Winter in France – Always a Good Idea

by Amy Anne
France trip 2018! We went for Christmas, yes like in Home Alone! I thought this was a great way to spend the holidays. We planned out each day and below is the itinerary that worked for us so well. There is a certain amount of spontaneity built into it. 

The Itinerary by Day

Day 1: travel SFO to CDG overnight

Day 2: land CDG – buy metro and museum passes, and train to Strasbourg

Day 3: Strasbourg Christmas Markets

Day 4: Train to Paris and shopping at Monop store for groceries

Day 5: Versailles

Day 6: Trocadero, Gallerie Lafayette, Pantheon

Day 7: Cave wine tasting & New Year’s Party

Day 8: Lunch cruise, Musee d’Orsay, & Notre Dame

Day 9: Pompidou/Rodin Museum, Notre Dame towers and Crypts, Eiffel Tower, & the Louvre

Day 10: Cooking class, Architecture museum, Arc de Triomphe

Tuesday 12/25/18 we chose to travel on Christmas morning and it saved us hundred$. There was NO traffic getting from Sacramento to SFO San Francisco Airport. We chose to prepay and reserve a spot near the airport that included a shuttle to the terminal so that was worry-free! We ate brunch and all had bloody Mary’s pre-flight. The flight was about 11.5 hours so we made sure to stretch, rest, and watched a TON of movies on the plane. We flew United and it was a good trip – I didn’t have to wait for the lavatory much and the entertainment selection was pretty awesome!

We flew overnight and landed at Paris CDG airport on Wednesday 12/26/18. We bought museum passes and metro passes there. I highly recommend these as we chose to use train transit during our trip and the museum pass included mostly everything we wanted to see. We saved a lot of money by going this route. DO NOT over pack as the train stations are labyrinths up and down with stairs everywhere! We saw maybe a few escalators and like 2 elevators in all the stations. We had a few over packers in the group so we felt it. We went to the Champs Elysees and walked a little ways to have lunch. I had the croquet madame sandwich. SO GOOD!!!

Getting to Strasbourg

We wanted to start our trip out in Strasbourg so we took the high speed train. That was fun because there were screens that displayed the speed of the train. The ride was about 2.5 hours We walked from the train station to the air bnb – we should have taken an uber because we were dead-tired from all of our travels. We passed out that night. So hard. With aching glutes. 

Thursday  12/27/18 we started with breakfast at an awesome cafe – Cafe Broglie. All the food was so good. We spent the day at the Christmas markets drinking hot mulled wine, shopping, and we explored the Cathedral in the center. It was amazing! There was an animated astronomical clock that was just an amazing experience. We had a man down and had to go to the pharmacy for blister-shaped band-aids lol. Every spot we chose to eat was my next favorite meal of my life. We found the restaurant called Zenerglock and I ate them out of sauerkraut. My gut was so good for the whole trip from that. The wine and the food and the owner were amazing. Please try to go to this restaurant in your life! 

Back to Paris

Friday 12/28/18 We were heading back to Paris and ate at the train station cafe and drank espresso. So much espresso was had this trip. We travel back to Paris and check into our air bnb. We got settled and went to dinner at L’Aller Retour for steak dinner and lots of wine. This is where I tried escargot and pate for the first time. The food was the best part of the trip for sure!!!

Versailles Baby!

Saturday 12/29/18 we went to Versailles!! So beautiful. SO BEAUTIFUL. We went to the train station – RER C to take the train to Versailles! We followed google maps so it was easy to navigate and we created and downloaded the maps of all the places we were planning to visit so that was helpful when the phone died! There were was a really big line to get in the gates and then there were lines to get through and grab an audio tour and map. There were macaroons to make it better though. The grounds are huge! So part of our group rented a golf cart and it was fun to get to explore the grounds and see the history. We had lunch at the stables-turned beautiful restaurant on the grounds of Versailles. We traveled back to the air bnb and when we came up out of the station by the apartment – there was a car fire! And it seemed like no one noticed, but I got scared because I thought that it was going to explode so I ran to the other end of the station to exit. We were scared and got sushi near the air bnb – I know you’re probably thinking “Why eat sushi in France? WHAT?” I know me too, but the group decided that we weren’t going to go out there with the car fire. But again, the food was amazing. 

Sunday 12/30/18 we found a photographer on air bnb experiences section to do an engagement photoshoot for my cousin and his fiancé! That was an amazing shoot – the sky was gloomy but we went to the Trocadero to view the Eiffel tower and the clouds hung above the tower and it made for an awesome backdrop. We had lunch at L’Abreuvoir and explored the Galerie Lafayette and had drinks a the Ice Bar on the roof! We walked by the Pantheon at night and had dinner at La Maison Verlaine (Hemingway used to live here!!). Food = Good. So good. 

Underground New Year's Party at the Arc de Triomphe!

On Monday 12/31/18 we had a lazy morning and had a wine tasting at Les Caves du Louvre. We got to see more of the area on our walks to the metro stations, so pretty. We had reservations at Le Duplex in view of the Arc de Triomphe. The New Year’s party was in the club and underground! We had a giant buffet and drinks while waiting for the countdown. We danced a bit and went back to the apartment. Such a fun time!

van Gogh and Nighttime at Notre Dame

Tuesday 1/1/19 we slept in, needless to say, and reserved a lunch cruise. The food omg. We got to go to the Musee d’Orsay and it was so breathtaking. So much history and art. I love art and I cried when I saw the van Gogh exhibit. We had snacks and drinks at Mucha Cafe and made our way to Notre Dame for pictures at night. We had dinner at Le Bistrot Marguerite. 

Picasso, Gargoyles, Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre

Wednesday 1/2/19 we split that morning because my cousin and I wanted to see the Picasso exhibit at the Centre Pompidou and the others went to the Rodin Museum. Each was awesome, we shared pictures and stories while waiting in line to tour Notre Dame and climb to the top! That was not that bad of a workout, but it’s a turret staircase so you’re spinning in circles. I had to take a few breaks because I got dizzy a couple times and I get pretty claustrophobic. This was a little cramped but I didn’t have any anxiety attacks on the climb. After the tour, we walked the Crypts below and went and got street crepes which were awesome. We went to the apartment and got ready to tour the Eiffel Tower, we had tickets to go to the top. We had a 4:30 tour so we got to see the view at dusk and at night. Everything was so amazing. The diagonal elevator was a trip too! We did a night tour of the Louvre which enabled us to beat the crowds as the museum was open late. Afterward we had a late dinner at Pizzeria Iovine’s and took the metro back to the apartment. 

Last Day With the Food and Going Home...

Thursday 1/3/19 we split again as another air bnb experience was bought for a french cooking class by a local chef and while the chefs were cooking the rest of us went to the Architecture museum. We saw the Arc de Triomphe and had dinner nearby. Did I mention that the food was the best part of the trip? 

Friday 1/4/19 Going back home too early and they asked too many questions at the airport. We did our last minute shopping and rested on the flight back home and we landed on Saturday. Recovering the whole next day from the best food and history I’ve ever experienced. 

Will my experiences and itinerary help you plan your trip? 

What was your favorite vacation? 

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