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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

France Traveling Tips - To Do List

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Vacations are always exciting with lots of anticipation and planning. At least, they are for me. For weeks I plan what to pack, make reservations for events and restaurants, and write lists of places to see. Here are my France traveling tips and to-do list for this year's 10-day vacation to Paris. 

Home to...  the Louvre, Musée d'Orsay, haute couture, flea markets, Cordon Bleu cuisine, Tour Eiffel, Metro, Tuileries Garden, Champs Élysées, tarte aux fraise, sidewalk cafes..... 

What is on my list for a vacation in Paris?

1. Eiffel Tower - Tour Eiffel
The Tower has undergone a major renovation since 2014 including the installation of a transparent floor on the first level of the tower. Pretty scary thinking about standing on glass and looking down to the ground..., but seeing the renovated tower is a MUST. 

Sparkling illumination lights the tower each night after sunset with t*w*i*n*k*l*i*n*g lights for 5 minutes every hour on the hour. A sight to behold in person... photos cannot capture the magic of the twinkling. 

2. Maison & Objet
T H E  ultimate International Trade Show is September 2-6, 2016 and promises avant-garde displays in eight buildings. Tickets bought, printed, and stowed in the important papers traveling file... Travel route on the Metro is plotted. What new trends in home design and decor will we see? 

Source: Maison d'Objet Paris

3. Chenonceau and Villandry Chateaux
Chenonceau and Villandry Chateaux are in the Loire Valley, not Paris. That means a day trip from Paris via the high-speed train, TGV. For 55 minutes we will speed through the countryside seen as a blur on photos taken from the train's window and arrive in Tours. By rental car, Chenonceau is 40 minutes from Tours, and Villandry is 25 minutes from Tours, leaving plenty of time for visiting both chateaux and time for unexpected side trips before catching the 6:05 p.m. TGV back to Paris.

4. Marché d'Aligre
Flea markets exist year round in Paris. Marché d'Aligre is the oldest continuous market in Paris where more Parisiens than tourists shop six days a week. A small flea market in the square adjacent to the food and flower market has a variety of goods with bargain prices... after a little haggling.

The yellow arrow in the above photo points to a silver ladle I bought at the Aligre flea market the last time I was in Paris.

5. Ste Chapelle Concert
After discovering years ago that concerts are held several times a week throughout the year in Ste Chapelle, the private chapel for France's kings and queens, I have enjoyed attending a classical concert in the chapel renowned for its stained glass windows.

6. French Restaurants
Banana & Nutella crepes, tarte aux fraise, croissants, tomato salad, rich cream sauces, roti poulet...

7. Hardware Stores, Papeteries, Florists, Carrousel du Louvre, Covered Passages
Pop into hardware stores, stationery stores, covered passages, and florists where ever they appear. Le Carrousel is always a fun place to browse with great bathrooms, a post office, ATM machine, and buffet restaurant.

8. SHOPPING... yes, shopping
Two of the largest department stores in Paris offer discounts and special gifts to tourists who must make minimum purchases and show their passports at the customer service desk to receive their discounts and gifts.

One of my favorite gifts from Printemps years ago was this shopping bag. There is a small inside pocket at the top, and the bag is made from water resistant fabric. Great for carrying picnic supplies while in Paris and traveling on the TGV... The Eiffel Tower laminated identification tag did not come with the bag.

And my favorite from Galeries Lafayette? This adorable keychain in the shape of a shopping bag with the Galeries Lafayette logo.

So, what am I looking for besides a free gift while shopping?
  1. Lancôme beauty products, including Ôde l'Orangerie perfume 
  2. Waterman pens and ink cartridges 
  3. Notebooks with colored graph paper pages 
  4. Desk accessories 
  5. Limoge Eiffel Tower 
  6. Christmas ornaments, cards, and cartes postales 
  7.  French ephemeral 
  8. Glass bottles 
  9. Trumeau mirrors 
  10. Unexpected flea market treasures 

Do you think ten days is enough time?

