Earlier this year, (January 2018), I was blessed enough to return to the City of Love, with my first love, my mama, after 18 years. I had been to Paris once before, when I was 6 years old, in July 2000. We returned to this city this year for a mother-daughter trip for my mom’s 50th birthday, for a few days, after a few days in London.
I’ve decided to split this post into two articles, A Winter Parisian Itinerary, which you can use when planning your trip to Paris, and Our Parisian Winter Trip, where I write all about what we actually did in Paris.
Before even arriving in Paris, I created an itinerary according to the things I wanted to do and see. However life doesn’t always go according to plan, and having Motor Neuron Disease means that every day is unpredictable, so we didn’t get to follow the itinerary exactly, but I will write about the planned itinerary below in case you would like to use it! The following guide is for a slow-paced (well, relatively slow paced), six days in Paris. You can change it as you wish!
Remember, an itinerary does not have to be something set in stone, unless you have prebooked tickets, then just use it as a guideline and always go with what you feel on the day. Remember, there’s a lot that you can research before going to a city, but all the research in the world doesn’t come close to what you feel when you’re actually standing in all of these places, so the best way to travel is a combination of an itinerary and also playing it by ear, according to the weather, how you’re feeling, what you enjoy, and what you stumble across.
One of the main things that inspired my itinerary for this trip, was one of my favourite Bollywood movies, Befikre, which was set in Paris. I researched a lot of the shooting locations and tried to include them in our itinerary. As I said before, things didn’t go as planned, and due to me being ill, and other circumstances we didn’t get to follow this itinerary, but you can read about our entire trip and exactly what we did here!
Our initial itinerary that we planned to do:
*Disclaimer: I am so sorry, but I do not speak a word of French, so please forgive any spelling or grammatical errors that I make below, I promise I will try to improve my French!
Standing along the banks of the River Seine!
Day One – Tuesday – 9th January 2018
- Arrive in Paris mid-afternoon
- Explore the neighborhood where we are staying: Le Marais
- Place des Vosges at Night
- Place De La Bastille
- Galleries Lafayette
When researching the different arrondissements of Paris, it was quite overwhelming to decide where to stay, as there are 20 districts. I initially wanted to stay on the Champs-Élysées, but my mom decided that she wanted a more, “local” experience – for lack of a better adjective, and I am so glad she said that, because then we stayed in a vibrant neighbourhood dotted with cafes and bakeries on every corner and little cobblestone pathways and boutique shops. We opted for an Air BnB which I will talk about further down, and it was awesome! We really enjoyed having a Parisian apartment all to ourselves and feeling like a local.
Place des Vosges was one of the shooting locations of the film Befikre, and I thought it was absolutely magical at night so that is why I wanted to visit it – however it was closed in the evening so we didn’t get to go in or see it! It is the oldest planned square in Paris and boasts beautifully manicured gardens. Head there during the day for a picnic, and on Sundays where you will find shopping.
The Place de La Bastille is where you will find the Génie de la Liberté monument, meaning the Spirit of Freedom. There is a lot of history, which you can read about, and find out more information in general about here.
Galleries Lafayette Paris Haussmann is one of the biggest department stores, and been an icon of Paris since 1894. Their operating times are as follows: Open every day from 9.30am to 8.30pm and every Sunday from 11am to 8pm – subject to change during the festive season!
Day Two- Wednesday – 10th January 2018
- Eiffel Tower and Surrounds
- Place du Trocadero
- Trocadero Gardens
- Picnic on Champ de Mars
- Carousel de la Tour Eiffel
- Hotel des Invalides
- Pont de Alexandre III Bridge
- Grand palais
- Champs Elysees Park
- Champs Elysees
- Arc de Triomphe
The Tour Eiffel needs no introduction, and it is no surprise as to why we wanted to see it on our very first full day in Paris. When visiting the tower, there are other things to do in the surrounds, such as the Trocadero Gardens, to have a picnic at the Champ de Mars with gorgeous views of the iron lady, or have a ride on the carousel. Make sure your camera is fully charged because there is no shortage of Instagram Spots here!
The Pont Alexandre III is one of the most beautiful bridges in Paris, noticeable from its four pillars topped with brass horses on each corner of the bridge, it really is such a beautiful bridge so make sure you get some awesome pictures here.
Champs Elysee is for my mom – the shopping avenue, also known as one of the most beautiful avenues in the world. Here you will see stores such as the Louis Vuitton flagship store and a gorgeous Laduree Maison. Walking through Champs Elysees will get you to the gorgeous Arc de Triomphe – and if you want amazing view of Paris – be sure to climb to the top.
Day Three- Thursday- 11th January 2018
- Disney Land Paris
Do I even need to explain this? Book your tickets here.
