Let's talk Airbnbs! One of my favorite things to do before a trip is to look at Airbnbs all over the city. For this trip, I booked a room fairly last minute and really lucked out. Choosing a place to stay is a personal decision, but here is what I look for:

  1. An accessible location. The closer to metro, the better.

  2. Cute or fun decor. A nice environment puts me in a good mood and gets me excited to explore.

  3. Natural light, or even a balcony if I am ready to splurge.

  4. Amenities. A nicely sized bed, towels, a fridge and microwave, and an espresso machine. It's also nice to be in a building with an elevator and/or AC, but these are not essentials for me. Some apartments even have a laundry machine, which is really deluxe! Take time to think about what really matters to you when you're traveling before you book.

  5. I also look at the Host's rating and reviews, and of course the price.

I am staying in the 20e arrondissement for this trip, but I have stayed in the 7e, 8e, and 2e in the past. The 20e is further from the city center, but since I am well connected on the 3 metro line, I was willing to trade the convenience of being centrally located for the lower price of the 20e. Each arrondissement has its charms, so be sure to do your research before booking.

Here are some of my favorite aspects of the apartment I am renting; the vibrant colors in the living room, the kitty in the courtyard, and the lovely street where it is located.

PS: here is a peak at some of the other Parisian apartments I have rented in the past:

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As you may already know, I graduated this week with an MPH from the University of Minnesota. What this means for this trip is that I don't have a lot of spending money. So, here are some of the cheap thrills that I recommend in Paris.

1. Breakfast specials at your local bakery (€2-10), which usually consist of a croissant or pain au chocolat, an espresso, and an orange juice. You'll pay more if you stay to eat (sur place), and less if you take it to go (à emporter).

2. The Père Lachaise Cemetery walk with the Rick Steves audio guide - free. As is becoming clear, I never travel in Europe without Rick. This audio walking tour was the perfect way to start my morning in the 20th arrondissement. The Cemetery is an oasis in the city, calm and lovely. It is also the site for memorials for national tragedies. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes because the cobblestones are uneven.

3. Scenic bus route 69 from Gambetta to Champ de Mars - one metro ticket (€1.90). I stole this idea from Rick, but it's a great way to get from the 20th (near the Père Lachaise Cemetery) back to central Paris. Traffic in Paris is frustrating, but this above-ground transit option is faster than walking, and allows you to get an overview of the city and see many of the big sights. It ends by the Eiffel Tower. Rick also recommends the 63 and 73 bus lines.

4. Les Maisons de Victor Hugo on Place des Vosges - free. While La Place Des Vosges is the real star here, the free museum offers a great view of the square, free WCs, and handsome rooms with a nice art collection (including the Rodin pictured below). La Place Des Vosges is located in the Marais neighborhood, which is well worth a wander. Cute shops, art galleries and cafes abound. I always find something I didn't even know I was shopping for when I visit the Marais.

5. Grocery stores. This may be obvious, but you can get great deals on prepared foods and snacks (as well as Orangina), by going to the grocery store. I am partial to Monoprix (similar to target but with more groceries and fewer other things). Don't forget your reusable shopping bag!

6. Eating sandwiches in public parks (€5-10 to go). There's nothing quite like French bread. Find a park and enjoy a sandwich and people watching. Many Parisian parks feature trash cans and water fountains with tasty water!

That's all for now - à très vite!

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It's a tale as old as time; an American in Paris.

I have been to Paris four times in as many years - for the 2020 New Year, at the beginning of my Au Pair adventure in March 2020, in March 2022, and now in May 2022. It would not be an exaggeration to say that I'm a little in love with the city. Each trip reveals something new and wonderful about the City of Light. Since I've gained some knowledge about the city with each trip, I thought I would write some of it down for you. I'm no substitute for the one and only Rick Steves, but I hope I can share a new perspective with you here.

You may be wondering, why Paris? The story begins in kindergarten, when my parents enrolled me at Normandale French Immersion School in Edina, MN. I didn't realize what a gift that was at the time, but my appreciation for the French language has only grown in the 20 years since then. In addition to learning the language, at Normandale we learned about French culture and traditions from an early age. Knowing the local tongue and a bit about the culture has made my time here much easier. That's not to say that it's necessary, but it does help me get to know the city and its people more quickly.

When I travel alone, I like to start my trip without a set agenda. I book my flights and AirBNB in advance, and read up on the city. Then, I arrive with some ideas of what I would like to do during my stay, and let the weather and my mood dictate the day's events. This may not be the most common approach to international travel, but I have found that it works for me.

Before I go out and explore the city, I'll leave you with some tips:

Quick tips for Paris

  1. Use the metro system.

  2. Don't be afraid to wander.

  3. You can get by without cell phone service - download the google map and the Top 50 France playlist in advance, and rely on public WiFi when you go out.

  4. Bring a travel adaptor, your passport, and a credit card without foreign transaction fees. I usually get by without withdrawing euros by using my credit card for everything. Be sure to set travel alerts with your card before you travel.

  5. Pack light and leave room for souvenirs.

  6. Don't do it all in one trip. Take time to soak it all in and relax.

À bientôt!

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