The city of love has absolutely everything you could want from a travel destination… amazing food, gorgeous architecture, a rich history and an abundance of museums, churches and lavish gardens. Paris will always hold a special place in my heart and is a destination that I never get tired of visiting.
Best time to visit
Paris in spring or the beginning of summer is my favourite time, the temperature is quite mild and the hordes of summer tourists will not yet have descended upon the city. However with a temperate climate all year round there is no wrong time to go, during the winter months the temperature rarely dips below freezing.
France uses the Euro and almost everywhere accepts card so not having cash shouldn’t cause you too many dramas. The only places I would advise to take cash with you is if you are visiting any of the flea markets dotted around the city.
Where to stay
My favourite place to stay is the 8th and 9th Arr (district), here you are far enough removed from the numerous tourist traps of being in central Paris while still being close enough to walk down to the Seine or catch the very easy to use and efficient Paris Metro straight into town. Having been a few times now we’ve used both Air BnB and Booking.com, you can grab great deals on both. Personally though I prefer Air BnB because you can get an actual Parisian apartment which gives you that feeling of being a local and not just another tourist. The other great thing about Air BnB are the hosts who normally give you some great insider info on local bars/cafes and restaurants. When we stayed in Paris for the second time we found a beautiful little cafe just up the road from our Air BnB called KB Cafe, we later found out it was an Australian style cafe (the KB short for Kookaburra). They were extremely popular with the locals and did a great flat white which is extremely hard to come by in France, almost all the locals you will see drinking espresso, milky coffee isn’t really a think in Paris. You can sign up for Airbnb account and receive credit on your first stay!
What to see
This stunning tower was built between 1887-89 for the world’s fair and since then it has become one of the most recognized symbols in the world. The panoramic views from the top are great, as long as you keep in mind that because you’re in the tower you won’t see it on the skyline. The best time to go up is for sunset to see Paris transform from day to night, however expect long queues and lots of people, it is worth it though once you’re up. You can also find yourself a nice spot on the grass and have a picnic as the sun sets over the Eiffel tower. Keep in mind that because there are large amounts of people around visiting the tower there are also a lot of hawkers trying to sell things, so you may get a few coming up to you but a simple ‘No, merci’ should send them on their way. Another thing to keep in mind is that security since the terrorist attacks in 2016 a large fence has been placed around the tower and admittance is only granted when you pass through an airport security style tent so not only do you have to cue to get in to buy your ticket to the top you have to queue for security as well so make sure you have plenty of spare time up your sleeve as it can take a while to get up.
The palace of the Sun King is a 45min train ride from the center of Paris (RER C line – google maps will provide you with the most accurate timetable from your location) and is one of if not the most impressive palace I have seen. With an estimated 2 Billion Euro being spent on the palace during the reign of Louis XIV the decadence is extraordinary, with more gold and baroque than you can shake a baguette at. Take your time wandering through the many palace rooms which generally takes around 2-3hrs to complete a circuit. The palace also boasts amazing gardens and grounds which are the perfect place to relax for a B.Y.O Parisian picnic. Be warned though you are not permitted to take bags into the palace so any cold food you have make sure it’s in a cooler bag which you can leave in the coat room.
Musée du Louvre
The most visited museum in the world and originally a Palace to the French Royal family. The collection showcases artworks and objects of antiquity from across the globe including the famous Mona Lisa. If you are hoping to see the Mona Lisa try and arrive early to the Louvre heading straight to Mona as crowds can make it very difficult to get close the more the day wears on. Walking the corridors and rooms of a palace while admiring various masterpieces, collections from Egypt, Greece and the Roman period along with many others is an information overload but beautiful to see. Be sure to grab a museum guide/map and don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes even if you won’t be covering every one of the 65,000 pieces of the collection on display. While the Louvre is one of those experiences you feel like you have to tick off the bucket list, I would advise that unless you are a big art and/or history buff you could easily give this a miss as it will consume your entire day and may leave you with a history hangover. You may be massaging your head as well as your feet by the end of the day.
Aside from the Louvre my favourite museum/art gallery to visit is Musee d’Orsay which houses some of the best impressionist and post impressionist paintings in the world. It really gives you a sense of a Paris not so long ago as many of the artists used to live in the Montmartre area. The building itself is also really cool, it used to be a train station and has a massive glass clock which acts as a window with views over the Seine. So if the Louvre seems too overwhelming but you still want to get a culture hit head to d’Orsay instead.
Arc de Triomphe
Built at the end of the famous high end fashion street the Champs-Elysees, the arc stands as a monument to the fallen soldiers of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. It also houses a tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I with the first eternal flame lit in Western and Eastern Europe for over 1500 years. It is also the central pivot point of one of the most insane roundabouts in the world, and how there aren’t continuous crashes I will never know. While the Arc is cool to take a look at the Champs can be very busy and extremely commercial so if you were looking for an authentic Parisian shopping experience you will not find it here. My advice would be to go see the Arc and take an awesome time-lapse of the crazy driving but then head over towards the district of Montmartre where there is an abundance of boutique shops and originally the home to the poor artists of the city in the late 19th to early 20th century, including Van Gogh. The beautiful Basillica Sacre-Coeur is also located in this district and provides beautiful views of the city. Grab a macaroon at the bottom of the steps from one of the many boulangeries and make your way up to the top. One street over on the top of the hill next to the Basillica is a small square called Place du Tertre where the best street artists in Paris sit. For a reasonable fee you can get a hand drawn/painted picture within minutes, a beautiful souvenir to hang on your wall at home. Or if you weren’t keen on becoming a masterpiece yourself you can always watch as others sit and get their portraits taken.
With the origins of this church being laid in 1163 and then continuing throughout the years, this church is one of the greatest examples of French Gothic Architecture. With gargoyles, crypts, a treasury and an incredibly rich interior, this is everything that resembles the wealth of the church in the medieval period. While in the area you can take a walk back down the Seine towards the Eiffel Tower along the way you’ll find some small stalls selling souvenirs and books which are super cute and fun to have a browse. Alternatively make your way to the Latin-Quarter and take a stroll down the very narrow winding streets and find some cheap awesome eats or maybe a drink or two.
What to wear;
The girls; A Women’s Floral Print maxi was the daytime choice of garment.