Paris- The city that needs no introduction!
Paris, the city of love and lights, the fashion capital of the world, and one of Europe’s most popular destinations. This city needs no introduction and houses world-famous monuments and museums. Along with the varied variety of food culture, vast collections of art and collectibles, the architectural wonders, the fashion statements, and that certain vibe to itself Paris has always managed to have it all in one place for all.
Along with being the dream destination for many, comes the crowd and long waiting lines to get into the most popular sites. And no one enjoys being in lines waiting for hours to see the world from the top of the Eiffel Tower or to get into any of the museums and palaces that Paris has to offer. So the most important tip is not to wait before booking those tickets online or pass beforehand you go there. This will not only save you the time and long lines but also some $$$.
With so much history attached to the city and plenty to see, one can tire themselves for days with visiting a new place each day. But usually doing more than one museum is not something advisable as not only it involves a lot of walking is but also so much of history and information to process.
A few things to know before you go!
First things first, before we get into the magical Paradise Paris offers some important information that you need to know before going.
Euro. Note not everywhere you go will be accepting cards, specially when you might just want to have those street side crepes or pick any souvenirs from around the street. SO always carry some currency with you.
Visa for Schenzen States. Check if you require a visa and incase if you do, apply for one with the required documentation. For all information to obtain a schengen Visa check here.
January is the coolest with temperature around 5°C. July/ August is hot with temperature ranging around 25°C. SO for deciding upon the “right” time to visit Paris. Keep in mind the warmer months get along picnics and crowded parks. Also around August is the European Holiday time so a lot of local tourist along with outside tourists make it a bit too crowded resulting in longer lines wherever you go. But, during colder months are fewer tourists comparatively. None the less, Paris has a lot to offer irresspective of the time of the year you are planning to visit.
A wide range of transportation options from Metros, to Taxis and buses are available throughout Paris. Another fun way is to grab a Lime bike or Velib bicycle if the distances are much smaller and you prefer not to walk too much. You can always rent a car but be sure to know all about the parking scenes in Paris according to where you are going as that can be a Hassle.
My Travel Essentials list :
Sports shoes or comfortable boots for a lot of walking. Adapters and portable chargers, sunscreen, moisturizers, warm clothes as the evenings might get a bit windy even in August, Dress to impress (if no one else but yourself)- after all you are in the fashion capital of the World, lip gloss (a personal essential).
France uses the Central European Time (CET) from October to March, that is during winters. CET is 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time(UTC). But, from March to October that is in Summers starts the Daylight Savings Time (DST). As a result, time zone switches to Central European Summer Time (CEST) which is 2 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
Luxury: Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile (Chose the Club rooms for various benefits and a room with view of the Eiffel Tower).
Pullman Paris. The location is really close to the Eiffel tower and also other attractions. Room with a view of the Eiffel is also a great option.
Budget: Residhome paris Rosa Parks (Comfortable stay a bit on the outskirts of the main attractions area, might have to wait a bit for a Cab.) The staff is helpful. You might get a room with a view of the Eiffel Tower. We got the room on the 8th Floor with view of the Eiffel.
Other Residhomes and Apart hotels available at Paris are also a great option for Budget friendly stays. Another option is AirBnb.
Sockets used in France are Type C and Type E. So carry your Adapters in case need be.
What to do in Paris?
This splendid city has so much to offer for one and all that no one can ever be disappointed. From Disney land and Park Astrix for kids to the various art museums for the Art Fanatics, the Eiffel Tower for those in search of Wonders of the World, to meeting the needs of Fashion hunters at Champs Elysees or for the touristy vibes walking the streets around the various arrondissements. With so much to do and seeing how to shortlist the best tours and places when you visit there can be a task. Hence, I am listing the best things to do and explore in Paris as a first-time visitor. Or even if you have visited before but left out the following things, I think you should do them all.
Top Attractions in Paris:
1. Eiffel Tower and Tour Eiffel-
One of the most famous sights in Paris and around the World is this wrought-iron tower. Although built-in 1889 for the Paris Universal Exposition of 1889 by Gustave Eiffel. The tower has 3 levels for visitors. On the first and second levels are restaurants. The top level is the highest observation deck accessible to the public in the whole of the European Union. Tour Eiffel which leads to the top of the Eiffel Tower opens to some amazing views of the city. The best time to visit personally is during sunset. Just in time to see the city during the golden hour and a little later when the city lights up. The bummer with visiting in the evening is just that you cannot see the Eiffel Tower sparkle.
Apart from the many magnificent sites that one can see from the top of the Eiffel Tower like the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, etc. Also, one of the unexpected sights is the replica of the Statue of Liberty.
But, one can always have an amazing view of the city along with the sparkling Eiffel Tower from the top of Arc the Triomphe or Montparnasse Tower. For me, this view is better than the one at the top of the Eiffel Tower. So the Eiffel Tower sparkles every hour after sunset, for 5 minutes.
