by: Heidi Bloomer
Paris is so special because it is celebrated as one of the most beautiful cities in the world and filled with renowned attractions. My family and I were excited to check it out for ourselves and cross it off our own “must-see” list this summer. It was a first visit to France for all of us and my 30th country! We enjoyed leisurely days of sleeping in, biking under gorgeous skies, seeing famous sites, experiencing the culture and shopping galore.
From the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower, and everything in between, we agreed. Paris has something for everyone.
We originated from Chicago, IL and flew Delta from ORD to Detroit and then onto Paris. Delta is our preferred airline and our loyalty throughout the years has paid off so many times. We still had several global upgrade certificates banked from COVID days. We used them on this trip to enjoy perks of convenient in-flight food and good sleep! For the return flight, we all flew Air France, a partner of Delta, directly back to Chicago. This was such a treat. Delta and Air France have consistently delivered us excellent customer service and we will continue to make them our preferred airline for travel.
ARRIVING, LUGGAGE, ACCOMMODATIONS:
We arrived on a Monday morning and decided to take an Uber into the city. This ended up being a bad idea in that it took two hours due to the morning rush-hour traffic. We couldn’t check into our Airbnb until 3 pm, so we used an app called Nannybag. This is a super cool concept. People are available to “nanny” your bags - at malls, restaurants, shops - for a nominal fee per hour, while you wait for accommodations. Most hotels will allow you to keep bags onsite until your room is available, but this was especially useful to us this trip because we were staying at an Airbnb without that option.
For this trip we decided to keep things simple by staying in one location the entire duration of the trip (six days). This allowed us to unpack once and just enjoy. Our Airbnb was neat - and super economical compared to the hotels available during this time of peak season.
We booked a private guide through Boutique Bike Tours. Our guide, Marie, was amazing. We leisurely biked the city streets for hours and snapped pics at all the must-see spots. Boutique Bike Tours offers small group and private tours. I would highly recommend to ensure you don’t miss a single hot spot.
We did a one-hour river cruise, complete with champagne, as well! This provided an alternate view of some of the same key spots. There are a variety of boat tour companies available and each vary in length, time of day, and amenities. Choose the one that suits you and Bon Voyage!
Of course, we went to the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa. The lines were extremely long and it turns out this is a relatively small painting! We snapped a pic from afar and called it good. The Louvre is huge! A person could easily spend days there and get lost.
If going up the Eiffel Tower is a goal, book ahead! We booked a few weeks before our trip and only had one option available that worked for our schedule. We ended up with a 9:30 pm slot which turned out to be incredible. We saw a lovely sunset and by the time we came down the tower was lit up and sparkly. Dreamy!
There are many French products including beauty care, purses, accessories and clothing, which are much less expensive when purchased in France. Be on the lookout for your favorite French brands (e.g., Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Cartier) as you just may need to make shopping a priority!
We ate some amazing cuisine. The restaurants 6 New York and Junglii were two of my favorite places. We also had our pick of at least a dozen cafes within a few steps of our apartment. The whole family enjoyed coffee and fresh pastries each morning. My husband and I connected each evening over champagne. We only made a reservation at 6 New York - otherwise it was easy to walk in and find seating everywhere else.
This was a non-negotiable activity for our family. In addition to achieving so many travel milestones on this trip we now have bragging rights of visiting all the Disney parks in the world.
Tickets: We booked ahead of time and picked the days as well. This is a current requirement due to COVID and park capacity. We chose two, one-day/one-park tickets: Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios. There is also a “Disney Village,” much like a smaller version of Disney Springs in Florida, which is connected to both parks and the train station. The Village offers additional shopping and dining options.
Transport: There is an option to book your visit with bus transport to and from the parks. We added this option but would highly recommend against it. The bussing is only offered one time each way, takes 50 minutes (without traffic), and involves lots of waiting. After one time of using this option, we voted to take the train for the other three trips. This proved to be inexpensive and easy!
Accommodations: As noted above, we stayed at our Airbnb in the city. Staying at an official Disney-branded hotel is always a fun experience, but we did not feel it was necessary for us this time around. Note: The main Disneyland Hotel is closed for renovations at this time anyway.
Fast Passes: The main tickets include entry into the park. You’ll want to download the app and link your tickets ahead of time. Many of the rides have individual fast passes you can buy on your app, after you enter the park for the day. The cost per person, per ride, seems to vary depending on supply and demand on that day at that time. If someone from your group doesn’t want to go on that ride, you can uncheck them and avoid paying for their slot. The pass assigns you a timeframe of one hour for that ride. If you have an active pass, you must wait until the timeframe has “started” to order another one. We utilized a mix of regular wait times and Fast Pass. We were able to get through seven rides at Disneyland from 10 am - 4 pm, including a break for lunch and a parade: and four rides at Walt Disney Studios from 10 am - 1:30 pm including time for our lunch. If you don’t need to go to every ride or event and are ok doing some Fast Passes, you could totally do both parks in one day. If you’d prefer not to pay for the Fast Pass and/or you want to hit up everything - then definitely allow for one day in each park.