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Paris Q&A: Where We Stayed, The Strikes, Shopping Haul, and more

Fran Acciardo girl looking out at the seine with Eiffel Tower in the background

Bonjourrrr! This past weekend in Paris was absolutely lovely. My friend Katie and I decided to do a quick trip for her birthday / Easter weekend, and we had a great time. We really didn't do anything crazy, just explored, shopped, ate and drank, and enjoyed our vacation. We'd both been to Paris twice before, so it was nice not feeling pressured to do a lot of the touristy things. We did a lot, so I think I'm going to break up the blog posts into (1) this Q&A post, (2) day by day recap, and (3) everything I wore!

The first two times I visited Paris were actually within a few months of each other, in 2015. I studied French all throughout middle and high school, as well as half of college, and always planned to study abroad in Paris, but unfortunately, after transferring colleges, it was off the table. Additionally, my last trip to Paris was canceled due to Covid, so just a long way of saying I really was excited to get back! 

Because it had been about eight years since my last trip, I didn't really remember much of the city. I was so shocked this time around to realize how big Paris is. It felt like every day we explored new neighborhoods and all of them just felt huge! I mean, New York feels so small once you live here, so it makes sense that anywhere with a little breathing room feels giant. But four days ended up being a great amount of time, and I'm just so grateful for the time we got to be there. 

Let's get into the Q&A!

Parisian building, Paris architecture


Q: Where did you stay?

A: Everyone's question! We stayed at Hotel De L'Arcade in the 8th Arrondissement, and we had a great experience -- but I have a few notes. The hotel itself was great; our room was nicely sized, we had a cute street view out of the window, and the people who worked there were simply delightful and so kind. Overall great experience! The only thing we didn't love was the location. I would compare it to visiting NYC and staying on the Upper East Side but wanting to spend all your time in the West Village; we were in a super nice part of town, near some sights, and still very much in the heart of the city, but we found ourselves simply far away from the parts of Paris we really wanted to spend time in. It was a great price and lovely like I said, so no regrets, but maybe we would've preferred staying in the 3rd or 6th arrondissements. 

Q: Did you feel safe with what's been going on?

A: About a week before our trip, I was feeling a little nervous about all of the strikes. We ended up getting really lucky and many of the strikes fizzled out when workers went back to work the Wednesday before we left. Additionally, we got even luckier that there were no strikes at all scheduled for the weekend we were there, likely because of Easter. However, the strikes are not completely over. From what we learned, they're usually scheduled for afternoons on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and they're pretty organized. All of this to say, we didn't experience any of this. We felt completely safe. If anything, I felt like the city was really quiet the whole weekend we were there. It was peaceful and I'm so grateful.

Q: What did you buy?! Paris haul!

A: I'm not sure if I bought enough stuff to do a proper haul, haha. The most exciting purchase was my Hermes purchase, which I unboxed here. I also purchased this body lotion, which was kind of a random splurge, but I just fell in love with the scent, and it was about 25% cheaper to purchase it in Paris.

My friend Katie bought a Celine bag, and I almost bought this belt, but I decided I'll wait until Milan next month and see if I still want it then - I'm not a belt girl (yet), so I didn't want to commit. But now I'm having regrets because I'm not seeing the size and color combo I liked online... and it was almost half the price in Paris... oh no, looks like I have to go back!

Finally, I purchased a few fun skincare items from the French pharmacies for myself and some girlfriends, and of course, I purchased a few gifts as well! I think I'll make a Tik Tok of the pharmacy finds because that was pretty fun.

Q: Favorite areas to shop?

A: One thing I wish we had researched more was boutiques and vintage shops. We did a lot of commercial shopping which was great, but it would've been fun to find something unique and different, too. I will say one store that we had a great experience at was Le Bon Marche, which is a lovely department store. Everyone there was so nice. We had a great experience at Byredo and Celine there, and that's where Katie found her Celine bag. It was just such a better selection and much kinder staff than the Galleries Lafayette. 

We also went to Printemps which is another fabulous department store. We actually went into the men's building and had a drink on the seventh floor, where they have a cute and cozy bar with one of the best views we saw all weekend.

Q: Trench coat details!

A: Unfortunately, you're not going to like my answer. The trench coat I wore was my grandmother's. I absolutely love it and it was perfect for the trip! 

Here are similar options I love: 

one (under $200), 

two (under $300), 

three (under $400 but of course my favorite of the three)

Q: Did you need reservations ahead of time for restaurants?

A: Short answer, no. We had a list of restaurants and many of the spots on our list don't take reservations, so we walked in most places. We did have two reservations going into the weekend, but I think we would've been fine without them. I think if you want to go to certain restaurants that are popular and do take a res, or you have a large party, then, of course, it's important, but for the most part, I think it's probably fine to not have a reservation, and instead just a solid list of spots you'd like to try.

Q: Favorite place you ate?

A: Chez Janou, where we ate on our last night, was my favorite. One of my friends recommended it, and then it was recommended again by a bartender in Paris when we were there. It was so cute, and in the best neighborhood, with a great crowd. We sat at the bar, made a friend, and enjoyed our evening immensely. They even have a little ramekin of olives at every table when you sit down, and they were mind-blowingly incredible. I literally asked for a refill on the green ones! Loved it so much.

Q: How was the weather?

A: This was so interesting to me - 50 degrees in Paris feels very different from 50 degrees in NYC. I guess it depends on where you live and what you're used to, but I felt like Paris was much warmer than NYC mostly because it's not very windy. In NYC you're going to basically blow away anytime it's under 60 degrees, so it was a pleasant surprise to be comfortable in a light jacket! 

Q: Did you speak any French?

A: OMG. You guys. This was so humbling. My French has gotten so bad. Not even my speaking skills, but I really can not understand it. I tried to order in French and make a few small conversations here and there, but I really struggled to understand responses in French. So, to answer the question, barely. Made me so sad - I want to be better! I ordered a coffee in French one day and as soon as the cashier responded "for here or to go" in French, I had to start speaking English. It was so humbling and I wanted to crumble into a little crumb for the rest of the day.

Q: Most surprising delight, and biggest meh of the trip

A: Love this question! We'll end here.

Meh: We planned to do Easter mass at Sacre Couer, and I was really disappointed with myself for thinking this was feasible. Sacre Couer, and really all of Montmartre on Easter Sunday, was packed beyond anything I think I've ever seen. I wish we would've just gone to regular church for mass and skipped the 2-hour line at Sacre Coeur. The worst part was the line stopped moving and we never even got to see inside the church. I mean, I can't really complain because the entire idea was mine and it was my fault for thinking it was a good idea in the first place, but still, it was a huge bummer.

And to end on a positive note, the biggest delight: It's hard to think of one moment! The whole trip was honestly really chill and so lovely. There wasn't one crazy moment. We just had fun exploring every day. If I had to choose, I think maybe it was this really, really long walk we did at like 8AM Saturday morning after landing. We were a little delirious and saw so many sights and it was just exciting and sunny and a really happy morning. Honestly, for the entire trip, I was just happy to be there.


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