Oh Paris…where do I even begin?
When I was a little girl, if you had asked me where I would travel to if I could go anywhere in the world, I instantly would have chosen France. Images of the French country side, the riviera, and of course Paris were dreamy and romantic, full of late nights wandering down golden lit alley ways and mornings sipping coffee and eating croissants at a bistro by the Eiffel Tower while a cool breeze swept through my hair. Ah. Heaven.
Of course Paris was much different than I had fantasized and most mornings were spent rushing to make our daily activities instead of sipping coffee and smoking cigarettes outside a cafe…but there were a few things that were even more magical than I could have imagined and over all I can’t wait to go back.
My top ten things to do in Paris:
1. The Eiffel Tower (ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT). Well duh (do I really even need to put this on my list?) Of course go up to the top to check it off your bucket list…but make sure to come back at night. I wish we had stayed somewhere with a view because this instantly became one of my favorite things to do in Paris. After a long day of walking around the streets of Paris and rushing around to make each activity, it was so nice to just get a baguette and a bottle of wine and just lay back in the grass and watch the tower sparkle. They also sell the most AMAZING crepes filled with ice cream, Nutella, and fresh strawberries next to the carousel. Grab one and find a spot in the grass and relax!
2. The Louvre. First of all, the Louvre is HUGE. Like grab-a-map-cause-you-WILL-get-lost huge. I would recommend giving yourself a whole day if you’re wanting to see it all. We went our first night (after an eleven hour flight…yes, we’re crazy!) and had barely enough time to see the highlights much less spend time exploring all the other jewels that the museum offers. BUT…if you’re under 25, the museum offers free admission on Fridays from 6-10pm. So if you’re babies like us, on a budget, don’t mind feeling rushed and only seeing the highlights then go for it! The maps at the entrance have all the important sights highlighted. Either way, at least walk through the courtyard at night…I can’t even go on enough about how beautiful the museum is at that time!
3. Musee d’Orsay. This museum is the museum that you see those infamous instagram pictures in front of that huge clock. It’s seriously so cute. The museum actually used to be an old train station and is the perfect size if you want to just relax and spend the morning or afternoon leisurely look at some gorgeous art. They have a whole floor dedicated to Monet and a decent selection of Van Gogh. I had never understood the appeal of Van Gogh until I saw it in person. Boy was crazy but he could PAINT!
4. Sacre Coeur. We ended up climbing the hill on our last day in Paris and loved spending the afternoon here. The streets are filled with artists, small little shops (more than a few wine shops! I maybe biased…), and restaurants that are bustling and packed throughout the day. It was one of the most picturesque places in Paris in my opinion. I seriously could have spent all day wandering around here! If you make your way to the church (Sacre Coeur Cathedral) you’ll find a view of the city and the Eiffel Tower that is stunning.
5. The Latin Quarter. Right across from Notre Dame Cathedral (which you should also walk through) is a little shopping district with tons of local restaurants and shops. We had some of the best chocolates and macaroons here! Most of the restaurants and bars have happy hours in the early evening too…go get your drank on.
6. Get escargot at Le Bouillon Chartier. This restaurant is the typical romantic Parisian restaurant that you think of when you think of Paris. And the best part? It’s cheap AF. Go when they first open to get a good table and avoid having to wait in line to get in.
7. Disneyland Paris. If you’re a Disney fan you HAVE to go to Disneyland Paris. I’ll keep it brief because I’ll be doing a separate post on Disneyland Paris. But seriously guys, from someone who is OBSESSED with and grew up at Disneyland…I FREAKING LOVED IT!
8. Loire Valley Castle Tour. If you’re in Paris for a week or more, GET OUT OF THE CITY and do a tour of the Loire Valley. The French country side is seriously so ridiculously gorgeous and the castles are more romantic and magical than I would have even thought. We used Paris City Vision for our tour and loved it. We did the audio guided tour and loved that you could go at your own pace (your girl needs time to take a few selfies without worrying about being left behind…millennials am I right?). Apparently they have a new Loire Valley tour that includes a wine tasting too…Winner in my book!
9. Bastile. We actually stayed in the Bastile area and at first I was not diggin’ it. Not because I didn’t like it…it just wasn’t what I was expecting. I was picturing the typical Parisian neighborhoods when I imagined where I would stay (complete with the pretty dark swirling wrought iron and bright flowers on the balconies) and instead got an outdoor shopping center that reminded me of Union Square in San Francisco. BUT. I do have to say when I got used to it I really did enjoy this area of town. If you want some good nightlife and some bomb ass food go here. We bought some bread from this outdoor pop up stand (it was only a little sketchy?) and it seriously was THE BEST bread I have ever had in my life. It had green olives and cheese baked into it and seriously tasted like heaven. Bastile area is perfect if you’re wanting to eat amazing food, just wander around, and get a more local Parisian vibe.
10. Palais Garnier. This opera house is sogorgeous. Make sure to check online or call before if you’re worried about time since they occasionally close for special events (we had to go back after being informed that they were closed to the public for a private event on our third day in Paris). If you want to do a guided tour, they offer those twice a day, but we found that just googling the basics and wandering around inside was sufficient for us. There are so many other places to spend your time at in Paris that I wouldn’t say spend too much time here. That being said, the building is stunning both inside and out and absolutely worth a stop in if you have time.
No matter what you end up spending your time in Paris doing though, the most important thing to remember is just to enjoy it! It’s so easy to get wrapped up in SEEING everything that you miss the whole point of Pari: to enjoy the city and the people you’re with!
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