Paris & London Travel Diaries

Amanda Martin's Paris & London Travel Diaries

Bonjour! Hello! I'm currently suffering from a terrible case of the post vacation blues and really need to have my sweet tooth pulled. After spending 10 days eating my heart out in Paris and London with my mom, it was nice to come home and get back into a healthy routine......but it has been a week and I'm tired of said routine and ready to travel again! Ha! #HaveCameraWillTravel. Seriously, does one get an HGTV show?

I wanted to share our trip with you but since this was my second time visiting both Paris and London, I've already published my usual "AOK Guide to...." posts for both cities. You can find my Paris Guide here and my London Guide here. So, that being said, today's post is more of a travel diary....things we did, things we ate, and experiences we had. You can read about where we stayed for the first half of our time in Paris here - shoutout to Hotel Chavanel, they get all the stars! I shared all of my outfits and tips on what to pack in this post!

Now, let's dig in, shall we?

Day 1

Where to Shop in Paris

Dinner at Cafe du Marche in Paris
Cafe du Marche

Blogger Amanda Martin's Paris Travel Diaries

We flew from OKC - DFW - Paris on an overnight American Airlines flight (shoutout to Scott's Cheap Flights) and started our trip with brunch and a full day of shopping at the Galeries Lafayette (I even snagged a pretty designer item)! If you shop at Galeries Lafayette and purchase something pricy, they offer a tax refund station in the basement. U.S. Citizens can get quite a bit back by visiting the designated area and then scanning the paperwork they give you at the PABLO kiosk before leaving the airport. I got almost $50 back!

After shopping, I demanded we go to Angelina's for some hot chocolate because it was my mom's first time in Europe and I wanted to wow her with one of my favorite Parisian treats on day one! Angelina's has a location at Galeries Lafayette that is much less crowded than the main location. The hot chocolate hit the spot, especially on a chilly day! It is not like American hot's like warm, melted chocolate bars but better. Yes, please. SO GOOD.

For dinner, we headed to Cafe du Marche on Rue Cler. It was a restaurant C and I visited and I really wanted to go back! It ended up being one of my mom's favorite meals and it was the perfect "first dinner" because it felt so authentically Parisian! We sat outside, sipped wine and split escargot and a cheese & charcuterie board. My mom said they had her favorite bread out of every restaurant we visited in Paris and I loved the jam they served with it - I think it was cinnamon apple? Afterwards, we walked a few blocks over to the Eiffel Tower to watch it sparkle! The lights sparkle for five minutes every hour on the hour starting at sunset. It was a great "welcome to Paris" moment.

Day 2

Sacre Coeur in Montmarte, Paris
Sacre Coeur

Streets of Montmarte in Paris

Salads with housemade potato chips at Le Relais Gascon
Salads at Le Relais Gascon

What to do in Montmarte area of Paris
How cute is my mom with her crepe?!

where to find the best crepe in paris
The best crepe in Paris! 

Dinner at Vaudeville in Paris
Dinner at Vaudeville

We woke up and hit the ground running! We took the metro to Montmarte to wander and explore. It was the perfect first full day in Paris and ended up being one of our favorite areas to get lost in! It is quite hilly and so very unique - I recommend starting at the top of the hill (it's the cute part) and working your way down to Moulin Rouge (a bit "dirtier" of an area with all the sex shops and such). We visited the Sacre Coeur church and arrived just in time to see their Palm Sunday parade. We didn't climb to the bell tower, but I have before and I highly recommend it. It is one of the best views in Paris! The view from the steps of the church alone is still pretty amazing.

Pro Tip: Several Instagram famous locations are in Montmartre like La Maison Rose, Moulin Rouge and Le Consulat! Arrive early if you want to get photos before the crowds show up (and trust me, they will show up).

We wandered around and shopped for several hours - it was such a fun area to prowl in! Eventually we had lunch at Le Relais had been on my list when C and I visited Paris but we didn't make it and I was always so disappointed. I was really excited to finally try it! They serve giant salads covered in house made potato chips (that were more like french fries) and OMG....mouth watering. The waiter was also hysterical....he asked me if I was famous because I had sunglasses on (we were eating outside)...when he asked where we were from, I said "Oklahoma," and he called me "Miss Oklahoma" the rest of the time. He even gave me a hug when we left, haha.

Pro Tip: My FAVORITE crepe stand is caddy corner to Moulin Rouge at the Metro entrance. They are the only stand I have seen that serves Speculoos (cookie butter) crepes and they are TO.DIE.FOR.