My brother and I during a visit to Disney Land in July 2000.
Day Four- Friday- 12th January 2018
- Jardin Nelson Mandela
- Notre Dame
- Saint Chapelle
- Pont Des Arts Bridge
- Latin Quarter
- Luxembourg Gardens
- Seine River Cruise in the Evening
Montmartre has a special place in my heart, since I was a little girl. I knew I had to return to the beautiful artsy district of Paris which also have the Sacre-Cour and the best views of Paris.
We didn’t know much about the Nelson Mandela Gardens – but owed it to ourselves as South Africans to add it to the itineraries right? We didn’t get a chance to actually go, but you can read about it here, in case it is something you do want to go to!
Notre Dame and the Saint Chapelle are a must and I write about it more below. I didn’t know much about the Pont Des Artes Bridge in Paris either, but (once again) it was in the movie Befikre, and it seemed to be a popular pedestrian bridge crossing the Seine, so I thought, why not, let’s add it to the list!
The 5th arrondissement, known as the Latin Quarter, is something that kept popping up when researching things to do in Paris, and we decided to add it to the list in order to visit the Pantheon and soak up the relaxed vibes which were created by the many university students, Parisian locals and tourists alike. We also really wanted to visit the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens, in the 6th arrondissement, I am so so so disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to go, but I hope that I will get to return to Paris in the summertime and visit all the beautiful parks and gardens in full bloom.
The Seine River is one of the best ways to navigate, view and tour the city, it is something I did when I was little with my family, and one of the few things I remember from my trip when I was little, so it only made sense that I tried to do it while in Paris again.
Day Five- Saturday- 13th January 2018
- Palais Garnier
- Galleries Lafayette
- Tuileries Garden
- Louis Vuitton Foundation
- Jardin d’Acclimation
Day Six- Sunday- 14th January 2018
- Early Breakfast at Traditional Boulangerie
- Walk around Le Marais
- Depart Paris
Where We Stayed:
As I mentioned earlier we decided to stay in Le Marais in an Air BNB, as this was the perfect way to experience Paris as a local, and have our own little apartment in a vibrant neighborhood. You can view a bunch of Air BNBs in Le Marais here.
If you’ve never used Air BnB before, don’t stress, it’s not as daunting as it may seem. Just read other peoples reviews, do your research, and it helps if you book with a super host.
Everybody told me that the public transport in Paris is extremely confusing and that you WILL get lost and land up in a strange area because you won’t know where to get off. This could not be further from the truth! The Metropolitain in Paris, was the easiest subway I have used, and I found, is even easier than the London Tube (which I almost know like the back of my hand).
- Be vigilant on the subway and in stations and don’t let your handbag hang to the side out of your sight, always clutch your bag in the front of you to avoid pick-pocketers.
- When buying your ticket, do so at a counter, sometimes locals will come to you and if they see you are a foreigner they will assist you (and it’s difficult because you think they work there) and when you put in your money, they snatch the change as it comes out of the machine and run away! So only ask someone wearing a uniform or buy a ticket at the counter. It is pretty straightforward.
- There are so many different tickets available, and you can choose from single journey tickets, or a bulk of 10 or 20 tickets, you can even get single day passes, multi-day passes, weekly passes, monthly passes and even year passes.
You can read more about the Metro here.
We also traveled with Uber, which was significantly more expensive but less tedious when I was sick and we wanted to go from A to B hassle free. We also used an Uber from the airport to our apartment and this cost us €45. The journey from our apartment to the Eiffel Tower (area) was about €15.
The normal two-pin plugs used in South Africa work in France. The Voltage is 220V with a frequency of 50Hz. We didn’t find an adapter necessary, as most of our chargers / appliances (like hair straighteners etc) were already two-pin. For US travelers – I believe a plug may be necessary, but always just check this before hand.
France uses the Euro € and ATM and cashpoints are available around the city, (24/7) while banks and Forex are usually open from 9-5. When I first visited France they used the Franc! Be wary when drawing from machines, and try not to draw cash at night or in secluded or isolated areas.
Prices and Tipping:
- Prices usually include taxes.
- If you appreciate the service, you CAN tip over and above that (10% or so)
The following are average prices of food items in Paris:
- 1 sandwich: around €6
- 1 pizza: between €8 and €12
- 1 small coffee: €1 at the bar, €2 sitting down
- 1 full meal (starter, main dish, dessert, not including drinks): between €15 and €20 depending on the area
- 1 baguette of bread: €1
- 1 beer in a café: around €4
These prices were obtained here.
This is just a guideline for a short stay to Paris. Bare in mind that life happens and things don’t always go as planned. To read about what I actually did in Paris, click here!
Thanks for reading!