Paris for the Weekend "A comprehensive budget travel guide with tips and advice"

Updated: Nov 23, 2021

November 2021


Friday 12th November 2021


Paris for a weekend, what could be more fabulous! We took the Eurostar from London, England to Paris, France. It is only a 2hr 17min ride. Due, keep in mind that currently there is only one Prep coffee in St. Pancras Eurostar area, the queue is long. One must endure the line for caffeine lol The train ride was very comfortable and there is tons of room for your luggage. TIP* Pick a seat facing the direction you are going.


Soon, you will arrive in central Paris. From this point, you can take the Paris Metro to your hotel. The metro is connected to the train station, just follow the signs. You can buy 10 ticket pack (€17 so each ticket is €1.70)


After, we checked into our hotel early. We freshen up and then began our trip. We stayed in the 6th Arrondissement. Hotel Mercure Paris Gare Montparnasse. I would recommend the 6th Arr but I liked the 3rd Arr better. The food options, the bars, and the overall vibe was better in 3rd Arr.


We decided to walk to The Louvre. Along, the way we stopped at Les Deux Magots and Cafe de Flore. Highly recommend these cafes, as they are very chic. A cappuccino is €8, but a cappuccino in a normal cafe is €5-6. So it's not too bad considering you sitting in one of the popular cafes in Paris.



We continued our walk to the world's most-visited museum. We pre-booked our Tickets for The Louvre. But we still had to queue to get in, approx. 25 mins. The ticket was €17. I would say you need at least 3 hours to see the main pieces. Don't miss Napoleon Apartments, Venus de Milo, Winged Victory of Samothrace, and of course Mona Lisa.


There was yet another queue to be able to stand directly in front of the Mona Lisa, so we opted to just view her from the sides. She was gorgeous and one of the most famous paintings in history. We were unable to see if was L in her eye or if her eyes truly followed you... There is a cute Mona Lisa gift shop right outside, the room. There is also an ice cream shop.


Outside of the museum, I did buy a little red beret for €4. I think it should be cute for some cheesy pictures :)


Next, we decided we wanted to have some wine and bread. We decided the Tuileries Garden across the road from the Louvre worked best. So we picked up some delicious bread and croissants from Boulangerie Eric Kayser. Then we went to Nicolas Saint Honore Rue Wine Store, picked up two bottles of red wine. We also bought plastic wine glasses for €3 and wine opener €4.95, as well. Then headed to the park, to watch the sunset and see a small portion of the Eiffel tower.


Once it was dark, we took a uber to Moulin Rough area. Got some great snapshots of the place. Then it was time for dinner, we decided on Bouillon Pigalle, which was the best-rated restaurant in this area. We spent 1.5 hours in the queue, it was a Friday but come on. Eventually, we got in, so we are quite excited as this place is so popular and had great reviews. We saw the menu and the prices very low.... that should have been a sign...The French onion soup was €4 and the mains were €10-€11. Sadly, the food was very basic, not much taste, the soup tasted like it was prepared with a packaged soup mix. The wine was horrible too, it tasted like it came from a big barrel that was exposured to air for days. Dinner was 2/10 :(


After this, we popped into Carrefour Supermarket, bought some cheese (Brie de meaux, double cream cheese, Roquefort blue cheese) the selection and prices are amazing in France. We also bought some more wine.


Saturday

Started the day off with a lovely cappuccino and bread at a little cafe near our hotel. Then headed towards the Notre Dame Cathedral. Along the way, we stopped at the Bouquinistes on the Seine River, these little green boxes sell old books, photographs, and posters. Great authentic souvenirs. They have been declared a UNESCO site as this tradition has existed for over 400 yrs.

Next, we stopped at the Notre Dame Cathedral. It is was beautiful. It's a remarkable structure considering how old it is, it was constructed in 1163, it is 858 years old. Because of the fire a few years ago, you still cannot go inside and there is a short fence around it as well to prevent people from going very close. After this, we went for lunch at Au Bougnat and it was delicious 10/10. We had Escargots, Duck, Pork and half a bottle of wine €68. Highly recommend!!


Walked for a little bit, found a bench in a beautiful park, and shared a bottle of wine (I packed the wine and glasses in my backpack) Did some people watching and watched some street performers. We then walked around Rue de Rivoli area, exploring the shops. Then we started our Macaroon tasting tour (self-guided haha) We wanted to have a baseline before going to the best place. We tried Macaroon at two places. Quite good. Macaroons are €2.10-€2.85 apiece. Pricy little guys! The last place was the winner Pierre Herme Paris, oh my goodness were these ever delicious. So many unique flavors, like passionfruit, coffee. True craftmanship!


Also,while you are in the 3rd Arr, check out the Marche des Enfants, a really cool food court. African, French, Asian food, and wine bars. It closes around 6 pm.

