It was 7 A.M in Paris, and I was sitting in my hotel room ready to take on the day. Although the jet leg was catching up with me, I was in Paris. So, nevermind sleep, I told myself to go taste some food, do some shopping, and see the sites so I could share my top experiences with you from my short trip to Paris and London.
In August, I spent eight days in Paris and London, where I ate some of the most amazing food and saw some of the most brilliant fashion. And, of course, the architecture blew me away.
During my journey, I took some notes on some of the best restaurants, places to shop, and what to site see, so when you take your next trip to Paris or London you have a “trip advisor” list prepared.
Where to stay:
Le Lavoisier Hotel
This boutique hotel is something I would think a quaint apartment in Paris would look like. This is a great hotel for what you need: a place to sleep. The bed was so comfortable! It was a great room for my mom and I to share; however, one more person in the room and it would be a little uncomfortable. The main reason I would suggest this boutique hotel is because it is located in the heart of Paris. It is a short Über drive or a quick walk to any key destination like the Champs-Élysées or the shops along Boulevard Haussman. To feel like a true Parisian in the heart of Paris, stay at Le Lavoisier Hotel.
Where to eat:
All I can say about Benjamin Turquier is that they make the absolute best croissants ever. And I mean ever. They were fresh, buttery, and melted in your mouth each bite. I also recommend their espresso. I have never had coffee that tasted so smooth, warm, and refreshing. It was a perfect pairing between the croissant and espresso while touring a residential area in Paris. My mom and I also purchased a ham and cheese baguette to split, which was also delicious, for us to take to the Eiffel Tower and enjoy.
It was a bit expensive for a salad and Diet Coke, but wow was Le Village amazing. I had the salade niçoise and it was fresh and tasty. I recommend dining here once, as the prices were high. You’ll also get the benefit of staring at neighbouring Dior and Chanel stores while dining, and sitting amongst the locals, for a truly Parisian experience.
This meal was a great way to end our time in Paris. I would suggest you have the steak and béarnaise sauce with fries. It was so good, my mom and I didn’t speak until we were both finished. My mouth is watering thinking of the béarnaise sauce as I write this post. Additionally, the décor of the restaurant was fun and modern, which you don’t see a lot of in Paris.
The view and the rosé were what made this dinner experience at MiniPalais special. Oh, and the crème brûlée. If you want to enjoy a comforting, casual, and delicious meal to celebrate a night in Paris, I would suggest this restaurant.
Where to shop:
If you love a specific luxury or midrange brand you will find it here. This department store goes beyond anything you could imagine. And never mind the amazing brands they carry, the architecture inside is beautiful, too. You feel like you are in a castle that is finished with beautiful artwork, especially on the ceiling. I would write a full list of all the brands carried but that would be my whole article. But to name a few: Zadig & Voltaire, Maje, The Kooples, Kate Spade, Chloe, Prada, Chanel, and Loui Vuitton. Don’t spend all your shopping time here, however, even though you for sure could. There is much more to do and see while shopping in Paris.
Chanel – Coco Chanel’s first store
This was a special experience. I went to the very first clothing store of Coco Chanel, which is also where she lived. This was so cool and amazing to know that Coco Chanel walked around these floors. As does Karl Lagerfeld, occasionally. I don’t even know where to begin, and almost don’t want to share too much because I want you to experience it the same way I did – with an open mind. The store is small but quaint, beautiful and well designed. The sales associates working there make your shopping spree an experience. Also, before you go, watch the movie, Coco Before Chanel to get a full history and visualization of her brand, store, and life before you walk through her doors.
What to see:
Musée du Louvre
There is so much to see at the Musée du Louvre. You would have to take a full week to see everything, but unfortunately, I was only able to spend a few hours touring the museum. The most important piece I wanted to see was the Monna Lisa and to get a picture with her. She was way smaller than I thought, and since she is the most photographed piece of art in the world, they have placed her on a wall behind glass, with a railing around and a guard on either side of her so people can’t get too close. Trying to see her somewhat close up and getting a picture with her was a challenge, one my mom and I had to plot through, but we managed! There is so much to see, so I would recommend making a plan or else you could get lost and be in there for weeks.
Pont des Arts
This is one place I was very excited to see. Pont des Arts is known for being a place where tourists attach padlocks, which they call love locks, with their names carved into them to the railing of the bridge and then throw the key in the Seine river below as a symbol of love or a committed relationship. I love the concept of this bridge: people coming together with loved ones and making their mark. However, last year, the French Capital removed the love locks from the bridge due to the weight of the locks. This historical monument that I witnessed was not what I was hoping for, but my mom and I did find a special spot to place the lock we bought. We don’t know how long it will last there, but at least we got to make our mark on the Pont des Arts bridge.
This is a beautiful site to see. The movies don’t do it justice. I recommend spending a few hours to visit this monument. Grab a lunch to go, find a seat in the surrounding park, and enjoy the view. I did not walk up the Eiffel Tower, but I would suggest doing it if you have the time! One thing I would caution is to be aware of your belongings at all times.
