Paris is one of my favourite cities!
I’m so in love with its museums, French cuisine and the city’s vibe. I’m pretty lucky Paris is only three hours away by train from Amsterdam. So, I’m there quite often.
However, recently, I was in Paris for the first time on a solo trip. It was a mix of business and personal trips, so I had enough time to enjoy the city during my short trip. Well, here is my travel diary with things I did during my three days in Paris.
Three days in Paris
Day one – Fashionable Paris
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I caught an early train from Amsterdam and was in Paris already at 10 am, soI had the whole day to explore the city. It was a rainy, grey Monday morning, and I felt like I was the only person in the city. Paris is usually packed with tourists, but its streets were almost empty this time. I had a feeling like I travelled to some different time when it was only the city of Parisians and a few travellers.
And I was one of those travellers… Explorers… Having the city only for myself.
Palais Garnier & Coco Chanel
I took a walk from the Jardin du Luxembourg, where my hotel was located, towards the Seine River, Louvre and Palais Garnier.
Before my trip, I read Christina Henry de Tessan’s book ‘Forever Paris’. She created several self-guided tours around Paris through which travellers could follow in the footsteps of some famous people that used to live there.
I decided to follow the life of Coco Chanel. My tour started in front of the Opera Garnier, from where I continued wandering around the neighbourhood. I’ve passed next to the first Chanel store, one of the apartments the famous designer used to live in and next to the place where she used to have her morning coffee.
There is something special in reading about someone’s life and then strolling the streets where that person lived. Somehow, I could almost see Coco Chanel rushing through the small side streets from her apartment to the office with some new fashion drawings under her arm.
Marais, street art & vintage shops
My first day in Paris was reserved for immersing in Parisian fashion. I had a nice and delicious lunch in one of the restaurants with a view of the Opera Garnier. And decided to spend my afternoon exploring some famous vintage shops in the Marais neighbourhood. I’ve never spent much time in that area, and it was such a pleasant surprise. I loved its picturesque streets filled with small cute stores, cafes and restaurants. The whole area has such a relaxed vibe.
It’s filled with street and I loved spotting it all around me. I didn’t have enough time to join some of the street art tours this time, but would definitely like to do that on one of my future trips to Paris.
Marais is well known for some of the best vintage stores in Paris. You never know what you’ll find in them – Dior earrings or some other gem from the 1980s. Well, I wasn’t so lucky… But, I definitely enjoyed visiting them, checking the clothes they have and talking with other shoppers (who were some of the coolest people I’ve met in Paris).
I felt a bit sick that day, so I returned to my hotel early. I got myself a nice cup of hot tea and went to sleep.
Day two – Impressionists’ Paris
Looking for Impressionists at Montmartre
When I woke up the following day, I was feeling much better. So, after breakfast in a restaurant close to my hotel, I was ready for some sightseeing again. Day two was reserved for learning more about and exploring the French Impressionism in Paris. It’s one of my favourite painting styles, and I am in love with that time, the bohemian lifestyle and the culture at the end of the 19th century.
I decided to take a tour around the Montmartre neighbourhood and learn more about the Impressionist painters that used to live and work there. I met my guide below the Sacré-Coeur Church, and we went to Montmartre, where he showed me some places important for the Impressionist movement in Paris.
When we left the most popular area of Montmartre behind us, some streets and houses still looked the same as they did at the end of the 19th century. I could almost imagine carriages strolling through those streets and music coming from the small cabarets.
The most special place for me was the house where Vincent and Theo van Gogh lived together during the two years Vincent spent in Paris. The painting Van Gogh painted while looking through the window of that apartment is displayed in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. I know the painting so well, and once standing there, the place almost felt familiar to me.
After a short break and some tarte tatin, I went to the Musée d’Orsay. That’s THE museum to visit if you want to see some of the most famous modern paintings. And it’s home to one of the best Impressionist collections in Paris.
The building in which the museum is located is a piece of art and history itself. It was built as a train station at the end of the 19th century and later converted into a museum. Visiting it will provide you with a fantastic combination of industrial architecture and a modern art collection.
Musée d’Orsay online ticket before your visit.TIP: To avoid queueing in front of the museum and waiting to get in, buy your
Musée Marmottan Monet
My guide gave me an excellent recommendation for a lovely little restaurant close to the Musée d’Orsay, called Les Antiquaires. After a delicious lunch there, I went to another museum with one of the best collections of Impressionists’ paintings in Paris – Musée Marmottan Monet.
I visited it a few years ago on a student trip and have wanted to return since. The museum has a beautiful collection of one of the best female Impressionists – Berthe Morisot. And the most extensive collection of artworks made by Claude Monet. It’s not a busy museum, so there is a lot of space to enjoy some of the masterpieces of Impressionism in peace and quiet. I’m always wondering why everyone is rushing to see Mona Lisa, while there are many beautiful museums around the city, like this one.
After this trip to Paris, I’m even more in love with Impressionism than before. If the hygiene level were just a bit higher, I would love to live during that time. I would be an art dealer and go on little trips to nature to paint with Monet and Renoir. Oh, those sweet dreams…
Day three – Modernist Paris
My last day in Paris started with one of the best breakfasts and the most amazing coffees I have ever tried. I had breakfast at a charming restaurant, Carette, located close to Trocadero. I’m sure it will become my new favourite place in Paris.
Since I have been to Paris many times, I know the city quite well. However, there was a part I was always kind of missing – the Modernist Paris. It played an essential role in shaping the city – Art Nouveau metro entrances and Eiffel Tower are just the most famous examples of architecture from that time.
To learn more about it, I decided to join a walking tour called the ‘Modernist Architecture’. During the tour, we explored some of the modernist buildings, learnt about the movement and visited Foundation Le Corbusier and the modern architecture exhibition in the Palais de Chaillot (here is the online ticket for it). It was so interesting to see how the Modernist movement shaped the way we are living today.
After the tour and a quick lunch, it was time to catch a train back to Amsterdam. My three days in Paris were dedicated to art, mostly Impressionism and modern architecture. I also tried to learn more about some of its famous former citizens like Monet, Renoir, Cezanne and Coco Chanel.
However, once again, I have realised solo travel isn’t bad. And that French are some of the nicest people out there, who know how to cook well and enjoy life. Well, maybe my next visit should be dedicated to learning how to enjoy life like a Parisian.
Au revoir! Until the next time, my dear city!
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