Bonjour! I’m currently sat at home enjoying my seriously high-brow meal of pasta and scrambled eggs trying to process the fact that EVERYTHING IS CHANGING OH MY GOD HELP. UNIVERSITY IS HARD. Soooo this is not a long text about my experience, but rather a somewhat (hopefully) helpful list of the top 11 things I saw in Paris when I visited earlier this year. I spent the week of my birthday in Paris with my Mamma on our first girls trip in years and we had the best time together. Not only did we get to explore Paris and eat nutella crêpes for every meal, but I also got to spend my actual birthday in Disneland Paris, fulfilling a lifelong dream. It was a magical, albeit slightly cold, trip. I considered writing a more descriptive blogpost about the experience, but decided that I couldn’t adequately portray it in words so here, in no particular order, are 11 Things I personally experienced in Paris that all tourists and travellers also should in a handy and short listicle form 🙂
Monmartre is a neighbourhood in Paris located on, and around, the highest point in the city. It’s considered an old artisan neighbourhood that during its glory days hosted many artists, craftsmen and musicians. In the Montmartre area the famous cabarets Moulin Rouge and the old Le Chat Noir are located. The streets of Montmartre are full with artists selling their art, colourful buildings and the area has a very distinct feeling to it – colourful and exciting. There was just so much to look at that we spent an entire day exploring the culture, tasting chocolate from chocolatiers, visiting the Sacré-Cœur basilica and wandering the streets of this iconic area.
2: The Sacré-Cœur Basilica
While wandering the cobblestone streets of Montmartre make sure to head to the very top of the hill and visit the La Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. This area in front of the basilica offers a brilliant view over Paris and for 8€ you can walk up to the top of the basilica, following some scarily narrow stairs to an amazing 360 degree view of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower. The visit to the top of the basilica was one of the highlights of the trip for me!
3:The Eiffel Tower
Now, I don’t really need to say anything about this staple in Paris, but I will say this: Get there early in the morning to avoid queuing for hours, visit all the levels (it is well worth the price), book your tickets online and go on a sunny day. We visited Paris during what has gone down in history as the most air-polluted week of 2015, which meant that while we got the perk of free public transport, we also experienced a lot smog and fog. The view from the tower was still beautiful and the construction awe-inspiring, but I am sure it would have been even more spectacular if we could see more of the city.
4: The Trocadero
While in the Eiffel Tower area why not head over to the Trocadero! I don’t really know how to describe what the Trocadero is exactly, but basically it’s this really cool building/fountain/garden area vis-a-vis the Tour De Eiffel that hosts a museum and the Paris Aquarium. The reason you should visit the Trocadero however is that from the top of Trocadro you will find one of the best views in town of the Eiffel Tower – especially beautiful during the magical sunset hours.
5:The River Seine
When navigating the stunning architecture, narrow streets and crowded markets there is one thing you can’t possibly miss: The Seine. Now, you may not think about the Seine when you cross it, but you will surely notice the bridges you will cross, often famous, often impressive architectural and historical monuments (Pont Alexandre II and Pont Neuf being two examples of this). If there is one thing you should do in Paris it’s walk the streets along the Seine and the weather is good, pack a little picnic and walk along the river and find a nice spot to sit and people watch. It won’t be difficult to find a little peace and quiet in a bustling city scene.
“There is but one Paris and however hard living may be here, and if it became worse and harder even—the French air clears up the brain and does good—a world of good.”
6:Musee du Louvre
You can’t visit Paris and not head into a few of the world-known museums in the city. There are many to choose from, but the Musée du Louvre is one of the most popular ones. Even if you don’t want to go inside the museum itself, the building that hosts the museum and the glass pyramids outside are definitely worth viewing. The main museum area is located next to the Seine as well, so I recommend planning out a route along the Seine and see a couple of museums as well as the Notre-Dame while you are in the area.
7: The Notre-Dame Cathedral
The Notre Dame, famous for it’s gothic arcitecture and grandiose windows, is also a must-see. The build started in the 1100s and was finished more than two centuries later and has since then been rebuilt and expanded regularly .You can queue to go to the top of the tower, but we opted to do that in the Sacré-Cœur basilica instead and just popped into the Notre-Dame for a quick visit. However, during our little peak into the church we stumbled upon a service and though we couldn’t understand any of the prayers, we did enjoy the operatic singers immensely and had a lovely experience.
Speaking of amazing smells and adorable streets, ever heard of the latin quarter of Paris in the area around the Sorbonne Univeristy? Yum! Not too far away from Notre-Dame this lively neighborhood is packed to the brim with cute cafés, exciting food from all over the world, street markets and street artists. The cobblestone streets and eclectic buildings are reminiscent of its former bohemian golden age and the latin quarter is also home to the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore. It doesn’t take much to get off the tourist path in this area either so set off some time to explore. Put your map in your backpack and get lost on purpose in this vibrant and authentic feeling part of Paris.
Transport tip: When in Paris get a weekly ticket or day tickets to the metro and the RER trains. This offers you free access to pretty much all of Paris and will be cheaper than taking taxis and easier to navigate than buses. With a RER train you can also travel cheaply to Versailles, Disneland Paris and a number of other places way outside of the city.
9:Arc de Triomphe
This one we just sort of did to check it off the list. It’s exactly like it looks like in the photos. At the very top of Champs-Élysées (which you should also walk down) this monument is worth taking a photo of, before heading down towards the more noteworthy Grand Palais and the Petite Palais.
10: Jardin du Luxembourg
On one of our last days we visited the Chateau de Versailles. Travel like the locals do and take a metro train out to the outskirts of Versailles, enjoying lovely views of the French countryside on your way. Centuries of French history and famous figures have resided in the palace, most famously Marie Antoinette who was the last Queen of the French, married to King Louis XVI, but centuries of French kings have put their mark on the palace and learning all about it was well worth the ticket price . From the moment you enter the property you sense the grandeur of it all, the golden gates inviting you into the palace and to an absolutely mind-blowing garden. The Mirror Hall is also spectacular!
These are just some of the things we saw while touring the city of love, but there are so many museums to visit, catacombs, there’s a lovely aquarium, there’s Champs-Elysée and the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais, Mont Parnasse, Moulin Rouge and more! We saw a lot in 5 days, but not nearly enough. I think you could live in Paris and never see all of it or discover all of it’s history. I want to go back and see all the things I haven’t seen at some point and I want to see more of France, maybe Nice and Marseille and the Borduox region eventually.
What other must-see things do you know of in Paris? Tips for my next trip are very welcome! Xxx