Eurotrip 101: Paris & Madrid
We’re not the perfect world travelers; trust us, we have crazy stories from bad experiences in other countries too, but we do our research and for the most part it ends up working out! This travel of our blog is intended for any and all recommendations for those of you who have as much wanderlust as we do. We’re starting off with the two cities where we lived for 3 months during our summers studying abroad: Paris & Madrid.
Enjoy! XX, S&J
Where to stay: Airbnb is the way to go. As you may know, Paris is divided into 18 arrondissements (districts) and we highly recommend staying in one of these four districts: 6th (Shir lived there with her WOES when she studied abroad), 8th, 3rd, and 4th
How to get here: The metro in Paris is one of the easiest modes of public transportation to use in Europe. You could download the RATP application to help you, look at the easy-to-read maps on the walls of the station, or ask a nearby worker. The metro runs everywhere in the city, and you could even take the faster trains to go to other cities! Uber is also big there along with other transportation apps.
Soya: If you’re into the vegetarian and healthy-eating fad, you should definitely check out this place. You could order a raw lasagna which is made from cashew cheese and other delicious substitutes. The salads and bowls are amazing too, and it’s by La Republique which is a popular part of town with great bars in the area, like Bespoke.
L’as du Fallafel: One of Shir’s favorite restaurants in Paris, because she is so biased towards Israeli/Middle-eastern food. If you’re ever in Paris and want AMAZING falafel, this is your place! It’s on Rue de Rosiers in Le Marais, so you have the perfect opportunity for shopping after you grab a bite to eat.
Eggs & Co: A favorite brunch place of S&J, which was a convenient 10 minute walk from where Shir lived. For a fixed price you get coffee, orange juice, your style of any Benedict, salad, a pancake, and fruit. Shir loved it so much that she ended up becoming best friends with the owners, so definitely check out this cute little restaurant if you’re in Paris-it’s worth the wait!
Kong: Kong is a little on the pricey side, but if you’re looking for an amazing dinner with a great view of the city, this is your place. When you walk up by the Louis Vuitton Headquarters and see a huge building with two men dressed in suits waiting outside, they will lead you to an elevator and direct you to the top floor to this restaurant. As you step out of the elevator, you will be greeted by a hostess who will seat you at the bar to order a cocktail-or two! If S&J had to rate all the bars we’ve been to in our lives, this bar is on our top 3. After your pre-dinner drinks, you will follow the hostess up a dimly light spiral staircase to the top of the restaurant covered by a glass dome with a 360 view of Paris. The tuna tartare is a great appetizer, and honestly everything was just delicious. S&J couldn’t have better things to say about their dining experience here, when Jamie’s family met up with Shir for a night out in Paris.
Zara: We’re not kidding when we say that there was a Zara on almost every block in Paris. The great thing about it is that it’s so international, meaning that it has adapted its specific style of clothing in store to each city & country. All of the Zaras in Europe sell different styles of clothing, which is a DREAM, especially coming from the two girls who shop at Zara like it’s their job!
Stores on St.Germain: St.Germain is a high-end shopping street with a ton of cute cafes. It’s where Shir would study for exams until about 2:00a.m. because the cafes are open really late.
Boutiques in Le Marais: Rue de Rosiers has great restaurants and boutiques, and if you walk around that whole neighborhood you’ll find the cutest boutiques!
Boutiques in Montmartre: Montmartre is a large hill in the 18th arrondissement topped off by the Sacre-Coeur, a big beautiful white Catholic Church. There are a lot of boutiques spiraling up the hill leading up to the Church as well.
L’Arc: Shir & Jamie’s favorite club in the world! If you’re lucky and the weather is nice enough, they will open up the roof so you could see the Arc de Triomphe and a beautiful night sky.
Candelaria: You enter what you think is a normal taco shop and walk all the way to the back to where you’re greeted by a bouncer who’s guarding the back door. As you tell him the name of the bar you’re trying to go to, he opens the door and tells you to take a seat and wait to be greeted by a hostess. It does not matter which cocktail you choose here, because when we went everyone in our group ordered a different drink and they all tasted amazing! Step out of your comfort zone a bit and go enjoy this hidden gem in the city of loooove.
Bagatelle: This place is a dream! After the lengthy, but definitely well worth it, Uber ride, you step foot onto the property of a beautiful mansion in the middle of the woods (Bois de Bologne). Here, you’ll be sure to enjoy delicious buffets for dinner in the beautiful backyard which converts into an outdoor club.
Where to stay: Whether it’s an Airbnb, a hotel, or a hostel, you can’t go wrong! Just make sure to do some research on the part of town you wish to stay in the most and get some recommendations from friends who have stayed there before. Luckily for Jamie, she had an apartment for 3 months in the La Latina neighborhood. Below are S&J’s recommendations of neighborhoods to stay in during your stay!
