Take Me to Paris

We celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday with a much-anticipated trip to Paris! It had been her dream to see the Eiffel Tower since she was a little girl, and this bucket list trip had been in the works for many years. My husband and I were in charge of the planning, and it was such a joy to see my mom experience the City of Light for the very first time. (Our matching “Take Me to Paris” tees I found on Nordstrom Rack’s website last year and saved them for the trip!)

In this post, I’m going to share where we stayed, places we ate, and everything we managed to fit into five and a half days. If there’s something I particularly enjoyed, I’ll let you know. If there’s something that was disappointing or “just okay,” I’ll let you know that as well.

Towards the end of the post, I’ll also be sharing the details of various outfits—from casual chic daytime looks for museum hopping to classy evening attire.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. See my full disclosure here.

Friday

We flew into Charles de Gaul airport on a Friday afternoon and—because we were a group of five—decided to share a cab to our hotel. There was a decent amount of traffic going through Paris, but we’d expected that based on our arrival time.

We stayed at the charming Hotel Le Clément, in the 6th arrondisement (also known as the Latin Quarter because of the historic universities in the area, and that the academics spoke Latin here during the Middle Ages). This is the second time I’ve stayed in the Latin Quarter, and I very much like the location—it’s within walking distance of sites like Notre Dame and Sainte-Chappelle and has lots of great little shops, restaurants, and cafes in the area.

That night we ate dinner at one of our favorite spots from a previous Paris trip, a restaurant called Au Pere Louis.

We then surprised my mom with tickets to the top floor of the Eiffel Tower (something we’d booked about five weeks earlier).

I will never forget the look of awe and wonder on my mom’s face as she stood beneath the 984-foot Tower and gazed up at the golden lights.

I also won’t forget how windy it was at the top! I wish I’d brought a beanie and a thicker sweater!

Saturday

We ventured out to Versailles that morning, via the RER train line. We started at the Petit Trianon (above) and then visited Marie Antoinette’s rustic Hameau de la Reine (“The Queen’s Hamlet,” pictured below).

This charming farmland served as a playground of sorts for the Queen and her close friends—though it wasn’t entirely for show, as the Hamlet was actually capable of producing dairy products for the Queen.

We then made our way through the vast estate–so many beautiful buildings, landscapes, and foliage!

We decided to skip the Grand Trianon and walked over to the Grand Canal area to break for lunch. We ate next to the Canal at La Flottille restaurant and enjoyed a bottle of white wine as we watched people row in the little boats or relax on the grass.

We paid the extra fee to go through the Gardens, part of which is pictured above. Our museum pass covered the entrance to the rest of the grounds, just not the Gardens because of the Musical Fountains Show that’s held on certain days. (More info on that here)

After we finished touring the Gardens, the line to get into the Chateau was extremely long (we’re talkin’ Disneyland long), so we decided to return later that week to tour the Chateau. The jet lag was starting to hit everyone pretty hard, and we wanted to have enough time to power nap and change into our formal clothes for our river cruise on the Seine that evening.

The river cruise dinner was one of the highlights of our trip. We booked through the company Bateaux Parisiens, and I truly can’t recommend them enough!

We went to the 8:30 dinner, so we got to see the city at dusk (which is magical). The soft pastel colors of the sky behind Notre Dame is something I will never forget.

We splurged for the pricier seating area so we were at the very front of the boat right next to the large glass windows (as you can see below with the picture of my mom and her bday candle).

Our view of the sites and the Seine was truly incredible, and the live music and singing provided a lovely ambiance (one of the singers sang a sweet version of Edith Piaf’s classic“La Vie En Rose.” A song that always makes me think of Paris!).

The service was impeccable, and the food was fabulous! My husband was brave and even tried the escargot for his appetizer! (Above photo. More food pics shown below.)

Sunday

The next day we visited two museums—the Musee de l’Orangerie and the Musee d’Orsay.

The d’Orsay has a great selection of Van Gogh, but the l’Orangerie is my personal favorite because of Monet’s Water Lilies (shown above and below). There’s something soft and dreamlike about the Water Lilies that I find truly mesmerizing.

