A Perfect 10: Building a Dream Itinerary in the ‘City of Lights’

“I guess it goes to show that you just never know where life will take you. You search for answers. You wonder what it all means. You stumble, and you soar. And, if you’re lucky, you make it to Paris for a while.” – Amy Thomas, author

Nate in front of Sacré-Cœur

Picture this: you have 10 days (not including travel days) to spend in the ‘City of Lights’, Paris. How do you want to spend it?

We’ve spent two of the past thirteen months in the Paris area, experienced a large number of possible activities, taken numerous day trips, and had many hits (along with a few misses). It’s become our favorite city in the world, an alternate home of sorts from Seattle. We’ve shared most of these activities in one blog or the next, but have never brought all of them together in one ‘best of’ list.

Although I’m no travel agent, I’ve tried to consider the overall flow of travel for my readers (not scheduling back-to-back day trip days, for example). Save your money on a travel agent and read on for 10 days of bliss in the City of Lights.

somewhere in the Latin Quarter…

We at Joy Adventuring don’t like frenetic travelling. We spend a fair amount of time with our cats. Therefore, the itinerary below is potentially a bit slower-paced for those of you who like to see as much as possible in a given time. You’ll note some ‘Bonus’ sections for those of you that have more energy than us!

Merthin and Souan

Before we dig into the itinerary, I have a reading list to recommend. You will definitely get more out of your trip to Paris if you read a few books in advance of your time here. While by no means a comprehensive list, the books below have all contributed significantly to our knowledge of Parisian culture and history, and are great reads in their own right whether or not you are planning to visit Paris.

  • Paris, by Edward Rutherford – Rutherford is a master of historical fiction, with classics such as New York, London, Seattle, and Cle Elum (ok, the last two aren’t real…just seeing if you are paying attention). One primary focus of this book is the building of the Eiffel Tower, incredible and impressive for its time – and remarkably safe for its workers, with only 1 off-duty death during its construction. (FYI the website that this links to is cool in its own right if you are nerdy like me – it shows number of deaths for construction projects throughout the world all the way back to the early 1800’s.)
  • The Sweet Life In Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City, by David Lebovitz – Lebovitz nails so many hilarious aspects of living as an American in Paris. Both Terra and I couldn’t stop laughing out loud while reading this book. Oh, and as a bonus Lebovitz is a famous chef, and he adds French recipes along with his Parisian stories.
  • Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution, by Michelle Moran – As we’ve learned more about French history, one thing that stands out is how complex and messy it is. This historical fiction is an excellent look inside one of the most critical times in French history –  the French Revolution – from the standpoint of the creator of famous wax figures who had ties to both the aristocracy and the Bourgeoise.
  • I should note that my dad strongly recommended a famous book by Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast. I couldn’t quite get into it, but if you are a Hemingway fan it is cool to see all the spots he and his friends frequented during his time in Paris.

Note that I don’t have any particular recommendation on where to stay, but that’s really because you can’t go wrong, especially anywhere in the 1st to 6th Arrondissements. Of course we’re staying way out of the main downtown area, in the 19th, and we love it. Even out here we can get just about anywhere in Paris in 20-30 minutes because of the great Metro system.

I’ve previously covered our favorite restaurants in this post, so I won’t call out specific places to eat unless it’s a critical part of the day’s experience. This itinerary focuses on the big things, the things that we consider ‘can’t miss’ – this agenda is less about the specifics (for example, ‘get up at 7am and get coffee’ – which by the way you can’t do until at least 8 or so, etc.) and more about the big picture of what you need to see and experience.

In addition to the ‘Bonus’ sections, you’ll also see some ‘Tip’ sections which are meant to help you navigate some of the trickier aspects of being in another country. Speaking of…below is the first tip (and yes, it’s about tipping).

Tip: ‘Tipping’ in France is almost non-existent. Leave one or two Euros on the table if you have good service, but don’t make the mistake of adding 10% (or even 5%) to the bill. If you still want to, you will make your waiter’s day, but it’s not expected.

