Co-workers: “What are your plans this weekend Kara?”
Me: “I’m going to Paris”
Yes, a long weekend in Paris seems a little crazy, BUT it’s possible and affordable if you put in the effort. In this post I’m going to explain to you why I thought 4 days was enough time to fly 8 hours across the world and back. I’m also going to tell you a little bit about what I did to maximize my time in the most beautiful city in the world, Paris!
First things First:
4 days in Paris leaves no time for being jet lagged. Dig deep and get over it. Hey, I love sleep just about as much as any human could love sleep. If you don’t think you could do a euro-trip in 4 days because you’re worried about your precious sleep then feel free to stop reading.
Part 1: How this trip got started
I’m a serious airplane bargain hunter. I get alerts from numerous websites to keep an eye on flights and flight paths that I think I may want to take one day. Long story short: back in November I was playing around on Google Flights and saw that in February 2017 tickets to Paris were ringing in at about 450-550 ROUND TRIP. Yes, I said ROUND TRIP. I’ve spent more to fly from LA to New Jersey for Christ sake. So I made some mentions of this to my boyfriend jokingly like, “oh honey, flights to Paris in February are super cheap, we should go for a long weekend, lol.”
Much to my surprise I had captured his attention. So we began plotting how we could make this work and decided that if we could it would be our Christmas present to ourselves. We settled on taking off a Friday, Monday, and Tuesday from work. Now this wasn’t even a holiday weekend but if you do this over a holiday then you don’t have to use much, if any vacation time to go to PARIS.
Here are my favorite sites for bargain flight hunting:
Part 2: Holy crap we just booked 2 RT Flights to Paris
Now what? Next up I started hunting for affordable lodging. Now this can be really cheap depending on how much you care about where you’re sleeping. I’m a brat, so I care, no hostels for me. I searched Airbnb and Google for good apt/hotel deals in St. Germain, my favorite Parisian neighborhood. Because we settled on traveling in February the prices were insanely cheap. We decided to go with a lovely 3 star hotel called Hotel Dauphine St. Germain. It was small and quaint and had wonderful reviews. It was also walkable to everything important. We got a great deal and secured a Queen Room with breakfast included for about $100/ per night.
The hotel ended up exceeding our expectations. We ate breakfast there every morning (a croissant, bread w/ jam, and coffee) which saved us money. The rooms were small but decorated so cute and most importantly they were clean. Don’t knock a 3 star until you try it. The most important thing to pay attention to when you’re searching for a hotel or apt is the reviews. You should choose a place with lots of reviews and an average rating of over 4.0.
Part 3: Tips to maximize your time
- Sneakers: When we got to Paris we dropped our bags at the hotel and hit the ground running. As much as I love a good outfit, I wore sneakers every day and saved my heels for dinner and drinks. I say this because the best way to see Paris is by walking everywhere. I averaged over 23K steps per day, no joke. When your feet get tired rent a bike! They’re all over the city and in Versailles (photo below).
- Don’t spend all of your time in museums or you will never get to see Paris in 4 days. The whole city is a museum so walking around is the best way to see the beauty of this city. Paris has the best museums in the world, no doubt, but this isn’t the trip to stop and read every single description. Breeze through the museums you choose and only stop to see the marquee items. A quick Google search will help you with that. I saw everything I wanted in only 3.5 hours at the Louvre by googling best things to see at the Louvre. We also decided to only do The Louvre and Versailles so as to not over museum ourselves.
- Don’t sleep in. You’re on vacation but you’re not at the beach. Wake up and carpe diem!
- Food is art in Paris. Make yummy dinners and decadent dessert a priority and believe me, 4 days will feel like plenty of time. I practically rolled myself home. (Somehow lost weight on this trip though…the perks of that 23K step per day walking!)
- Plan ahead and use the Metro or Uber. Trains and Metros in Paris are super easy, cabs in Paris are not, and Uber is surprisingly easy and cheap. I knew I wanted to have a drink at the Ritz one night and walking 2 miles in heels wasn’t happening. We hopped in an Uber and were there in 7 minutes for only 6 euro. Also caught an Uber to see the Eiffel Tower at night. Easy Peasy.
Part 4: Jet Lag…deal with it.
Jet Lag cannot be avoided, but you can squash it rather quickly if you fight through that first day. My first tip is taking a Red Eye flight the night before you plan to land in Paris. I slept for about 4-5 hours on the flight and then we landed at 6:30am in Paris. The MOST IMPORTANT thing you could do on your first day in a city with a drastic time difference is to STAY AWAKE. Fight through the tired, drink lots of caffeine, and deal with the jet lag.
Our first day in Paris my boyfriend and I dropped our bags at the hotel, grabbed some breakfast and then headed straight for the Louvre. About 2 hours into walking around the Louvre we both were practically falling asleep standing up (not kidding). We took a break, refueled with some Angelina hot chocolate (the best in all the world) and then fought through our tired. If you make it through day 1, at least until an acceptable bedtime in the city you are in (9:30pm for us), you will wake up the next day refreshed and adjusted to the time!
Same thing goes for the return flight. We left Paris on Tuesday at 11:30am and landed in Florida at 7:30pm. Would’ve loved to sleep on the flight but then it would’ve messed up my getting adjusted to being back on east coast time. Watch a few movies, maybe take a short nap, but try to save your sleep for when you get home. I had work at 6am on Wednesday and made it through a very long workday with no jet lag. Go me.
Moral of the story….if you’re waiting for the perfect time to travel abroad you’re never going to get to all the places you dream of going. You have to make the time. Sure, a Friday-Tuesday isn’t ideal for Paris but we had a blast, ate unbelievable food, and saw almost everything we wanted to see. So keep your eye on good flight deals and just DO IT.
Feel free to ask me any questions I didn’t cover here by commenting below!