What Do You Do With 24 Hours to Spend in France?
My European trip was a bit of a whirlwind. I was in London for a few days attending the massive World Travel Market show before I hopped on the train with fellow travel companion Lola DiMarco to head to France where our mutual friend, Ashley Chalmers of Lazy Travelers, lives. Ashley lives in the sweetest little village called Fontainebleau, which was the last home of Napoleon Bonaparte before he was exiled to the Mediterranean island of Elba. His massive chateau still stands and is a major attraction for visitors.
We drove around the village for a bit looking at the sites until we arrived at Le Chateau Chalmers. It’s a sweet, very French-looking cottage; I could see why they were in love with living there. We relaxed a bit and freshened up before heading into town for dinner.
Dinner was absolutely delightful. Escargot, duck confit with fresh vegetables, and a great wine to accompany our meal. Yeah, France!
The next day was going to be a fun but crazy day in Paris so we went to bed early to prepare.
What does one do with only one day in Paris? Well hold onto your hat because it’s a whirlwind tour:
Visit Notre Dame
We cruised Notre Dame, took photos outside, and ventured in. Though super crowded with tourists snapping pictures and posing for one another, it was a magnificent site. The exterior architecture was something to behold. I always have a fascination with how concrete structures hold on to overhanging details such as gargoyles for so long. How do they not break off over the centuries? If you’ve never been to Notre Dame, it’s free to enter and walk through; you can pay a nominal fee to get the guided audio tour if you really want it. I suggest just walking around, taking your time, and seeing what interests you most.
Shop for Berets
I know, I know, but I couldn’t help myself, and the kids would not have forgiven me if I came home from France without them. So yes, made in China, sold in Paris. I bought berets for the girls. It was fun walking through the shops and seeing all the silly Paris swag tourists sink their hard-earned money into. You can find them almost anywhere you look.
Have Lunch at an Outdoor Café
Who doesn’t dream of sitting on the streets of Paris drinking champagne and eating cheese and pâté while watching life creep by? It’s the Parisian way and a law, I think. (Wink, wink.) The three of us sat in a café and did just that. Being a foodie and having a deep love for French food, I couldn’t help myself. I had to have cheese and pâté with my champagne. Although when I ordered the cheese patter and Pot du Pâté, I assumed the pâté would be in a small ramekin, but instead it came to me in a loaf pan. Cardiac arrest would have been the next stop on the list had I attempted to eat that. So we each had a taste or two, drank our champagne, and relaxed over a lovely meal before heading to our next stop.
Stop at Pierre Hermé
I know it’s not an important historical landmark or a significant something or another, but come on, how does one go to Paris and skip visiting the most famous pastry and chocolate maker in the world? There were truffles, hot cocoa, macarons, and other lovely things just waiting to be sampled. I got a few caramels and some hot cocoa mix for the kids and bought the girls and I some macarons to snack on.
Admire the Louvre
You must be thinking there is no way in the world we saw the Louvre in one day, much less in a day mixed with seeing lots of other things. You are correct; I didn’t go in. But, I did see the outside, and we admired the buildings, the arch, and the park adjacent to the massive museum. And I got the app on my phone, does that count? If you have an entire day to dedicate to visiting the Louvre, the entrance fee will cost you 16€ to see everything, but if you fall into one of the museum’s special categories, you can get in for free. Be sure to check out the website before you go.
Take in the Beauty of the Eiffel Tower
Dun-da-da-dun! La pièce de résistance! How could someone get tired of seeing this beauty, all lit up with her sparkles and glamour? The Eiffel Tower is so beautiful at night. It was raining at this point so we opted to not go up in the tower, but we basked in her glow for a bit, took some pictures, then walked dreamily into the evening with our umbrellas up. There are two options for going up in the tower: You can walk all the way up or you can ride the inclinators. The cost is 5€ if you want to walk up and 14.50€ to ride.
Have Dinner on a Rainy Night
It was a simple dinner of French onion soup with a carafe of wine as we sat together talking about what a fun day we had in Paris. Being with two great friends in a beautiful city was such a great experience. Thanks Ashley and Lola for spending the day with me.