Between museum hopping, we took a pleasant break in the Jardin du Tuileries (“Tuileries Garden”).

It’s the perfect place to stop and relax (as my brother and my husband are illustrating in the above photo 😉).

After the Tuileries, we walked the short distance to the Louvre Pyramids to take the obligatory tourist photo “touching” the top of the pyramid (my mom’s pic turned out so cute!).

That evening we attended a show at the famous Moulin Rouge. Some people might argue that it’s just a tourist trap, but I’ve seen this show before, and I honestly enjoyed it just as much the second time around!

In addition to the iconic can-can dance, the show included some stunning acrobatic acts (juggling, swimming with snakes, roller skating, etc). *Note that no photos are allowed during the show.

Monday

Monday morning we visited what is quite possibly the most colorful street in Paris, the Rue Crémieux. Though it’s a favorite spot for bloggers, photographers, and tourists, keep in mind that this street is residential and people do indeed live there. As such, we were as quiet and respectful as possible while visiting this area.

We then ventured over to a world famous bookstore that was a bucket list visit for me, the iconic Shakespeare and Company.

It’s a small bookstore that’s been visited by world-renowned authors over the years, so if you’re a book-lover like me, this is a must stop while in Paris. It’s pretty cramped and crowded inside, and they don’t allow photos, but it’s definitely worth perusing this adorable shop.

I purchased a beautiful leather-bound copy of Romeo and Juliet. And also a coffee mug—which is one of my favorite souvenirs to buy while traveling because it’s something I can enjoy when I’m back home and be reminded of my travels!

Due to the terrible fire that ravaged Notre Dame in April of this year, we were unfortunately unable to visit this 856-year-old church (which is just a short walk from Shakespeare and Company). The bridge adjacent to Notre Dame was barricaded (not sure how long it will remain that way), so we onlookers could only view the church from afar.

After Notre Dame we had planned to tour inside the nearby Sainte-Chapelle (which was once the royal chapel), but the line stretched around the block so we rearranged our schedule a bit and instead decided to go see the Arc de Triomphe and wander around the Champs-Elysees.

That’s definitely something I’ve learned over the years whilst traveling: be flexible with your itinerary if you can! Sometimes it’s better to swap one site for another and come back later to see if the line is better!

On our first trip to Paris, my husband and I climbed the steps to the top of the Arc de Tripmphe. It’s quite a climb (284 stairs to the top) but is well worth the panoramic views of the city. This time around we were on a bit of a time crunch, and our group collectively decided not to climb it.

On the Champs-Elysees we ventured into the massive Louis Vuitton store and then had tea at one of my favorite sweet shops, Laduree, which is world-renowned for its macarons.

We had just a short wait to sit in the restaurant area and very much enjoyed the beautiful decor and our yummy macarons (last time my husband and I ate at their bar area in the back because the wait for the main dining area was veryyyyy long).

Laduree also has their famous little key chains that are perfect gifts or souvenirs!

That evening we had dinner at 58 Tour Eiffel, which is on the first level of the Eiffel Tower. If I can give you one piece of advice if you plan to eat dinner there: give yourself plenty of time to arrive.

We were all dressed up for dinner and thus decided on a cab from our hotel to the Tower, instead of taking the Metro. Even so, by the time we got through the Eiffel Tower security, checked in at the restaurant’s booth on the ground floor directly beneath the Tower, and then waited in line for the elevator, we made our 6:30 reservation with just a couple minutes to spare.

However, the multiple lines and logistics were well worth it! We’d booked a window table about five months before our trip, and the views of the city were magnificent (shown above: our window view of the carousel, the Seine, and the Trocadero).

Eating dinner on one of the world’s most iconic landmarks is one of those “pinch me if it’s real” type of moments, and it was something that we all enjoyed. The food was excellent, and the dinner service runs seamlessly, with each course coming out in a very timely fashion.

After dinner, we headed over to the Trocadero (located directly across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower) to take photos during the hour before sunset, when lighting is at its best. This is a very popular area for photos and it was quite busy at that time of day, so my advice is to just be patient and realize that there are likely going to be other tourists in the background of your photos.

Shop my outfit here.