For dinner, we went to Vaudeville which was recommended to me by my friend Courtney from A Byer's was one of our top meals from the entire trip! My mom ordered the scallops and I ordered the cod in a truffle sauce....drool. The service here was also some of the best we received in Europe. I can't recommend it enough!

Day 3

Seine River Cruise in Paris
Seine River Cruise - you can see Notre Dame's spire the morning before it burned. 

Seine River Cruise

Amanda's OK visits the courtyard of the Louvre
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Inside the Louvre looking up
Under one of the Louvre's mini pyramids

Royal Chambers in the Louvre
Inside the Louvre - I like the furniture and ceilings better than the art! 

Where to get good seafood in Paris
Octopus at Comptoir de la Gastronomie

After two days that went perfectly according to plan, I guess we were due for some frustrations. I am super type-A and live and breath by my perfectly planned out travel this day was not my favorite haha. We had purchased skip the line Louvre tickets from Paris City Vision in advance with a 10 a.m. entry time....along with that, we received a Seine River Cruise ticket that was good all day (we planned to go in the afternoon after visiting the Louvre). We were instructed to pick the tickets up just outside the Louvre at 10. We arrived at 9:45 or so (I like to be early:) and Paris City Vision had switched our entry time to later in the afternoon without notifying us. It completely messed up our plans for the day and we had to rearrange on the fly. We decided to more or less switch the Louvre and Seine Cruise on our agenda so we RUSHED to the docks (located by the Eiffel Tower...about a 30 min metro ride from the Louvre with lots of walking) to board the 1 hour cruise. They depart every hour, so if we didn't get there in time we wouldn't make it back in time to enter the Louvre between the designated hours of entry. It was a mess and caused us (and by us I mean ME) to be stressed / not enjoy the cruise as much as we would have otherwise. By the time we made it back to the Louvre, we were rushing to make the entry time, we were hangry (well, I was hangry) and so stressed! Paris City Vision through a wrench in our plans and really took the fun out of the day for me. Had they notified us of the change in entry time in advance, I could have planned accordingly and avoided frustrations but they didn't......I would NOT recommend using Paris City Vision for any tourism services.

But, the "good" thing was that we saw Notre Dame from the river cruise in the morning......had things gone according to my original plan, we would have been on the river cruise late afternoon as Notre Dame burned. It was so sad to be in Paris for such a tragic event, but also kind of neat to know I was living a part of French history and was able to be one of the few people in the world to see it that day before it caught fire.

For dinner, we went to Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie which was recommended by a friend. It was the tiniest little restaurant but was SO good! I ordered the truffle fois gras ravioli and my mom ordered the octopus. I was shocked that I like the octopus best; it was covered in a fresh mango salsa and was a HUGE serving. We both ate quite a bit and we still couldn't finish it!

I thought we needed a good ending to a not-so-good day so we got Laduree macarons around the corner from our hotel as a night cap.... the BEST macarons in the world!

Day 4

Peggy Porschen Cakes is a popular London Instagram Location!
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Tourist sights of London

The Chipping Forecast in Notting Hill

Best Fish and Chips and London
Fish & Chips at The Chipping Forecast

Off to London we go! We had breakfast in bed to start off the day then boarded the Eurostar Chunnel train to Saint Pancras Station! I highly recommend Eurostar, it is so seamless and borderline relaxing. We arrived in London mid-afternoon, dropped off our luggage at the cutest Notting Hill AirBNB, and headed straight to Peggy Porschen Cakes! It is an Instagram-Famous cafe known for the award winning cakes and beautiful flower displays. To be honest, they cake was just so-so but the coffee was superb! I've been told that their line can get out of control at lunch, but around 4 or 5 p.m. it wasn't bad at all.

After stuffing our faces with coffee and cake, we walked over to Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the London Eye. They are all within walking distance (but Buckingham Palace is a bit of a hike from the rest, FYI). I was sad that Big Ben was 100% covered in scaffolding. I knew it was under construction, but if I hadn't known from my previous trip where Big Ben was, I would have walked right past it!

For dinner, we had fish and chips at The Chipping Forecast in Notting Hill. OH MY WORD. You guys. My favorite meal on the entire trip! I had fish and chips on my last trip to London and was so disappointed in them but The Chipping Forecast does it up right! We also had the Lobster Mac and some fish cakes that were good, but the fish and chips was by far the best part. All the stars!