You’ll note that this itinerary is light on museums. It’s safe to say that we’re simply not museum people. If you are, you’ll want to adjust accordingly, spend more time on museums, and bump a few items below.

In order to really get in the French swing of things, every day begins with a croissant (Pain au chocolat or croissant amande is also good if you want to live on the edge). Also, know your French coffees, the coffee culture is much different than in the US. And please try, really try, not to go to Starbucks for the duration of your trip.

Tip: You’ll find at least one boulangerie on every street corner. Try a different one every day and marvel over how each place’s offerings taste unique. Making bread in France is truly an art form, and every one has their own recipe! Also, just because you are allergic to wheat in the US doesn’t mean you will be in Paris, or at least not to the same extent. France has much higher standards than the US when it comes to processing food, and the difference seems the most obvious as it relates to wheat products.

One final subtle, but important note, before we get started. You’ll notice much of this advice is oriented around trying to live as though a French person would, versus trying to apply a US-centric (or other home country) lifestyle to France. If you truly immerse yourself in the culture, and even learn some French before you come, only then will you experience the magic that is France to the fullest degree possible.

Day 1: Adjusting to your new surroundings

oldest street in Paris – in the Latin Quarter

You’ll definitely feel the jet lag, so today you’re just going to focus on walking around Paris, breathing in the (mostly fresh) air, and taking care of any housekeeping items that you need to make your trip perfect.

Speaking of housekeeping, now is the time that you’ll need to figure out how to get around the city. The answer to that question is easy: the amazing Metro system. But which Metro option should you select to make sure you get the most bang for your buck? Typically you’ll just want to buy a 10-pack of tickets as it represents the best per ticket price. Each ticket is good for one full route (in other words, if you need to utilize 2 or 3 lines to get somewhere one ticket will work). If you 1) really want to get your best deal, and 2) your 10 day trip covers a full Monday-Sunday week, then you may want to opt for the Navigo pass (read this post if you’d like to see our experience getting this). It is a fabulous deal (about $25/person/week) and you are able to go everywhere on this itinerary (with the exception of Giverny) completely on this card.  Check out this link to understand the ins and outs of this option.

Tip: The five most important phrases to know in French are ‘Bonjour’ (a greeting during the day), ‘Bonsoir’ ( a greeting in the evening), ‘Au revoir’ (‘goodbye’), ‘Merci Beaucoup’ (‘thank you’), and bonne journee (‘have a nice day’). You need to use all of these (well, choose the greeting based on time of day) each time you interact with someone or enter a store. I promise you, if you do this, you will see how kind, generous, and welcoming French people are (I’m not joking!).

The best way to orient oneself to Paris (and many other European cities, we’ve found) is to do at least one (if not many) free walking tours. We’ve had a lot of success in Paris with Discover Walks – in fact, we’ve gone on seven out of eight of their offerings and have enjoyed every one! (If you get Quentin you’re in for a real treat!!) These tours are led by English speaking Parisian locals, generally last for 1.5-2 hours, and really help orient you to a particular area to help you decide what you want to come back for. Although they are ‘free’ and you can technically walk away, they explain during the tour that a tip at the end (perhaps 20 euros/person) is appreciated – the one time that tipping is acceptable!

This first day I’d recommend going on a couple of these tours, perhaps one mid-morning and one mid-afternoon, (broken up by your first nice long multi-course lunch), if it’s not too hot. At dusk, take a stroll along the Seine and stop at one of the restaurants for an appertif before heading out for dinner. Or, alternatively, get some wine, a baguette, and some delicious cheese and dangle your legs off the banks of the Seine, watching the tourist boats go by. I can’t imagine a better end to a day in Paris!

ah, the Seine

Bonus: Keep walking along the Seine on the Left Bank side until you see people dancing, and dance the night away on the Port Saint-Bernard!

dancing with Notre Dame in background

Tip – Getting Water: Parisians don’t run around with ginormous water bottles all day like we American’s do, but there are some good options for refilling your water bottle. 1) In most parks and many places throughout Paris you’ll spot water fountains where you can refill your water, 2) with any meal simply ask for a ‘carafe’ and the waiter will bring you a giant carafe of water at no charge, or 3) if you absolutely must, go to Starbucks!

