A Mini-Guide to Paris
We had dinner with some friends of ours visiting from France the other day. It was so much fun see them again and try and work through those language barriers. The difference in language has never stopped us from having fun conversations before, and it's just as much of an adventure every time.
It's been a few years since I've been in France. I'm much more anglophile than francophile, but I would still like to see more of Paris, and France in general, in the future. My sister, who is currently living in Bolivia for the next 16 months, loves all things French and spent a month in France last year. She loves the people, country and food and I wish that I had her here so that I could ask for her opinion on what to do in Paris.
But, alas, it cannot be. So instead, here are three things to do and three places to eat if you'll be touching down in the city of lights anytime soon!
3 Things To Do & See
It's free to go inside the main cathedral and admire this epitome of Gothic architecture. Not too long ago Notre Dame was close to being torn down, and it was actually Victor Hugo's novel with this now iconic cathedral at the center that convinced many that it should stay. Let's all be grateful for influential authors, because Paris would be considerably less interesting without the beauty and history that Notre Dame brings.
It costs a little bit to climb the towers and see the famous gargoyles and chimera up close, but I think it's worth it. Not only is the view beautiful, but the whole experience of climbing ancient stairs so small that it's only single file up or down never gets old.
You've probably heard of Sainte Chapelle and its stained glass windows before, but I hadn't until someone recommended it to me. It's a royal chapel in that classic Gothic architecture and, as I mentioned, is famous for the stained-glass windows that surround it. If you go on a sunny day and catch the light shining through? It's gorgeous. Two thirds of the windows are still the originals, which is pretty incredible if you consider all that the glass has lived through.
Jardin Des Tuileries
I think that if you want to have a very quintessential Parisian experience, the gardens are a great place to go. Not only is the history great and the flowers beautiful, but it's surrounded by some of the most iconic monuments in the city.
The gardens as you see them today were designed in 1664 and are still maintained in the classic look. It's such a great area to just wander around and relax and makes for great pictures!
. . . and one place to eat.
Hot Chocolate at Cafe de Flore or Angelina
You may think Paris is all about the pastries, macarons, or crepes, but the city makes a killer hot chocolate. A Parisian chocolate chaud is a taste-bud experience not to be missed!
From everything I heard and what people told me, Angelina is the most famous and popular place for hot chocolate. Their specialty is chocolate chaud africain, which is basically the thickest and most decadent version of hot chocolate you can imagine. You will indubitably need a spoon to finish it off, like a beautiful chocolate soup. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Angeline also boasts being just steps away from the Louvre, making it especially convenient.
That being said, Cafe de Flore is where most Parisians would direct you for the best hot chocolate in the city. It's become extremely popular with tourists, but the cafe itself boasts a rich literary history. It used to be dominated by celebrities, but has become a lot less exclusive and more accessible. The waiters are also super friendly, which is something you don't always find in a lot of Paris cafes.
There's my little guide for you to enjoy! I'd be happy to answer questions, but as I said, I'm no Paris expert by far! If you've been, what would you recommend?