Ah, spring time in Paris. Does it get any better? It was a gorgeous day in May when I found myself with twelve hours to wander the streets of Paris. Follow along as I spend a perfect day in Paris.
As luck would have it, our plane touched down in Paris on what could only be described as the most perfect spring day. The sky was a vivid blue with not a cloud in it and the temperatures were going to be in the seventies (around 20 degrees C). We didn't want to waste even a moment, so we quickly dropped our bags off at the hotel and headed to breakfast. We decided to start our wanderings in the Le Marias district which is located between the 3rd and 4th arrondissement.
Carette Vosges is a French cafe located along the Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square in Paris. Of course we chose to sit outside on the veranda. The coffee was strong and the croissants light, just what we needed to start our day. In fact, I decided to linger over my pot of tea to soak in the energy of Paris.
From there we meandered through the streets of Le Village Saint Paul to see if we could find an antique store that was open. We only found a couple of stores that had early hours, but we were happy to wander the cobblestone streets and window shop.
The village is close to the Seine so we decided to wander along the river to make our way to Saint Chapelle. That blue sky made the Paris scene pop.
Along the Seine, vendors were beginning to open their stalls to sell anything from souvenirs, to books, to posters, to flowers. Now this is my kind of shopping.
Our next stop was Saint Chapelle. Because many people focus on Notre Dame, this royal chapel is sometimes overlooked. The 13th century gothic chapel has breathtaking stained glass windows and the ceiling and structure are gorgeous. No reason to miss this beauty as it is only a ten minute walk from Notre Dame so definitely add it to your itinerary.
And while you will be busy looking up, don't forget to look down. I loved the tile work on the floors.
After all this walking, we were once again in need of refreshment. Only a seven minute walk from the chapel is the most amazing French tea emporium. If you are a tea lover, this is a must for your sightseeing itinerary! Mariage Freres is a French tea company that was founded by the Mariage brothers in 1854. The company, originally based in Paris, now distributes in over 60 countries. There are a few Mariage tea salons throughout the city and some of their locations include tea museums. We went to the one located at 13 Rue des Grands. The emporium was a sight to behold with tea displayed as carefully as a fine wine. There is a cafe on the second floor and a tea museum below the store.
Well caffeinated we set out to wander the streets again as we made our way to Luxembourg Gardens. With a day this spectacular, there was no doubt in our minds that we wouldn't make a visit to the gardens.
It seems everyone in Paris had the same idea, ha! The gardens were crowded but such a respite for our tired feet. We spent the afternoon people watching and relaxing. There may have even been some napping in the cool shade by the Medici Fountain. It was time well spent and a wonderful memory.
It was time to head to our hotel but there was one more stop that was just around the corner. The Sainte-Genevieve Library was opened to the public in 1850 for citizens and scholars alike. The outside of the building is nothing spectacular and could easily be overlooked, but once inside its walls, you will understand the appeal for local students to wait in line to do their research. It holds approximately two million documents so that could also be the reason for its popularity among students. The architect worked details of iron in the reading room and the effect is stunning. In fact, the Boston Public Library was inspired by the architecture of Sainte-Genevieve's.
The library sits right next to the Pantheon and so did our hotel. Boy, did I do right when I chose the Hotel des Grands Hommes. How can I describe it? It's fabric walls and lush decor has just the right amount of elegance. It's not over the top posh but still feels luxorious. And the balcony?! Absolute Perfection! After a long day of travel and sightseeing, we were exhausted but not ready to say goodnight to our time in Paris. We simply ordered a bottle of champagne and Parisian chocolates and sat on our balcony to watch the hustle and bustle of the city below. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day. And when we couldn't keep our eyes open any longer, we closed the door and there was a literal hush. I couldn't believe how quiet the room was even with the city still alive below us. We slept well that night!
We were up early the next morning to catch our train to London. The hotel provides breakfast which was an added bonus.
Au revoir, Paris! Until we meet again......