This trip started with a friend and I NEEDING to see Harry Styles in Paris, so naturally we had to figure out where else we wanted to go.
Follow me along as I hop around Paris, Nice, Lake Como, Tuscany, and London (in 10 days - I do suggest MUCH longer but I had to make do)! PS: Tuscany will be covered in a separate blog post.
Paris (1.5 days)
Let me preface this... 1.5 days in Paris is not enough time if you want to see everything. This was my second time in Paris, but if it were my first time I would need 3-4 days to experience all of the city of love.
We stayed at the Hotel Gramont, which is located by the Opera. We did not really care what area (or as they say in Paris - arrondissement) we stayed in since it was a short trip, but this location was central to almost everything we wanted to see.
The first night we were there, we just walked around and all the way down to the Eiffel Tower to see the lights twinkle. If you are in Paris this is something you HAVE to see at night. Fair warning if you are trying to catch an Uber: it took us FOREVER to get an Uber back to our hotel. We waited for 45 minutes and had 3 drivers cancel on us.
The next day we decided to be real tourists and get the day pass for the hop on hop off buses. If you don't have a lot of time in Paris, this is a great and inexpensive way to see the city. Our ticket even came with an hour long cruise on the Seine River. If the weather permits, I highly suggest trying to sit on the top level of the bus - the views from this high up are unmatched while you are driving. We mainly stayed on the bus, but hopped off at Notre Dame and at the Arc de Triomphe. Notre Dame was under construction due to the fire that broke out in April 2019, so we were unable to go in.
Once we got off at the Arc de Triomphe, we walked around and did some shopping. No Paris trip is complete without snagging some macrons from Ladurée. On top of our macarons, we started to walk to the Eiffel Tower and stopped into a store to grab some snacks and a bottle of Prosecco so we could have a picnic.
That night, we had our HARRY STYLES CONCERT!!! I still cannot believe I saw him in Paris and have never seen him live in the US - only One Direction (and yes, it was when 5SOS opened for them). We grabbed an Uber from our hotel to Accor Arena, and thankfully we did not have to wait long for it to arrive this time.
The next day, we had an afternoon flight to Nice. So, in the morning 2 of my friends went to the Louvre, but I decided to venture to Montmartre since I had been to the Louvre my last time in Paris. I made the mistake of getting a Lime scooter from our hotel to Montmartre instead of walking 1.5 miles. The scooter had a place where I could set my phone up for directions, but my phone would not stay put. So, picture me bouncing over cobble stones while trying to steer the scooter and not drop my phone - safe to say I crashed and messed up my ankle... it was the size of two golf balls and bleeding pretty bad. It went numb, and I decided it would be a smart thing for me to just walk back to the hotel instead of getting back on the scooter. Needless to say, my two PA friends said that was not the brightest idea and they had extra strength Tylenol to help me the rest of the trip (love you two LOTS for this).
Nice (2.5 days)
Once again, I HIGHLY recommend more time in Nice. I am trying to plan 10 days just for the French Riviera because it is STUNNING.
Sadly, I cannot find our AirBnB online anymore, but we stayed in an apartment that looked over the port. We stayed on the top floor (5th floor) and there were no elevators, which is very common for Europe.
For dinner, we went to Primo Amore by Pappagallo, and this should be a MUST when you go to Nice. I highly recommend the truffle burrata to start and the pesto pasta as their entree. We also decided to split tiramisu, and they came out with the whole baking dish and cut us a slice that was the size of our head and plopped it on the plate. So, safe to say they have very big servings here and everything was pretty inexpensive! I do recommend making a reservation because it is a small restaurant and they get busy.
The nest day was our first full day in Nice and we decided last minute to spend it relaxing on the beach at Cocoon Beach club. We sat front row and had to rent beach towels since we did not pack our own. Try to change my mind about this - there is nothing more blissful than being on the Mediterranean. We were planning to go to dinner at a highly rated restaurant later that night, so my friend and I just split a chicken sandwich and it was very good - of course we had Aperol Spritzs too!
Nice has some of the best food I've ever had - since it is so close to Italy, you can find a lot of Italian dishes as well as French cuisines. Dinner was at La Cucina Nice and this is an ABSOLUTE must if you are dining in Nice. They do not take reservations, so I suggest getting there a few minutes before they open to get your table. We still got there right when they opened, but there was already a wait. We waited 1.5 hours for a table and it was 10000% worth the wait, but they did let us order drinks while we waited. Our waiter Leo was our favorite - he truly made our night (and I think he loved us too). Each person needed to order their own dish and they only accept cash. We ordered the truffle pasta (because duh truffle is the best), the lamb (SO SO good), a tomato and burrata pasta, and a Caprese salad - we licked our plates clean.
(shout out to Leo!!)
The next day we did a half day tour to Eze and Monaco. I am a big F1 girl, so if I was going to be this close to Monaco I needed to just stop by. I was geeking out so much when we were driving around Monaco, especially when he took us along the F1 circuit, that I don't have any pictures. Granted we only had about an hour in Monaco. Although, in Eze, we had time to hike up and wander through the town. My friends did not want to pay to enter Le Jardin Exotique, but I couldn't not go. The view was INCREDIBLE here, and shout out to the old man who said my friends were crazy for not coming and said he would take my picture for me.
I definitely need to go back and spend a lot more time in the French Riviera. There are so many sights to see, and we nearly brushed the surface in our short time there.
