Like what I did with the title? Viewing art in the heart of Paris – it rhymes! After 2 days in Dublin and then a whirlwind 2 days in London, we were on a train to Paris.
Paris is a short train ride away from London. Only taking a little over 2 hours, the train ride felt like it took no time at all. Since Paris is such a large city and we wanted to experience as much of the city as possible, so we divided the city into two trips: the first was an overnight stay at the Hotel Da Vinci in the Saint Germain area of Paris – near art museums – on the “Left Bank of Paris” (on the southern side of the Seine River).
The Hotel Da Vinci is a small hotel, but only in size. The hotel is grandiose in beauty, charm and luxurious feel. When we arrived, we were checked in and show to our room, on the way to which we passed this cute display that also had a little history of the hotel and where it got its name from. The story goes that in 1911, Vincenzo Perugia stole the Mona Lisa from inside the Louvre and hid in the hotel for several days…the masterpiece was only found two years later in Italy, when the thief attempted to sell it. It is said that the thief received a sentence because of his motives: he merely wanted to restore the “national treasure” to its homeland, Italy. To commemorate the painting’s return to France, the hotel, renamed for the occasion, reopened its doors after a complete renovation, to combine the elegance and graceful opulence of Italian and French cultures.
As you can see, our room was completely gorgeous, the artwork and atmosphere of the room was very luxurious and Parisian feeling. The windows you see on the right opened onto a little balcony.
The views from the balcony were so pretty, I kept opening the windows to go on the balcony. But even though the balcony opened to the street, as soon as one closed the windows/doors, one couldn’t hear a thing!
The beauty extended to every detail of the hotel: the bathroom had a robe and slippers and the best smelling hotel soaps and shampoo evvvvver!
My feet were absolutely dead at this point (we had been walking 10+ miles a day, not something I’m used to, even though I loved walking through the cities) and all I wanted to do was wear the robe and slippers and lay in bed, but instead we decided to power through and go explore. The first stop: Museum d’Orsay, a short 5-10 minute walk from the hotel!
The line was pretty long to get into the museum, but it moved pretty quickly. Seeing Van Gogh masterpieces up close was truly an experience. At first I thought “meh, this is going to be nothing out of the ordinary” but those thoughts quickly turned to “ooooh that’s stunning” and pulling my husband to see all the exhibits. The museum itself has a really cool layout, on one section of the museum you can see the city of Paris from behind a clock:
After the museum we headed back to the hotel and then on to exploring the Saint Germain area. Right down the street from the Hotel Da Vinci was this exquisite choclatier: Debauve & Gallais
And the theme of the afternoon was definitely chocolate, because after buying #allthechocolate we found a little cafe where I experienced French hot chocolate – you guys – it’s like hot chocolate amplified by a million. It’s rich and thick and comes in a little pot!
After all the sweets and walking around, we clearly needed dinner, so we went to a little place that was recommended to us by the hotel staff: Les Antiquaires
The restaurant was very cool – it used to be a chemists’ lab so there was themed antique decor throughout – and on top of their French menu, they also had one in English (which was extremely helpful because I speak and can read zero French.) Something I noticed everywhere in Paris is that the restaurant tables were so incredibly close together, it really made me feel like a whale of an American haha. When they seat people they pull the tables out a little to let the others in to the booth side, it’s actually all very graceful in a Parisian way, but it just cracked me up that there was approximately 1 inch between you and the next table over.
The food was delicious – I got a steak and frites with a Bearnaise dipping sauce, and Nick got veal with mashed potatoes. After dinner we walked back to the hotel to relax for the evening and to enjoy the balcony and prosecco the hotel had left for us which was such a nice touch!
The next morning we wanted to make the most of our few remaining hours, so we grabbed a quick breakfast at the hotel (croissants and other delicacies in the the little cafe)
After which we walked a short 5 minutes over to the Louvre! The Louvre is ginormous. To give you a more of a feel of the expanse:
Every inch of architecture is ornate and beautiful to look at. I had heard about ‘the lines’ but I have to tell you, we were definitely not expecting them to be like they were. We got there first thing in the morning when they opened, and already there were droves of people circled around the pyramid waiting to get in.