I’m also gonna let you in on a little blogger secret: the Louboutin shoes I’m wearing in this picture? I packed them with me in a bag and put them on immediately before pictures! 😉 (I actually wore ankle boots to dinner!) The reason for this: I knew that even with the cab we’d have a decent amount of walking to get up to the Tower and then there would be the walk across the bridge to the Trocadero for photos. I love my Louboutins, but they are not meant for long distance walking! 👠

After photos, we watched the sunset and stuck around for the first light show of the evening at 10pm (the twinkly lights of the Eiffel Tower at night are a must see!)

Tuesday

We started our day with a visit to the Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Garden). The French Senate resides in that beautiful building in the background, but the park area is open to the public, free of charge.

It showered a bit while we were at the Garden, but a little rain couldn’t phase these Oregonians! (If you don’t know much about the state of Oregon, let me tell you: it rains a LOT here). 🌧

Afterwards, we took the Metro over to Sainte-Chapelle and—to our pleasant surprise—the line to get inside was extremely short!

Sainte-Chapelle is one of my favorite churches, and it’s because of the vibrant stained glass windows. I love how each panel of stained glass illustrates different scenes.

The scenes begin with the Creation story in Genesis, continue on through the New Testament, and then go beyond Biblical times to tell the story of how the Crown of Thorns relic that was once kept in Sainte-Chapelle ended up in Paris via King Louis IX.

The Crown of Thorns that is claimed to be the very one that Jesus wore on the cross resided in this chapel from the 13th century until the French Revolution. In 1806 it was moved to Notre Dame’s treasury and was one of the relics saved during the recent Notre Dame Fire.

After Sainte-Chapelle, we took the Metro over to Montmartre and climbed up the many stairs to Sacre-Couer. This Romanesque-Byzantine style church sits on a hill that overlooks Paris, providing a stunning panoramic view of the city.

Something amazing about this particular church is that during World War II the area surrounding Sacre-Couer was bombed 13 times, and yet there were no casualties. The only damage to the church itself was that the stained glass shattered (and was rebuilt after the War).

Wednesday

On our last full day in Paris we took the RER train back out to Versailles, this time to tour the Chateau itself. The line was far shorter than it had been on Saturday afternoon, and it took us about half an hour to get inside.

The Chateau of Versailles is stunning and opulent, with the most ornate decor imaginable. From the artwork to the French Baroque architecture, this palace is truly a sight to behold.

It does get quite crowded in certain areas (especially the famous Hall of Mirrors, shown above), but is well worth the visit.

We had lunch inside the Chateau at Angelina, a famous French tearoom that has multiple locations throughout Paris. Their Mont-Blanc pastry is their trademark dessert, but it is the Mont-Blanc tea that truly has my heart. Without a doubt, it is my favorite tea in the whole world (and unfortunately they don’t ship to the US 😭).

Angelina opened its first location in 1903, and according to their website, a famous visitor from those early years was none other than Coco Chanel herself.

After lunch, we ambled outside to the large Orangery, which was one of my favorite spots on the estate. The elaborate landscape and darling orange trees made for a pleasant stroll in the early afternoon sunshine.

Later that day on our leisurely walk to the Louvre, we stopped at the Bar du Marche on the Rue de Seine and ate some of the best hot dogs we’ve ever had in our lives.

The French hot dog is different than the American hot dog, as it’s served on a baguette with lots of cheese baked on top (and I’m not talking that fake dipping cheese you’ll sometimes see paired with pretzels at American sporting events. I’m talking authentic French cheese in all its gooey glory).

We sat outside enjoying our hot dogs, drinks in hand, and toasted to our last night in Paris and a trip well spent. However, the night was young, and we still had one more museum on our list: the Louvre.

I’m no art expert, so if you want a thorough rundown of this vast museum, you’ll need to look elsewhere (though we highly recommend following the path that Rick Steves outlines in his Paris guidebook! It helps you find all the notable works of art and provides some brief context and history).

Winged Victory of Samothrace

Venus de Milo

Another gem of wisdom from the Rick Steves guidebook that we utilized on both of our Paris trips: visit the Louvre in the evening because it’s less crowded.

