If you read this post, then you know my sister and I were lucky enough to go to Paris a couple weeks ago. Today, I’m sharing a bunch of pictures from our trip! Let’s jump right in 🙂
Tuesday-Wednesday, Day 1
We left Pittsburgh on Tuesday and got to Paris Wednesday morning. After successfully navigating the RER and Metro, we made it to our hotel, the Hotel Le 123 Elysees. It is one of 16 hotels in Paris affiliated with the Astotel group. We had made arrangements ahead of time to drop off our luggage so we could dive right into sight-seeing, since check-in wasn’t until the afternoon.
We decided to walk towards the Louvre, partly to see some of the city and partly to check how long the lines were. They were long. So we mainly walked around for a couple hours, just soaking it in. We went back to the hotel early afternoon to check-in and freshen up a little. Our room was so cute (as was the entire hotel), and way more spacious than I was expecting (since European hotel rooms tend to be on the smaller side). It was very well decorated, and the bathroom had hot pink accent walls, which of course I loved. I couldn’t get a good picture of it, so you’ll just have to go see for yourself 😉 The beds and pillows were very comfortable, which made adjusting to the time difference a little bit easier.
We also found out that the Astotel hotels offer snacks and beverages every afternoon into the night, and we had a free minibar in our room. As a guest of the Hotel Le 123 Elysees, we were able to utilize the snack and beverage service in ANY of the Astotel hotels around Paris…all 16 of them! We didn’t take advantage of that perk during our trip, but that would be a great way to take a little afternoon break without having to go the whole way back to your hotel. We would definitely do this if we had stayed longer!
After a nap, we walked along the Champs-Elysées and saw the Arche de Triomphe. It was rainy and we were exhausted, so we called it an early night.
Thursday, Day 2
Thursday was all about getting to the Louvre early enough to beat the lines, which we mostly did. We saw the must-see exhibits, but we couldn’t manage to find the medieval Louvre exhibit or Egyptian exhibit. So, we left to explore Paris more, and found the Palais-Royal. We creeped on a game of bocci in the garden, and waited out a little rain. After the rain, we decided to stop back in the Louvre to utilize the facilities (protip: your Louvre ticket is good all day, and you can come and go during the day. Go in through the Carrousel du Louvre for a WAY shorter line).
Since we were there, we decided to look for the medieval Louvre exhibit and Egyptian exhibit one more time…and we were so glad we did. We spend the rest of the afternoon there, until they were starting to kick people out. We walked back to the hotel through the Tuileries Garden, which was beautiful.
Friday, Day 3
Friday we decided to start with a visit Notre Dame. Side note: if you’re visiting Notre Dame, it’s worth paying a few euro to check out their relics, which include the crown of thorns.
We stumbled upon an archaeological crypt – towards the back of the square in front of Notre Dame. It was literally a staircase leading down under the square that said ‘archaeological crypt’ in French…so of course we decided to check it out. #nerds. The exhibits were really interesting! It was a museum of the ruins of buildings that used to exist in that area, like Roman soldier housing, Roman baths, a hospital, and a home for abandoned children.
After that, we made our way to Sainte-Chapelle. My sister’s boyfriend’s mom told her we should check it out because of the stained glass windows. We thought it was just a church with pretty stained glass windows, like how Notre Dame has stained glass windows, so we debated if it was worth paying to get in. Eventually we decided it was, so we waited in line, went through security (because it’s in the middle of some court houses), and followed the signs to the church. We bought our tickets and went in…and were slightly unimpressed.
The church was built in the 1200s to house the crown of thorns, and it’s actually slightly in ruins now. There was an altar and some stained glass windows, but we weren’t sure what the fuss was about. We saw a sign about a second floor, so we went up. And then we understood what the fuss was about. Imagine being in a building where the walls are made of stained glass windows, with only enough wall between the windows to make sure everything is supported. It was stunning. Pictures just don’t do it justice. I think it was my favorite place we visited, to be honest. It’s worth the money and the wait in line, I promise.
After more wandering, we made our way back to the hotel for an afternoon break before going to the Eiffel Tower. We enjoyed people-watching for a while and walked around some. We called it an early night again since we had to pack up to head to London the next day.
One more protip for you:
If you’re going to Paris and you’re not using your own cell phone, you should consider renting an Insidr Paris phone (not sponsored). It was more cost-effective than using our own phones on an international plan and did everything we needed (Google maps, internet access to research restaurants, etc.). Plus, we received daily messages about what was going on in the city – from public transportation issues to special events.
We also had access to a great network of people who were so helpful in answering our questions about things to do, restaurant suggestions, where to go for tea and a snack in the afternoon, even where I could get a pound of coffee to bring back for hubs near where we were sightseeing (Thank you, Catherine! He loved it!) They were kind enough to drop off the phone at our hotel, so we picked it up from the front desk as soon as we arrived, and we just dropped it off at the hotel desk when we left. We weren’t able to fully take advantage of some of the features – like the self-guided walking tours in different neighborhoods (thanks, rain). I would definitely rent one
if when I’m in Paris next.
So, that sums up what we did in Paris! I’m going to put together a separate post on what we ate…I figured this one was long enough. Thanks to Astotel and the Hotel Le 123 Elysees for sponsoring a wonderful home-away-from-home! All opinions about the hotel and our time there are my own.