Day 2: Louvre, Opera Garnier, and Galeries Lafayette

Despite the fact that I mentioned we aren’t ‘museum people’, the Louvre is an absolute must. It was the home to the kings and queens of France for many generations, and as such the architecture in and of itself (aside from the artwork) is spectacular. It’s also one of the most popular destinations on this agenda (along with Versailles and the Eiffel Tower), and yes, you’ll want to book your ticket in advance so that you can skip the lines.

Tip: I prefer shorts or sweats and a T-shirt as much as the next American, but while in France I’ll challenge you to dress up a bit more than you typically would on a vacation. It separates you a bit from the tourist hoard and doesn’t make it quite as easy to spot you (which, for safety reasons alone is a good thing). Nothing crazy – maybe some light slacks and a buttoned up shirt for a guy, a nice dress for a woman. (Although, as you can see in most pictures, I don’t follow my own advice!)

And know this, even with one day in the Louvre you won’t see it all. If you want to see the Mona Lisa, you definitely can (if you’re tall enough). Just don’t expect any quality, alone time with da Vinci’s masterpiece. In fact, we were told at the museum that, at any given time, roughly 90% of the museum’s artwork is not on display – meaning that you could go back every year of your life and never see all of the artwork. So just let go – don’t try to see it all; instead, enjoy the moment and being in one of the most amazing palaces the world has ever seen.

view of the Louvre on a November day

In order to keep your sanity, I would only reserve about 3 hours in the morning to visit the Louvre, and then, as always, go find an amazing French lunch. There are some online itineraries (including will.i.am at the Louvre – huh?) which could be a fun way to experience the place. We gave up on our chosen itinerary pretty quickly and just wandered around, admiring this amazing building.

Since you are going on to the Opera Garnier next, we have a very specific recommendation, Le Comptoir Baulois (just get the Boudin Croustillant and thank us later).

Tip: Every restaurant will have have a ‘menu du jour’, which means ‘menu of the day’. This is always cheaper than other similar options, will include a ‘entree du jour’, ‘plat du jour’, and ‘dessert du jour’, and is almost always delicious. Don’t shy away from just ordering the ‘menu’ and see what culinary delights come your way!

typical menu du jour

As mentioned, the next stop is the Opera Garnier. What a phenomenally lavish place! I wouldn’t waste your time on the Opera-led tours; the one we took was not impressive, and quite boring. I would just budget an hour or two walking around this place and being amazed. We have yet to see an actual opera (as it’s always been ‘off-season’ when we are there), but it’s certainly something I would recommend if you are in Paris when the opera season is in full swing.

interior of the Opera Garnier

The last stop of this busy day absolutely must be one of the most famous shopping galleries in the world, the Galeries Lafayette. Now, shopping certainly isn’t my thing, but you’ve got to see this place once in your life. The interior is a dazzling, over-the-top display befitting the high end stores inside. To catch your breath, head up to the top deck to see an impressive view of the city.

looking up at the Galeries Lafayette

At this point it’s time to wind down and have some dinner, as this day of sightseeing will leave you quite tired. And we’ve got a full day planned for tomorrow.

Day 3: Day trip to Versailles

Versailles in all its splendor

Make sure you bring your walking shoes on this trip, because you are likely going to log 30,000 steps today. But your legs won’t even notice it because there are amazing sights around every corner in Versailles.

This destination is everything it is cracked up to be, and if I had to choose one place to go on a day trip this would be it. There are fundamentally two aspects of a trip to Versailles – the palace and the grounds.