Can you recommend where to shop for things on my list? 

Have any favorite Paris restaurants?


Remember to cast your VOTE for your favorite project in the 
Sweet Tea Challenge. 
July 14-21, 2016 
to see all twelve projects and to vote for your favorite. 

The winner will be announced on Saturday, July 23 on 


  1. You are a fount of information, Judith. You've been to some wonderful places.

    Thanks so much for sharing this at Thoughts of Home on Thursday.

  2. For us, ten days was NOT enough, but then again, we spent three months touring France and Italy and our last eight days were in Paris. We were tired, we were broke, but we took as much of Paris as we could and we conquered! But a month may be enough to get started!

  3. We are planning to go next year. This is so helpful Thanks for sharing.

  4. Sounds like you have a perfect ten days planned! I hope there is plenty of time for #6.

  5. Judith, I'm so happy for you that you have this upcoming trip. I long to return to Paris. Where will you stay? We much enjoyed Chenonceau, but have not been to Villandry Chateaux. A concert at Ste Chapelle is always on my list, and of course any markets I can find. I'll send you my notes with some specific shops and restaurants. So excited for you!

  6. Years and years ago Larry and I enjoyed Pub Renault; a French pub downtown Paris, in a Renault dealership. The banquettes were actual vintage Renault seats. I don't think it is still a part of Paris street life, sadly. I also loved drinking a Kir at the airport. Isn't that silly? So happy for you Judith!

  7. Chez Fernand in Saint Germain is a small but very good restaurant. I ate my first escargot there. We first ate there in 2010 and again in 2014. Both times were good.
    Your trip to Paris sounds wonderful. I haven't been to a concert at Sainte Chapelle but that would be magnificent. Haven't been to the Loire Valley either and would love to. Didn't get to go to the famous flea market either but we walked our legs off and had a ball going to many museums, gardens, and sights. A highlight was dinner at the Eiffel Tower. Saw the sun set and the full moon rise.
    After leaving Paris in 2014 we traveled to Beaune in Burgundy, onto Dordogne and then to Bordeaux. I'm always ready to go back.

  8. Great ideas for Paris travels. Thanks for sharing at Your Inspired Designs.

  9. I'm trying to talk Steve into a month in France. I actually signed up for Guest to Guest to house swap and save money. I have been getting lots of interest on our house, but we aren't ready to make plans yet.

  10. Try Le 7eme Vin ( near the Eiffel Tower. We had the most memorable dinner in this tiny restaurant but definitely make a reservation. Ste. Chapelle will always be on my must-see list but next time I'll have to see a concert there. I hear it's amazing.

  11. This is one thing on my Bucket List that I will never do...we sure would love going to another country...not sure which I would choose but I am leaning towards Ireland...have a blast on your France trip.

  12. We have traveled a lot, but have not made it to France yet. I hope to some day!! Thanks for sharing your tips with SYC. Pinning.

  13. Judith, love your suggestions for visiting Paris. I've only been once and I dream of going again. Have a safe and enjoyable trip. Thanks for sharing at Your Inspired Designs.

  14. I love to cook so I never miss E. Dehillerin. Thank you so very much for linking up this week at Thoughts of Home on Thursday! We love the special sparkle that you add to the gathering.

  15. My hubby and I saw a candelight concert of Vivaldi's Four Seasons inside Ste Chappelle at night. It was probably one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life. MAGICAL! I also enjoyed shopping at E. Dehillerin for cooking supplies. Along with a few other things, I brought home a see through wine bag Many of the cafes in Paris were serving chilled white wines in these bags rather than an ice bucket. I live in California's wine country, but I hadn't seen this before. It was a very "French" thing to bring back.
    Best & Bisous,
    Michelle from Simply Santa Barbara

  16. What a wonderful plan for a romantic trip! Have never been, can't wait to hear about it when you return

  17. These are great ideas! I have not yet been to the Loire Valley... Next time!


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