Honeymoon travel guide to Paris, France
Honeymoons have evolved from simple beach vacations, and these days, couples can choose a trip as unique as they are. In this series, Katie Goldstein from Travelingpanties and Smartiepanties is breaking down the best honeymoon destinations, one at a time, to help you narrow down the dizzying array of options so you can choose the one that reflects your interests, budget and style. Up today? Paris.
Destination: Paris, France
Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) is the main airport used to reach Paris. It is roughly 14 miles and about a half hour by taxi from Paris' city center. Paris is also easily accessible by train to Gare du Nord. The Paris Metro system provides easy access within the city to all major attractions, so renting a car is not necessary. Navigating the metro is simple and affordable. Taxis are occasionally able to be hailed on the street but come within minutes when you call.
You'll love it if...
You adore fine dining, culture and endless romance.
Who could ask for a better honeymoon destination than Paris, "The City of Love?" We happen to agree with Audrey Hepburn when she said, "Paris is always a good idea." Its iconic monuments like the Eiffel Tower, museums like the Louvre and landmarks like the Notre Dame Cathedral are certain to dazzle visitors. However, even more spectacular than the sights is Paris' rich culture found in its charming boulevards, cozy cafes and bustling bistros. This grand city boasts an indescribable "je ne sais quoi" that is sure to inspire an incredibly romantic honeymoon.
When to go
The most popular time to visit Paris is in the spring (April-May) and fall (September-October) because of the ideal weather. However, these popular seasons bring higher prices. For couples willing to brave a bit of chilly weather, winter (December-March) can be a nice time to visit as crowds are sparse and there are good deals to be had. Plus, the city is lively year-round: The streets are filled with natives and cafes and museums continue to thrive. Honeymooners looking to visit during summer (June-August) should be aware that prices are not only at their peak but also that locals flee the city as hordes of tourists take over, often making it a less authentic experience.
Where to stay
Paris has no shortage of luxury hotels, and there is one to suit every taste whether you're looking for palatial or contemporary decor. Our first pick goes to Le Meurice, across from the Tuileries Gardens and the Louvre. This opulent gem boasts the friendliest staff and best service in all of Paris. A celebrity favorite, this is where Jay-Z, Beyonce and even Anna Wintour choose to stay when they're in town. It's also famous for its rich history as well as being Paris' oldest and finest hotel.
Hotel Plaza Athenee, one of Paris' most renowned hotels, is also an excellent option. Prepare to be spoiled if you stay here as the location rolls out all the stops for its discerning clientele. (Many of you may remember its cameo on Sex and the City.)
Last but not least, our final hotel choice for honeymooners looking for luxury is the exquisite Art Deco masterpiece that is the Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris. This lavish property offers over-the-top, palatial-style decor and is conveniently located near the Champs-Elysees. Its floral arrangements are simply breathtaking.
For contemporary honeymooners looking for a truly authentic experience, the latest trend is to bypass the predictability of a hotel in favor of renting a luxury apartment. If you truly want to experience the city and spread your wings, renting an apartment is an excellent way to have a truly authentic experience — complete with authentic neighbors. Although you may forego certain amenities like a concierge, room service and daily housekeeping, apartment rentals offer other advantages such as more space, privacy and a place to call home.
Depending on the apartment, many offer a refrigerator or even your own washer-dryer. Renting an apartment is also a more affordable option if you are hoping to stay awhile. We recommend booking through Avenue Story, a reliable broker with an impressive portfolio of luxurious properties. The Avenue Story team will work with you to choose an apartment that offers the perfect location and amenities you're looking for, be it a view of the Eiffel Tower or a balcony overlooking the Seine. The Avenue Story website allows you to peruse genuine photographs of each apartment so you can rest assured that the apartment you choose is every bit as luxurious as a five-star hotel.
What to do
Paris offers endless sightseeing opportunities for every taste. If it's your first time, there are several iconic sites that you absolutely must visit. Topping this list are museums like The Louvre (home to the Mona Lisa) and Musee D'Orsay, as well as landmarks like the Notre Dame Cathedral, L'Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Coeur and Palais Garnier (the Paris Opera House).
But the true magic of Paris lies in experiencing some of its local favorites and lesser-known gems. If you want to take the guesswork out of finding the local hotspots, 1 Day in Paris will put together a perfectly tailored itinerary that will fit your specific tastes. Unlike most companies with predictable itineraries, their mission is to introduce visitors to the real Paris — the Paris that you usually only experience after you've lived there.
For foodies and wine enthusiasts
- A visit to Laduree and Pierre Herme to sample gourmet macarons and French pastries is a must.
- If you're looking to learn more about wine, we recommend a Champagne tasting at Dilettantes, La Maison du Champagne. This shop will educate you about lesser known artisan Champagne producers and give you a taste of the best in their romantic, underground tasting lair. If you're looking to learn more about fabulous and organic French wine makers from a spirited and informative shop owner, visit L'Etiquette on Ile Saint-Louis.
For art connoisseurs
- Those looking to experience some of the greatest Impressionist art should absorb Monet's most famous works at Musee de l'Orangerie. They are actually displayed exactly how Monet himself dictated before he died. (You might remember this museum from Midnight in Paris!)