Tip – The Fountain Show: If visiting from April to October make sure to come to Versailles on a Saturday or Sunday (or other select dates as this is when the fountain shows occur. This greatly enhances the experience of visiting the palace grounds. The fountains are generally active from 11am-noon and 3:30-5 (note that this is a separate experience from the next tip I’ve listed).

dancing water at Versailles

Now, this may seem heretical, but I think you can have a completely successful, lovely, and worthwhile trip by skipping the palace entirely and just going through the grounds. That said, just once in your life you probably will want to check out the interior and see the famously extravagant Hall of Mirrors. As with the Louvre, you’ll want to book tickets online so that you can skip the massive, soul-crushing lines.

Nate in the Hall of Mirrors (with lots of other people)

A bit about the trip to Versailles: it will take you anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes to get to the train station in Versailles, depending on where in Paris you are staying. When you exit the train station, you almost immediately run into everything you could possibly want for a French picnic – a fromagerie (cheese), a boulangerie (bread), and a chocolatier (I think you can guess this one). Our suggestion is to get everything you could want for a wonderful French lunch and plan on sitting by the canal (which is technically outside of the Versailles grounds) and watch the boats go by whilst you eat your snacks. (Or, for a small fee, you can rent a boat yourself).

You’ll likely spend an hour or so in the interior of the palace, and then head out to the spectacular gardens for the rest of the day. It is also worthwhile to tour Marie Antoinette’s Versailles palace, Petite Trianon, and its grounds.

a picture of the gardens towards the canal

Plan on this being a full day trip. You will sleep well tonight!

Tip – The Night Show: Every Saturday night during the summer Versailles puts on a spectacular show at night which includes lighting up all the fountains and a fireworks display at the end. We were able to go this year, and it is one of the top experiences we’ve had in Paris so far. The real challenge is the logistics as the show ends around 11:10pm and the trains don’t run all night between Paris and Versailles. However, there are some blogs and information detailing how to make sure you catch the last train out of town. Another option if it works out for you is to stay the night in Versailles (we stayed at this cute Airbnb).

fountains at the night show!

Day 4: Montmartre, Buttes Chaumont Park, and Père Lachaise Cemetary

This day includes items that you are probably not going to find on traditional itineraries, as a portion of it takes you out to the 19th and 20th Arrondissements. The inclusion of this is a direct outcome of living in and experiencing all the great things that Northeast Paris has to offer. It’s a least worth a token visit during your 10 day experience.

Of course, everyone goes to Montmartre, and for good reason. It’s quirky, artsy, unique, and has an amazing history. In fact, in my next blog post I plan on writing a bit on the history of Montmartre, and in particular a look back at the Paris Commune of 1871 and the backlash against the Commune which resulted in the building of Sacré-Cœur.

In this case I would specifically recommend arriving at Montmatre by 11am for the Discover Walks tour of the area, which lasts around 90 minutes. The walk is worth it; at every corner you will be picking your jaw off the cobblestone streets after learning that this famous artist (Picasso) sat here or that famous artist (Van Gogh) lived there.

Then, aim for a 1pm lunch at Le Taverne de Montmartre. (I said I wasn’t going to get too specific, but for this to be a successful day you need to have the restaurants and timing planned out pretty well.) Afterward, head back to the Sacré-Cœur, walk through the beautiful interior, and then pay 6 euros per person to climb to the top of the tower.

view from the top of Sacré-Cœur

Tip: If you haven’t yet, please read my previous Parisian foodie post, in which I detail the 5 most common food fails in Paris. Don’t expect restaurants to be open around the clock in Paris; in fact, the safe zones are typically 12-2 for lunch and 7-9:30 for dinner. And August…well, that’s another story altogether as it’s when most of Paris goes on vacation.

