This post could also be called Paris, Day Two: The Longest Day Ever or Paris, Day Two: Don’t Try This At Home. We planned pretty full days for our trip but we ended up doing a lot more walking on this day than we originally thought we would. And it was exhausting! I read some travel forums before we left and everyone said not to do everything during your first visit because you’ll always go back. I wish we had listened. This was such a fun day and we saw a lot of the city but we completely wore ourselves out! The rest of the week was pretty rough. It was actually pretty funny looking at our pictures from the trip- as the days went on we looked more and more tired and our posture got worse and worse, like we were too exhausted to even stand up straight!
Other Paris posts: Day 1, Day 3, Day 4
We spent the first half of the day in Montmartre, a charming neighborhood in the 18th arrondissement that sits on top of a large hill and gives you a great view of the city. We started our day at Café des Deux Moulins (cafe of the two windmills), which is the cafe from Amélie. It was really fun to sit there and people watch as we drank our coffee, and the cafe looks just like it does in the movie!
Our plan was to wander the streets of Montmartre and hit up a few landmarks on the way. We ended up seeing quite a few fun little things on our short walk around the area. After coffee, we grabbed a rosemary baguette from a bakery and walked to Van Gogh’s house. It’s literally just a plaque on a wall but it was pretty cool to see where such a talented artist used to live and work.
And the baguette was pretty amazing.
Next we walked around the corner and passed the “two windmills” from the cafe- Moulin Radet and Moulin de Blute-Fin, the only two windmills left in Montmartre. It was kind of crazy seeing these two centuries-old windmills in the middle of the city.
Walking around Montmartre was really fun. The winding, cobblestone streets were pretty charming and we passed several gardens with plenty of freshly blooming flowers. It had more of a small village feel than the rest of Paris and almost felt like we had stepped back in time a bit. We passed through Place du Tertre, a bustling shopping area with street artists before arriving at the Sacré-Cœur Basilica.
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica sits on the very top of the hill in Montmartre and overlooks the entire city of Paris. It’s a beautiful building and it really makes an impression on you. It really stands out and we were able to recognize it from the tops of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.
We were able to tour the inside of the Sacré-Cœur pretty quickly. Once again, there weren’t a lot of tourists and the line to get in was only a couple of minutes long.
After checking out the view, we walked through a garden to the bottom of the hill.
Square Louise Michel sits below Sacré-Cœur. It’s a cute little park area that consists of gardens as well as shops and cafes. It was so nice seeing all of the greenery around Paris. It made the city feel so alive.
Montmartre is definitely an area to visit if you want to see the charming side of Paris. We saw quite a few landmarks and fun little areas and it was a pretty leisurely stroll. I’m glad we started where we did though, if we had gone in the opposite direction we would have been climbing up the hill instead of walking down it.
We should have spent the second half of the day visiting a museum or people-watching at a park. The morning was pretty chill but the next part is where we started to get a little crazy. This day could have easily been broken up into two days.
From Montmartre we took the metro to the Arc de Triomphe. We climbed to the top (be prepared- stairs are super prevalent in Paris) and got a great view of the city. It was pretty cool! The Arc de Triomphe sits in the middle of a roundabout (you actually have to walk through a tunnel underneath the street to get to it) and all of the city streets fan out around it. It’s a great spot to see the Eiffel Tower and Sacré-Cœur and it was really fun trying to see how many other landmarks we could identify. The Arc de Triomphe is gigantic and super detailed in person. The French really know how to build beautiful buildings.
We were planning on grabbing some food nearby and then taking the metro to the Tuileries Garden but after looking at the Avenue des Champs-Élysées from the top of the Arc de Triomphe, we decided it would be fun to walk it. Distances seem so short when looking at a map. What starts out as two miles in a straight line turns into a lot more once you factor in walking through all of the shops and going back and forth across the avenue. Plus, we had already walked quite a bit that day! I don’t know what we were thinking except we were feeling pretty good at the start of our walk and pretty tired at the end.
Lunch was a couple of ham and cheese baguettes and a lemon tart, because why not? We ate a lot of really good food while in Paris, although you’ll notice most of it was just bread! No wonder we were so tired!
Even though we’d just had dessert, I had to stop for macarons at Ladurée. This was the only place in Paris where we even came close to having bad service. Everyone was just super nice and helpful everywhere we went! And even here, no one was mean, just a little indifferent. Although I have to say, I did think it was kind of fun listening to the employees argue about their schedules in French while we were waiting for them to ring us up.
Plus the macarons were pretty good.
We continued walking, and walking, and walking, until we came upon a big gilded gate with a row of hedges. What could it possible lead to?
It led to a giant Abercrombie, lol. This was probably the most entertaining part of our whole trip.
After this little detour, we continued walking down the Champs-Élysées until we ran into the Place de la Concorde, where we saw the Luxor Obelisk and the Fontaines de la Concorde. There’s just so much to see in Paris! And it’s so full of history. The Place de la Concorde is where Marie-Antoinette was executed and one of the Fontaines de la Concorde is where Andy threw her phone at the end of The Devil Wears Prada (I know, two equally important events, haha). Even with as much as we did during our five days, I still have a long list of things to see when we go back!
We finally made it to the Tuileries Garden and promptly found a place in the shade to relax and have some drinks.
The garden was beautiful. All of the flowers were blooming and it was fun watching all of the people mill about.
We ended the night with dinner on the Île de la Cité and a brief look at the Notre Dame. I had a list of four things I wanted to eat in Paris. So far I’d had crepes and macarons and with dinner I checked a croque monsieur off the list. I’d been wanting to visit Paris and eat one of these fancy grilled ham and cheese sandwiches since I first heard about them in high school French class. I am happy to say that it did not disappoint. Unfortunately, I never got to try the final food on my list (escargot) but I guess that just means I need to go back!
Striped Sweater: Banana Republic, similar here and here // Black Jeans: Elizabeth and James Debbie Jean, similar here and here // Jacket: Forever 21, similar here // Infinity Scarf: Lululemon Vinyasa Scarf, similar here // Boots: Born Cory, similar here and here // Crossbody Bag: Kate Spade Mindy, similar here and here // Necklace: Rocksbox, similar here and here // Sunglasses: The Row, similar here and here // Nail Polish: Essie in French Affair // Lipstick: YSL Rouge Volupte Shine in Pink in Paris
Next up: day three: Catacombs and The Louvre