10 things you must do in Paris.

ruffle top. also herejeans. scarf. similar jacket. shoes. bag. sunglasses.

I’ve had so many messages since our trip earlier this month asking what I would recommend doing on a trip to Paris.  We thought about visiting a couple cities while we were in Europe, but we opted to stay in Paris the whole time instead, and I cannot recommend doing that enough.  If you want a quick, see the main points and then move on trip, by all means, but if you really want to get to know the city, I recommend staying for more than a few days.

Here are my top 10 things you must do in Paris.

10. Visit the Eiffel Tower.  I don’t care if the lines are long and it’s cliched.  It’s the freaking, EIFFEL TOWER.  It’s iconic.  If you go to Paris, visit it.  Go to the top.  It’s cool, the view is magnificent, and you can see the whole gorgeous city.  My advice, ride the lift up and walk the stairs down, then spend some time in the park around the tower.  Get a baguette and some cheese and have lunch with an amazing view.

9. Visit the Musée Marmottan Monet.   Don’t get me wrong, the Louvre was amazing, and I cried literal tears when I saw the Mona Lisa, but the Musée Marmottan Monet was my favorite museum we visited.  It’s much, much smaller than the Louvre in a beautiful old French mansion, and it has the largest collection of Monets in the world, plus his personal art collection (he was quite a curator himself).  Monet has always been my favorite, and so I loved the museum.  If you love Monet, you have to see it.

8.  Buy a French Scarf.  If you visit in the fall, you will see what I mean, just about every French woman is wearing a great scarf.  Plus, it’s Paris, you have to buy scarf!  Don’t buy it on Champs-Élysées, find a great French boutique and make conversation with the shop owner, she’ll help you pick out a lovely Parisian scarf.  It’s the perfect souvenir and you can wear it while strolling those beautiful cobblestone streets.  My tip, learn a few simple French phrases before you go to get the conversation started.  I took French in college, but felt a little silly during the first part of the trip trying to speak French to actual French people.  (Like they were going to think I was this stupid American trying to speak French.)  Then my husband (who lived in Russia for two years) reminded me that it is actually a sign that you appreciate and respect their culture.  You’re showing them, “Hey, I’m in your country but I’m trying to speak your language.”  And he was right, I couldn’t believe how warm everyone was when I tried to talk to them.  Memorize how to say a few basic things and start a conversation.

7. Eat at a cafe, it doesn’t matter which one.  They are literally everywhere you go in Paris, so pick one, and sit outside and watch people walk buy.  Be advised, so many people smoke in Paris.  Like it blew my mind, (have they not heard about lung cancer??) so you might have to deal with a little of that.  My favorite meal I ate the entire trip was at Un Zèbre à Montmartre, this little cafe just dow the street from where we stayed in Montmartre.  I got the magret de canard miel et raisins, duck with a honey grape sauce that was out of this world.

6. Get lost on the streets of Montmartre.  It’s the top bluff of the city in the area surrounding Sacre-Coeur.  It was my favorite neighborhood we visited.  Just so quaint and pretty, it felt like a place out of a dream.  Get a crepe off the street and just walk around exploring while you eat.  There are lots of little pretty boutiques and tons of gorgeous buildings to just stop and look at.   Little tip: avoid the area around at the bottom of the hill by the Moulin Rouge, it’s filled with sex shops (yikes.) Other than that, the area is magic.

5. Climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.  What a set of stairs holy cow, but so worth it.  The arc itself is beautiful and seriously impressive and the view literally cannot be beat.

4. Take a river cruise.  We went at around sunset and this was one of my favorite things we did in Paris.  It was fun and romantic and so cool to see all the bridges of the city from the river.  We learned so much and it was so fun to hear all the history of the city.   We took the river cruise from Pont Nuef and I recommend sitting on top of the boat.  You could see so much and it was lovely.

3. Visit the Palace at Versaille.  It’s a train ride a bit out of the city, but so worth it.  You literally need a whole day for this.  The palace and gardens are huge.  Then there’s the two other houses, and my favorite part (by far) was the Queen’s Hamlet.  They still keep animals on it, and it’s like this magical little farm village that just jumped right out of history.  I would recommend renting one of the golf carts or bicycles at the bottom of the garden.  We didn’t, but we had no idea how big the grounds are. My feet were screaming at me by the end of the day, so wear comfortable shoes and try renting a something to get you out to the far parts a little faster.  Tip: after we finished touring the grounds we made our way back into Versaille and found a little Patisserie, where we bought some croissants.  Then we wandered over to this little square outside a church and sat on the curb eating our snack.  We met some little french girls selling a school calendar and just sat admiring all the pretty buildings.  It was much more low-key than Paris, but still lovely and it was one of my favorite moments of the trip.

2. Visit the churches.  There are so many beautiful churches in Paris, really it’s awe-inpsiring.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  Notre Dame, Sacre-Coeur, and Saint Chappelle were my favorites.  I love that the first two still function as working churches, while they let people come in and marvel at their beauty.  Sacre-Coeur has the most amazing view on top of the city, the stained glass in Saint Chappelle made me emotional, and the magnitude and detail of Notre Dame– there aren’t even words.

1. Rent bikes and ride around the streets of the city.  By far, my very favorite thing we did in Paris, was rent bikes and just ride around the streets of the city.  There are stations to rent them everywhere you go, really it’s so easy and convenient, and it was the best way to see the city.  We rented them a few times, but my favorite was on our last full day, when we just rented them and rode around for several hours, down the river, over the bridges, through the quaint streets around Notre Dame where Hemingway used to write… not to be cheesy, but well, here I go: it was a completely magical experience.  The whole time I felt so grateful, because I knew it was one of those happy memories that bring you joy for the rest of your life.  If you go to Paris, don’t miss this.  

ruffle top. also herejeans. scarf. similar jacket. shoes. bag. sunglasses.

final tip: Ride the metro every where you go.  Users are way more expensive and traffic takes forever. The metro system is easy to navigate, and the tunnels smell better than any other subway I’ve ver been on.  Plus, it’s a great way to see Parisians in their day-to-day element.  Beware of pickpockets, though.  It’s supposed to be a hotspot for that.  (Although, we didn’t have any problems with it.)

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