Paris, France (Photo creds: me)
Paris. The city of love. The city of sooo many things. Which is why it’s also a city with so much tourism. Famous tourist traps are famous for a reason. Sometimes, these tourist traps can be extremely overwhelming (like getting herded like cattle trying to reach the Statue of Liberty), but sometimes, the tourist traps are much more doable. When I went to Paris, I definitely indulged in the tourism, but I also spent time appreciating and absorbing this incredible city. Keep reading to find out the 15 things you should do when you take your trip to Paris while keeping a good balance of both tourism and general appreciation!
Let’s start with the obvious…
1. Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
The Eiffel Tower is an icon for the city of Paris, just as the Statue of Liberty is an icon of New York City. Fortunately, the Eiffel Tower is not quite a horrible experience as the Statue of Liberty is. Although the lines are HUGE, and the elevator to the top is cramped, once you’re out of the elevator, the crowds aren’t nearly as bad as some places. My personal tip – wake up early, and get in line before they open. We got in line 30 minutes before opening and still ended up waiting about an hour after they finally opened the entry.
2. Go inside and to the top of the Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame is another obviously common stop for people traveling to Paris. The church has some incredible architecture and not to mention those stained glass windows! Of course we can’t forget the gargoyles, so eerie, yet so interesting when you get to take a closer look.
3. Walk the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe.
The Champs Elysees is crowded with people, shopping at their favorite stores and eating at the best restaurants. If you walk along this street, at the very end you’ll reach the famous Arc de Triomphe. If you’d like, you can actually go to the top of the Arc. We decided to skip that, and just admire it from the ground! (Along with all the other tourists with selfie sticks…)
4. Since you’re already on the Champs Elysees, go to Ladurée.
Ah, Ladurée… Home of the infamous macaroons. I know we all like our budget travel (trust me, I know), but I definitely did not regretting splurging just a bit for these delicious treats. Located right on the Champs Elysees, very close to the Arc de Triomphe, it made for a great stop afterwards. We decided going big would be the right way to enjoy Ladurée, and instead of just purchasing a few macaroons, we got a table and proceeded to enjoy what I consider the most beautiful, Barbie-like meal I’ve probably ever had. Still… no regrets!
5. Visit the Louvre.
All big cities have big, famous museums, and the Louvre may just be one of the most famous there is. With its gorgeous exterior, and incredible artifacts and paintings in the interior, it’s a definitely a must for any museum lovers out there!
And my personal favorite painting there… Don’t ask me why. I just really loved it.
6. Walk across Love Lock Bridge.
Okay well maybe seeing all these locks might be a slap in the face reminder for all of us singles that out of all these lovers out there, not one loves us. Or maybe, like me, you’ll just appreciate seeing how much love is out there in this world, and how many happy couples traveled to Paris and put this little symbol of their love together with everybody else’s. It’s really quite interesting to see how some people maneuvered their locks to fit on this already full bridge!
PS – I’d suggest going ASAP! They’ve already started to take down many of these locks and put plastic along the sides of the bridge so new couples can’t add on! A sad ending to a beautiful bridge, but at the very least, take advantage of seeing it while it’s still there.
7. While you’re at it, also walk across Pont Alexandre III.
Another magnificent bridge. I personally liked the locks more than this bridge, just because I really appreciated seeing how many people took the time to contribute their love onto the bridge, but the Pont Alexandre III was really beautiful as well! And it gives a great view of the Eiffel Tower.
8. Take a stroll through the ENORMOUS Abercrombie & Fitch.
Personally, I’m not a fan of the store. The clothes are too ‘middle school’ (most of the time), and extremely overpriced. But how could I pass up walking through a labyrinth just to get to the store!? And once inside, I was shocked at the gold and glass interior decor. It definitely looked way more like a castle than like a clothing store.
9. Enjoy some ice cream from Berthillon.
Similar to Ladurée (but not as widely known), is the famous ice cream shop Berthillon. The line went down the street and wrapped around the corner, but my friend Laura is an ice cream fanatic and we couldn’t pass up the chance to try the ice cream and see what all the fuss is about! They had tons of flavors and it was worth the wait on this hot day.
10. Stop and smell the roses.
I know that often times when we’re traveling and trying to fit a ton of things into a certain amount of time, we don’t like to stop and smell the roses. But if you don’t give your itinerary some room for change, then how can you really get a full appreciation of wherever it is that you’re visiting!? Spontaneous decisions, even the smallest ones, tend to make for a really great time! On one of our many busy days here in Paris, we came across a man setting up for a performance. We decided to take a seat and enjoy, and I’m so glad we did! He did some really interesting, magician-like things during his act and it was really fun to watch.
11. Enjoy a picnic underneath the Eiffel Tower.
Picnics definitely became one of my favorite things to do in whatever city I was in. Some crackers or bread, cheese, jam, and a bottle of champagne… Nothing better! We decided to enjoy a picnic with a view of the Eiffel Tower. It was such a great way to relax. Just a tip, when the men try to sell you a bottle of champagne for 25€, don’t fall for it. We bargained them down to 5€. Or if you feel like getting off your feet, the grocery stores sell bottles for 3€.
12. Watch the Eiffel Tower light show.
A surprising amount of people actually don’t know that at night, the Eiffel Tower has a really awesome light show that flickers across the whole tower. Really beautiful to watch, but unfortunately it only lasts 5 minutes. Still, I’d definitely say to stay and watch it when it does come on.
13. Go up to Sacre Coeur.
High up above Paris is the stunning Sacre Coeur, a Roman-Catholic church. With a gorgeous interior, and a breathtaking view of Paris, it’s definitely worth the trip. It’s located in Mont Marte, which is still a part of Paris.
14. Enjoy a night at the Moulin Rouge.
The movie Moulin Rouge is one of my all time favorite movies ever. So immediately upon deciding to go to Paris, I knew I wanted to stop at the Moulin Rouge to see it. What I didn’t know, was that the Moulin Rouge wasn’t just a random film set, but an actual show that was still running! You can imagine my excitement. The ticket was about 115€ per person I believe, but you can pay 123€ each and get a bottle of champagne. It’s definitely a huge chunk of money, but I couldn’t say no to something like this. We ended up getting amazing seats, literally against the stage! (My arm was resting on the stage, and the feathers of some of the dresses kept rubbing against me. Sorry, fangirling here.) The money was 100% worth it as it actually ended up being my favorite thing I did or saw in all of France! Moulin Rouge is also in Mont Marte, same as Sacre Coeur.
15. Stroll through Mont Marte.
Aside from Moulin Rouge, Mont Marte was my favorite thing about Paris. I guess you could call it the Brooklyn of Paris. So quaint, great neighborhood, artists all over the place painting. I don’t have one particular reason why I loved it so much, but I really did. I highly suggest making your way to Mont Marte, not just to go check out Sacre Coeur and Moulin Rouge, but also just to wander the streets and get lost in its beauty.