The wait was over three hours, so we opted to walk around the outside of the museum and check out the gift shop – which honestly was gorgeous and set up like a gallery in and of itself – and enjoy the sunshine (first rays we’d seen on our trip!)
What I’d really like to know is how all those models and Instagram people get photos of themselves with an unobstructed view of the pyramid at the Louvre in the background: as you can see, there were a crazy amount of people. How do they get those pictures?! HOW?
We walked along the seine river and marveled at all the beautiful architecture:
On the walk back we did some window art viewing – there are so many galleries in the Saint Germain area that one feels as if one is in a museum the whole time. When we got back to our hotel, we spent a little time relaxing at their downstairs private pool area, another amazing feature of the Hotel Da Vinci.The relaxation area, situated on the lower ground floor, is arranged around a mosaic-lined pool that reproduces the colors used by Leonardo da Vinci to paint the Gioconda. The star-studded arch creates the most magical and cozy ceiling to the room. Had we had more time, I would have definitely stayed in this artfully inspired space and taken advantage of the spa services that can be booked.
All in all, our stay at the Hotel Da Vinci in Paris was marvelous and perfect for our overnight art-viewing trip.
Other posts you might like:
- How to get great photos of you and your husband and see the sights in Paris
- Guide to Central London: Where to Stay & What to See
- 2 Days in Dublin: a Guide to Dublin and the Dublin Bay Area
Thank you to the Hotel Da Vinci for hosting us during overnight Paris stay. There was no obligation to write this post, I am doing so because we honestly loved everything about the hotel and I wanted to share my experience with the world. As always all thoughts and opinions are mine alone. Thank you for reading and supporting the brands I partner with, which make the SweetPhi blog possible.
Agness of Fit Travelling says
I absolutely love Paris. Sounds like you had so much fun there. Sweetpi, glad you share this with us.
You’re so welcome, glad you came across this post. Paris was so beautiful.
Amy @ Amy's Healthy Baking says
I LOVE Paris!! We’ve been twice for family vacations, and I also went once with band in high school. Reading your post makes me want to go back ASAP! My family and I actually had my 12th birthday lunch at the little restaurant behind the gigantic clock at the Musée d’Orsay, and I still remember what I ordered: a simple ham and cheese quiche. (Thankfully my tastebuds are a little more sophisticated now!) I really enjoyed scrolling through your photos, and that chemistry-themed restaurant is going on my list for whenever I make it back to Paris. (I was a chemist before a food blogger!)
That is so awesome that you’ve been to Paris so many times! And as a previous chemist, you would have loved that restaurant, it was sooooo adorable!!
Little Cooking Tips says
Stunning photos Phi! The hotel is really beautiful, and the gastronomical experience of a trip to Paris must be overwhelming! As for the tables, that are close to each other, it reminded of us of some parts of Athens, but we really don’t like this trend. We’re people who like their space and we also check the table arrangement before visiting a restaurant. If it’s too crowded we don’t like it, so we simply chose another:)
Thank you for this great post Phi!
We are people who love a little space too Mirella, it was crazy how close all the tables were – talk about elbow-to-elbow lol.
Andrea rentea says
Great photos,great fantastic descriptions thank you for sharing this
Thank you so much for following along! Glad you liked the photos 🙂
Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy says
If you are going to look at art anywhere, it should be in Paris, And then you could go and eat your body weight in macaroons after haha
Paris is definitely the BEST spot to look at art, it was everywhere! Sadly though, we did not find many macarons (I’m talking only one super touristy spot had them)!
HI Phi, looks like you are living the dream, cannot believe how beautiful your room is, it belongs in a museum.
Thank you so much for commenting Cheri – the rooms were gorgeous, definitely museum worthy!
hey girl This looks like fun! I’m glad y’all had a great time! I would love to go to Paris!
We totally had a blast, thank you girl!