Day 5

Eggbreak breakfast in Notting Hill

Doors of Notting Hill

Visiting the Tower of London
Touring the Tower of London

Amanda's OK having afternoon tea at Kensington Palace
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Afternoon tea at Kensington Palace Pavilion
The tastiest Afternoon Tea at Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace - it was so hazy! 

walking through the gardens at Kensington Palace

We started the day with breakfast in Notting Hill at Eggbreak. I had the Egg McMuffin because I was craving something normal (i.e. American haha) and it hit the spot! We visited the Tower of London next - I think it is a MUST do! I always feel like I'm exploring a castle from Game of Thrones haha. There are better pictures in my OG London was really hazy and crowded this time around so my photos weren't as good. I would recommend allotting at least half a day (or a bit more) to visit the tower, it takes quite a while to make your way through everything. I'd also recommend getting there right when they open to avoid the crowds, if possible!

After strolling around the tower and seeing Tower Bridge, we had afternoon tea at Kensington Palace Pavilion (my FAVORITE thing to do in London) and toured Kensington Palace! It is where Will and Kate reside and it was one of the few places I hadn't already been to on my previous Europe trip. I really enjoyed it and was surprised that it wasn't very crowded. It took us roughly 2 hours to make our way through, so it would be easy to fit into a quick trip. It had just as much of a "wow-factor" as the palaces in Paris but it felt much cozier and warmer, more welcoming, not as "look how rich I am" if you catch my drift. I've always been fascinated by British history and am apparently a descendent of an English duke so I really loved this part of the trip. They had a whole hallway dedicated to the designs of Princess Diana's dresses which I thought was so neat to see! Also, some of the sets from The Favourite were based on rooms in Kensington Palace - I watched that movie on the flight to Europe so it was cool to see those rooms and be able to recognize them!

After visiting Kensington, we wandered through Hyde Park and eventually headed to the shops and restaurants of Covent Garden, grabbed dinner there, and saw Mama Mia the Musical! It was a great ending to a quick trip to London. I wish we would have spent another day or two in London, if we're being honest. It is my favorite city in the world! Everything is covered in flowers, the people are so friendly....seriously, it is so charming! I would move there in a heartbeat if the opportunity presented itself.

Day 6

Morning walks in Notting Hill
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London in bloom with cherry blossoms

doors of notting hill

Back to Paris! But first, full English breakfast and a stroll through Notting Hill. Notting Hill is the CUTEST neighborhood filled with colorful houses, bright doors, and all the blooms that you see on Instagram! I seriously dream of living in this neighborhood one day. If you were a fan of Disney's The Parent Trap (with Lindsey Lohan), I think this is the neighborhood Annie lived in! When C and I visited, we did THIS walking tour and if you have the time and ability to walk that far, I highly recommend it.

Day 7

mornings in Paris

Breakfast at Le Petit Cler

Best Eiffel Tower Instagram Spots
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Best Eiffel Tower Photo Spots
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After all the traveling, we were feeling a bit worn out so we slept in and took our time before going to get a late breakfast / early lunch at Le Petit Claire. We had the Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame and they were both fabulous! Le Petite Cler was such a cute restaurant and was obviously very popular with the locals - it seemed like we were the only tourists there.

After eating, we walked by the Eiffel Tower, crossed the Seine to the Trocadero and climbed the 284 steps to the top of the Arc de Triomphe - a much better view than the Eiffel, IMO, and much cheaper. We bought skip the line tickets and I would recommend it, it didn't cost much more and it saved us quite a bit of time. After that, we walked down Champs Elysees (one of the best shopping streets in the world) and grabbed some Pierre Herme macarons. Everyone says you have to try both Laduree and Pierre Herme macarons and decide for yourself which is better, so we did! Laduree has my vote, no doubt. 

Pro Tip: the best Eiffel Tower photos come from across the Seine! The actual Trocadero is very crowded but it is easy to grab a spot on the river bank like I did above and it looks like no one is around, even in the middle of the day. If you want photos from the Trocadero or photos at the arc with no cars/people in them, I'd recommend going at sunrise. 

Day 8

brunch in paris at sunday in soho

Unfortunately, Saturdays in Paris are not quite as nice as one would assume. The Yellow Vest Riots currently take place every Saturday and they cause a LOT of closures. Main attractions, restaurants  stores, metro stations, etc. all shut down as a precaution (plus it was Easter weekend so it seemed like EVERYTHING was closed). Even the Starbucks by our AirBNB was closed! Because of this, we had a hard time getting around town using public transportation / finding places to go to in general. We got brunch at Sunday in SoHo and ended up going to the Les Marais area for the rest of the afternoon to shop, explore and sip wine on patios. It kind of felt like a waisted day, but in a good way! 

Sunday in SoHo served a tasty brunch. It was REALLY cute inside and the food was pretty good but the service was some of the worst we experienced and that's saying a lot. However, the scrambled eggs and pancakes were just what I needed after eating so much French food and really hit the spot! 