Lake Como (2 days)
From Nice, we took a train to Lake Como, and we booked this easily through Trainline. My friend who lives in Italy highly recommended this app for me. Since we only had a short amount of time in Lake Como, we decided to stay in Varenna at a beautiful AirBnB that looked over the lake (and it was right by the train station!!). This was about a 10-15 minute walk to Varenna, but it was a pretty easy walk.
For dinner, we went to Bar il Molo (sadly I didn't take pictures of our food). None of us were super impressed with the food here, but if you can get a table overlooking the water, then I would suggest going here for aperitifs. Varenna is a very small town, so we were able to easily walk around to all the different shops. I found one local artist and spent about 30 minutes deciding which watercolor I was going to take home from me. Then right across the way were vintage photographs of Lake Como, so I had to get something from there too.
After wandering, it was still light out, so on our walk home we stopped at Olivedo Lido and got a bottle of rose to share.
For the next day, we decided to get a full day ferry pass and go to Menaggio and Bellagio. Bellagio is probably the most popular tourist spot in Lake Como, but Menaggio was just as stunning and very low key. From where the ferry dropped us off, we had to walk about 5-10 minutes to the main part of town. We mainly walked on the promenade and then needed to sit down for cappuccinos and croissants.
From Menaggio, we went over to Bellagio. Bellagio is bigger than both Varenna and Menaggio, so you can easily get lost. We spent our time wandering through the streets and stopping in different shops. I found the famous street and it was really hard to get a picture without other people there, so I would suggest going earlier in the day if you want to get pictures without a lot of people around.
No Italy day is complete without gelato, so prior to lunch we stopped in a gelato shop. I have yet to find a bad gelato place in Italy. We stayed in Bellagio for lunch. We stayed closer to the water, because why not have a gorgeous lunch view. We found a table RIGHT on the water at La Terrazza Metropole, which is part of Hotel Metropole Bellagio. Once again, I was awful at taking pictures of food, but there is a video highlight on my Instagram page. The four of us split a bottle of Prosecco, carbonara, a small pizza, and pasta with clams. The pizza was not great - so you can skip this, but the two pastas were to die for. I am pretty sure we licked those plates clean.
Once we got back to Varenna, we made our way back to our AirBnB (with our to go Aperol Spritz in hand) to get ready for our boat tour. Since we did not have a lot of time in Lake Como, we opted to do an hour long group tour. There was only one other couple on the boat with us, so it seemed like we had our own private tour. Not going to lie, I spent more time looking at the scenery than listening to our tour guide explain the different land marks. Either way, getting on a boat (other than the ferry rides) is a MUST while you are in Lake Como.
We did not have dinner reservations, but the day prior we were walking around Varenna and came across a restaurant with a spectacular view - Restaurant Du Lac. Luckily, they were able to seat us without a reservation. If you are wanting to try pasta with different flavors and textures, then this is the spot in Varenna. I was very skeptical of the menu, but everything was delicious! Also, their menu changes, so what we ordered is no longer on the menu :(
Then to finish off our time in Lake Como, we stopped in a gelato shop (we actually went to this place every day). As you can see below, same back drop, different day!
London (1 day)
I think we all can agree that 1 day in London is not enough time. Due to my stop in Tuscany (covered in its own post), I only had one day in London to work with. This was the part of the trip I did solo - I flew direct from Florence to London City (LCY), and for the life of me, I could not figure out where Ubers pick up and my driver kept cancelling on me. I ended up just grabbing a taxi out front and they had a card machine in the car, but it cost me about $60 to get to my hotel, The Omega Hotel. If you are in London longer than one night, I do not recommend this place. It was a cheap option close to the Paddington Station, and it also had no elevator and the AC was non-existent (pretty typical for Europe).
Once I freshened up, I walked ALL over London. I walked from the hotel, to Buckingham Palace, to Big Ben, and all the way to the Eye. I believe I walked close to 10 miles this day still on a very bad ankle - so I was READY for a drink. Around the Theatre District and Covent Garden, I found this cure restaurant to get a drink and an appetizer, Rossopomodoro. If I did not have dinner reservations, I would have tried their pizzas.
My dinner reservations were at Sticks n' Sushi Covent Garden. This place came highly recommended by my friend who went here while she was in London for work. Also, just walking around Covent Garden was fun - it had a very floral vibe going on, there were lots of people walking around and enjoying the shops and drinks. So, I recommend spending some time in this area.
Back to the food.... this was probably some of the best sushi I ever had. The food comes out quickly, and all at once. For a drink, I got the purple rain (also was a must order item from my friend), yellowfin tuna sashimi (my favorite), hiramasa kataifi (because it had truffle oil - YUM), and a spicy tuna roll.
Safe to say that after dinner I was ready to go back to the hotel and head to bed. The next morning, I had an early flight. I walked the short walk over to Paddington Station and took the Heathrow Express to Heathrow Airport. I HIGHLY recommend getting to the airport this way - it was a 15 minute train ride and very inexpensive compared to my $60 Uber.
Things to Know Before:
YOU NEED MORE TIME IN ALL OF THESE PLACES!!
We went around 4th of July, so it was starting the busy season and it was pretty warm
Pack comfortable walking shoes - I wore my Jack Roger sandals around Lake Como and my feet were definitely hurting by the end of the day
DO NOT use the electric scooters on cobble stones - unless you want to come home with a bad ankle and a forever scar
Trains are the way to go