There is never enough time to see everything in Paris. I’ve been six times and still haven’t fully exhausted the options! However, there are a few things that I find myself specifically remembering, and even going back to see.
You never know when you’ll be back somewhere again. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to visit Paris many times. But, just in case, here are my 10 must-sees in the City of Light.
1. See the Eiffel Tower
This goes without being said, but don’t worry, it’s hard to miss. The Eiffel Tower is an obvious attraction to hit your first time in the Paris. Take the time to decide whether or not you’d like to pay to go up to the top, though. I’ve been up three times, once to each level, and my personal recommendation is to see this one from below.
2. People Watch in the Jardin des Tuileries
This garden is bookended by the Place de la Concorde and the Louvre, and runs alongside the upscale Rue de Rivoli. It is immaculately kept, and full of beautiful sculptures. It’s green chairs sit out by fountains, free for anyone who has a moment to sit and contemplate the scene. Make sure you do!
3. Walk the length of the Champs Elysees
Start at the Place de la Concorde and make your way up the Champs Elysees towards the Arc the Triomphe. The first half runs along a nice park, and the second half is packed with high end stores. Best place to get a shot of the Arc de Triomphe at the end? Stand carefully on the medians you’ll see at some of the traffic lights — you can get a great shot from head on. Just watch out for the bustling Parisians!
4. Hop on the Bateaux MouchesPhoto: Daniel Stockman/Flickr
River cruises are often left to the tourists, and you probably won’t find any locals on this one either. However, you will get amazing views of the city in a way that you wouldn’t get simply walking around.
5. Go Up the Tour Montparnasse
The Tour Montparnasse is one thing you definitely should go up! For just less than the cost of a ticket up the Eiffel Tower, you can ride one of the quickest elevators you’ll ever experience up to the 56th floor for 360 degree views of the city. The best part about this one? Your photos will actually have the Eiffel Tower in them! For a preview, check out the space on Google Maps.
6. Get Lost on la Rive Gauche
Wander through the city’s Left Bank, located on the south side of the river. Get lost on the back streets, look in to the art galleries, grab coffee as many times as you can. Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots are in the beautiful Saint-Germain-des-Prés area, and have been fan favourites for over a hundred years. Soak up the atmosphere while you can.
7. Stroll through Montmartre
Montmartre isn’t in the hub of attractions, but it is not to be missed. Get yourself on the Metro (Anvers is the closest stop), and up to the top of the hill where you’ll get an unreal panorama of the city. Make sure to visit the Basilica of the Sacre Coeur, and wander the streets of this former artist hub, once home to greats like Picasso, Van Gogh, and Monet. The Place du Tertre on a sunny day is a favourite of mine.
8. Eat Fancy Pastries
Go on, order that mille-feuille. Have some profiteroles. Indulge in an eclair. Paris has some of the most amazing pastry shops you’ll ever come across. Stand in line, ask for a table, order the €9 pastry. You only live once!
9. Wonder at Place de Vosges
Place de Vosges in the Marais district dates back to the early 1600s. It is one of the most beautiful squares in the city, and definitely my favourite. This stop doesn’t have to take you long long, but seeing this serene part of Paris will make you fall in love with the city, if you haven’t already! If you’re interested in a bit more history, visit the Maison de Victor Hugo, now a museum set in his former residence.
10. Drink Coffee Facing Out