2. Louvre Museum:
The World’s largest art museum, containing around 38000 art pieces. Storing some of the most famous artworks like Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Winged Victory of Samothrace, Raft of Medusa, Psyche received by cupids kiss, etc. to name a few. Definitely a paradise for art and history enthusiasts. Not only does this museum contain such famous artwork but also the architecture of this place takes everyone aback.
The pyramids, with the fountain and the area around them, do take you to a Parisian feel like you can’t imagine. Just sitting by the fountain around or at one of the coffee shops around and soaking in the beauty and majestic feel of this place is a dream come true. Definitely recommend you take the skip-the-line tours here, because, no matter what the lines here are really long. It could take easily up to 1:30 hours to enter the museum in the lines. So a definite place for the skip-the-line tour.
And after visiting the Louvre, the Tuileries Gardens make the perfect place to relax and enjoy the views. Located right opposite to Louvre these gardens are also worth a visit. If you are lucky you may also be able to enjoy a fair at the Tuileries. When we visited there was a fair happening for kids, which was also fun for adults with a variety of food stalls and rides offered.
3. Palace of Versailles:
The Palace of Versailles has not only been listed as a World Heritage Site for 30 years but also is considered one of the greatest achievements of French architecture. And you could definitely notice that in the intricate detailing all around the Palace. French architecture’s finest example would be this place.
The history of the Palace of Versailles started as early as the 17th century. It was initially a hunting lodge for Louis XIII. Later it was extended and transformed by Louis XIV who made it a seat of power when the Court and government were installed in it. Finally, in the 19th century, the palace was announced as a museum.
On the whole, the Estate of Versailles consists of the Palace, the gardens and groves, the Park, and the Trianon estate. The most beautiful attractions personally, in the estate were the Hall of Mirrors and the beautiful gardens. A visit to the palace is a must on your visit to Paris. The museum pass, as well as the Paris Pass grants, access to it. But with the museum pass, you can only visit the museums and not the gardens. So to visit the gardens one can get in line and buy the tickets.
The lines for entry are very long so I do advise reaching here a bit early or taking a skip-the-line pass. Once inside there are audio guides available for various sections guiding you about all the information on everything in that section.
4. Les Invalides:
The shining golden dome of Les Invalides as spotted in many places in Paris makes this place more noticeable. This site was founded by Louis XIV in 1670 to house disabled soldiers and veterans, it was then made into a museum in 1905. It displays one of the world’s richest collections of antique arms, armor, artillery, decorations, paintings, etc., and other things related to military and war.
We took around 2:30-3 hours when we planned a quick stroll around the museums. The lines here are not as bad as other attractions. So we did buy our Museum pass here on our first day and then had a quick tour of its amazing museums. There are about 11 exhibits or museums including the Dome Church, Cathedral and other museums in this one place. so you can imagine if you don’t go for a quick stroll at places you could end up spending a whole day here.
It also houses the Dome Church where the tomb of Napoleon I is placed. The museum sure offers a great peek into the french history, arms, ammunition, and the evolution thereon. The area around the museum is also really beautiful. The view of Eiffel Tower from the entrance, the Pont Alexander III offering one of the most beautiful views is all in the vicinity. Skip the lines and visit with Paris pass or Museum Pass for easy access.
5. Pont Alexander III:
One of the most beautiful bridges in Paris on the Seine River, this is a must-visit spot. The beauty of the bridge is enhanced by the vintage lamps and the bronze and gold statues. It is popular not only for its beauty of it but also for the views, it offers of the Eiffel Tower and the sunset. A great place to have a short walk around and click pictures. After your tour from Les Invalides, you should definitely walk here and spend some time around the bridge.
6. Notre Dame and Saint Chappelle:
Notre Dame de Paris means “Our Lady of Paris”. The famous Catholic Cathedral located at Île de la Cité e- Notre Dame was very much in news recently. As its roof caught fire in April 2019, it was shut for renovation purposes when we visited. But I could only imagine what it would be like to see it from the inside.
But the Chappelle situated right opposite Notre Dame on the Île de la Cité- Saint Chappelle is also one of the gems of Paris. You need to visit this place to believe in the beauty that stained glass and kaleidoscopic coloring combine to make this a one-of-a-kind place. The museum pass as well as the Paris pass grants free access to visit it.
7. Musee d’Orsay:
The museum located at the train station is amongst another world-famous museums in Paris. The museum can be accessed through a Paris pass or museum pass.
8. Arc de Triomphe:
Another one of the most visited landmarks, the Arc de Triomphe stands at the top of Champs Elysees. This arch was built to the glory of the Great Army as a tribute by Napoleon I to his troops for their hard-won victory at the battle of Austerlitz in 1809. Not only is it visible from alongside the roads it also does make people turn their heads while crossing its sight.
You can not only enjoy walking around the base and under the majestic Arc de Triomphe for free. But also an even better climb up about 280 stairs to reach the top of this monument and have some of the best views of Paris. You sure are in for a treat to your eyes if you do climb up! The views are amazingly fabulous, and you can spot almost all the top landmarks of Paris.
