Paris: what a city. It’s so cliche, I know, but I’ve always been drawn to Paris. Rich history, delicious food and wine and coffee, elegant architecture, decades of haute couture, effortless chic street style…sometimes I think I should just pack up and move there already.
Ryan and I decided to use Airbnb for most of our Europe trip and were thoroughly impressed. We flew from Honolulu to Paris and stayed for two nights and then returned again for three nights after we finished hiking in Spain. We decided to stay in a different flat each time, but do both portions of the trip in Montmartre, since I really love that area.
The first flat was the tiniest studio I’d ever seen, but it was perfect for such a short stay. It was on the fifth floor of an old building right by Café des 2 Moulins, which is the cafe in the film Amélie. Although the interior of the apartment was nothing special, the gorgeous view of Parisian rooftops was just delightful.
The second flat was coincidentally right around the corner from the first. We splurged a bit because after seeing photos of the adorable wallpaper and decor my heart was absolutely set on the place. It was still small but much bigger than the first apartment, with a separate kitchen and WC. The view wasn’t as charming but it was still nice and overlooked a small courtyard.
Although it might have been nice to explore two different arrondissements while in Paris, the upside to being in Montmartre the whole time was that we really got a feel for the neighborhood. Almost every morning we would visit Le Pain Quotidien Lepic for our breakfast, (Ryan would get the salmon tartine and I’d get the oatmeal or a croissant – and of course deux café au lait) and then we’d jump on the metro and head to a different part of Paris to explore.
We tried out a selection of different restaurants in the area for dinner, including a traditional French restaurant, a pho place, and a brasserie with exceptional French onion soup. We bought cheese and wine from the fromagerie across the street and bacon from the boucherie. We befriended the bartender at a nearby bar who was a New York native and attended the night market in front of Sacré-Cœur. Ryan even got a haircut from a French hairdresser at the neighborhood salon. By the time we left, it really felt like we were leaving a little home we had created for ourselves tucked away in a cozy corner in the city of lights.
Of course, we also did the touristy stuff; shopping on the avenue des Champs-Élysées, macarons from Pierre Hermé, selfies (or should I say célfies) with the Mona Lisa, wine by the Eiffel Tower, a climb to the top of the Arc du Triomphe…but the most wonderful memories are the ones from the French laundromat, where Ryan and I spent about 20 minutes trying to figure out how to use the washing machine and then 20 more laughing hysterically when we finally did, and the ones from the bar where we took horrible flaming grappa shots and danced to reggaeton with my friend Pol, and even just walking by the Seine in the rain at 2 a.m.
Here are some of my personal Dos and Don’ts for anyone who is visiting Paris.
Sit at a cafe and drink wine
Wander around and get lost in Montmartre
Watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night
Indulge in a rich pastry or two (or three)
Visit a vintage shop and dig for treasures
Utilize the Metro…and your legs
Try to speak French, even if it’s just oui, merci, and s’il vous plait
Eat at restaurants near tourist attractions
Waste all your money on taxis
Climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower (go to the top of Tour Montparnasse instead so you can see the Eiffel Tower in the skyline)
Expect people to smile at you, hold doors for you, etc.