On Wednesdays and Fridays (except holidays), the Louvre has extended evening hours (open until 9:45pm). We’ve had great luck visiting this world-renowned museum during that time frame (you can actually get fairly close to the Mona Lisa instead of just viewing her from the back of the room!).

Though if I’m being perfectly honest, I find the Mona Lisa to be a bit underwhelming, and I find the story of why she became so famous in the early 1900’s to be a far more interesting tale (She was stolen from the Louvre in 1911 and then recovered two years later!).

What I Wore

Shop this outfit here.

For wandering around the vast estate of Versailles: I wore a casual chic look in neutral tones, with a classic beige trench coat thrown over my otherwise monochromatic look. These layers were perfect for all the walking we did and the variety of weather (a mix of sun, clouds, and a few scattered showers).

As I’ve mentioned in other posts before, I LOVE boots by Blondo because they’re comfortable, stylish, and waterproof! We averaged over 12 miles of walking almost everyday in Paris, and my feet were comfortable in these boots the whole entire time (*not an advertisement or sponsored, just my honest review!).

Shop this outfit here.

For our visit to the Rue Crémieux and afternoon tea at Laduree: This was one of those days we did a large variety of sightseeing, so I wanted my outfit to transition well for different settings, and a striped blouse with black skinny pants accomplished that.

Shop this outfit here.

For dinner at 58 Tour Eiffel and sunset photos at the Trocadero: I wanted something that was more timeless than trendy, and that was elegant, but not ballgown fancy. This dress is currently on sale on Nordstrom Rack’s website for under $50 and comes in blue, black, and red (some sizes are already sold out!). I’m wearing the blue color.

Shop this outfit here.

For touring the Chateau of Versaille and lunch at Angelina: I wore a lace top, my fave high-waist Levi’s, and white Jack Purcell sneakers. I love the contrast of the classic white lace with distressed denim (this top was an H&M sale find from earlier this year, and I linked similar styles above).

Shop this outfit here.

For a casual dinner and visiting the Louvre: My “J’adore Dior” tee was a vintage find from the RealReal several years ago (reminiscent of Carrie Bradshaw’s Dior tee that she wore on Sex and the City). I paired it with a black and white blazer and distressed Levi’s for a casual chic look (one of my favorite daytime outfits from the trip!).

Travel Hiccups

Perhaps this is something people don’t talk about enough when they discuss their travels abroad, but it’s pretty much a guarantee that at least one thing is going to go wrong or be delayed.

From renovations, to train strikes, to lost luggage, somewhere along the line you’ll likely experience a metaphorical (or literal) bump in the road. And you know what? As the French say: C’est la vie! (“That’s life” 😉) I try to go into trips being patient, open-minded, and with a grateful heart.

Also, be kind to yourself and your fellow travelers! Jet lag can be rough, so try your best to schedule in some down time, when you can relax at a cafe with some coffee or take a power nap in your hotel room. I know you probably want to see as much as you can in the time you have, but if you’re constantly exhausted or starving, that’s not going to be a pleasant experience for anyone.

Shop this outfit here.

And if you want to wear a beret in Paris, wear it! (That’s my way of saying carpe diem or the more contemporary YOLO 😉… But as you can see, I did wear a beret!)

If you have any questions or shared experiences, I would love to hear in the comments below! ❤️ Have you been to Paris? If so, what was your favorite thing you did?

In my next post, I’ll be sharing where my husband and I journeyed to after Paris: Positano and the Italian Riviera.

Milestones and Mimosas

Last week my amazing mom turned 60–and can you guess where we’re headed later this spring to celebrate this milestone birthday? 😉

You guessed it! Paris!

A little back story: a large canvas print of the Eiffel Tower has been hanging in my mom’s office for over 10 years. It’s been on her bucket list to travel there since she was a little girl.

I’m so thrilled to soon experience this trip with her and show her some of my favorite places in the City of Light. She’s worked so hard to get to where she is in life and has the kindest heart. I’m truly proud to have her as my mom.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. See my full disclosure here.

In keeping with the Parisian theme, we celebrated my mom’s birthday lunch last week at one of our favorite local spots, La Provence. It’s a French-inspired bistro and bakery, with multiple locations in the Portland metro area.

