Nat Geo Travel associate producer Megan Heltzel (on Twitter and Instagram @MeganHeltzel) recently returned from a trip to Paris. Though it was her second visit to the French capital, this trip was especially memorable because she returned home engaged to be married!
Here are some of the high points of her trip (besides the ring on her finger), in her own words:
Biggest selling point: Paris’s biggest asset is that it has something for everyone. The art lover can spend weeks perusing world-class museums; the foodie can hop from café to café sampling wine and cheese along the way; and the wanderer can get lost exploring the endless streets filled with architectural wonders like Notre Dame and Sainte-Chapelle. It’s easy to see why people call Paris the City of Love. I have to believe it’s because it’s so difficult to go there and not fall head over heels.
Memorable Moment: For a different take on Paris, I decided to sign up for a walking tour hosted through Airbnb. It was the highlight of my trip, because our knowledgeable guide, Ludovic, showed the group places we would never have found on our own. One of my favorite stops was Le Comptoir Général in the 10th arrondissement. The restaurant-museum hybrid (complete with an indoor garden) is the ideal spot for grabbing a cup of coffee or a quick bite to eat. The tour also opened my eyes to the work of Invader, an urban artist whose distinctive tile work marks buildings and alleyways throughout the city. Once you pick up on his signature style, you’ll spend the rest of your trip glancing up to make sure you don’t pass it by.
Best museum: This was my second trip to Paris, so I decided to try a few museums I had never been to (in other words, I skipped the Louvre). I especially enjoyed the Musee du Luxembourg and its great exhibit devoted to 19th-century Impressionist art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel. I also loved being able to stroll through the incredible Jardin du Luxembourg after getting my fill of Monets and Renoirs. The meticulously manicured 56-acre garden is a must-visit spot.
Standout culinary experience: If you are on the hunt for standout steak frites, I highly recommend l’Entrecote. The food is simple yet mouth-watering, and the only choices you’ll have to make are how you’d like your meat cooked and what wine to pair it with. Don’t be deterred by the wait; the line moves quickly, and the food will not disappoint. A tip to the wise: Indulge in dessert. The profiteroles (pastry puffs stuffed with cream or custard and often smothered in chocolate ganache) are the perfect complement to the decadent meal.
Wish I knew: This one is easy. I wish I had known that many of the Paris Metro stations accept only coins in their machines. This made for an extremely difficult trip back to the airport because I left so early that there was no one on duty to exchange my bills. Next time, I will be sure to have a pocket full of coins to ensure I make my flight with plenty of time to spare.