From here we walked to the area with 3 speakeasy bars. Speakeasy are hidden bars, designed in the 1920s for moonshiners looking for a fix during a time when alcohol was prohibited. We first went to Lavomatic. The cocktails range from €12-€14 each. Uggg there was a queue, once again. We wait for 10 mins, but the line was not moving and it was quite long. So we decided to skip this experience. But we did go to the front and watch people enter the bar, it was an average experience, you just opened the washing machine door and then walk through, just like a normal door. I don't think we missed much. If there is no queue, I would pop in.


After this, we went home and got some kebabs and rice at Restaurant La Paix near our hotel, which was delicious. €22.50. My partner went back to the room and I went to the supermarket to do some shopping. La Roche Posay is a french face care line, so I got a few of their products €11-€12. I also got some french mustards, butter de semi salt, french soap, cute french candy, wine to take home. The joys of traveling on Eurostar, no weight or baggage restrictions.


Sunday

Started the day, with another cappuccino. (Do note, the cafe culture in France, is very relaxed. There is no rush to give you the bill or pay. You should slow down and truly savor the moment. There is also a very relaxed position to smoking, all cafes allow smoking. Some have covered space for smoking.)


Then we strolled around our area, 6th Arr. There was a farmers market and some vendors selling various things. We then went to La Rotonde for lunch. Had two french onion soup, a bottle of wine, french fries, and Tartare de Boeuf. Everything was delicious!!! The meal was €78. The restaurant had a very vintage, old glamour feel. The entrance has a revolving door, the waiters are dressed to the nines, the walls and the seats are covered in red velvet. It was a lovely experience.


Then we hopped over to the flagship store of Laduree on Champs Elysees. The building from the outside is very ornate. The inside is also very unique, the style represents the French Art de Vivre. There is a restaurant and cafe at this location as well. Once again we queued, this time for the Macaroons, so I can endure this. We picked 6 Macroons €18.00, they come in a cute little box, you do have to pay for this box €3.50. But It is a lovely souvenir. You can also see the Arc De Triomphe from this street. (The oldest location is Laduree Paris Royal, created in 1862).


French Art de Vivre is the French art of living. You just have to know how to appreciate the best things in life. The luxury of food, wine, and time.


Next, we downloaded the Tier scooter app. As we had Eiffel tower tickets and did not want to be late. Electric scooters are quite popular in Paris. They are easy to use. 25 mins later we arrived, we did have to try three different scooter parking spots, as they were "all full" per the app. Do, factor this into your time. €6.94.


As you are riding by, you will pass the Flame of Liberty this marks the area where Princess Diana died with Dodi.

Of course one must see the Eiffel Tower when in Paris. The queue for the first bag check was quick (Be sure to download your Covid certificate onto the French app TousCovid) You are not allowed to bring glass into the Eiffel Tower area, so they threw out our wine :( People can actually enter the area around the base of the Eiffel tower for FREE. You can walk around the tower, take pictures, there are a few food trucks under the tower.


Next, we queued for the elevator to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. Here they threw out my lovely wine opener, as it could be used as a weapon :( The ride up was smooth and had some good views if you got a spot in the elevator by the windows. Viola, we are on the Eiffel Tower!!!! The views were amazing. I timed our ticket so we would be there 20 minutes before sunset. Elevator Tickets €17. If you climb approx. 700 stairs, the ticket for the second floor is only €10.50.


There are some high-quality telescopes on the viewing deck for €2. Bring some coins to use them.


We then went down to the Champs de Mars park in front of the Eiffel Tower. There were a few men selling bottles of wine and beer. So we had a drink and waited for the Eiffel Tower light show to begin. It is every hour for 5 mins. ie. 18:00-18:05 // 19:00-19:05.


Next, it was time for the photo shoot. There are a few good places to capture the best shots with the Eiffel tower. #1st- 228 Rue de I'Universite, #2nd- Trocadero Gardens #3rd- Debilly Footbridge, #4th- Monument a Luis de Camoes. Sadly we only had time for the 1st spot. If pictures are important, schedule out 1-2 hours so you can walk around to all of the good spots. You can also hire a professional photographer on Airbnb experiences for 1-2 hours for approx. €60-€110. I would have loved to do this!!! Or you could do a causal Parisian streets photoshoot.


Lastly, our night ended with the famous show at Crazy Horse Cabaret. 'Totally Crazy' is 90 minutes of sophisticated, sensual dance, reflecting the vision to conjure up magic onstage. The show combines the elements of shadow play with lively tempos and exquisitely designed silhouettes. The show is extraordinary with a mix of allure, dancing singing, and lighting effects that enhance the girls whilst not being vulgar.