We’re big fans of their brunch, but we also love the tuna melt for lunch (shown above). The colorful mimosa flights were perfect to toast the occasion (and you get to choose which flavors you want!). 🥂

For dessert, I definitely love their macarons, but I’m also obsessed with the tiramisu.

If you’re local to the Portland area, La Provence is definitely a popular choice for Mother’s Day brunch, which is coming up next month!

Shop this look here.

It was a comfortable spring day (one of the few sunny ones we’ve had so far in April!). I wore some of my go-to basics for weekend wear: a denim jacket, a sleeveless turtleneck, and high-waist black jeans. I especially love sleeveless turtlenecks this time of year because they’re so easy to layer under lightweight jackets for unpredictable spring weather.

My Louis Vuitton bag is the Phenix PM, but unfortunately is no longer sold on their website.

Hope you all are having a wonderful week! As always, thank you so much for stopping by! ❤️

P.S. What’s a travel destination on your bucket list? I would love to hear in the comments below!

Travel Series: Paris, Je T’aime

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All trains are going to Paris! My favorite sign in all the world is located in the train station near Versailles. As Audrey Hepburn famously once said, “Paris is always a good idea,” and I’m inclined to agree. The City of Light has a certain irresistible magic, from the historic sights and art, to the incomparable fashion and exquisite cuisine.

Paris has so much to offer–countless books, films, and songs have been written about this iconic city, and it would be near-impossible to cover it all in a single blog post. As I mentioned in my previous travel post, this is not intended to be a comprehensive guide; instead I’ll be sharing specific insights, experiences, and things that I enjoyed. Since there is so much to see and do in Paris, I’ll be breaking this post into two sections: sights and shopping/fashion.

Sights

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It’s hard to capture in words or even pictures what it’s like to stand underneath the Eiffel Tower. Though it’s one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world, I was always a bit afraid that once I finally saw it with my own eyes, it would somehow be less than I imagined it to be. But truthfully, my fears were quite unfounded. I felt blissfully overwhelmed beneath the massive structure, as it stood tall and proud against the vibrant blue sky.

58 Tour Eiffel

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River Cruise on the Seine

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Our first day in Paris was my birthday and my darling husband surprised me with dinner on the Tower at 58 Tour Eiffel, followed by a river cruise on the Seine. I highly recommend both–though make sure you give yourself plenty of time for dinner, as it’s multiple courses.

We hit it off with the sweet couple at the table next to us, who was celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. Somewhere between the champagne and dessert and coffee, we completely lost track of time and missed our boat! Thankfully we could just wait half an hour and go on the next one–though I must admit there was something kind of romantic about dashing from the Tower to the Seine at sunset in a desperate attempt to catch our boat!

Arc de Triomphe

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One blustery afternoon we climbed the 284 steps to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and were greeted with a gorgeous, panoramic view of Paris. It was also the perfect vantage point to see the roundabout within which the Arc is located and the twelve streets that sprawl from it.

Sainte-Chapelle

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There were several things in Paris that surprised me. The first is that I preferred Sainte-Chapelle to Notre Dame. Of course they’re dramatically different in size and style, yet we visited these churches back to back on the same day. As such, it was impossible for me not to compare them. Though far smaller than Notre Dame, I fell in love with the elaborate stained glass and gilded grandeur of Sainte-Chapelle.

The Louvre

The second thing I was a bit surprised by is how underwhelmed I was by the Mona Lisa. Though I don’t consider myself an expert, I’ve seen quite a bit of art over the years on our travels. Masses of people are crowded in the room to see the Mona Lisa because it’s such a famous work, and honestly? It was just okay. It’s a must-see if you’ve never been, of course, but there were so many other pieces in the Louvre that I enjoyed far more (such as Raphael’s La Belle Jardinière, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Apollo Gallery–all pictured above).

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We visited the Louvre on a Wednesday, during their extended evening hours, which I definitely recommend because it’s way less crowded (and look how the lights of the pyramids glow during twilight!). You can actually get close to the more popular works without having to wait very long. I loved wandering through the Louvre and can’t wait to go back, as it’s one of those gigantic museums that you could truly spend days and days in.