After this, get away from the crowds (which often only takes moving one street over) and amble through the breathtaking streets of Montmartre on your way (eventually) back to the Metro; it truly is a unique experience in all of Paris.

a few streets over from the restaurant in Montmartre

But the day is far from over. For the next stop you’ll want to ride Metro Line #2 to our stomping grounds, the 19th Arrondissement. And in particular, visit the Parc les Buttes Chaumont, without a doubt the most beautiful park in Paris. It’s a magical place, truly a gem for any nature-lover to walk around in. You’ll get a good amount of exercise walking up and down the hilly slopes of the park and around the water features. And you’ll finally see where Parisians go to exercise!

Tip: Some parks (like Buttes Chaumont) allow you to bring in wine to enjoy with your French lunch, whereas others do not (castle grounds, etc.). It seems like the rule of thumb is if you see people lounging on the grass it’s probably okay to have a picnic with some wine.

the magical Parc les Buttes Chaumont

If it’s getting late by this point, you could end your trip here and have dinner at a number of places that I’ve outlined in my previous foodie blog, including in the park itself. But, alas, I recommend moving along to the next stop – again taking the Metro Line 2 further east, this time to the 20th Arrondissement.

Bonus: While in the 19th, the Canal Saint Martin is also a worthwhile detour. You can rent a paddle boat to go up and down the canal, and you can dine in one of many restaurants on the canal (for anyone from the US who misses a US-style brewery by this point, I’ll point you to the Paname Brewing Company. Great beer, and amazing tacos to boot! (But this is the closest to the US I will allow during this trip).

Canal Saint Martin

The 20th, like the 19th, represents a younger, up-and-coming part of Paris. It doesn’t have the beautiful, wide boulevards that you see downtown, but it does have a character of its own and some tremendous spots to eat and relax. After spending an hour or two at the Parc les Buttes Chaumont, head on over to the place where Jim Morrison is buried, Père Lachaise Cemetary.

Now, I’m not one for cemeteries per se, but this one is truly unique. Cobblestone streets lined by impressive mausoleums are everywhere. Don’t assume that you’ll be able to find Mr. Morrison’s tomb just because you have Google Maps on your side. We needed some serious help from an extremely helpful security guard to find it.

RIP Jim Morrison

The cemetery is a nice side trip, but the real reason I’m having you go to the 20th is for Mama Shelter, the most unique and outstanding food experience we’ve had in our two months of Parisian culinary experiences.

cool interior of Mama Shelter

Go on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night around 9pm and you’ll be treated to some live music as well. Make sure to make reservations in advance as this is quite the popular spot. The restaurant is attached to a hotel, so you could also stay there during your time and go to dinner there every night (if the checkbook allows).

And remember, Mama Knows What’s Cooking!

Mama knows what’s cooking

Day 5: Day trip to Giverny

remind you of anything?

The experience in Monet’s Gardens took our breaths away and was unlike any other experience we’ve had in the Paris area. As I noted in the introduction, this is the only trip on this itinerary which is far enough outside of Paris to not be included in the Navigo Pass, so you will need to buy separate tickets for the train. If I recall correctly the trip took around an hour and a half (or so) each way, and it was well worth it.

Monet spent 43 years of his life here, and there is simply something magical (and peaceful, despite the crowds) in the air while walking around the lush gardens. It’s an amazing experience to sit in the exact spot where Monet painted his Water Lillies.

more magical gardens

Heading out to Monet’s Gardens does make for a lengthy day, but it is well worth it.

Day 6: Notre Dame and wondering around the cool neighborhoods (Marais District, Latin Quarter, St. Germaine)

Notre Dame in all its glory

I’m setting aside a day specifically to explore these areas, but let me be clear – you need to spend every free moment wondering around these (and other) areas in downtown Paris. There are so many fun streets, restaurants, and sites that you will uncover. Get lost at least once during your 10 days!

