I strongly believe that everyone who goes on a trip through Europe should be required to make a stop in Paris. It’s really hard not to fall in love with the City of Love: the charming architecture with wrought iron balconies and storybook-style shutters, grand churches, impressive museums, and pleasant outdoor cafés all come together to create one of the most iconic cities in the world, and one of the most enjoyable cities for tourists to visit. Go wander, eat amazing food, sip on wine, and enjoy!
There are more than enough to keep a tourist busy in Paris but these are my favorite activities and sights to see:
This 3 hour tour is a great way to familiarize yourself early on in your trip with the geographical and historical contexts of beautiful Paris. The tour guides point out the main tourist attractions with tips about how to best visit them, and she also helped me appreciate details of the city that I would have otherwise skimmed over. Tours start at Place St. Michel, line 4.
Hop off the metro at Anvers, line 2, and follow the foot traffic uphill. Soon, La Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre will come into view. Continue uphill until you can both visit the basilica and see the panoramic view of Paris below you. After visiting the church, make sure you wander through the enchanting winding streets of Montmartre on your way down the backside of the hill.
I think this church actually amazed me more than Notre Dame, but luckily they are near to each other so you can easily visit both! (Cité, line 4). Prepared to be blown away by the most colorful, detailed stained glass you’ve ever seen in your life. After visiting the churches, make sure you walk across the Seine on the Pont des Arts locks of love bridge before all the locks are taken away!
(Trocadero, line 9) I’ve heard that going up to the top of the tower can be a crowded, chaotic experience, and I felt that walking around and under it was enough to take the grandeur of this Parisian icon. Make sure to catch the light show on the hour!
Château de Versailles
If you’re tight on money or the weather is too nice to spend a day inside, skip the line for the palace and just explore the famous palace gardens of Versailles instead. If you are going inside the palace, though, buy a ticket beforehand and still arrive as early as possible! (RER C train, Versailles)
I think even ‘not-museum-people’ would enjoy an hour or two checking out the art in this museum. There is a wonderful collection of impressionist and post-impressionist arts, including work by Van Gough, Monet, and Gaugin.
Stroll up the Champs-Élysées towards L’Arc de Triomphe
Lots of shopping, people watching, and in the winter, huge Christmas markets! (Champs-Élysées – Clemenceau, line 1 or 13)
(Palais-Royal, line 1) The most visited museum in Paris, and one of the largest museums in the world. Mostly only an enjoyable experience if you buy your ticket beforehand and have energy or caffeine to spend a few hours walking around, i.e. don’t go after at the end of a long day of sight seeing.
Saint Germain des Prés
Lively street full of fun pubs! (Mabillon, line 10).
Make sure you enjoy a cheese platter and a good glass of wine while people watching from an outdoor patio of a typical Parisian café.
I don’t think you can go wrong with any crepes in Paris, from either restaurants or street stands, but you will absolutely not regret going to the restaurant ‘Mamie Tevennec‘ (Charonne, line 9).
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