Living in Paris for 5 months was an absolute dream. I don’t know how I’m going to pick just 13 things to do, it’s nearly impossible, but here goes…
(1) Versailles. One of my favorite places… not technically in the city, but easy to get to. Plan to be here for at least half a day and try for a sunny one if you can. See the palace first and then the gardens (get your tickets online). Buy some macaroons before you leave the palace for a snack on the lawns. Rent a paddle boat for an hour to row on the lake or lie in the grass and read a book. You can spend the day tanning on Louis XIV’s lawn or wandering around the gardens. You will see people picnicking and exercising throughout the grounds. Be sure to have on your walking shoes, looking at my steps after a day at Versailles always put me around 10,000!
(2) Head to Giverny for a day (again close to, but not in the city). This had to be one of my favorite days spent in France. Buy a ticket to walk around Monet’s gardens, but the whole town is amazing as well. Make sure the flowers are in bloom before you go and take a picnic for an outdoor lunch. We biked from the train station to the gardens so we could see the whole town.
Here are just a few Paris suggestions I have tried REALLY hard to narrow down if you’re in a time crunch and can only stay in the city.
(3) Climb the Arc de Triumph. The arc has an amazing view of the city and is open for long hours. You can try and time it so you are up here for the sunset or for the sparkling of the Eiffel Tower.
(4) At the arc you are near the Champs Élysées, a famous street to walk down and do some shopping or maybe check out the Louis Vuitton flagship store. The original Laudrée is on this street as well but MY favorite macaroons are Pierre Marcolini and believe me… I tried them all.
(5) The Louvre is a museum you just have to spend some time at; get lost for awhile. A two minute walk from the Louvre is place de la Concorde. Walk through Concorde jardin and to Musée de l’Orangerie; here you can find the breathtaking Monet Water Lilies. Palais Royal is another nearby stop that is famous for those black and white pillars. All of these are within walking distance of each other that I visited on the regular.
(6) Notre Dame is the Cathedral of Paris, after your visit inside or maybe climbing to the top, wander around the Latin Quarter a bit. Find Shakespeare and Co to pick out a book and get a shop stamp inside the cover. You can stop for a coffee in their shop next door and take some time to enjoy this little English hideaway for awhile.
(7) Jardin du Luxemburg is great for a picnic or to lay out in the sun. Relax and then find an Amorino’s to get a classic flower cone ice cream… you can even add a macaroon on top. Some cheese and wine is a good afternoon snack after spending some time in the gardens.
(8) If you are looking for a night out head to Pigalle or the area around Moulin Rouge. You’ll no doubt find a spot to dance the night away as well as the next morning, because night life started picking up so much later in Paris than I was used to.
(9) If you’re looking for a classier joint head to Heritage. If you aren’t French I would plan to get there early, because it is a small venue and you will probably be the first they will not let inside. There is also a club at the aquarium… yes you heard me right, not just called Aquarium but in an actual aquarium. I don’t think you understand how much I love that, because when you’re tired of dancing or even people for that matter you can just go stare at the fishes. I believe it is only open one or two nights on the weekend, so make sure it’s open before you head that way.
(10) Musée D’Orsay and Musée Rodin are two of my favorite museums in Paris. I could go to each a million times and still find something new to catch my interest.
(11) Brasseries and cafes are a great way to relax your legs and to get a glimpse at the French lifestyle. Order a drink at an outdoor table (no matter the season to be truly French) and do some people watching. If you’re looking for good food you will find it everywhere so let me give you just a couple of my favorites. Holybelly, go for brekky, it is an Australian inspired café and man oh man their savory pancakes are to die for. Pink Flamingo is a pizza place in a very hipster part of town that will deliver your pizza to you on the Canal St. Martin.
(12) Another church you must go to is Sacré-Cœur. It’s on top of a pretty large hill, there is an elevator but I dare you to take the stairs. While you’re in this area, walk around Montmartre, which gives off it’s own type of Parisian vibes. I would love to picture people such as Hemingway strolling through these streets all those years ago.
(13) Finally, I could never forget about her, la tour Eiffel. Be sure to see it in the daytime, but the magic happens at night. In the day you can picnic, bring a bottle of wine, or lay out on the tower’s lawn. At night we would grab dinner, a crêpe from a nearby stand (my favorite are savory ones with cheese, ham, and egg) and then find a spot for the show. The tower lights up every hour on the hour and lasts for 5 minutes. It never gets old. Je t’aime Paris.
by Ashton Anderson, guest Contributor