Notre Dame is literally in the center of Paris, where the city began, right on an island on the Seine. It’s free to enter, and the line goes surprisingly fast. You must do it once, but don’t stress about it if it seems like a particularly busy time. You will likely be crossing back and forth in front of it numerous times during your stay in Paris.  The free walking tour company also has a great walking tour for this one that explains and points out details that you would miss otherwise.

view of the back of Notre Dame

Once you’ve stopped by the cathedral, take the rest of the day to leisurely wander the streets of Paris (especially since you went on a day trip yesterday and will go on another one tomorrow). There are a few areas that I’d recommend focusing on: the Latin Quarter, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and/or the Marais District. All have their own quirks and amazing restaurants, and all are worthy of simply walking around and marveling at all of the history around you.

Tip: In our experience, French waiters are more than happy to select the best French wine to go with your meal (and they are very good at it). But if you ask them to recommend any kind of food, it’s impossible for them without asking a ton of questions (do you want chicken or pork? light or heavy? and on and on…). It’s funny because this is the opposite of our experience in the US – waiters there can instantly tell you their favorite meal, but good luck asking them to select a good wine to go with the meal!

Bonus: If in the Saint-Germain-des-Pres area, definitely make a stop by Les Jardin du Luxembourg. It is a great place to enjoy a sunny day, people watch, and (if on a weekend) enjoy watching people dancing in old-fashioned gowns. It’s a great experience…just as long as you realize you will pay out the nose to sit down and have some wine.

dancing at Luxembourg Gardens


Luxembourg Palace

There are certain parts of all these areas that are simply overrun with tourists. I would advise you, in general, not to count on a great meal in those places (with some exceptions). And, if you find yourself in one of those spots there are usually side alleys that allow you to get away from the crowds and enjoy more serene neighborhoods.

inside our favorite wine shop in the Marais District

You really can’t go wrong in any of these areas, but if you don’t visit them all on Day 6, please promise me that you will visit all of these locations at least once during your 10 days in Paris!

view into the beautiful St. Germaine area from this restaurant


The Pantheon in the Latin Quarter

Day 7: Day trip to Fontainebleau

spectacular - the palace in the background

Fontainebleau Palace over the lake

Versailles is the ‘must do’ on the list; Giverny has a certain magical quality; but none of our overall day trip experiences in Paris match our time spent at Fontainebleau. There is simply so much here; an epic castle and its grounds, an idyllic French town, and a paradise for outdoor lovers. Fontainebleau truly has a special place in our hearts. And – even though it’s 45 minutes out of Paris – you can use your Navigo Pass!

We’ve done a number of things in Fontainebleau (including bouldering on the world-famous rocks), but here I’ll outline what I believe to be the best possible use of your time.

After your daily requisite croissant, head down to Fontainebleau, arriving at the castle when it opens at 9:30. As with Versailles, the experience includes both the palace and the grounds. I preferred the experience of touring the interior of Fontainebleau over Versailles as it was less crowded and seemed more ‘put together’.

just your average library


small biker, big water

Spend a couple of hours at the palace and grounds, but don’t spend too long because the most exciting and active part of your day is yet to come!

Tip: Bring a small scarf-style blanket with you everywhere in Paris. You never know when a picnic will break out!

After the palace, you’re going to rent a bike (there are a couple of options) and head through a (relatively easy) path in Fontainebleau Forest to the cutest French town you have ever seen, Barbizon. Aim to get there around 1pm, and there should be several spots to choose from to have an amazing French lunch.

biking to Barbizon

Of course, you are welcome to try climbing some of those world-famous rocks as well! Just make sure you have friends who know what they are doing and a couple of mats in case you fall!

this one was pretty tough for me

Bike back to Fontainebleau and explore the town some more. If you don’t mind hanging around into the evening there are a ton of great restaurants for dinner. You’ll head back to Paris exhausted, content in the fact that you probably burned as many calories as you consumed!

Day 8: Eiffel Tower and River Cruise

Eiffel Tower up close at night

Take this morning slow, as you are again between two day trips.

