Before the trip, I had a mental image of Paris based on how it was told in movies, books, or stories I heard. Almost everyone and everything speaks highly about the city (even people who have not been there), perched so high up on pedestal, like a distant star people dream about. I was curious why Paris is such a hot destination, so just like anyone who is planning to visit Europe for the first time; the City of Lights is on my list.
We had six days of rain and shine discovering the Parisian streets, happily getting lost, spotting the Eiffel Tower from a distance, loving Parisian food, and taking as much photographs as we can. Paris was exactly how I imagined it and
more better. It’s hard not to fall in love and it doesn’t matter if it’s with a cliché, Paris delivers.
No, the city is not perfect. Just like any other metropolis, there are pickpockets, trash scattered on streets and homeless people. But these are just tiny nuisances. Nothing compared to the sophisticated charm that is unique to Paris as a whole – where arts are not just in museums, but a way of life.
There’s definitely a lot of interesting things to do and experience in Paris, but if you happen to only have a limited time in the city, here are a few recommendations to help you make the most out of it.
#1 Stay in 7th arrondissement.
This neighborhood is located in the heart of Paris – near the Eiffel Tower, Musee d’Orsay, Rodin Museum, River Seine and a beautiful street market, Rue Cler. It has a relaxed ambience that allows you to enjoy nice architecture and genuine Parisian charm. It is filled with boulangeries, cafes, specialty shops, restaurants, cheese and wine, and other local finds.
#2 Make use of Paris Metro.
Paris is most beautiful when explored on foot but if you plan to save more time, make use of the Paris metro. It’s old and conventional but an efficient and cheap way to get around the city. There’s nearly a close by station anywhere that are worth exploring too for its graffiti and wall arts. If you plan to stay in the city for a few days, you can get a carnet (10 tickets at €14,10 vs €1,80 for single-use ticket) or a one-day pass (€12,30).
#3 Eat your heart out.
Just like everything else in the city, food in Paris is art. The tempting window displays of pastries and macarons, the melt-in-the-mouth croissants, the tummy-filling baguettes and endless choices of cheese and wine – they are all hard to resist. Eat and enjoy the food as much as you can, the streets of Paris are great for burning calories anyway.
#4 Walk across Pont des Arts.
This is the pedestrian bridge along River Seine that is also known as the “Love Lock Bridge”. Since the weight of the growing number of padlocks had affected the structure of the bridge, the government have decided to remove the locks (they transferred a portion of it on a nearby cemented sidewalk) for everyone’s safety and replaced it with cool graffiti arts.
#5 Relive scenes from Amélie on the steps of the Sacré-Cœur.
Hike the steps of the sugary-white church for yet another impressive view of Paris. It’s located at the highest point in the city, Montmarte, which also happens to be Paris’ bustling quarter for best Parisian arts (Monet, Van Gogh and Picasso used to live here), culture and cinema-worthy laneways.
#6 Take a seat and linger at Jardins de Luxembourg.
With people reading a good book beside a fountain, locals running around for their fitness routine, lovers spending quality time while holding hands or children floating sailboats on a pond, it’s easy to spend a day wandering in this huge garden. Enjoy the garden’s picturesque landscape with some snack and company.
#7 Climb the Arc de Triomphe.
If you want a great view of Paris from above, forget about the Eiffel Tower and climb Arc de Triomphe instead. For a lower price, you can get a panoramic view of Paris including the Eiffel Tower itself.
#8 Visit Musée d’Orsay.
This old railway station now houses a large collection of impressionism and post-impressionism masterpieces in the world. Think about the works of Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet. Along with other artists, they started independent exhibitions that made them famous during their time. To see their actual works in person takes those Arts and History textbooks (that used to doze me off) to life.
#9 Stroll around the Louvre Museum.
You probably already know that a visit to Paris is not complete without seeing the Louvre Museum. This museum is massive! A day is definitely not enough to see each and every artwork inside it but you can still play outside and take creative shots that make the giant glass pyramid seem small.
#10 Watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle.
After touring the grounds of Eiffel Tower, find a good spot nearby (I love the view from Trocadero) and watch the tower illuminate gold lights on the night sky. There’s a sparkling lights show that perform five minutes of magic every hour after nine so make sure to be there to witness it.
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” -Ernest Hemingway
What’s your favorite city in the world?