Paris is one of my favorite European cities. I love France as a whole, but there’s something special about Paris. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Paris enough times where I no longer feel the need to hit every touristy site. This allows me to really enjoy the magic of the city. No matter how long your trip is to Paris, you’ll never be able to see everything in one go. Pick a few of your favorites, but don’t try to cram everything in at once. It’ll take away from the experience.
Tips and Tricks:
*Watch out for Bank Holidays, Europe has a lot and everything tends to shut down on these days*
*Use the metro for everything in the city. It’s so much more efficient than taxis*
*I’m not a fan of most things touristy. But, if it’s your first time, there’s a few places you have to see. IMO, it’s best not to go with a tour so you can stick to your own schedule. Just be sure to research whatever you’re doing before, so you can fully appreciate it*
*Try your best to learn at least the basics of French. I do my best to know the basic language of every country I visit. I find people are SO much friendlier and appreciative/willing to help when you make an effort to respect their culture*
*Everyone says the French are mean. They’re not. They’re some of the best and most helpful people I’ve ever met. Treat people well and they’ll treat you well*
The Eiffel Tower is an absolute tourist trap. But it’s also a MUST if you’ve never been to Paris. My advice: pay for the front of the line pass, take the elevator up, visit the “champagne bar” at the top and walk down. Oh! And skip the restaurant. It’s overpriced, overrated, and I’d much rather eat at a restaurant where I have a view of the Eiffel Tower. I paid for a “group tour” ticket, used it to get to the front of the line, and broke off to do my own thing once we got into the elevators. Keep in mind, the group tour only gets you to the second level. You’ll still need to pay for access to the top of the Tower. Walking down will give you the ability to visit the “secret” 1st floor where you can find a transparent floor and souvenir shops.
If you’re not opposed to walking up the stairs, theres obviously much less of a wait for that option. You can purchase standard stair and elevator tickets in advance and they do sell out quickly! Just keep in mind weather patterns if you are purchasing in advance.
Be sure to walk through the Trocadero if time allows. It’s a site full of beautiful gardens, across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower. It’s a perfect way to unwind after what could be a taxing day visiting the Tower.
Visit Paris on la Fête nationale (Bastille Day), July 14th, if at all possible! I’ve been able to celebrate twice now and nothing beats the energy in the air. Bastille Day is the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, which was a turning point in the French Revolution. You can expect similar vibes to the United States’ 4th of July: big crowds, fireworks, drinking and eating. If you don’t like large crowds, this celebration is definitely not for you. Opt for an early dinner and cozy night in, with a bottle of French wine to split amongst friends.
Now, would any trip be complete without a little shopping? Another must do is walking the Champs-Elysees. Make a trip to Louis Vuitton. It’s one of the flagships and absolutely beautiful! (Pro Tip: depending on the exchange rate at the time, it can be cheaper to buy designer in Europe versus the US. You can claim Value Added Tax (VAT) refunds which helps to bring down the price of designer goods). Be sure to visit the Arc de Triomphe, which sits at the end of the Champs-Elysees. Laduree is a must if you’re a macaron lover like myself!
Once I learned about the VAT refund, I knew I had to snag a pair of Christian Louboutin’s I’d had my eye on. The store is walking distance from the Champs-Elysees. Just be warned the store is EXTREMELY small and does tend to have a line. Once you get in, you’ll have your own personal shopper, who will bring you as many shoes to try on as your heart desires! Try different sizes, walk around, and size up! I’ve learned going about a half size larger in heels gives your feet room to swell, when wearing heels all night. Lastly, the store only gets one of each shoe in each size per shipment. Pray to the shoe gods that they have what you’re looking for in your size before you go!
Champagne region is a great day trip from Paris. We visited my favorite champagne house, Maison Veuve Clicquot in Reims. If you’re able to, do the tour where you go down into the caves. You’ll learn all about the history of the champagne and finish with a glass of my favorite bubbly! There are plenty of other houses you can visit as well: Laurent-Perrier, Moet et Chandon, etc. It’s a nice little break from the hustle and bustle of main city Paris.
If you’re anything like me, there’s nothing I love more than being a kid for a day! After visiting Disneyland (Anaheim) and Disneyworld (Orlando), I knew I needed to visit Disneyland Paris! Disney Paris is about a 40 minute drive from city center. Be prepared for a much smaller park than it’s counterparts, but just the same amount of fun! Bring your walking shoes and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
And so much more…
I could go on an on about things to do, eat, and see in Paris. Below are a few of my favorite recommendations. Feel free to email me if you want a more extensive list!
- Visit Notre Dame
- Visit the Catacombs
- Visit the Lourve (be warned the Mona Lisa is very, very small)
- La Palette (great for charcuterie and wine, also one of Anthony Bourdain’s favorites)
- Picnic in Paris: After La Palette, stop by any liquor store within walking distance and buy a bottle of wine and some cups (I’m convinced there’s not a bad wine in Paris). Go sit along the banks of the Seine River. Let your feet dangle off the edge and take in all of Paris
- Prescription Cocktail Club (speakeasy vibe)
- Seine River Cruise (but only if you have extra time)
- Anywhere Canal St. Martin/Marais
- Stop at any of the little towns on your way back from Champagne for a more authentic French experience (Pro Tip: Most people won’t speak English, so knowing basic French will help)
- Versailles: take the high speed train and read up on the history before you go
The chief danger about Paris is that it is such a strong stimulant. -T.S. Eliot