EXPLORING PARIS – AN EXTENSIVE CITY GUIDE TO THE CITY OF LOVE

EXPLORING PARIS – AN EXTENSIVE CITY GUIDE TO THE CITY OF LOVE

One of the most stunning cities you will ever visit is without a doubt is Paris, The city of love.

It truly has it all, some of the most stunning architecture, the Seine, delicious food, museums, Catacombs, Disney Land, Arc the Triumph, The Lovre museum… and some sort of weird building that is called the Eiffel Tower? I don’t know, you might have heard of it…

I have been to this amazing city on many occasions and I have loved it every single time. I have spent hours on end writing an encompassing guide for you because there are some things you MUST do when you go. Get a cappuccino and a French banquette and get comfortable cause this is a long one.

I don’t think you can start a Paris city guide without tackling their main attraction first. So let’s start with the Eiffel Tower.

EIFFEL TOWER 

If you are in Paris you have to go…don’t you? It’s classic Paris and the morning is the best time to go for great views without as much of a crowd.

It can get brutally busy, especially on weekends. But it is a great view of the city and it is certainly one of the preeminent landmarks in the world.

Ticket prices

Adult Rate Youth Rate
(aged 12-24)
Child Rate
(aged 4-11)
/ Disabled(1)
Child under 4 Rate(2)
(under 4)
/ RSA(3)
Ticket with access lift
Second floor
16,00€ 8,00€ 4,00€ Free
Ticket with access lift
The top
25,00€ 12,50€ 6,30€ Free
Ticket with access stairs
Second floor
10,00€ 5,00€ 2,50€ Free
Ticket with access stairs 2nd-floor +lift  The top 19,00€ 9,50€ 4,80€ Free

The tower is open all year! Except closed on July, 14th and 15th 2018. For more information check out the official website. 

The Trocadéro is one of the best places for seeing the Iron Lady, or you can get up close and personal with her as well. I also suggest grabbing a bottle of wine and some French pastry nearby. There will be people selling them for very reasonable pricing. You can walk here or take the subway (I recommend public transportation as we’ll be walking a lot). Once there, you can pay to go up to the tower for a spectacular view.

BEST INSTAGRAMMABLE SPOTS 

For a great picture opportunity, walk from Trocadero (metro line 9) towards the tower and you’ll be greeted with a stunning water mirror shot of the Eiffel Tower.

One of the best places to snap photos of the Eiffel Tower is Passerelle Debilly, a small passenger footbridge that was first opened for the World’s fair in 1900. Ever since then, it’s accommodated millions of pedestrians, all eager to get a better view over the Eiffel Tower and Seine river.

WHAT TO DO

 After you have seen the Eiffel Tower you can wander for days an keep on exploring this amazing city. Underneath are some options of what to see and do:

Louvre – When you think of the Louvre, your first thoughts are probably of elbowing your way through selfie sticks to catch a glimpse of the Mona Lisa. (she isn’t that impressive!)

However, the Louvre museum offers so much more than a maybe smiling muse. Home to medieval ruins and plenty of priceless artifacts from around the world, the Louvre also happens to be the largest museum in the world. Highlights of the Louvre that aren’t the Mona Lisa include the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the rather sumptuous Napoleon III Apartments.

Le Marais   A network of historic and narrow streets, filled with individual boutiques, bars, restaurants, and historic buildings, including Place des Vosges, the Picasso museum and many more. Stay there, visit there, eat there.

Musee d’Orsay – This beautiful museum, once a railroad station, now houses a staggering collection of Impressionist art, as well as other items created between 1848 and 1914.
Always book your tickets in advance. The lines can take ages if you haven’t pre-purchased tickets. Allow a few hours to see it all. This museum is actually ranked number 1 of 2,225 things to do in Paris on TripAdvisor.

Sainte-Chapelle – Known as the finest royal chapel to be built in France and features a truly exceptional collection of stained-glass windows. It was built in the mid 13th century by Louis IX, at the heart of the royal residence, the Palais de la Cité.  It truly is a jewel of the most fabulous stained glass you will ever see. The church consists of two floors. The second floor is a beautiful gothic style church with over 2ft high of beautiful stained glass all over the church. Best to visit in the afternoon when the sun is shining and the whole place is lit up.

Luxembourg Gardens – These formal gardens, open to only royalty before the French Revolution, now serve as one of Paris’s most popular destinations for relaxation.

Arc de Triomphe – The Arc was begun in 1806, on the orders of Napoleon I to honor the victories of his Grande Armée. Inspired by the great arches of antiquity, the monument combines the commemorative with the symbolic and it has always played a major role in the national Republican consciousness. Beautiful architecture, and worth seeing and hearing its history.

Île de la Cité – is one of two remaining natural islands in the Seine. Ile de Cité is the heart of Paris. It is where the city was first founded by the Parisi over 2000 years ago, where the Romans built a settlement and is now home to so many iconic sights.

