Paris has to be one of my favourite cities in Europe (possibly in the world). Lately, I have been looking through some pictures from my past travels and was reminiscing on the last time I was in Paris. I realised I never got around to posting about that trip so I decided it was time for Paris to get it’s own post! Paris is one of those cities you could live in for years and not have enough time to see everything. I have been twice now and still feel like I need to go back and do more. Based on my trips, these are the 10 things I think everyone should do when they visit Paris to get the full experience!
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Visit the Louvre
Is anyone shocked that the first thing on my list is a museum? As those that have been reading my posts for a while know, I am a museum junkie. I can’t get enough. Out of all the museums I have visited, the Louvre is in the top three. The Louvre has one of the most extensive collections in the world and even after two visits, I still haven’t even seen half of the things I want to. Definitely budget a big chunk of time if you like to meander through museums. Also, make sure you wear comfortable shoes (see my faves here) and DO NOT try to do the Louvre and Versailles in the same day. The Louvre has one day a week where they are open late and both times I was in Paris I did Versailles in the morning and the Louvre after. Learn from my mistakes and put these two on different days! Your feet will thank you.
Have a Picnic by the Eiffel Tower
Even if your picnic is just a bottle of wine and a baguette, this is the ultimate Parisian experience. Some people say the Eiffel Tower is just an ugly metal tower, but I think there’s something a little magical about it, especially at night when it sparkles. One of my favorite memories of visiting Paris in summer 2014 was taking some wine, a fresh baguette, and some cheese down to the lawn by the Eiffel Tower and having a picnic. It’s easy, relaxing, and the perfect way to spend an evening. I will say that I have not felt compelled to pay to go up the tower, but if you are in a group and only a few want to go up, the rest can stay on the ground and enjoy a picnic.
Take a Day Trip to Versailles
The Palace of Versailles is a place of unparalleled beauty and historical significance. It was built by King Louis XIV and it radiates extravagance. The Hall of Mirrors is covered in gold from floor to ceiling, the palace grounds are beautifully manicured and extensive and everything feels so grand. This was the place where the treaty that ended World War I (and some say caused World War II) was signed. It was the home of royalty and it’s beauty is the stuff of legends. It is a bit outside the city, but the train out is really easy to figure out! One of my best tips for your visit: pack a lunch! The palace gardens make a beautiful backdrop for a relaxing picnic so head to the local Boulangerie in the morning to pick up a sandwich before your train. Be sure to bring a water bottle though because it can be quite hot out during the spring and summer months!
Watch the Sunset on the top Floor of the Musee D’Orsay
After spending some time wandering halls filled with art by greats like Van Gogh and Manet, be sure to make your way to the top floor of the Musee D’Orsay to watch the sun set over Paris through the clock face. Not only is this an amazing art museum featuring some of my favorite artists like Degas and Monet, but the building itself is stunning. Go for the art and stay for the Architecture! Be sure to time your visit right so that you can catch the sunset from the top floor clock face. It gives you sweeping views of Paris and is a great place to grab a cool picture. I definitely recommend bringing something better than your phone to capture the pictures though. I took the picture below with my Nikon DSLR and it makes the pictures I take on my iPhone look like trash in comparison.
Window Shop on the Champs-Elysees
Or shop for real if you have the budget for it! Home to some of the most expensive designer labels in the world, the Champs-Elysees is an avenue right out of a shopper’s dreams. I personally can’t afford any of the designer labels present, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy window shopping as I walked down the street. Bonus: the Arc du Triomphe is located at the end so you can kill two birds with one stone!
Spend an Afternoon at Luxembourg Gardens
Next to museums, outdoor spaces and parks are my second favorite thing to explore when I travel. In Paris, this comes in the form of Luxembourg Gardens. This extensive park has beautiful flowers, water features and plenty of greenery to make you forget you are in the middle of Paris. It’s a great place to just spend an hour or so strolling on a sunny day and it’s a nice break from museums and sight-seeing.
Visit the Tomb of Napoleon
Napoleon is hands down one of the most influential french leaders to ever live and one of the greatest military minds as well. He conquered half of Europe and his only real downfall was trying to invade Russia in the winter. As a huge history nerd, I was ecstatic about visiting Napoleon’s tomb at Les Invalides. While there, you can learn all about the amazing things that Napoleon did and even visit the military museum. I really loved visiting Les Invalides so I highly recommend stopping by the next time you are in Paris!
Check out the Catacombs
This activity is definitely not for the faint of heart. The catacombs below Paris are extensive and fascinating. I went the first time I visited Paris back in summer 2014 and it was eye opening to see just how many people are buried down there. It’s a somber activity, but there is so much history you can learn from the visiting and it’s definitely worth a few hours of your time to check it out.
Spend Time Wandering Notre Dame Cathedral
Would it really be a trip to Europe without a cathedral? Notre Dame is one of the most famous cathedrals in the world and rightfully so. The architecture of the cathedral is INCREDIBLE. Both inside and out, Notre Dame is a true masterpiece. Notre Dame is definitely worth the visit on your travels through Paris.
Enjoy the Amazing Food
France and food go hand in hand so I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all the amazing food you can find in Paris. One of my favorite things to get when there is fresh baguettes from the Boulangerie. Some good bread and cheese is the way to my heart. I also LOVED stopping for lunch in the Jewish Quarter and getting the best falafel of my life. The best food in Paris has to be dessert though. Whether it’s a strawberry Nutella crepe from a street vendor or the world famous Hot Chocolate from Angelina’s, the Parisians know their desserts.
Paris is one of my favorite cities in Europe and I cannot wait to visit again some day. In the meantime, I hope these tips have been helpful for all those heading to Paris! From one misguided millennial to the world, who wants to buy my flight to Paris?