As I mentioned at the outset, our appreciation of the Eiffel Tower was greatly heightened by reading the book Paris. That said, I don’t think you need to go to the top. Terra and I did; the experience at the top amounts to essentially crowd surfing through a bunch of people without even really getting a chance at great views. And, honestly, the view at the top is not that much better than the view at the second (or even first) level. If you’d like to save a bit of time in line, and get some exercise, you can actually climb up to the second level for free.

We didn’t go up to the Eiffel Tower at night, but I’m guessing dusk or nightfall would be preferred, as it is when the City of Lights is at its best. You technically can book ahead of time online and skip the line, but the time slots are so specific (and often a week out) that it could cramp your style a bit to have to be there at a specific time. The line to take the stairs in the afternoon of a summer weekday took us about 40 minutes to get through; it looked like the line to take the elevator was marginally longer.

another view of the tower

We think a river cruise on the Seine is a must as well. Don’t waste your time or money on a meal while cruising. It’s really great to get a view of all the awesome Parisian iconic monuments from the river. Again, you’ll want to do this at dusk or later (the lights and the late night hours add to the ambiance and create an air of excitement).

Bonus: As I mentioned earlier, we are not huge museum people. However, most people wouldn’t consider a trip to Paris complete without a trip to the Musee d’Orsay. We went, we were overwhelmed by crowds, and we walked away in a daze. So we’re probably not the right people to talk to about this. It is an impressive place with an amazing amount of art, so if you appreciate art more than we do, this would be a good day to go! If you include it in this day, you will likely want to do it in the morning or early afternoon so that you can do the Eiffel Tower and River Cruise in the evening. Another possibility we’ve heard a lot of good things about (but haven’t visited) is the Centre Pompidou, which includes a world-renowned modern art museum.

Day 9: Day trip to Loire Valley

the glory of the Château de Chenonceau

I really don’t think any trip to Paris is complete without visiting some chateaus in the French countryside, and there is no better place to do that than the Loire Valley, west of France.

We booked this day trip, and it was the most phenomenal guided tour we’ve ever been on. (Adam, our guide, was outstanding!) The chateau choices were impeccable. Chenonceau was stunning, Chambord was incredibly impressive, and we also had a wonderful French lunch prepared by the owner of the third chateau we visited. It was a memorable day, and it certainly made us want to go back for further exploration.

We typically don’t like spending the money for a guided tour like this, but at this point in your trip (day 9) it will be nice to have someone pick you up, take you all over, and drop you off. It was an amazing experience.

Chateau de Chambord – wow!

Bonus: If champagne is your thing, instead of the Loire Valley you could check out the Champagne wine region. Last year we took a tour with Instants and had a really great experience learning about (and tasting) champagne from different local cellars. It was also an awesome experience!

Yum! Tasting at the famed Tattinger Cellars in Reims…right before we were attacked by someone from the Tourism Bureau

Day 10: Wind down

home of the famous snail episode

Tomorrow is your flight back, so in general you’ll want to take it pretty easy. My recommendation: spend some more time in your favorite area of Paris. Or take one of the walking tours that you didn’t get a chance to go on yet. Walk along the Seine. Breath in the beauty of Paris for one final day before heading back. Have your final Parisian croissant or one of the hundreds of beautiful delicatessian desserts throughout the city.

Bonus: On any given day in Paris there are multiple open air farmer’s markets, as well as many permanent indoor markets. Farmer’s markets play a big role in Parisian (and French) life, and if you get an opportunity I would highly recommend visiting one.

farmer’s market in Versailles

Remember to use this post together with my previous post about food. In our opinion food can make or break a trip!

I think what you’ll find, among other things, is that 10 days is not nearly enough in Paris. I’m not even sure that a lifetime is!

Enjoy Paris, and please drop a line and let us know if we hit or miss on any suggestions!

selfie time!