Allocate a few hours to visit Notre Dame, the Roman ruins in the Crypt of Notre Dame, St. Chapelle, the Flower Market; take a Seine cruise, walk through Place Dauphin, enjoy the cafés and then within minutes, cross to the Left Bank and St. Michel or visit the ornate Hotel de Ville on the ‘Right Bank.’ Just don’t miss it.

In mid-spring, Île de la Cité (and specifically Square Jean XXIII) is an incredible place to see some of the best cherry blossoms in Paris.

Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris – a medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France. The cathedral is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and no long line at the entrance door, which is surprising. You can also climb up the tower for a better view. Nice peices of stained glass, gothic architectural style.

Basilique du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre – Montmartre is a 30min metro ride away from the center of Paris. No line for entrance and no charging fee. Beautiful and worth a visit. The dome will cost you 6eur for entrance. Not too busy lines but definitely worth the 300marches up the top. The area is so nice and romantic and the church is simply a symbol with the shape. Inside is very nice. Enchanting, I absolutely loved it!

The Catacombs of Paris – The Catacombs of Paris are underground ossuaries in Paris, France, which hold the remains of more than six million people in a small part of a tunnel network.

Lastly, really try to get the skip the line tickets. This turns a 3-4 hours wait into a 5-minute queue. There aren’t a lot of tickets so book well ahead. The audio guide is pretty good (and you won’t get much out of the visit without it) but it’s not always easy to know where each part of the guide starts (the signs are not always easy to see).

If you (like me) find cemeteries interesting, then here are some more interesting options:

  • Pere-Lachaise Cemetery (Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise) – This famous cemetery is the burial site of numerous French luminaries – authors, writers, musicians and more.
  • Montmartre Cemetery – This cemetery is the final resting place of Émile Zola, Edgar Degas, Alexandre Dumas as well as other artistic luminaries.
  • Pictus Cemetery – Behind 2 large portal doors on a narrow, nondescript street lies the only private cemetery in Paris. The sign at 35, rue de Picpus, says: Here, in two mass graves, are buried the bodies of more than 1300 people guillotined on the Place du Trône from June 13 to July 28, 1794.

Moulin Rouge – This risqué world-famous cabaret, performed in a 19th-century windmill, has been exciting audiences since 1900. For more information or to book a show click here.

The Grande Mosquée de Paris – The mosque is one of the oldest in Western Europe and its architecture is pre-dominantly North of African and Moorish (Spanish Muslims) style. The architecture bears a lot of resemblance with the architectural design of The Alhambra in Granada, revealing a clear Moorsih architectural influence. Whereas, the patterns created using colorful tiles shows a North African influence.

Pont des Arts – Once known as the “Bridge of Love Locks”, the locks (at least most of the locks) have been removed and the railings made lock proof. The “Love Lock” phenomenon was something started in 2008 by tourist and the weight of the all the locks (45 tons when removed) was causing damage to the bridge. The practice was never appreciated by the locals who thought it was unsightly. The bridge has benches and is still a great place to set, visit, view the scenery, and watch the people as they pass by.

WHERE TO SHOP

Ahhh shopping in Paris, how can you not? Home to the worlds biggest Sephora store – say what now? I know amazing! But the city is best known for its fashion. Underneath are some of the best shopping areas:

  • Le triangle d’or (The Golden Triangle)  –  Probably Paris is the most famous and most beautiful avenue, the Champs Elysee. Together with the Avenue Montaigne and the Avene George V, it forms the golden triangle. It home to lots of glamorous and post shops like Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Calvin Klein.
  • Montmartre – Home to many fashion boutiques have settled in Montmartre, especially near Abbesses where you will find brands such as Kookai or Sandro, or around the Goutte d’Or. 
  • Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann – Every designer label you can think of and a few more besides all under one amazing roof. Well worth a visit for the building alone and go all the way to the very top for a roof terrace and views across Paris
  • Passage des Panoramas – The precursor to Parisian shopping malls, the Passage des Panoramas is Paris’ first covered walkway. With its mix of artisan shops and old-school eateries, it’s a great spot to soak in French culture.
  • Passage Jouffroy – One of the most popular shopping arcades in Paris, Passage Jouffroy features unique shops specializing in paper and antique books.
  • Marche aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves – The only flea market in the center of Paris. Nearly 400 merchants display wares that vary from 18th-century furniture to vintage jewelry and cameras.

LOCAL TREATS YOU SHOULD TRY

FOOD 

The French love their food. So underneath are some popular French dishes that you could try. 

