No lie, you cannot help but to feel centered and grateful walking out of this spectacular church.
Art Galleries: Paris is chalk full of endless art galleries, but one of my favorites is "Galerie Montmartre" as it features strictly contemporary & pop art type works. The Gallery is home to several Patrick Rubinstein pieces, famous for his signature kinetic, optical pop art. His pieces feature the familiar faces of John Lennon, Mona Lisa, Audrey Hepburn and...FRIDA KAHLO AKA BAE. Frida was front and center in the gallery when I walked in, and immediately freaked the fuck out. She was beyond beautiful. I tried to convince my parents to buy it for the sole purpose of me buying it off of them for a lesser price when I could afford it in 2035.
* TIP: Whether you would ever buy a piece or not, if you're genuinely interest in a body of work, ASK QUESTIONS. Enlist someone working in the gallery to tell you more about the piece, the artist and his or her process and his or her current projects etc. etc. Anytime I've done this I've either left with a book with the artist's whole collection (free of charge) or been brought to the gallery's storage room to see more pieces which is always beyond cool.
Eiffel Tower: Seeing the Eiffel Tower up close and personal is a must! In order to cut through all the lines and navigate the craziness, I recommend connecting with a local tour guide/ tour company as they have all the credentials to get you to the front of the line & in all the right checkpoints. If we weren't with a guide I think I would be walking in circles for a bit trying to figure out where to go. The guide was also fun to have as they are an endless source of information, not just about the Eiffel but the city of Paris. I was under the impression you have to climb the Eiffel Tower, I was like decked out in my running shoes with my emergency water bottle, but it's really just two series of elevators. I was upset for about .5 seconds and then just went with it. The elevators stop at two different levels : the middle and the top. To get an incredible 360 view of the city, you gotta go to the top. The Eiffel Tower also newly introduced zip-lining from the top level. I pointed it out to my family and they were like "are you joking, they are just repairing the tower blah blah." I naturally didn't let them live it down the rest of the trip that I was in fact CORRECT and zip-lining is now totally a thing- aka give it a go!
Champs Elysees: This is the most famous shopping destination in all of Paris. If you have plans for an afternoon of strictly shopping...look no further. This is the location in which my soul was lured into the Louis Vuitton store and I was force fed champagne until I agreed to purchase a bag ( my first designer purchase ever).. at least that's how I remember it going. This is also a neat spot to wander through as the Arch de Triumph is in easy view!
Moulin Rouge: This show was absolutely absurd, filled with topless women, 50 different plot lines, a woman who swims with snakes, the strongest 50 year old dude I've ever seen, and the most "extra" lead male character i've ever witnessed in my life. It depends on what your idea of fun is, but this show is iconic in Paris and wildly entertaining. There is an option to get a seated dinner before the show, but I wouldn't recommend it. We opted for the champagne and dessert option and the dessert was questionable so I had a feeling the dinner would have been as well.
Marchè aux Puces de Saint-Ouen: (Parisian Flee Market) Paris is famous for their antique and flee markets, the most well-known and biggest being the Marchè aux Puces de Saint-Ouen. There are rows and rows of endless stalls with everything for jewelry, to leather jackets, vintage bags, sheep skin couches, Parisian cafe chairs, home decor etc. You can literally find anything and everything here. Random side-note , the market in total must have had about 100,000 paris of Levi Jeans, Levi lovers rejoice! I got a neat Levi skirt that was a bunch of jean scraps sown together. I also LOVE interior design, seriously felt high walking around these stalls; I was on an absolutely frenzy in the antique section of the market. Almost all of the stalls ship internationally, so if you're looking for some unique Parisian pieces for your home or apartment this is defintely the spot.
French Open: The French open was my bitch slap in the face to remind me that research is so important before planning a trip. Totally failed to realize that the French Open was happening the same exact time we were in Paris. By the time we were able to search for tickets they cost more than my life, but if you're planning a summer trip & you're into sports it could be fun to look into tix.