What are the best souvenirs from Paris? We spoke with Jo Karnaghan, author of The Ultimate Paris Address Book, for her recommendations. This is what she has to say about everything from second-hand books to Chanel bags.
Long time readers of TurnipseedTravel are well acquainted with my friend Jo, the voice behind FrugalFirstClassTravel.com. Her hometown expertise for Sydney, Australia, has featured prominently in early blog posts here (like this one about the best sweet treats in Australia and this one about an insider's guide to the city). Over the years, we've not only connected in Sydney but also in Ottawa and even in Athens. Jo was by my side when I almost caused a bit of a scene in the Athens meat market! But if there's one destination that I always go to her for advice about, it's Paris. And there's no better person to connect with to chat about souvenirs from Paris.
Jo first visited Paris in 1991 on a bus tour of Europe. While she didn't stick with the formulaic group tours (can't blame you there, Jo!), she DID stick with Paris and has been back to the City of Lights about 20 times - and counting. In fact, she was in Paris when she conceived the idea for her blog. As she says: "It was mid 2011 and I was sitting in a cafe on rue du Bac. I literally wrote out my first "business plan" on the back of a paper napkin. (From memory I was eating duck confit as I did it)". Frankly, of all the possibly souvenirs in Paris, coming home with a vision for a travel empire seems like the best possible one of all! But for more every day gifts and souvenirs, I knew Jo would have amazing suggestions. After all, she packs light (so she knows a thing or two about being practical), she embraces frugality (hey, it's right there in her blog name!) and she always has an eye out for a first-class experience.
I chatted with Jo about her new book, The Ultimate Paris Address Book, and got her expert advice on how to source memorable souvenirs from Paris. (Plus - there's a special coupon code for readers at the end!) This is what I asked her...
I've been obsessed with cozy airport sleeping pods for years. I finally got my chance to try one when I stayed at YOTEL Paris. Here's what I wish I had known in before my trip.
For as long as I can remember, I've had one very specific, very peculiar thing on my travel bucket list: To sleep in airport sleeping pods. I bet you've heard about them before. They're teeny-tiny hotel rooms designed to offer airport based travellers a place to sleep - if only for an hour or two. Some are so tiny they really do resemble a pod, or perhaps a bunk bed-turned-bunker. They're not unlike the berths you find on overnight trains, albeit with solid walls, a door you can lock, and an external ladder that leads you to your perch. Other airport sleeping pods are a bit more generous. They're like micro-rooms, offering ensuite washrooms and a few feet of floor space. In every case, they're adorably, maddeningly tiny and cute and I'm just obsessed with the concept. They're cozy, in every sense of the word.
Maybe it has something to do with all those bargain basement overnight flights I've taken throughout the years which have been me walking around terminals like a little zombie. I've just always wanted to stay in a pod and, on a recent trip to France, I finally got my opportunity. After flying overnight into Paris, I had a suitably long layover before I had to board my plane to Bordeaux. My moment had come!
Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport is home to a branch of YOTEL, a UK based hotel chain that has airport sleeping pods around the world, as well as micro-hotels in cities like New York. After so many years of anticipation, I finally had my moment - and I learned a whole lot during the process. This post is a little bit of a review of the Paris YOTEL, but more generally it's about what I wish I had known before booking any airport accommodations. I hope it helps you have sweet dreams!
Updated in 2022! Who says a day in Paris isn't enough time to see the sights? Whether your Paris layover is 3 hours or more, you can still have an incredible trip to the City of Lights.
Paris, more than any other city, is a destination meant to be savored. This is a haven for the lazy and the lackadasicle, a place where sitting and doing nothing isn't just encouraged but revered as an art form. As such, when I had the opportunity to plan a day in Paris - and just one day - for travelling friends, I was initially stumped. But then I remembered how much readers love my piece on seeing London in just three hours (yes, THREE) and how my last trip to Paris was indeed so short that I actually made notes for a future three hour Paris layover guide - and naturally promptly forgot about them, until someone else was in need.
If you dream of a sleepy Paris sojurn but your reality is a lickity-split layover, I've got you covered. Who says a day in Paris (or even much less) can't be wonderful?
