By Tessa Woolf
Paris has a reputation for being the most romantic city in the world (just look to books, poetry, music, and movies about Paris for proof), so what better destination than the City of Lights for a honeymoon? Paris is one of my favorite cities, and I wanted to share all of its beauty and magic with my husband, Chris, so we decided it would be the perfect place to celebrate as newlyweds. We got married in October and I’ve always wanted to visit Paris in the fall—it’s the perfect weather to enjoy croissants and cappuccinos at charming sidewalk cafes while bundled up in cozy sweaters and scarves. Needless to say, Paris in autumn did not disappoint! We stayed in Paris for a week for the first half of our honeymoon, and then traveled south by train to Spain for the second half.
5 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING PARIS
- I always research cities online and look to some of my favorite magazines for travel recommendations (try Googling things like “Vogue Paris Travel Guide” or “Conde Nast Traveler Paris Travel Guide” to pull up past articles from your favorite magazines). I also love an old-school guidebook, like Rick Steves Paris 2019.
- I love to get excited about a trip by reading books and watching movies about the destination ahead of time (and during the trip!). To get in a Paris state of mind, I re-watched the movie “Midnight in Paris” for the millionth time and read a biography about Coco Chanel (which I also took with me on the trip to read). I also listened to The New Paris Podcast, which was a fun way learn more about Paris and get some recommendations from an expat living in the city.
- Pack a pair of cool, comfy sneakers. You’ll be walking a LOT (we averaged about 8 miles a day) and lucky for you, cute sneakers are always in vogue with stylish Parisians. You’ll see locals rocking sneakers with everything from Levis to dresses, day and night.
- Be friendly and say “Bonjour” when you enter a shop or cafe. The notion that Parisians are rude to Americans is dated—everyone we encountered was super kind and helpful. I think the golden rule applies in Paris: be nice, be courteous, and don’t be super loud or rude, and you’ll be fine. Make an effort to speak any French if you know it—even a little bit helps. Parisians seem to appreciate the effort. That being said, if you don’t know a lick of French (like me—learning the language has been a running New Year’s resolution of mine for the last 5 years...) you’ll get by just fine. Most Parisians speak English, and I’ve noticed that the younger generation seems eager to practice it with you.
- The subway is a great way to get around Paris, but I actually prefer to explore on foot. It’s such a beautiful city, and you see so much more walking than you do underground. Taking a boat ride on the Seine to see the sights is another fun way to explore while still being above ground.
WHERE TO STAY IN PARIS
I think your best bet is to book a property on Airbnb (many Paris hotels are super pricey for not a lot of space). I'd suggest staying in the Marais (super hip neighborhood and lots of shops and cafes), or in the Latin Quarter (classic Paris), or near the Pantheon (the area feels very safe and is near the university so there are a lot of students and young people around). Here are a few Airbnb recommendations:
- Charming Flat in the Heart of the Latin Quarter
- Romantic Le Marais Flat
- Paris Artist Loft
- Apartment with a view of the Eiffel Tower
As for hotels, I’ve heard great things about the Hoxton Hotel and Hotel Henriette—I’m dying to check out both on my next visit! I stayed at Hotels Des Grandes Ecoles the first time I visited Paris in my early 20s, and it was super charming. Definitely low-key and nothing fancy, but it has a great courtyard and is in a good location—and it’s a great price!
WHERE TO EAT IN PARIS
There are so many good things to eat in Paris! Whatever you do, eat all the bread and all the croissants. I don’t have one favorite bakery in Paris—instead, I prefer to try a new one each morning (or multiple times a day…)
- Buvette - Super charming spot for breakfast or brunch. Try the waffles, avocado toast, or Croque Madame.
- Holybelly - Hip spot for breakfast or brunch. Be prepared to wait in line. Try the Sweet Stack or Savory Stack and the Holy baked beans.
- Ober Mama - A taste of Italy in Paris. Delicious pizza and the most amazing truffle pasta—order one of each and share. The restaurant has a super cool atmosphere, nice waiters, and a great bar area.