  • Escargots – Escargot is a general term referring to cooked, edible snails and the various preparations of these shelled creatures. Escargot is often served with a butter and garlic sauce, yet other sauces, typically ones with alcohol bases including wine or brandy, are also commonly used.
  • Pot-au-Feu – Pot-au-feu is a French beef stew. According to chef Raymond Blanc, pot-au-feu is “the quintessence of French family cuisine, it is the most celebrated dish in France. It honors the tables of the rich and poor alike
  • Les moules-frites – A meal you’ll also see plastered on the menus of brasseries everywhere but particularly in the north and north west of the country.
  • Le bœuf bourguignon  –  Also called beef Burgundy, and bœuf à la Bourguignonne, is a beef stew braised in red wine, often red Burgundy, and beef broth, generally flavored with carrots, onions, garlic, and a bouquet garni, and garnished with pearl onions, mushrooms, and bacon. This is one of the most classic French dishes and usually ranks as France’s favorite food.
  • La raclette Raclette is melted cheese, often scraped off the side of the cheese wheel. More modern variants see meat and cheese grilled on an electric hot plate. Although the Swiss will claim Raclet is from their side of the Alps, there’s no doubt it’s popular in France.

SHOPS AND FARMERS MARKETS 

La Maison du Chocolat – This is the place for chocoholics, where you buy chocolate by the weight and really savor the taste and take your time eating it, this is not Cadbury’s, this chocolate is special, so enjoy. Also, the original chocolate shop of Robert Linxe, whose popular chocolate stores have spread throughout the United States.

Marche Belleville-Menilmontant (Farmer’s market) – Shop with the Locals and experience the rich diversity of Paris

Marche d’Aligre – Foodies flock to Marché d’Aligre, a lively and authentic outdoor Parisian market housed in the city’s authentic-feeling 12th arrondissement, or district, and located near the Bastille. Here you’ll find everything from fresh cheeses, spices and flowers to vintage apparel.

des gâteaux et du pain – according to Time Out they have the best croissants in the city and score a 20 out of 20. You can’t leave France without at least eating a glistering, flakey croissant.

RESTAURANTS 

Petit Boutary – Excellent contemporary cuisine with seasonal ingredients. Dishes are perfectly executed and express the chef’s creativity.
Cuisines: French, Pub, Gastropub
Price: $$$$

Hebe – Amazing Mediterranean food at a reasonable price.
Cuisines: French, Mediterranean
Price: $$ – $$$

Le Cinq – A gourmet restaurant in Paris, France, part of the Four Seasons Hotel George V. Le Cinq opened in 2001 to much fanfare and rapidly achieved 1, 2, then 3 Michelin Red Guide stars under the direction of chef Philippe Legendre before being demoted to 2 stars.
Cuisines: French, European, Vegetarian-Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options
Price: $$$$

Kei – It’s one of those places that serve good food in small portions at a very high price.
Cuisines: French, Vegetarian-Friendly, Gluten Free Options
Price: $$$$

BASIC INFORMATION 

I am sure after all those amazing sights you might be inclined to skip this part, but I have quite a few tips for you underneath.

Language: French
Time Zone: GMT+1
Electricity: Type C two-prong plug. Electrical outlets in France usually deliver power at 220-240 volts.
Currency: Euro (€).
Tipping: Think of it as a gesture, not an obligation. Once again, it’s not necessary but is appreciated for good service. There are no rules about tipping in France. In nicer restaurants, such as 3-start tables, where the service is exemplary, a tip of €20 is fine to leave.
Weather: July is the hottest month in Paris with an average temperature of 68°F (20°C) and the coldest is January at 41°F (5°C) with the most daily sunshine hours at 8 in September.

BEST TIME TO GO 

The best time to visit Paris is from April to June and October to early November when the weather is mild and enjoyable and the tourist crowds are smaller in the summer.

The cheapest time to visit Paris is early December, January, and February.

My favorite month in Paris is June as you have guaranteed nice weather.

GETTING AROUND 

I highly recommend taking the Paris metro. This is easier (and less expensive and traffic-y) than a cab. The city is LARGE so walking, while okay in some parts, is just not as feasible if you want to see it all. There are 16 lines and it’s easy once you get the hang of it, promise.

The metro runs from 5 am to 12:30 am and for the price of a ticket you can ride around all day long if you like. (as long as you don’t leave the system). Tickets can be bought at the ticket booth in the station one at a time, by ten or by 1-day, 2-day, 3-day, 5-day, Le Paris Viste tickets for tourists. There are also weekly and monthly tickets called the Carte Orange. It’s a travel pass good for unlimited travel on the Paris metro and bus network.

WORDS YOU SHOULD KNOW

The French are notorious for refusing to speak any other language than their own. So knowing a few words would help you survive.

So here are a few simple words that you can be useful for you.

Hello/hi: Bonjour (bon-zhour)
Thank you: Merci (mair-see)
Bye: Au revoir (oh-reu-vwar)
I don’t understand: Je ne comprends pas (zheu neu kompron par )
I don’t speak French: Je ne parle pas français (zheu neu parl par fron-say )
Please: S’il vous plaît (see-voo-play)

PLANNING TO GO TO EUROPE SOON? THEN CHECK OUT SOME MORE TRAVEL GUIDES HERE:

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