Oui Oui Paree! The first time I went to Paris 2 years ago, I was kind of left feeling disappointed, because there is such a huge hype, extreme expectations and I just imagined it to be something out of this world! And I guess being on a fast paced, short tour (Topdeck) I was limited to what I could see and do to an extent. But I can happily say that this trip to Paris I was so blown away, we got to explore whatever we wanted for 2 full days (and 1 day at Disneyland) and I now totally understand why it is one of the most visited cities in Europe! Tyler and I had an absolute blast! Although an extra day would have been great as 2 days in the city still wasn’t enough!
We stayed in an AIRBNB apartment 15 minutes walking distance to the Eiffel Tower because other hostels were booked out, expensive (we also booked this on short notice) or in bad locations being too far away but, it worked out to be decently priced and an amazingly cozy apartment for us.
So here are my top 10 things I recommend seeing in the city of loveeee!
1 – EIFFEL TOWER:
Cliché but mandatory sight to see in Paris and lets be honest, it is on everyone’s bucketlist! It costs 8.50 euro to go to the first level (if you’re 12-24 years old) viewing point by lift and 6 euro extra to go to the very top. If you’re game, choose to climb the stairs for a reduced ticket price (5 euro for the first level). My tip is to make sure you see this amazing structure day and night! The tower at night lights up hourly from 9pm to 1am, which creates a sparkling like flash in the sky, and if that’s not the most romantic thing you’ve ever dreamt of then I don’t know what is! We actually didn’t pay to go to the viewing point because we figured the attraction is actually seeing the tower and if you’re on it then you can’t see the view of it! Plus there are many other viewing points that provide better birds eye views over the city! Make sure you take a picnic, find a patch of grass under the tower and pop open a bottle of wine for the perfect relaxed afternoon while watching the sun go down.
TIP: If you do decide to go up the tower, buy your tickets online a day before going to skip the horrendous lines in peak season!
2 – Disney Land:
To bring out your inner kid again! We caught the train for just over an hour, which was 35 euro return for the both of us, and entrance into Disney Land was 75 euro each. The park opens at 10am and closes at 8pm (in the off season, maybe longer in summer). It was an awesome day but I will point out that you do have to remember that it is Disney, so there are lots of children’s rides, shows, characters etc. with only a few big thrill rides for the adults. Your experience obviously varies depending on what you want to go there for, but to be completely honest we thought for the amount of money we spent it wasn’t worth it. Tyler wanted huge rides so we were a bit disappointed (I swear the Disney Land in LA is a lot bigger too) but I guess we can say we’ve been there. I told him he would enjoy Universal studios a lot more, so we’ll definitely be going there when we get to America for Tyler to get his adrenalin hit. We still had a great day despite the price and bad weather.
TIP: HUGGEEEE MISTAKE! We went to book our tickets online to avoid the queues but it was 12:04am and you can’t buy tickets for the same day you are visiting! We would of only paid 45 euro each instead we had to pay 75 euro each when we got there at the gate. DAMN IT!
3 – Love lock bridge:
Many people think that there are no locks left as the City officials of Paris decided to take down nearly 1 million locks (45 tonnes) in June 2015, after part of the famous footbridge collapsed last year. But in fact there are places all over the city where people have started the trend again, I guess that’s what happens when they remove a very popular tourist sight! We actually found another bridge (on our way to the original one), which ended up being A LOT better! It was located 2 bridges from the original one (Pont des Arts) and felt like the real deal. We bought a lock for 5 euro from a man selling them on the bridge, locked our love and threw the keys into the river. It’s probably only a matter of time before they decide to remove this one too, but I believe they will never able to completely stop this trend!
TIP: Download the free app Maps.Me (make sure to download the specific countries you go to) and pin on the map the places you plan to visit. This helped us so incredibly much in Paris because we walked everywhere!
4 – Arc De Triomphe:
Beautiful by day and even better by night. The famous monument honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars. It is situated in the middle of the world’s largest traffic roundabout, that even most bus tours aren’t insured to drive on because of the many accidents that occur on it. We decided to climb up it on our first night in Paris. It does cost 9.50 euro each for the viewing point at the top BUT I believe this is one of the best views in Paris! You get to see the Champs Elysees by night with all of the busy cars, city lights and of course the shining Eiffel Tower. As well as a view of the beautiful city.
TIP: Not sure about during the day but there was no line at night time, which was perfect. We went up at about 8:30pm, took some photos and waited for the 9pm Eiffel Tower light show and took in the gorgeous view!
5 – Champs Elysees:
“It’s a busy street!” It is a famous 1.9km long boulevard in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. If you are going to see the Arc De Triomphe you may as well go for a stroll down the Champs Elysees as it is located on the western side of the structure. It is one of the most beautiful, luxurious and expensive streets in the world and lovely for a stroll, shop or just to people watch. The Champs Elysees remains the second most expensive strip of real estate in Europe (next to London’s Bond Street) and I’ve been told that all of the brands with a shop on the street like Zara, H&M etc. don’t even make a profit because the rent is so high, its more for advertising purposes for the brand.
TIP: With this being said if you do want to shop till you drop maybe consider other shopping malls for better bargains!
6 – Les Catacombs:
In the 18th century, cemeteries had become overcrowded in the city of Paris and had become a source of infection and serious health problems to citizens (apparently things like open graves left rotting). So in November 1785 the council of the state decided to prohibit further use of these cemeteries and to remove their contents. The bones were excavated to disused quarries and today the ossuary contains the remains of about 6-7 million Parisians. A sobering historic experience almost unrealistic and overwhelming, but definitely worth a visit. Entrance is 10 euro each and that allows you descend 20 meters below ground (equivalent to a 5-story building), from there you are free to make your way through the passageways at your own pace. You will cover 2 kms on the tour through the tunnels and 800 meters in length of the galleries in the ossuary.
