Paris is known as the city of lights and if you spend enough time, you realize it is a cauldron for great culture, art, music, food and night life. I traveled to Paris with family and friends between 15 to 20 Aug’17 – European Summers. We were presently surprised to be greeted at 20 degree Celsius with chilly winds and a few rainy days as well. Nevertheless, our trip ended up being a pleasant one.
Things to do in Paris
Paris can overwhelm a traveler with its unmatchable charm and plethora things to offer. We explored many attractions in Paris and here, I am presenting my account of admiring those.
1. Eiffel Tower – Like all tourists, this is the first thing we did: A trip to the summit of Eiffel Tower. It might sound cliched but, you just cannot miss Eiffel tower if you visit Paris. It is one of the most popular sights in Europe and there is a good reason for that. The ticket cost is 17 euros. However, it would be a good idea to book tickets online in order to avoid a serpentine line for 2 hrs. The view from the top is absolutely breathtaking. Spend time on the 1st, 2nd floor and finally the summit.
2. Seine River Cruise – Just opposite the Eiffel tower is a dock for the Seine River cruise. The 1-hour cruise will show you all the highlights of the city with great insight into its history through an audio guide. The sun sets around 9 pm in Europe, which makes the 8 – 8.30 pm cruise highly recommended. It gives you the view at twilight and you can see the shimmering lights passionately lit up the Eiffel Tower. Booking online tickets through France tourism will help save a few euros. Tickets cost around 17 euros to 20 euros.
3. Louvre Museum – An art appreciator or not, Louvre is always on every traveler’s list for the Mona Lisa. It’s a 14 km huge museum and very easy to lose your way in. An audio guide is a good idea to buy (extra cost 5 euros). However, we didn’t find it very helpful as navigation through it is a little difficult. Group tours with a guide could prove to be more beneficial. If you enjoy art, spending a whole day here will be a good idea for you. Again important to book tickets online in advance to avoid queues.
For chocolate lovers, visiting the Angelina Tea House behind Louvre is a must. They have the best hot chocolate in the world. It just melts in your mouth. The cafe will forever have waiting, good idea to pick up some hot chocolate and pastry on the go. Do not forget to try free sample chocolate wafers there.
Angelina Tea House
5. Notre-Dame Cathedral – One of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, the Notre Dame cathedral is a 20 min walk from Louvre. The walk gives you an opportunity to appreciate the beautiful architecture of Paris which covers bridges, cathedrals, historic buildings along the Seine river. The roads outside are lined with beautiful cafes for a great evening ahead. This cathedral was built over 3 centuries with intricate works visible on each pillar and archway of the building. The stain glass paintings visible on the interior of the church are a treat for someone who loves colors and art.
6. Sacre-Coeur Basilica – This cathedral built on an uphill provides a great view of Paris. Enjoy a lively evening here with live music and live shows. The place is easily reachable by metro followed a 10-minute uphill walk. The area is called Montmartre and a have great cafes to have dinner.
7. Arc de Triomphe – The majestic structure in the middle of the road looks grand. However, it totally reminds you of India Gate. They sometimes have a military parade in the evening and we were lucky to witness the same.
8. Champs – Elysees – Known to be the most beautiful boulevard in the world and boy, does it truly live up to its fame! This boulevard is lined with all high-end brands and provides a great shopping/window shopping experience.
- Local Festival at the Seine River – We were lucky to be at a time when there was a local food fair was happening along the river. Eat drink and make merry is the Parisian Life. So sit back relax and enjoy. There are many cartoon artists along the way and you can get a portrait or a cartoon for yourself. Be sure to bargain with them as we could get the rates down by 25 euros to what was quoted initially. If you have an extra day, take the Paris hop on hop off and enjoy the ride around the city.
- Disneyland Paris – The kid in us was very excited to visit the Disneyland Paris. There are 2 parks there. If you have only 1 day like we did, visit only 1 park. It’s a fun experience with live shows, Disney characters, and rides to suit everybody. Do book your tickets online beforehand.
Also remember, unlike Indian theme parks, here you can carry your own food and water etc. So it will be good to carry some stuff with you to munch along. You can reach Disneyland using the metro and a train ride which drops you right at the Disneyland gate.
- The Palace of Versailles – The Palace of Versailles, built by Louis XIV, is truly built to impress. It is located about 35 km from Paris and easily accessible by metro and a train ride. History goes that Louise XIV who had built Louvre thought it to be a bit small. So he built this palace. If you don’t want to spend 20 euros to visit the castle, visit the common public park at Versailles situated at a 10 minute walk from the palace. With a beautiful lake in between with ducks and tall green trees, this park provides a great place to relax. Buy your food and drinks from a supermarket and enjoy a picnic here.
Aditya taking selfie at the gardens
Travel within Paris
Travelling within Paris is very convenient and absolutely tourist friendly. Every place is connected by the metro including Disneyland and Versailles. It’s a good idea to buy a pack of 10 tickets at the Metro together as it saves money. Carry a map of Paris and ensure internet connectivity. Google maps can take care of the rest and you are totally independent (download maps offline version).
Mostly all cafes provide free WiFi. However, you might need data pack mostly when on the road. So it would be a good idea to invest in a matrix number with a good data pack.
Food in Paris
The food in Paris mostly consists of Bread and baguettes. Be ready to spend your days eating bread, crepes, baguettes, and coffee. Water at each café is charged separately and it will be easier to buy water bottles from supermarkets and carry along. There are a lot of choices for meat lovers, however, if you are a vegetarian, you might not have a lot of options. But you will find something veg everywhere. They will add a few veggies with cheese and toss you a great sandwich. After we got bored with bread we tried to pick up some salads, milk, and fruits from a supermarket and eat our lunch on the go.
Stay in Paris
Stay for all budgets will be available. Only make sure your hotel/hostel is close to the metro station for easy access around the city.
Other tips for Paris
- Comfortable footwear is a must as walking the streets is a very different experience rather than seeing the city from bus
- Carry some rainwear – either a jacket or an umbrella as the weather can turn rainy in August
- Paris is known for its pickpocketing and it’s recommended to not wear any valuables and carry wallet etc. in your front bag. Good advice that we got from the locals there.
All in all 5 nights and 6 days is a good time, but the heart yearns for a little more of Paris and its Parisian Life 🙂
Have you been to Paris, share your experiences in the comment section below!