We did a typical Parisian trip and joined a lot of other tourists to behold some of the famous sites. In order to enjoy the city more and without thousands of people constantly we only did one major site a day. That gave us plenty of time to wander, have coffee along the way, see what we wanted to and then refresh with some food and quiet time, followed by more strolling. Paris is much like London; there are people everywhere. If you go with that in mind you will manage.
Get the museum pass if you want to see a lot of museums. It includes an open tour bus pass, a one hour boat pass and gives you access to pretty much all the major sites without the crazy queues. There is a bolt on option for the Eiffel Tower, which I think is worth it at €15. There is also the option to get the metro and museum pass together, which is handy and means you can get around with a lot of ease. Walking is the best way to see the city, but jumping on the metro is handy after a long day of trekking!
Research where you want to go when, as most museums are closed on either Mondays or Tuesdays.
On a side note, most patisseries will have a 50% discount on their offerings after 5pm, as they want to get rid of the old stock for the day. So pick up a bargain after a long day of walking and treat yo self with an eclair.
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There is a lot to see and do in Paris and there are many, many options and ways of doing it best. This is just how we did it this time and hopefully it helps you navigate a massive city a little better.
Here are some tips for those heading to the land of cheese and wine…
- The Eiffel Tower is always worth a visit, it’s the icon of Paris for good reason and the view from up above is spectacular. For an extra €6 you can go all the way to the top and I personally thought it was not that much extra for the view. If you’re saving pennies then don’t bother, but if not then how often will you go all the way to the top of the Eiffel Tower?
- The Louvre is ginormous and needs at least 3-4 hours to make a dent in it. Go prepared! There are masses of people and queues for the toilets, food and certain paintings like the Mona Lisa. Take water with you and perhaps even a snack. Know what you want to see and go looking for those, there will be plenty to see along the way.
- Sacré-Cœur and Notre Dame are fairly near to each other and are well worth the visit. The view from the latter is worth all the stairs!
- Arc de Triomphe is very grandiose and is a short walk from the Eiffel Tower. There are also plenty of stores in the area for those wanting a bit of a French shopping spree.
- The Moulin Rouge was probably the most expensive part of the whole trip, but we had a great time. The show is outrageously fabulous, the food is really good and the whole atmosphere is ultra french. If you have the cash to spend I would recommend doing the dinner and show, but if you don’t want to fork out around €400 for two people for dinner and a show then there is the option to just watch the show, and I think it would be just as amazing without the fancy dinner.
- Versailles is definitely an incredible building and the history is very interesting, but we found the human traffic to be overwhelming and the prices for food and drink to be eye-wateringly expensive. I thought the gardens were far more enjoyable than the building itself. Again this is included in the museum pass, which slightly makes up for the fact that water costs more than €3 a bottle.
- Go on the boat tour, it’s a lovely way to see the city without the crowds and from a different perspective. It leaves from near the Eiffel Tower and is a round trip.
- Get the hop on and off bus. There are loads of different routes, so choose one that helps you get to where you want to be and allows you to see some sites along the way. They say you can only use the ticket once, but nobody really checks that so if you have your pass for a few days you could use it for that duration and it wouldn’t go noticed.
- Breizh Cafe – if you only go here to eat than you have succeeded in life. This crepe cafe is completely unassuming and wonderful. Simply the best crepes you will ever have. Go hungry and have a savoury crepe to start and a sweet one to finish. Try to go early, as the queues can be horrendous. We were really lucky and only waited a few minutes, but we went for a 6pm dinner. There are lots of super cute boutiques in the area too, so if you go super early this is a great area to window shop (or for realsies shop).
- Buvette – near Sacré-Cœur and a very sweet little spot for brekkie. Probably the best cappuccino I’ve had in a long time. I had three in one sitting. The breakfast waffle is weird, but wonderful.
- Le Fumoir – is just across the road from the Louvre and is super quaint. The perfect spot to refresh after your cultural infusion.
- If gluten free vibes are your thing then go to Le Cairn near the Eiffel Tower. Seriously good coffee, very tasty cake and fresh juice. I recommend the butternut, apple and ginger juice.
- Chez Francis – this place has very good food, but is damn expensive for what it is. The view is very good, as it is close the the Eiffel Tower, but I would recommend having a light lunch here by sharing a starter and a main. The steak is pretty sensational.
- Fill up on nuts from the neighbouring store called Pistacherie, it’s basically a store with nuts of all imaginable flavours. Think of it as a nuttery.
- Visit La Pâtisserie Cyril Lignac a short brisk walk from the Arc de Triomphe. No regrets will be had. None. This is the perfect in betweener if you are walking from the Arc to the Tower.
Bon voyage! xx