Monet’s Water Lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie

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The third thing is something that I was very pleasantly surprised by: how much I adored Monet’s Water Lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie. Monet spent the last thirty years of his life painting this exquisite work, and he designed the curved rooms that they’re housed in himself. I could’ve spent hours sitting before these tranquil, ethereal images.

Versailles

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Simply put, the palace of Versailles was beyond my wildest dreams. I had never quite fathomed how truly vast the palace and grounds are until we tried to walk it all in the pouring rain!

After the beautiful palace tour, it was unfortunately raining buckets when we exited to explore the expansive grounds. Despite being Oregonians who are quite accustomed to the rain, once our boots and “water-proof” jackets were soaked through, we decided to call it a day. I was pretty disappointed that we didn’t make it out to the Petit Trianon (Marie Antoinette often resided there), but we were sopping wet and quite miserable.

On our next trip we will be a little more flexible with our schedule and hopefully be able to visit Versailles on the sunniest day that we’re there. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from travel, it’s that something will invariably happen that is out of your control (inclement weather, holiday closures, strikes, renovations, etc.), but you have to make the most of it and do the best you can. As the French say, “C’est la vie!”

Shopping and Fashion

Chanel

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Something that was bucket list for me was shopping at the Chanel Flagship boutique on 31 Rue Cambon. Gabrielle Chanel first opened this location in 1918, and it had long been my dream to purchase the Chanel classic flap in the black caviar leather. Fun fact: this location is the only Chanel boutique in the world whose shopping bags are white with a black font (normally it’s the opposite: black shopping bag with white font).

Champs-Élysées

We also enjoyed perusing the Champs-Élysées. We had lunch at Fouquet’s next door to Louis Vuitton (by far the biggest Vuitton store I’ve ever seen!). The food here was excellent (I had the steak-frites), and the terrace seating was an ideal spot for people-watching on this famous boulevard.

Ladurée

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We also stopped at Ladurée for tea and dessert; not only were the macarons incredible, this famous sweet shop was absolutely beautiful. If you like macarons and pastries, this decadent place is a must (they also have multiple locations in the US!).

Christian Dior Exhibit at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs

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Another fashion highlight for me was visiting the Christian Dior Exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs that celebrated the 70 years since the renowned fashion house began. Seeing the evolution of Dior over the years was incredible; being so close to some of these elaborate dresses, you truly could see the immense craftsmanship and detail that goes into making couture designs. Unfortunately this exhibition was for a limited time and ended in January of 2018.

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What to Pack

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Beret: H&M  (similar) Striped Shirt: H&M (similarGray Topcoat: Zara (similar here and here)  Bag: Chanel (similar here and here)  Striped Dress: Monteau (similar here and here)  Lace Top: Rose and Olive (similar here and hereSunglasses: Chanel (similarWatch: Marc by Marc Jacobs (similar)

Of course this would vary depending what time of year you visit, but above is a sample of what I would pack (most of these items I did in fact bring on our trip). As I’ve said before, it’s easier when traveling to stick with a neutral color palette. Choosing pieces that have a variety of textures or prints helps add interest and detail (such as lace and stripes), yet staying within a classic palette makes it easy to mix and match.

The gray wool beret in the top left corner I recently purchased from H&M–I definitely regret not buying one in Paris! I saw so many girls wearing berets there, and I wish I had purchased one. Ah well–next time!

The Chanel classic flap pictured above is my beloved purchase from Paris. I linked some lovely similar options that have a comparable structure and shape.

This Friday I’ll be wearing some of these same pieces and doing a special post for Mother’s Day Weekend: outfit ideas for brunch with the moms in your life, great last-minute gifts, Paris-themed book recommendations, and a selection of my favorite black-and-white striped dresses that are currently on sale.

Thank you so much for stopping by! I would love to hear in the comments what you guys enjoy doing in Paris or what you hope to one day do there!

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P.S. One of our favorite restaurants was Au Père Louis. It was close to our hotel in the Latin Quarter, and if you’re ever in that area I highly recommend it! It’s a charming little place with AMAZING food.