You sit in red velvet seats shaped as big red lips. The show was 1000/10. It was the best show I have seen. Our tickets were €107. We didn't add the 1/2 bottle champagne for €30 per ticket, as we had a hangover at the time of booking. Once we were there, we decided to buy a bottle which was €85, just a bit more than when you buy it with your ticket. It is an option if you change your mind during the show and would a drink. The champagne is not great but it is, what it is.


We were debating between the top four cabarets in Paris: Moulin Rouge, Le Lido and Paradis Latin. We ruled out Moulin Rouge, Le Lido as they are more a Vegas showgirl and their venues are massive, 850 seats/1150 seats. Moulin Rouge was the most expensive as well, €160 per ticket. Paradis Latin was sold out.


We picked Crazy Horse as the venue is smaller, so you are guaranteed a better-more intimate seat to watch the show, as they only have 350 seats. Also, they pre-assign your seat number. Moulin Rouge has a first-come, first choice. That means you need to arrive at least 60mins before. Vs. Crazy Horse you can arrive 15 mins before. Seating Tip: Try to see if you can get a middle seat, we were on the side, which was okay, but the middle seating is ideal.





When leaving the Crazy Horse show, take the 4-minute walk over to the Pont de I'Alma bridge. The view of the Eiffel Tower and the seine river is breathtaking. I took my best photograph here.







Monday

Sadly our last morning in Paris. We were able to extend our hotel checkout from 12 pm to 1 pm. So we could just keep our bags in the room. But mainly, so we could keep our cheese in the bar fridge hehe


We didn't have much time today but we made sure to have our last cappuccino and croissant cafe experience. Then strolled around. I did some shopping: cute Eiffel Tower keychain €4, stocking/Nylons €8-€11, earrings, the same wine opener for a second time, and postcards.


We then took a uber to the train station :( The immigration queue at Eurostar moved quickly. We only arrived One hour before our train and had time to spare. We were really looking forward to the duty-free shop, but it was small and the liquor section was crappy and expensive. Do not count on this to buy your french wine. You can bring 18 Litres of wine in the UK duty-free.


There was only one food option in the waiting area. Paul's Boulangerie. Brought two sandwiches and coffee €19. Uggg the sandwiches and the coffee were horrible. It was our worst meal of the trip 0/10. The baguette sandwiches were dry and tasteless. TIP**Buy something to eat in the main terminal, I think you would have better luck there.


Things we did not get to do, but I would highly recommend:

  • Hire a private boat, you drive it, you can bring food and drinks. 3 hours €90 OR Charted boat ride €13 OR Romantic Lunch- Dinner cruise

  • Palais Garnier- Opera House Tour €14. Better yet go see an Opera show here. If you book ahead of time, there are cheap opera tickets for €20-€25

  • Food Market- Le Marche Couvert Beauvau

  • The Best Falafel in France- L'As du Fallafel

  • Sacre-Coeur Church and stroll around that area. The La Maison Rose ( This Pink building is here)

  • Fromages- I was a bit intimidated, as I felt didn't know cheese or french well enough to order. I heard there are minimal weights you need to buy etc. I have been told since some sell a small tasting platter- sampler.



  • Thrift shops- I think you could find some gems. Luxury vintage couture, antiques

  • Unique Airbnb experiences- making macaroons, cooking classes, food market tours

  • Practice the most common French phrases


Top French Foods to Try

French Food: Steak Frites, Escargots, French Onion soup, Fois Gras, Duck, Steak Tartare, Croque Monsieur, Fondue

French desserts: Macarons, Eclair, Crepe, Creme Brûlée

French random Items: Baguette, Croissant, Cheese, Olive oil chips, Wine


Traveling in Mid- November

I was quite worried about traveling at this time. But it was fine, the days were lovely. The changing colors of the tree leaves just enhanced the Parisian vibe. It did get dark around 5 pm and a little chilly, pack some little gloves and a hat.


Things to Note

  • Most stores and good restaurants are closed on Sundays. Factor this into your planning!!

  • Use City Mappers or Google maps to get around

  • Credit/Debit cards are accepted almost everywhere

  • Take out some cash for little purchases. Do not use the convertion option on the machine

  • Google the Paris Syndrome, it is quite a funny read

  • Uber Paris rents MOPEDS, but they say one person per moped, we did see two pp on them


Finances / Cost of the trip

Final calculation of 3.5 day trip to Paris (Friday-Saturday-Sunday- Monday 1/2 day)


Hotel 3 Nights €363

Eurostar Two Tickets Roundtrip- London to Paris €295

Tickets: Louve/ Eiffel Tower/ Crazy Horse €367

Shopping €145

Food & Wine & Ubers & Misc €515

Total €1,685 (£1,416)












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