Some of you have definitely already been to Paris at least once and can confirm that the French capital revives a longing which which will flare up every now and then if you don’t visit the city for a long time. The city of love calls out loud and clear twice in a year to me. Once at the beginning of every year and then again in autumn, because it’s great to be in Paris right then.
The small street cafés beckon with fragrant coffee and fresh croissants. Once it’s just warm enough to sit at the slightly wobbly tables outside and observe the Parisians stroll past, that’s you can really have a good time here. When the trees begin to bloom Paris becomes its own colour spectacle. In my little travel guide complete with the best tips, I’ll show you how best to explore the city in a short time and what are some of the best things to do in Paris, as well as all the sights you definitely shouldn’t miss.
Things to do in Paris – a visit to the city of love
Discovering the city is easy with these Paris Travel Tips
If you’re lucky, you might catch a quick glimpse of the majestic Eiffel Tower as you land in Charles de Gaulle Airport. You’ll also see just how big Paris really is! Charles de Gaulle Airport is about 22 km north east of the city centre. After landing, simply follow the signs to the RER B in the direction of Gare du Nord, which is the main train station in Paris. A single journey costs €10 – you can get your tickets from the machines or at the counter. None of the ticket machines gave out change during my last visit, so having change is a huge advantage. The journey into Paris city centre lasts between 35 and 45 minutes, depending on whether you catch the direct train from the airport to Garde du Nord or the service that stops along the way. From Orly Airport, it’s best to catch the Orlyval to Anthony and then continue with the RER B until Gare du Nord.
With a rental bike through the streets of the capital
Paris’s metro connection can be described in one word – perfection. Apparently, no metro stop is more than 500 metres away from the next. If you know you’re going to commute often, I definitely recommend the 10 journey ticket, which is considerably cheaper than a single journey fee. A relatively new opportunity to discover in Paris is their rental bikes. If you register online and pay a rental charge of €1.70, you’ll receive a booking number and a pin. You then simply go to one of the 1,800 stations and enter your number and pin. Pick up a bike and you’re on your way. The first half an hour is always free, and every following 30 minutes will cost one Euro. You can return your bike at almost every corner and rent another one within minutes. It’s also possible to cycle the whole way across Paris.
Sights in Paris
There are so many sights worth visiting in Paris, it’s difficult for me to cut down on the choice. In order for you to see all of the highlights, I’ve prepared a bike ride across the city for you.
The starting point of the trip is the bike station at the Arc de Triomphe. Get on a bike, perch your backpack in the very practical front basket and head through the Champs-Élysées in the direction of the Louvre. Don’t forget to check out the numerous boutiques and boulevards on the way. Once you’re at the museum, you can return your bike at the next station and queue up to visit the impressive museum. Or, just have a closer look at the glass pyramid and the former royal palace.
A visit to the Louvre could take a whole day, since the collection around the world famous Mona Lisa is enormous and really remarkable. If you don’t have a lot of time on your hands and want to see some more of the city, you should reserve one day for all the sights and keep another for a visit to the museum. After your stroll through the Louvre even more highlights await, so you should quickly find the next bike rental station and make your way to the famous Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral. Maybe you’ll be able to spot a hunchback on the tower?
Let’s continue along the River Seine towards Museé d’Orsay. There are many great paintings and artworks to see inside the former train station. You should you change bikes and continue free of charge since the Eiffel Tower is only a few minutes away following along the Seine. If you want, you can climb the tower and enjoy the stunning view from the top. You can purchase your tickets online and avoid the long queues. If you want to have a picture of the whole tower, cross the river and go to the other side of the street in the direction of Jardins du Trocadéro. You’ll have the best view from there. The Eiffel Tower is especially worth seeing at night when it glitters at every full hour. This is where the first lap through the city ends. If you don’t mind travelling by bus, you can hop on the Bus 27 to continue your journey. There’s many other sights on its route.
