Friends in Town: How to Spend a Day in Paris

It feels strange to say that this weekend, some friends from California were “in town,” as if Paris, with all its aura and majesty, is just a “town” that people casually enter and exit. I suppose it has kinda reached that status for me, it’s just the place I live now.

Nevertheless, I was super excited to show them around, and wanted to make sure they had the best, least gimmicky experience possible.  You can use this as a very rough itinerary for your own travel plans to Paris, because I think its a pretty good, non-overwhelming day.

I kicked off Saturday morning with brunch at Rose Bakery.   Their bacon/tomato quiche is one of the best things I’ve ever put into my mouth.  We all agreed the tomatoes were amazing, and we don’t even like tomatoes normally…  Also, they have the best cakes, not just pure sugar, but actual, real flavours.Processed with VSCOcam with e1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Since we were at the Pigalle location of Rose Bakery, right down the hill from Montmartre, I decided to take them for a rather exhausting, uphill trek to Sacré Coeur and the surrounding streets.  When the sun finally surfaced after brunch, I was extremely happy, after weeks of rain, but I quickly realized that harsh sunlight has a way of stripping the charm from Montmartre streets.  Something about the diffused lighting of cloudy skies gives cobblestones more texture and variation in colour, while stark sunlight either washes things out or completely obscures other things in darkly contrasting shadows.  Maybe that’s a sentiment only an artisticly-inclined person could appreciate, but Montmartre manages to stay charming no matter what.

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I suggested we make the climb up to the Sacré Coeur dome, which I feel is one of the coolest climbing experiences in the city.  If you’re lucky, you’ll get to hear the organ music vibrating through the stone spiral staircase, so try to climb your time to whenever there’s a Mass!  It makes you feel like the Phantom of the Opera, or something like that.  You also get to walk along the roofline a bit and see the architectural details up close, which kinda makes you feel like Quasimodo.  So basically, you just feel like fantastical fictional characters when you climb Sacré Coeur’s dome, which is never a bad thing.  I think climbing up Notre Dame has a similar experience, but I have yet to do that!

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I then decided that my friends having been in Paris for almost a full 24 hours, and not having yet eaten Berthillon ice cream was basically a crime, so we rushed over to Île-Saint-Louis  (the grammar of that sentence is a little difficult, I know).  Needless to say, they basically went nuts over how delicious it was, so we went back later in the evening for a second helping, and the next three days after that too.

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We had some delicious food at The Moose, a Canadian pub, because all the traditional French restaurants we encountered were highly overpriced, crappy and touristy, or too bourgeois for our simple tastes.  After, we spent a decent amount of time chilling out on the riverbanks, along with every single inhabitant of Paris in existence.  Nearly every space on the river was filled by groups of people either listening to music, drinking wine, laying on blankets, etc.  It was pretty glorious, as was the fact that the warm weather permitted me to only wear a thin dress without feeling cold.

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And this picture is from the next day, when we did the exact same thing, because that’s how fun and pretty and lovely it is to eat ice cream and stare at Notre Dame above you on the Seine.


I'm a Californian in my mid-twenties who studied Art History and lived in France for 3 years. I blog honestly about my travels, share my thoughts on life, and get poetic about art and photography. I also sell prints of my photographs on Etsy.

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