Day 9

April in Paris with tulips

Visiting the Palace of Versailles
Visiting the Palace of Versailles

a bedroom fit for a queen at the Palace of Versailles

Palace of Versailles

Gardens at the Palace of Versailles

Dinner at Les Deux Magots in Paris

Easter in Paris! We woke up extra early and headed to Versailles (we took the RER C train from our closest RER Metro Station, it was really easy and only took about 30-40 minutes total and only 7 euros roundtrip to get there. We purchased our timed entry ticket ahead of time directly from the Versailles website. I would HIGHLY recommend doing this as the regular ticket line was insanely long, even right at opening time. We were able to see part of the Palace before the crowds got to be too much - I was seriously shocked at how busy it was! Definitely get there as early as possible if you want to avoid the crowds. 

We had Easter lunch at the Angelina's inside the palace. It was good, but the hot chocolate at Galeries Lafayette location was noticeably better. If you want to eat at Angelina's, I'd recommend getting there around 11 or 11:30 to get a table before the lunch rush! The Angelina Club Sandwich was soooo good - you could taste the amount of butter on the bread, yum! 

After lunch we explored the gardens ..... I have no words for how massive they are! They are beautifully manicured but would take DAYS to explore on foot. They do offer bike and golf cart rentals which I wish we would have known about in advance. They even offer boat rentals! There are so many other small palaces and buildings on the Versailles property that we didn't have time to could really spend several days there if you wanted to see everything they offer. 

We headed back to Paris in time to get Easter dinner at Les Deux Magots - it is one of the more popular French bistros and it did not disappoint! Their patio area is wonderful and our dinner dishes (chicken and salmon) were delicious, but the chocolate mousse dessert really stole the show. 

Day 10

best breakfast in Paris at Cafe Saint Regis
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Notre Dame after the fire
Notre Dame after the Fire 

best creme puffs in Paris at Odette

A Grand Marnier Soufflé at the authentic French dinner restaurant Josephine Chez Dumonet
Dinner at Josephine Chez Dumonet

Our last full day! We started off with breakfast at Cafe Saint Regis on the Ile Saint-Louis. Cafe Saint Regis is another restaurant that C and I visited that I was dying to go back to. It was just as good the second time around! It is the cutest corner cafe with little bistro tables on the sidewalk and black and white checkered tiles inside. I ordered a Croque Madame (the best one I've ever had) and my mom ordered the ravioli in a chive cream sauce. No lie, the bite I had of her ravioli might have been the best thing I ate on the whole trip! WOWZA! 

We then strolled down the Ile Saint-Louis (it has some really cute local shops), walked by Notre Dame (it was still mostly blocked off due to the fire), and got cream puffs at Odette. I highly recommend the coffee and lemon flavors but note that if you want to sit on their patio tables you cannot order your creme puffs to-go haha. I ordered them to-go so I could get the box for the photo but I guess it costs more to eat them there and use their table/chairs lol! 

Pro Tip: If you have the time, grab a bottle of wine and some picnic snacks and spend an hour or two on the banks of the Seine! The north bank had a grassy area with tons of people relaxing and soaking up the sun. It looked heavenly! 

For our last night in Paris, we decided to go out with a bang and went to a fancier French restaurant instead of a bistro. A friend had recommended Josephine Chez Dumonet and I was so excited to experience some authentic French cooking! Reservations are recommended but they only accept them by phone (I had our hotel front desk make them for us since I don't speak French very well). We got a plate of fois gras for our appetizer (YUM) and my mom ordered the Beef Bolognese. I got the andouillette sausage which is not to be confused with cajun andouille haha. For dessert, we got their signature grand marnier soufflé ! I had never had a real soufflé before and didn't really know what to expect but it was fantastic! It was almost a liquid-y texture on the inside and very fluffy.....almost like an egg white merengue? I was expecting more of a cake texture, but I loved it regardless. They bring you the soufflé fresh out of the oven and you pour a shot of grand marnier inside - sooooo good! Note that you do have to order a soufflé at the beginning of the meal because they take quite a while to make. It was the perfect finish to a wonderful trip! 

streets of Paris

And that's that! In some ways it seems like our trip lasted an entire month and in other ways it went by all too quickly. I love getting to experience new cities and different cultures and Europe will never cease to amaze me. There are so many other places and countries I want to visit! Where to next???

Have you ever been to London or Paris? If not, would you want to go? I'd love to hear your experiences in the comments. Also, let me know if you like this timeline "travel diaries" style of writing as opposed to my usual city guide posts that are a bit more factual and to the point. I'd love to hear your input. 

Thanks for reading and happy travels! 

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