- Clover Grill - Delicious steaks! And super cool decor. Not cheap, but worth the splurge. The waiter was so kind and translated the ENTIRE menu in English for us.
- Le Coq Rico - The BEST roast chicken I've had in Paris! Also, super good pommes frites and the mac-n-cheese is to die for. The space is small and charming—make a reservation! It's not far from the Sacre Coeur, so you could go watch the sunset on the steps of the Sacre Coeur first and then head to Le Coq Rico for dinner!
- Atlas Cafe - This charming cafe is located on one of my favorite streets in Paris: Rue De Buci. Such a great spot for people-watching! At night, the street is bustling and really comes alive. Atlas has delicious oysters, mussels, salads, and pommes frites.
- Cafe de Flore - Classic Paris and full of history! Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald used to frequent this cafe and the neighboring Les Deux Magots. Both are great spots to enjoy a coffee or a glass of Champagne and watch the world go by.
- L’As du Fallafel - Best falafels and shawarmas in Paris! Very low-key in the Marais neighborhood with a walk-up window. Look for a line of people and you’ll know you’re in the right spot.
- Pierre Hermes - For something sweet, forgo Laduree and in favor of the macarons and pastries at Pierre Hermes. Each item is a true work of art. Try the popular pastry Ispahan, made with rose macarons, fresh raspberries, and a lychee filling.
ROMANTIC THINGS TO DO + SEE IN PARIS
There’s no shortage of things to see and do in Paris! My favorite activity is just wandering the streets and people watching, but here are a few of my favorite sights and museums:
- You can’t go to Paris and not enjoy a picnic in the park below the Eiffel Tower. Grab a baguette, some cheese, and a bottle of wine, and you’ll never want to leave!
- Notre Dame is probably my favorite site in Paris—there's something so powerful and yet peaceful about the cathedral. Be sure to walk around the outside of the cathedral and go inside and light a candle.
- I also love the nearby Saint-Chappelle—the 360-degree stained glass windows are breathtaking.
- Take a boat ride on the Seine to experience the beauty of Paris from the river.
- The Louvre is obviously incredible and worth seeing, but it’s massive size is overwhelming. I prefer smaller museums like the Rodin Museum (my personal favorite), the Musee d’Orsay, and the Picasso Museum.
- Place des Vosges is my favorite Park in Paris. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy coffee and a croissant on a bench in the morning.
- Atelier Des Lumieres has rotating visual art exhibitions that are truly beautiful and mind-blowing. On our trip, we saw an exhibit featuring the work of Gustav Klimt and it brought me tears.
- If you have time, I’d recommend a day trip to Giverny to visit the Monet house and gardens. It’s about a 1-hour train ride from Paris, and so worth it. It’s pretty special to see the gardens and water lily ponds that inspired so many of Monet’s paintings.
- Versailles is also worth the day trip, and a quick train ride from Paris. The palace and gardens are truly spectacular.
FAVORITE MEMORY FROM OUR TRIP TO PARIS
By far one of the best and romantic days of our trip, was when we got tickets to see a small, private concert of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” at the Sainte-Chapelle. We had visited the Sainte-Chapelle the day before and noticed a flyer about the concert, so we immediately bought tickets for the next day. The Sainte-Chapelle regularly hosts small classical concerts and performances like this, but they sell out fast! (Check the schedule and available tickets ahead of your trip.) It was an unforgettable experience to hear the beauty of Vivaldi’s music ringing out in the royal chapel as the sunset against the gorgeous stained-glass windows. After the concert, we had dinner at the Clover Grill—also an unforgettable experience! One of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had. We walked home after dinner and stopped on a bridge to watch the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower at night. It was like a scene from a movie. Only in Paris! Le sigh.
Document your own romantic getaway with a Travel Journal! This Promptly journal features thoughtful, meaningful prompts to help you record and remember the best details of your favorite trips.