- For fans of modern art, a visit to Palais de Tokyo and Centre Pompidou is worth a look.
- Finally, Musee Rodin, which is dedicated to the famous sculptor, is a fabulous collection of some of his most famous works. This museum actually has two separate sites, one at Hotel Biron and one just outside of Paris at Rodin's old home.
For those looking for romance
- Paris is no doubt the global capital for romance. Simply wandering the city together is probably enough to get you in the mood. However, for a truly magical experience we recommend booking a late-night tour with Cedric's Paris. He arrives in a tiny 2CV car along with a bottle of Champagne for you and your sweetie to sip in the back seat as he shows you some of the best sights in “The City of Light!” Cedric is extremely knowledgeable and will show anyone a good time!
- Lovers looking for a fun night out should visit the neighborhoods of Pigalle and Montmartre, which are home to many romantic places. Pigalle contains lively bars, the Moulin Rouge and even cabaret dancing. Be advised though, this area isn't ideal at night.
- Lovebirds looking for something a little more low-key can wander through Montmartre and visit the quaint Place des Abbesses and take a ride on its merry-go-round. Looking for the perfect souvenir? Get your portrait painted by artists in Place du Tertre.
- Another famous romantic activity is a visit to Ponts des Arts, also known as “lovers' bridge.” According to tradition, lovers must kiss, make a wish and hang a padlock on its railings to immortalize their love.
For culture seekers
- A visit to Saint Chappelle Cathedral to have a look at the impressive stained glass is sure to impress.
- Bookworms will delight at The Shakespeare and Company bookstore, once frequented by the likes of Voltaire and Verlaine. This famed store was also featured in Ernest Hemingway's memoir, A Moveable Feast.
- Couples looking to take a break from the city's overflowing romance can visit the Catacombs, which are downright spooky. This underground lair holds the remains of nearly six million people who were moved here from nearby cemeteries in order to save space. Another chilling haunt is Pere-Lachaise Cemetery. This massive burial ground is home to Oscar Wilde, Chopin and Jim Morrison.
For night owls
- Check out the hip bars and restaurants on Rue de Montorgueil. We loved Marie Stuart! This narrow restaurant is lively and perfect for those looking to party. Another fun area to check out is Odeon. Simply wander the streets until you find a bar to your liking. They're all fabulous.
- If you're looking to nail the elusive style for which Parisians are so famous, a trip to Boulevard Haussman to visit Galeries Lafayette and Printemps department stores will be worth your while.
- Those with a more eclectic fashion sense should schedule a trip to the historic Marais quarter while those looking for French antiques can't miss Place des Vosges.
- And of course no Parisian honeymoon is complete without visiting the frenzied Champs-Elysee. However, for a less touristy experience, we suggest visiting Place Vendome, which is also home to many legendary, luxury designers.
For day trippers
- We recommend an excursion to The Chateau de Versailles. This sprawling former palace of King Louis XIV is only a 30-minute train ride from Paris. In the spring, the gardens here are incredible. Travelers should visit on the early side if they wish to avoid crowds. Take RER C to Versailles-Rive Gauche and then follow the signs to the Chateau.
- A quick trip to Claude Monet's home and gardens at Giverny is a necessary trip for art history buffs! Buy a ticket to Vernon from the Gare Saint-Lazare station. When you reach Vernon, shuttle buses are available that go directly to Giverny (April-November).
- Just high off of its 20th anniversary, Disneyland Paris provides a magical excursion in Paris for couples to indulge their inner child. Journey into the world of imagination and enjoy all the wonderful attractions the parks have to offer.
Where to eat
Lovers looking to indulge in one of the fanciest and well-cooked meals must visit Michelin-starred, Le Cinq at the Four Seasons Paris. This restaurant embodies true French luxury and cuisine at its finest.
Burger lovers can't leave Paris without a visit to Le Dali at Le Meurice. The New York Times wrote this extravagant foodie-favorite up as having the Best Burger! It's also a feast for the eyes, designed by Philippe Starck, you won't be disappointed.
For the best falafel that we've ever tasted, L'as du Fallafel in Le Marais, the Jewish quarter, cannot be missed.
Josephine "Chez Dumonet" serves up classic bistro fare in a beautiful vintage-looking restaurant in Saint Germain. Its boeuf bourguignon and Grand-Marnier souffle won't disappoint.
Le Relais Plaza at Hotel Plaza Athenee serves up some of the best French cuisine in the city. We especially loved the live piano music.
Chocolate lovers can't miss a trip to Un Dimanche a Paris which features a chocolate shop, tea salon and restaurant. Not only are the pastries delicious and unique but every dish in the restaurant incorporates cocoa in an inventive yet subtle way.
If you're by the Louvre (which of course you will be), be sure to check out Le Fumoir, a classic and consistent Parisian cafe.
For anyone who has seen Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton's Something's Gotta Give, you can't miss Le Grand Colbert, which absolutely deserved the accolades given in the film. Especially the roasted chicken! You can even request to sit in their booth!
Pickpocketing is a problem throughout Europe and here is no different. Keep your purses closed and close to your person. Also be aware that tips are always included in meals; no additional gratuity is required.