If you love shopping, you will enjoy walking about the Champs–Élysées. There is everything from the Disney store, Gap, to Louis Vuitton, and everything in between. Along the shopping strip there are hotels and restaurants, too. This is another great place to tour around as the Arc de Triomphe is at the end of the strip.
Arc de Triomphe
The first time I saw this monument was from the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen movie Passport to Paris. Then I saw it again while watching videos on YouTube created by fashion bloggers during fashion week. And now I have seen it in person, stood in front of it, and have a picture to prove it. This monument is beautiful and large. I did not think it was this big. The experience of walking up the Champs–Élysées, shopping and dining, and then witnessing this grand piece of history at the end of our journey was amazing. It felt like I was in a movie.
Chic Shopping Paris
My mom bought me a very special gift while in Paris. She booked us a Chic Shopping Paris tour. Chic Shopping Paris is a private touring business for tourists to book so they can see and learn about the insider tips of where to shop, eat, and discover. I really enjoyed this and suggest you book a tour during your time in Paris. I was able to see more of Paris and shopped at boutique stores I probably would have never seen if it was just my mom and I walking around. And because of this tour, we were able to dine at some amazing and delicious restaurants and cafés.
Where to say:
Ham Yard Hotel
This hotel is my dream home. The craftsmanship and design of the hotel is shocking, amusing, beautiful, and so inspiring. Each room and floor has a different design and allows you to embark on a different journey. During my stay I could spend my time in the drawing room, library, rooftop garden, or even the bowling alley. Kit Kemp is the inspirational interior designer of the Ham Yard Hotel. Her craftsmanship and design ability should be Googled and explored.
Where to eat:
This Japanese inspired cuisine is inspirational. The food was filled with flavour and the presentation was memorable. At ROKA, the food is meant to be shared amongst your table, and each bite was significantly satisfying.
This is one of my top three favourite restaurants from anywhere in the world. Hakkasan is an award-winning restaurant that is dedicated to Chinese cuisine. I almost don’t want to eat common American Chinese food after eating here, and the drinks were equally as amazing. The atmosphere was dark and mysterious but welcoming. It is a great choice for a special occasion, as it also has a lounge and a nightlife attitude! It is on the pricier side, but worth every penny.
Zuma is an informal Japanese restaurant with amazing food and a fun atmosphere. The flavours were addicting, the presentation was alluring, and the Sangria was the best I have ever tasted.
Scott’s is an iconic restaurant in London. It is located in Mayfair, which is a high-end shopping district. With a huge selection of seafood, from caviar to fish and chips, you will find and enjoy something delicious in an elegant setting.
Ham Yard Hotel for High Tea
Enjoying high tea while in London is a must. My mom and I enjoyed an afternoon of high tea at our hotel, Ham Yard. It was such a cute and fun set up! We had an arrangement from cucumber sandwiches, to scones, and macarons. It was elegant, charming, and mature. There are lots of other places to attend high tea, but I would suggest the Ham Yard as you can witness the amazing interior design.
Where to shop:
Sloane Street + Broughton
For some slow-paced boutique shopping, I would suggest Sloane Street and Broughton. Even if you are just window-shopping, the homes among the streets in these two areas are beautiful. It made me want to move to London ASAP. It is a great place to walk through to get away from the traffic on Regent Street or to do some low maintenance shopping.
Regent Street is a major shopping street on the West End side of London. This street is well known for its curved architecture. It is another major shopping district that is known to be the first shopping street ever in the world. With a mix of shops, restaurants, and offices along the avenue it is a beautiful street to see as it is has some of the most distinguished architecture in London.
Harrods is a fashion dream. It is also a very iconic department store and is truly beautiful. I had said this major department store and highlight might be overrated, but I have to take my words back. It has every high-end brand you could dream off, and the architecture and interior design of the store makes you feel like you are on a different planet. It is like a maze, however, so I do suggest figuring out what brands you want to see before going or else you could lose track and be in there all day without seeing everything.
What to see:
Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and the London Eye
I would spend a few hours to go and tour these three prime destinations. They are beautiful, filled with history, and are a large part of the quintessential London experience.
When walking through the Theatre District in London it is like being in Time Square but not as big and loud. However, the buzz around the Theatre District is fun and exciting. And as you can probably guess by the name, there are lots of theatres with multiple shows playing.
This was a special stop for me. It was very exciting and cool to see the British Vogue House. It was not what I expected, but it was almost better. It is a simple white building with bold letters on the front that say Vogue House. Attached to it is a small Conde Naste store where you are able to purchase any magazine under Condé Naste, along with cute Vogue items like a tote bag, key chain, or water bottle. If you are interested in fashion, I would suggest you take a second to swing by this major brand and take in how cool it would be to work there.
Written by Savaya Shinkaruk