Moulin Rouge and Montmartre
As soon as dusk falls, you should make your way to the impressive Sacré-Coeur Basilica. You’ll have a gorgeous view of the city from here. Then, head through the artistic quarter of Montmartre towards Moulin Rouge. The famous red windmills are only really impressive during the night, so be sure to catch them in the darkness. You’ll find great small bars and restaurants along the way where you can make a stop and grab a bite to eat.
There are two more tips I don’t want to keep from you. If you have enough time, you should definitely visit the Palace of Versailles. You can get to Versailles station – Rive Gauche by RER C from Musée d’Orsay station. Once there, you’ll be swept of your feet by the sheer size of the palace as well as the beautiful park compound. Its founder, Ludwig XIV, really splashed out!
My other worthwhile little trip leads you to Disneyland Paris. You’ll reach it after 45 minutes on the RER A. As soon as you walk through the gates of the park, the heroes from your childhood will be within your reach. Disneyland Paris needs no introduction, and I’m sure it will be one of your favourite things to do in Paris. It’s definitely a highlight of mine.
Tip: Tasting the typical French cuisine
When in Paris, you should definitely try the typical French cuisine. You’ll find delicious Bouillabaisse or sweet and savoury crêpes in every part of the city. Simply read through the menu and look around the room. If you like the first impression, don’t hesitate to go in. Of course, pop into Ladurée because you simply have to try some of their little macarons. A perfect little snack! A marvellous breakfast awaits in Coquelicot des Abbesses. Here you’ll be served pétit déjeuner in a unique atmosphere.
At the weekends, you might be lucky enough to stumble upon one of the many delis which offer great meals to take away. I was able to buy an excellent mushroom risotto, made even better by the friendly staff, very close to the Eiffel Tower. I ended up eating it while sitting comfortably in the meadow at the Eiffel Tower. That’s what I call a hearty lunch in the city of love!
Shopping in the boulevards of Paris
Paris is a real paradise for shopping maniacs. The exclusiveGaleries Lafayette are especially worth a visit. There are various designer shops here, and you can also admire the artistic glass dome. If you travel to the roof terrace you can admire a view of the city that’s out of this world – and it’s completely for free. If you’ve not yet made your fortune, you should definitely stroll down the famous Avenue of Champs Elysées, one of the largest boulevards in the world. It’s about a 30 minute walk from Galeries Lafayette. Beside numerous chic boutiques like Louis Vuitton and Gucci, there are also some well known shops, perfect for a slightly lighter wallet.
Paris is also famous for the Chatelet Les Halles, one of the largest underground shopping centres in Europe. On four levels you can find a variety of shops, restaurants and cafés, which have something to offer for every taste. Additionally, there’s also a cinema and a swimming pool here, both perfect to relax in after a successful shopping spree. There are also so many nice little flea markets and vintage boutiques across the city, where you might be able to snatch a sweet designer bargain! It’s best to just stroll through the streets and small alleyways of Paris, as you’re guaranteed to find great shops. Don’t forget to try the furthest corners of Paris, which you can get to by metro or bus.
Going out: tips for a great night out
Parisian nightlife is legendary. In fact, exploring the city’s nightlife is one of my favourite things to do in Paris. There’s an unbelievable amount of bars and pubs where you can enjoy a glass of red wine or turn night into day with the Parisians. Of course you can always treat yourself to a performance in Moulin Rouge but it’s best to organise your tickets in advance. If you want to come in close contact directly with the locals, you should definitely check out this website: “Meeting the French”. Here you can organise a meetup for a nice walk, a dinner or even for overnight stays. You’ll then be joined with Parisians who will show you their favourite places and tell exciting stories about the city of love. It hardly gets closer!
Even after several days here, you might feel like you haven’t even explored half of the city. It doesn’t matter though, as Paris is so close that you can always just come back! If you’re looking for some great Paris bargains, just keep checking my blog regularly!