Travel Diary: La Belle Paris

Eiffel Tower in Paris

We’re still dreaming of Paris! Rod and I got to snatch a little vacation all on our OWN this summer. It was a much needed 2 week European escape for the two of us. While Zoe was enjoying daily park dates, ice cream and absolutely no rules with my parents in Lisbon, we were exploring the streets of Paris, Brugge and Amsterdam (I’ll bring those to you in separate posts)! From the best bakeries to the Eiffel Tower, here are all the details in our travel diary of la belle Paris!

Where do I begin!? We stayed in the cutest Parisian apartment in the 7th Arrondisement (French for neighborhood) which we booked through Home Exchange. In case you missed it on my IG stories, it’s basically a home swap website and Rod and I have used it for so many trips to save a chunk of our budget! Each arrondisement is it’s own microcosm of culture, food, sights and vibe. The 7th happens to be home to the Eiffel Tower, Champs De Mars park, Orsay and Rodin museums and Les Invalides armoury where Napoleon’s tomb is. You are surrounded by classic and timeless architecture everywhere you go as well as delicious options for restaurants and bakeries!

our Home Exchange apartment was a DREAM!

We got so lucky with the weather! It was pouring rain on the evening we arrived but on the first morning of our 3-day trip the sun and warmth came out to play! So we headed out on foot to explore as many corners as we could. I didn’t know what to expect from the distances in Paris… some people said it was walkable and others said it was too big. Well, it’s a combination of both! We decided to stay above ground for the most part because the weather was so incredible but you can also grab a 10-pack of Metro tickets if you really hate walking. There are lots of electric scooter options too. We used to use the Lime scooter rental app to scoot back over to our neighborhood in the evenings when we had tired feet. There are loads of different companies on offer so just download them all and hop on where you find one!

the streets of Paris are lined with quaint cafes and restaurants (this one is in the 7th Arr)!

After trying multiple bakeries out around the 7th Arr, we found our absolute favorite spot, Boulangerie Laurent B. We couldn’t get enough of the fresh pastries and stopped off in the mornings before heading out for the day! Along the way, you’ll find other delicious places to try out so don’t be shy to stop and try it all.

such a cute chocolate/confectioner store in the 7th Arr

Let’s talk about some of the places + sights we had on our must-do in Paris list! On the first day we tackled the Louvre. And when I say ‘tackle’, I don’t say it lightly! The Louvre is the museum to overshadow all other museums, my friends. It’s a beast. It’s gigantic. Majestic. Overwhelming and stimulating. The line to get through security was easily an hour but ticket sales were surprisingly short about 15 minutes (not too bad). Inside, be prepared for awe and getting lost in the sheer amount of works of art on display. We decided to buy the touchscreen guide and HATED it. All it did was distract us, glitch out and make us go around in circles. In my quest for deeper knowledge, I missed out on just enjoying the art in many of the sections. Plus, they don’t refund you if you had a bad experience with it and were pretty rude about it. Seriously, skip that tourist trap and just enjoy.

The Louvre Courtyard in Paris

I don’t know if it’s because the Richlieu Wing (where Mona Lisa usually hangs out) was under renovation, but the lines to see this iconic artwork were insane. Somehow, they have it organized down to a T so we actually got a chance to peek at her and take a great photo before being shuffled away (they only give you about 15-30 seconds because of the amount of people, I get it). And the glass pyramids in the courtyard were something to marvel at!

there are so many beautiful corners to explore on the streets of Paris!
the fountain outside Pompidou Museum

We only had 3 days in Paris so we were diligent about which attractions to see. In summary, we only wanted to do more outdoors-y things. That led us to the Arc De Triomphe, the cruise boat along the Seine (so much fun + great way to see the city, we recommend) and trying to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately, it’s kind of a game of luck. If you get there at the right time, you might have a spot in the elevator to the top but it’s at capacity more often than not. Again, don’t make our mistake and wait in endless lines for tickets. BUY THEM BEFOREHAND. It cuts your wait time in half and is much better! For a gorgeous view of the Eiffel Tower, head across any bridge over the river and snap away to your heart’s content!

Eiffel Tower in Paris
cruise along the Seine

I know. You want to know a little more about shopping in Paris. Well, I hope your wallet overflows because it ain’t cheap (but you can drool at all of it)! We decided to pay a visit to the original upmarket French department store, Galeries Lafayette (founded 1912)! The intricate glass dome can be viewed from it’s very own walkway lookout! It’s chock full of designer brands and I decided to treat myself to a Chanel lipstick (because when in Paris and all that…). It wasn’t a total MUST, but it’s a nice place to see once. There are a few offshoots of this store around Paris so make sure you visit the flagship one on Boulevard Haussmann.

I found some of my favorite smaller street stores in the Le Marais district. You can find thrift stores next door to high end boutiques here. If you’re a mama then watch your bank balance if you walk into Le Petit Souk (whoopsy!) because you may want to buy the whole store!

The best night in Paris was also our most spontaneous. We wanted to see the beauty of the city by night. At 10.30pm we decided to adventure out on foot. I bought a padlock (Rod was hesitant, he complained they were too expensive!) and we found a pretty bridge and locked our padlock on it. While we were out and about, we saw the Eiffel Tower light up as it does every 15 minutes. It’s a beautiful light show, which lasts 5 minutes and I’m so happy we caught the spectacle, totally by chance!

Eiffel Tower at night

We had a short but amazing stay in la belle Paris before moving on to Amsterdam! If you get the chance to visit, it’s a must! If you’re heading on a Euro trip through Portugal, you can check out my guide to where to eat in my hometown of Cascais! Leave a comment below… have you been to
Paris? What did you see/do? See you all over on the ‘Gram for more adventures! Thanks for stopping by!


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A little about me…

Hello there! I’m Ana Free, s’nice to meet you! Thanks for stopping by my lifestyle and mommy blog! I’m mama to a gorgeous baby girl called Zoe as well as a four-legged rescue pooch called Indie and wifey to an Argentinian music producer hunk by the name of Rodrigo (but since that’s too long I always call him Rod haha). I love music, writing and singing songs, traveling, doing my makeup, taking photographs and spending time with my family. The craziest thing I’ve ever done is skydive and the most embarrassing was probably when I peed in protest on the floor in ballet as a child because the teacher wouldn’t let me go to the bathroom (seriously, when a 6 year old says they need to go, you gotta let ’em)!

As with most creatives, it seems I have a million and one passions and this space is where I get to write, share, ramble and post whatever comes to mind in my world. It’s really just all things casual, travels, mama+baby, fashion, makeup, style and me.