In a bookstore with a humongous reputation, there once lived a small cat...
Have you ever had a wonderful travel memory that started off on the wrong foot, literally? In the summer of 2003, I spent an extended weekend in Paris. Eager to prove my sophistication, I made my first (and, subsequently, my last) foray into the world of travelling with high heels. After all, what are $39.99 sales racks at Sears for if not for strutting across the city of love?
But camel coloured pleather kitten heels and Parisian heat waves don’t mix. By the time I arrived at my destination, the legendary Shakespeare and Company bookstore, I was a hot mess of sweat, dust, and half a dozen pulsating blisters, the smallest measuring in at an inch in diameter. My plans for a quick visit were quickly revised to spend as much time as possible perched among the cooling books. Little did I suspect a cat would cross my path and leave paw prints on my heart.
For the first time ever, I'm sharing my favourite bakery in Paris.
If you told me that I could be in Paris next month, next week, or even tomorrow, I wouldn't even have to make a list - I'd immediately know all the special places I'd want to re-visit for the umpteenth time. There's just something about Paris that makes you want to create your own special memories and discover the little places that feel like they're entirely your own - even if you're not the only person there. I once swore I would NEVER share the details of my favourite Parisian bakery but after many requests I've been convinced to do so, along with a few others gems. Please let me know if you enjoy them as much as I do!
No trip to Paris is complete without a visit to the Louvre. Learn all our travel secrets - including the entrance to the Louvre everyone forgets. Updated 2022.
When you think about "secrets" at the Louvre, you probably imagine some dark and mysterious tales, straight from the Da Vinci Code. But the secrets I'm about to share - like the entrance to the Louvre that everyone forgets about -are lot more travel friendly than anything Dan Brown created!
The Louvre is one of my favourite places in all of Paris. And I'm not alone. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say it's the most famous, the most spectacular art gallery in the world. But it's so much more than that! It's also a museum, a piece of royal history, and a medieval fortress. At times, it's been the most crowded place I've ever experienced and I've also been completely alone in several rooms.
If your trip to Paris includes a visit to the Louvre - and it absolutely should - here are some insider secrets to help you get the most out of your visit.
5 star location, 3 star room. And the bathroom? Oh my stars!
Every writer - and perhaps every single visitor - dreams of a cozy nest to call their own in Paris. Even the most humble of Parisian hotels can't help but be romantic. All you need to do is look out the window and you'll find a reason to swoon! I've been searching for a while for a "go-to" hotel in Paris and therefore, with a few romantic flutters in my writing soul, I was keen to try the Hotel Academie.
Crepes, churros, and Place de la Concorde make for a perfect day in Paris.
What does it take to make a tour guide double back and change his plans? Apparently nothing more than 5 people who caught a glimpse of delicious Parisian crepes! As we cycled through the Place de la Concorde, the smell of crepes, waffles, and churros from the Christmas market was deliciously overwhelming and it wasn't long before the great crepe coup d’état was launched! Fortunately, tour guide Bill didn't take much persuading and promised we’d double back on our return trip to indulge in some yummy treats.
48 hours in Paris? Here's how to make it count.
It’s been an unbelievable seven years since my last visit to Paris – and even longer for Ryan. When I realized that our round-the-world trip included a proper stopover in neighbouring Belgium, I lobbied for a quick jaunt to Paris. I just couldn't imagine being so close to a city I love so much and not stopping in to say hello!
We will arrive in Paris 11:00 am on Sunday and leave early Tuesday morning, giving us just under 48 hours in the City of Lights.
On Day 1, we’re looking forward to a guided tour of the Louvre with our partners My Parisian Tour in the afternoon. We've both been to the Louvre before, but it’s been a long time and we've never experienced it under expert guidance. In the evening, we’re proud to be partnering with Viator to do a coach tour to see the city illuminated at night, followed by a short cruise on the Seine, and ending with a group dinner at a Champs Elysees restaurant. After being away from the city for so long, we’re looking forward to having a recap of all the major sites and getting an overview of the city.
Confession time: We’re hoping that an evening activity on Day 1 will also help us beat jet lag – no sneaking off to bed early for us!
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