Over the last few months that I’ve lived in Paris (or nearby :P), I have come to develop a few favorite things that I recommend my visiting friends to do, and given that more and more friends ask me for recommendations I figured I can write a blog post about it and share it with everyone who could be interested out there.
I’m sure I will add to this list as time goes by, but for now here’s a few of my favorite things to do in the city. Food recommendations will follow in a separate blog post.
- Musee du Louvre
Duh. But honestly, it needs to happen; you just can’t skip it. Don’t just go for the Mona Lisa, but do go for the thousands and thousands of other gorgeous paintings and sculptures. Take your time, wander around, and appreciate it all.
- Jardin du Luxembourg
One of my favorite parks in the city. Especially on a sunny day, bring a book, a drink, and take a seat by the fountain while soaking in all the Vitamin D you can get.
- Notre Dame
One of my favorite churches I’ve been to in my life. Truly magnificent. And I am yet to make it to the top to see the view on a clear day; still on my Parisian travel list.
- St Etienne du Mont (church behind Pantheon)
A small yet cute church. If you’re in the Pantheon area (which you will be if you decide to go to the Jardin du Luxembourg) then I recommend you drop by for a quick look. It’s different from all the other churches you’re probably used to seeing.
- Shakespeare and Company
My favorite English bookstore in the city. I recommend you to go during the week and in the evening. The place is open till 11pm and the later you go, the less crowded it will be and you will actually get a chance to pick up a book and sit down and skim through it.
- Centre Pompidou
I was lucky enough to come here with a guide, but honestly, I still think it’s a cool museum to walk through if you’re the least interested in Modern Art. If not, just come and take a look at the building from outside.
- Tour Eiffel
Some people might hate me for saying this, but I still refuse to go up the Tour Eiffel; not sure if I’ll bring myself to do so before the end of my time here. I am not saying skip coming here completely. No, no: you should definitely come and take a closer look, even go to the bottom of the tower and stand right there in the middle and look up and see how crazy big it actually is. But for the money and time you spent on your ticket up, you could be doing so much more.
- Arc de Triomphe
On another note, I would recommend going up the Arc de Triomphe. Gorgeous views, shorter lines, and it can’t hurt that the Tour Eiffel is in the view.
- Tour Montparnasse
Tour Montparnasse is what the Parisians like to call the ugliest building in Paris, and honestly, they might be right; it’s an office building that looks like it was taken from downtown Manhatten and randomly installed in the beauty of Parisian architecture. However, what it does offer is a gorgeous sunset view that includes the Tour Eiffel. And you can take an elevator up, so definitely consider it.
- Jardins de Versailles
Love this place. Visiting the Versailles palace and the gardens would require you a full day (especially if the weather is nice), but honestly, while it’s super crowded and busy, I would definitely make time for it. If you don’t want to pay the ticket to enter the palace, you can skip the lines and just walk into the gardens from the free entrance 🙂
- Saint Chapelle
A truly gorgeous cathedral, tiny but oh-so-pretty. Weird opening times etc. so do some research before you decide to go. Definitely recommended.
- Roam the streets of Marais
Marais is one of the cute Parisian neighborhoods that is full of little stores and roads. Take some time during your visit, and get to enjoy it.
- Go to the top of Institut du Monde Arabe
The view from the top of the building is pretty nice, and free! Just take the elevator up and look around!
- Montmarte and Sacre Coeur
While huge crowds will be filling the Sacre Coeur steps especially on nice days, you cannot really complete a trip to Paris without going up to the Sacre Coeur and Montmartre. Take some time to enjoy the view over the city and later walk through the tiny alleyways around Montmartre.
- Château de Fontainebleu
If you can afford another day trip, I would recommend going to see the Fontainebleu palace. Less crowded than Versailles, but same French awesomeness. I went on a really rainy day, so I didn’t get to enjoy the gardens as much, but I did here they were supposed to be great as well.
Hope you love your stay in France, I know I do!
P.S. Here’s a link to my favorite Parisian snacks places 🙂