La Latina: This is the neighborhood is where Jamie’s apartment was during her summer abroad. It is an older part of town, and a lot more relaxed and quiet compared to other parts of Madrid. Jamie really enjoyed living in this neighborhood because it is a quick walk away from other busier parts of Madrid, but it is nice to not have music blaring outside your bedroom window all night long! If you prefer not to stay here, you should still definitely make the trip to stop by a cafe and grab a tapa- or two!
Malasana: The “hipster” section of Madrid and my favorite part of town! From the amazing boutiques, to the lively restaurants and late night bars, you can’t go wrong with a night out here. There’s even a plaza, Plaza de San Ildefonso, that comes alive at 12:00am when the locals all sit on the ground and drink- until the cops come to shoo everyone away!
Plaza del Sol: This plaza is the heart of Madrid; it is literally the centermost point of Madrid, and of Spain for that matter! That being said, it is also the most touristy part of the city. There are numerous spots around the plaza for photo ops, and the side streets extending from the plaza have many well known shops and restaurants. If you’re looking for a more lively part of town to stay in, you can’t go five feet without seeing a street performer and a 24/7 movement of people.
Barrio Salamanca: This is the nicest neighborhood in Madrid and a great place to stay with family- but definitely not if you’re ballin’ on a budget. This is also the go-to place for high end shopping and the fanciest restaurants!
How to get here: The Madrid International Airport is a short 30 minute cab ride outside of the city. Most cabs charge a flat fee of $30 for a ride into town- not bad if you’re splitting it with friends! Once you’re in the city, be sure to purchase a metro pass! It is so easy to navigate the metro and there are stops in all of the places around town that you will need to go.
Naif: Ask all her friends who visited Jamie in Madrid and they will tell you that Naif is the BEST restaurant you will find! Naif is located in Malasana, the hipster section of Madrid. If you’re a fan of oversized salads with the toppings of your dreams, this is your go-to place. Naif also has American style burgers, fries, and sandwiches to satisfy your homesick cravings!
Martina Cocina: Martina Cocina is an adorable little cafe in the La Latina neighborhood of Madrid. It was a two minute walk away from Jamie’s apartment, and the place she would always find herself going to when she wanted to get out of the apartment for a little. Their sandwiches are to die for and they always have yummy pastries and fresh coffee or juice to snack on.
Llao Llao: You know how everyone has their favorite fro-yo shop, even though they all kind of taste the same? Well, this is S&J’s- Llao Llao is a fro-yo franchise all across Madrid that Jamie and her roommates fell in love with. Whenever they were in the mood to celebrate, feeling homesick, or just overheated from the lack of A/C in Madrid, Llao Llao was their go to spot. The tart flavored fro-yo is to die for, fruit toppings are 100p fresher than the rest, and you can even top it with warm chocolate. Currently wishing we could start a Llao Llao franchise in Gainesville…
Mercado de San Miguel: A definite must-see during your stay in Madrid! This beautiful market comes alive during the day, when vendors of all different types of food and drinks open up shop to the public. From the fresh fruit, to the authentic tapas and yummy drinks, you can’t go wrong stopping for a bite to eat here!
Zara: Like Paris, and pretty much every large European city, there are Zaras on every street corner that you turn onto. Interestingly enough, every Zara seems to carry a slightly different selection of clothing! You just can’t help but to spend hours in their dressing rooms and multiple trips whenever you find yourself in need of a new outfit.
Brandy Melville: Even though this isn’t a typical European shop, Jamie was lucky enough to live a short 20 minute walk away from Brandy Melville. Brandy was another shop that S&J would find themselves in the dressing room trying clothes on for actually two hours, because you just can’t beat their low prices and trendy style.
El Corte Ingles: Corte stores are Madrid’s biggest chain department stores, with several locations all across the city. Jamie’s favorite Corte was located near Plaza del Sol, which was about a 20 minute walk from her apartment. Never fret if you forget something on your trip to Madrid because Corte will save your life! Corte has EVERYTHING- from your typical department store clothing and beauty sections, to its grocery store, and everything in between.
Things to Do
Buen Retiro Park: This park is a great place to go for a run, row a boat on the lake, or walk through and take in the beautiful landscaping. Jamie spent lots of time here during her summer abroad running along the different paths throughout the park. Buen Retiro is definitely one of the best photo-ops in Madrid.
Kapital: Kapital is the infamous 6 story club you’ve always heard about! It is especially fun to go when there is a DJ performing, but even on an AVG night, you’ll be dancing the night away at Kapital until sunrise.
Malasana barhopping: Like we have said before, this is the ultimate hipster bar scene and the place to go to bar hop between unique bars all in one place. If S&J could go back to Madrid for one night, you would find us here!
We hope that this city guide gave you a little insight into Euro travel; whether it’s Paris, Madrid, or another amazing city on your bucket list! Be sure to check back for more city guides coming soon…