The bird’s-eye view of the city from the top of this majestic landmark is magical, especially during the golden hour and sunset. It’s definitely worth the climb to the top for the views of the city. If you do visit around sunset you’re in for another treat- Yes! the sparkling Eiffel Tower. The views of Champ Elysees and the perfectly lined trees and the Parisian buildings from above is also what makes it worth the climb!
The Arc de Triomphe is open every day except for a few. To know the timings and open days visit here, to find out more about Arc de Triomphe visit its official site here. The museum pass, as well as Paris, pass grants access to it.
The famous street conveniently located between Place de la Concorde and Place Charles de Gaulle, also described as one of the most beautiful avenues is one of the most famous streets. And why wouldn’t it be famous, it has all you need right at it. From offering the views to admire of Arc the Triomphe to shopping at the world’s best stores, don’t forget to grab a bite at famous restaurants or view a show at Lido. Champ Elysees has it all and more to it and therefore, making it one of the favorite spots for everyone.
10. Sacre Coeur:
Right at the top of Montmartre is the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur. This landmark is spotted in many places around the city. The dome is easily visible on the skyline from most places. Also one of the most famous spots in Paris is this beautiful Basilica.
11. Boat tours at Seine River:
Well, your Paris trip is not complete unless you have floated on the Seine River. The boat tours at the Seine include taxis (like Bato Bus) for dinner or sunset cruises. Either way, it is a must to do one of these. If you would like to see the replica of the Statue of Liberty at Pont de Grenelle you might want to book a cruise that crosses there because not all boat tours take you through there.
12. Moulin Rouge or Lido:
Well, yet another thing that Paris is famous for is the Cabaret offering the glitz and glamour induced by entertainment and acrobats. Out of all the Cabaret spots in Paris these are amongst the most famous ones. So grab a ticket and enjoy the show.
13. Montparnasse Tower:
One of the tallest skyscrapers in France, Montparnasse Tower offers amazing 360-degree views of the city from its top floor. Why chose this over others is first, from Eiffel Tower you may get a great view of the city but not of the Tower especially when it is sparkling. Secondly, it has elevators. Duh! that’s obvious, right? But in comparison to Arc, the Triomphe offers an amazing view itself but you have to climb about 280 stairs. This tower offers breathtaking views without having to climb stairs.
14. Saint Germain, Rue de Castiglione, and Rue de Royal:
Another famous area in Paris is Saint Germain. This centrally located area offers a feel that no other place has. Not only it offers views of pretty buildings but also restaurants, bars, shops, churches, and museums.
Also along the Tuileries Gardens run the streets of Rue de Castiglione and Rue de Royal offering a great walk around the Parisian buildings and monuments like Colonne Vendome, Palace de la Concorde, La Madeleine Church, etc.
15. Catacombs of Paris:
This spooky landmark, where the remains of people were used at the walls has been a tourist attraction for many. Hence, depending on your own choice you can decide whether you would like to visit this place. It lies in an underground tunnel that is about 2 km long.
16. Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Gardens):
One of the largest and oldest public Gardens is located between the Louvre Museum and the Palace de la Concorde. The graveled pathways and perfectly manicured lawns and trees make it a treat for the eyes. While we visited the gardens there was some fair going on for kids. With so many rides and activities, it was an amazing sight and a fun day out with kids. Apart from other attractions like Disneyland and Park Asterix such pop-up fairs also make it an unforgettable experience for kids.
17. Trocadero Gardens and Champ de Mars:
The Trocadero Gardens are located across Champ de Mars and Eiffel Tower on the opposite side of the Seine River. The views of the Eiffel Tower that this garden offers to my personal liking were better than that of Champ de Mars. At night sitting opposite Eiffel Tower on the stairs of Trocadero Gardens and viewing the Eiffel Tower sparkle is an amazing experience.
The first image on top is of Trocadero Gardens from the top of the Eiffel. And the second one is the view of Champ de Mars from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
Where to Eat in Paris:
The well-known Patisserie famous for its macarons is a must-visit when in Paris. Not only the mouthwatering food and desserts but also offers the true Parisian experience. Located at Champ Elysees makes it an even more attractive spot. Do expect wait lines and rush here almost at all times.
2. Cafe di Roma:
A perfect place to sit and grab a pizza and a drink. The food is also amazing. Perfectly located in the heart of Champ Elysees, this place offers the best of all. We tried the Pizza and Pasta and they were delicious.
3. Kirane India
This restaurant at walking distance from Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile was a great find. Highly rated on food apps and also was well worth it. If you are craving good Indian food in Paris, I recommend this! We loved the Dal Makhni and paneer. I would not recommend the Cheese Naan though.
4. Street-side Crepes
And again, you have not done justice to your trip if you have nor had the taste of Crepes on the streets of Paris. I am not a sweet tooth myself so I avoided it, but, I could totally see why everyone loves it!