I hate to be the most cliché girl by gushing about Paris, but I simply can’t help myself. Our week in Paris was amazing and I sincerely intend to return, something I can’t necessarily say of the only other place we’ve been on the trip thus far (although I suspect we will end up there again as well, just considering how many friends and family members are in England). We stayed in the cutest little flat through Airbnb that had views of the Tour Eiffel from the bed and was just half a block from the metro station Dupleix, just one stop from the famed “metal asparagus”. We took nightly walks just to soak it all in. Now that I’ve joined that very extensive club of people fawning over Paris, here are just a few of the best ways to fall in love with the City of Lights.
Walk/ bike/ boat along the River Seine
Is there anything more French than just strolling along the Seine? Well, you can actually rent bikes at a number of locations along the river; just pop a baguette in the basket and they’ll basically hand you a French passport. There are great views of the Eiffel Tower to be enjoyed and no trip to Paris would be complete without a stroll along the river with the locals.
Arc de Triomphe
We chose to go up the Arc in the day to get good photos that included the Eiffel Tower and then did the Eiffel Tower another day in the evening for a different view. Standing across the road, the roundabout surrounding the Arc is also quite a site. Being the sweaty driver that I am, no way would I ever consider driving around that, it makes me nervous just looking at it. Luckily, there’s stairs leading you under the street to reach the Arc, so no need to risk life and limb sprinting across the street as some people felt the need to do.
It cost us 9€ each as under 26’s and was surprisingly uncrowded, well worth the money. You have to climb up quite a few steps, but nothing too challenging, passing a few galleries with war memorabilia and info about the building of the Arc. Then, on the top, you have incredible 360 views of Paris, with signs pointing to specific buildings. All in all, simply fantastic.
Here’s something maybe not every Paris trip includes, but definitely make time to visit this fascinating place. Several hundred years ago, following some disastrous cemetery overflowing, a limestone quarry deep below Paris was converted into an ossuary to hold the skeletal remains of over 6 million Parisians. It opens at 10am, but we read online that the lines pile up, so we went around 930 and waited close to 90 minutes to be let in. It was 10€ for under 25’s and 12€ for adults and then an additional 5€ for the audio guide in English, which I would highly recommend. Do yourself a favour and go visit this incredibly creepy place, it’s full of interesting history and even some geological fun for you rock lovers out there (dad). Read more on our visit to the Catacombs.
New Jawad Indian restaurant
I realise that this seems like a super strange thing to be one of my favourite experiences in Paris, but it was the best Indian food I’ve ever had, and after working at an Indian restaurant for a year during uni and eating curry for more than half of my evening meals even now, I consider myself to be something of a curry connoisseur. It’s amazing and still haunts my dreams. I want to cry when I think I’ll never have naan that good again.
Explore the Louvre (from the outside)
Ok, so if you’re super into art, maybe you want to actually go into the Louvre; it is, after all, one of the world’s most famous art museums. It just isn’t my idea of a good time to pay a bunch of money to be cooped up inside all day and jostled by hundreds of strangers, all trying to catch a fleeting glimpse of the surprisingly small Mona Lisa. Have a look at that queue! For us, it was more than enough to stroll through the 1st arrondissement and admire the beautiful Louvre from the outside. Honestly, it’s a gorgeous and unique building, is surrounded by other stunning buildings, and is not to be missed.
Eiffel Tower picnic
Visit a fromagerie and pick up some fancy cheese for a few euro. Then stroll over to a boulangerie to buy a baguette for less than 1€ and to a boucherie shop for some sausage or other cold meat. Best yet, pick up some red wine! (Or, if you’re me, replace all food groups with fairy floss.) The blocks surrounding the Eiffel Tower are filled with beautiful green parks that offer great vantage points of the Tower without all the crowds of being up close. Plus, eating out in Paris is quite expensive, so a fun French picnic was often our go-to.
Climb the Eiffel Tower
Last, but certainly not least, no trip is complete without an actual ascent of the Eiffel Tower. There are lifts that run all the way to the third (top) level, but the stairs are a far less crowded option. Plus: fitness. After you wait in line to get through security and into the big square under the Tower, line up to buy tickets in the yellow corner labelled “escalier—stairs”. While you can buy tickets online for the lift, you can only buy tickets for the stairs once you’re there, but the line is never super long and there is no need to worry about prebooking days ahead as with the lift tickets, so that’s a bonus! It cost us 4€ each as under 24’s and that allowed us access to walk up to the 1st and 2nd levels. Once on the second level, the lift is the only option, so you purchase tickets from the booth there and queue up to get in one of two lifts to the top floor. Tickets were 7€ each with no discount for age (or beauty). I totally recommend visiting at night like we did, especially if you visited the Arc in the day. It’s better to get contrasting views and Paris at night is magical.