TIP: I would recommend paying a little extra and getting the audio guide or doing research about it before you go, otherwise you would have absolutely no idea what the meaning is of what you are looking at. AND to pre book your tickets otherwise you will be waiting in line for at least 1-2 hours (like we did, so silly) and probably even more in peak season.
7 – Sacre Coeur:
Situated at the summit of the highest point in the city, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris is dedicated in honor of the 58,000 who lost their lives during the war. The basilica is built of travertine stone, which constantly produces calcite, therefore ensuring that it remains white even with weathering and pollution (pretty cool!). Unfortunately you are unable to take photos inside (it is free to enter) but you can certainly make up for that with the views over the city and of the chapel itself. The dome is open for tourists to go up and see a spectacular panoramic view of the city of Paris (I think it was about 6 euro each), and of course the Eiffel Tower. This is another spot that would be perfect for an afternoon sun set picnic on the grass with some nice French champers.
TIP: This area was the worst for scammers. You must be very careful while visiting! Next blog post will be a very detailed post about scams in Paris, stay tuned for this!
8 – Sainte-Chapelle:
Sainte-Chapelle is a royal medieval gothic chapel located in the heart of Paris, it contains one of the most extensive collections of 12th century multi coloured sainted glass anywhere in the world. It was built for the royal palace to house precious remains. The pictures speak for them selves! Incredible
TIP: We unfortunately didn’t make it here, which we were so devastated about because from what we’ve heard and seen from photos it looks unbelievable! I would recommend visiting the churches you want to see early in the morning, to avoid the tourist flock of the day and so you have the rest of the day to wander around with the main points ticked off your list! As I’m guessing there is always a huge line to get in. I wish we had done this!!!!!
(Photo sourced from https://lifeaperture.wordpress.com)
9 – Cathedrale Notre Dame:
After 200 years of construction, it’s no wonder it is considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and is one of the most well known churches in the world. It is also another picture perfect viewing point over the city (see, it’s not just from the Eiffel tower!). The church suffered a huge amount of damage during the radical phase of the French Revolution when much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed (anti Christian extremists). Extensive reconstruction took place from 1845 lasting 25 years and even more in 2010 to make it as we see it today. Lots of history behind this incredible cathedral, it is a must see!
TIP: Just have to mention a funny moment that I remembered, when we bought tickets from the train station the dark American man served us said “Oh you want to go to the Notre DAYUMMM?” and for some reason we couldn’t stop laughing, made our day haha! We didn’t make it here either, so make sure you plan out your day so you have enough time!
10 – Louvre Museum:
To be honest I was kind of disappointed, we paid to go inside and for some reason it didn’t really interest us, we loveeeeed the Vatican in Rome a lot more. The museum is filled with heaps of statues and artwork, but maybe because we love the outdoors and we have already been to sooooo many museums in Europe it didn’t really tickle our fancy. But hey it is one of the biggest museum’s in the world and most visited (more than 9 million people a year!) with 35,000 prehistoric objects, so don’t just take my word people do obviously enjoy it! I still think it is worth a visit even if it is to get a selfie of it, walk through the gardens surrounding it (beautiful I must admit) or go in to see the famous Mona Lisa in side, I’ll leave that decision up to you! Oh and with Paris being the city of lights, the pyramid also looks beautiful when it is lit up at night.
TIP: As expected lines are long here, but surprisingly it moves very fast! To really skip the lines (once again) by your tickets online!
Not only are there heaps of incredible attractions to see in Paris, there are so many other things to do like try some weird traditional cuisine like snails and frogs legs (tried to get Tyler to try a snail, and he refused haha), bike tours (or hire your own), see a Moulin Rouge show, explore an abandoned railway track which is now covered with overgrown weeds, bright flowers and colourful graffiti in the streets, Montparnasse tower (views best at night of the city with supposedly no queues and cheap tickets), stuff your face at food markets, visit some of the other 153 museums in Paris that tickle your fancy and heaaaaps more!
Anything I have missed? Comment below!
FOOD – As most food is expensive in Paris (as expected), we opted for the fresh baguettes in the little carts on the side of the streets for lunch for around 5 euros. Most supermarkets have pre made salads, fruit, wraps, sandwiches for around 5 euros as well and I even found one that had a microwave for you to heat up pasta and rice dishes! That’s an easy way to eat relatively cheap.
LOCALS – People think French locals are rude. Truth is if you learn a few French words you won’t have a problem. Generally “hello”, “thank you”, “please”, “goodbye” “Where is?” “Do you speak English?” is enough for them to be happy to help. On my trip 2 years ago I was very closed minded and thought “French people are so rude, I don’t like them”. When in fact this trip I learnt that French citizens are very proud of their country, including their language, freedom and especially equality because of terrible past events that occurred in their history. They are so proud they actually have group of people hired just to maintain the French language. So when a new social media app comes out, popular TV show etc. they make a french equivalent. So be polite and they should be polite back to you.
MONEY – Currency used is EUROS – Paris blew our budget, right out the window. I’m talking the budget of 2 days gone, just going to Disneyland. Expect to spend a bit of money, I mean if you’ve made it all the way to Paris you do want to enjoy yourself and that includes lots of sightseeing and a bit og shopping! It was worth every cent we spent, we enjoyed the city so much! Once again (feel like I’m sounding like a protective mother) don’t carry loads of money on you.
NEXT UP – SCAMS TO WATCH OUT FOR IN PARIS!