The French capital is one of the most popular city in the world that is drawing tourists for centuries. It’s known as the city of love, fashion, romance and art. From its inviting sidewalk cafes, historic moments, exceptional cuisine, glam boutiques, and fabled restaurant scene, Paris is a destination unlike any other place. Its seductive charms and romantic vibe keeps on inviting people over.
Traveling to Paris is truly glamorous, but before you plan to get there, it’s better to familiarize yourself with the top tourist spots in the city. Here are some of them:
1. Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is the symbol of Paris, and no travel to this city is complete without a picture of it. The tower was built for the Paris World Exhibition of 1889 by Gustave Eiffel. That time, it was the world’s highest building until 1930 when the Chrysler Building was built in New York. It is one of the most visited monuments in the world, with nearly 7 million visitors annually. Ascending the Eiffel Tower gives you a great view of the city. The Eiffel Tower also owns a lot of restaurants, so you can enjoy a meal with a spectacular view, but you must book the table a few months in advance so you can eat there.
2. The Louvre Museum
The largest museum in the world, the Louvre Museum is houses some of the world’s finest and most popular artworks, including the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Winged Victory of Samothrace and Raft of the Medusa. It’s a historic building that is formerly a royal palace for 300 years. It gathers thousands of artwork from the Ancient Egypt to the Romantic Period, making it an important symbol of France’s history.
The Louvre is the most popular museum in Paris, but don’t expect to see everything here. Yes, the Louvre is massive and overwhelming, but you have to manage your expectations and plan your visit in advance. Research the wings you want to visit and spend quality time there, and save the rest for your next visits.
3. Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees
Another symbol of the French power, Arc de Triomphe (Arc of Triumph) was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte to commemorate the victory of their imperial armies in 1806. Built in the 19th century under the influence of Roman architecture, it’s the largest monument of its kind in the world. It can be found in Champs Elysees, the most beautiful and well-known Avenue in Paris. This place represents the luxury, prestige, glamour and elegance of Paris. Champs Elysees is also great for luxury shopping, as you can find many glam boutiques in here as they gather the biggest international and French brands.
Montmartre is a hill located North of Paris in the 18th arrondissement. It’s best known for the white-dome Basilica of the Sacred Heart. In Montmartre, you can see many artists setting up their easels to exhibit their work or paint tourists. This is also the home of Moulin Rouge, the famous cabaret which style and name have been imitated by nightclubs around the world.
5. Chateau de Versailles
A symbol of the French monarchy, Chateau de Versailles is the former home of King Louis XIV and his descendants. Originally, it was built as a hunting pavilion for King Louis XIII, which was transformed by King Louis XIC as a beautiful castle that it is today. Visitors of Chateau de Versailles can enjoy sights of the complex buildings, terraces and gardens. It will surely wow any visitor who loves ritzy and glamorous things like lavish decorations and furniture, one-of-a-kind accommodation and works of Renaissance art.
Before going to Paris, know what to expect.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you travel at the city of love:
1. Know the basics
When at Paris, people may speak English and other European languages, but French is still the most spoken language in the city. They use Euro as currency. Most tourist areas have ATMs and accepts credit cards, but it’s wise to carry some cash for buying goods from small retailers. Cafes and shops become more expensive the closer they are located to main attractions, so to find a more authentic and less expensive French dining experience, walk a few block away.
The city of Paris is separated into 20 arrondissements, each offering a unique vibe to the city. Some of the most popular arrondissements in the city include the 1st (home of the Royal Palace and the Louvre), 3rd and 4th (Le Marais), 5th (the Latin Quarter), 8th (Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysees) and 18th (Montmartre). Do your research first and decide which place you most want to explore.
2. Plan your accommodation
When it comes to visiting and staying in Paris, the accommodation is going to be a huge portion of your budget. It is highly recommended to book your stay well in advance. And don’t just book the cheapest hotel. You might be missing out on the Parisian atmosphere if you do this.
It is better to book a furnished apartment, especially if you plan to stay for a couple of days. This way, you can cook your own meals at some days so you don’t have to always eat out.
Once you find your hotel or apartment, have it written down in a safe place. This way, you can still find you way back if ever your phone fails you.
3. Dress like the Parisians
Traveling in Paris isn’t really about dressing to the nines. When in Paris, skip the bold prints and bright sneakers. Instead, go for a casual and largely neutral wardrobe. Parisians have just mastered the art of the clean, coordinated look. Keep your attire simple and thoughtfully assembled. Accessorize using a scarf, hat or jewelry – but not all of them at once. Also, avoid the selfie stick, as it will only annoy the locals and attract attention from pickpockets and scam artists.
4. Use public transport
One tip you have to remember is to not rent a car when in Paris. The traffic here is quite congested in a lot of areas. Instead, you can just use public transportation, as it’s more affordable, fast and efficient. Also, keep your metro ticket throughout your journey, because losing it puts you at risk of getting a fine.
5. Bring comfy shoes
Like many European capital cities, Paris is a place that is best explored on foot, so make sure you bring a comfortable pair of shoes. Learn the lesson of millions of tourists who didn’t prepare for a walkathon and ended up soothing their blisters on public fountains. Prepare to walk plenty, as wandering around is the only way you can truly get an authentic Parisian feel. Walking can also give you the opportunity to peek behind doorways and discover the hidden gems on the metro.
When visiting Paris, you’ll learn that the best way to explore the city is to take advantage of the free walking tours. You can find a lot of free, self-guided tours on the internet, so plan accordingly.
6. Beware of pickpockets
Be cautious while you’re on the metro. There are a lot of scammers frequenting tourist spots and targeting tourists. Some scammers will ask you to sign a petition, then ask for money, while some would try to tie a string around your hands. Pickpocketing is also fairly common, so always keep an eye on your belongings. Keep your bag or hands tucked into your body. Homelessness and begging is also common, so you must be careful if you want to give, because you won’t be able to help all of them without being broke.
7. Learn a few French words
French is a hard language to master, and you don’t have to learn the language to enjoy a long weekend in Paris. However, it pays to know the basics. This will at least ingratiate you with the locals, especially if you use the words “Bonjour” (Hello), “S’il vous plait” (Please) and “Merci” (Thank you). Many people can speak English, but they will be more likely to help you if you at least try to speak a little French.
8. Expect shops to be closed on a Sunday
Unless you only travel to the tourist spots, expect that some restaurants will operate strict services per day. Some shops regularly close for part of the day, as they may operate during irregular opening and closing times depending on the day of the week. Many establishments are also closed on a Sunday, as with many predominantly Catholic countries. However, most cultural attractions today stay open during the weekend, and simply takes Monday or Tuesday as a day off instead.
9. Try French cuisine away from usual restaurants
When eating out in Paris, stay away from the usual chain of restaurants. Also, avoid temptation to fill up on croissants. Check out a lot of shops that offer fresh and authentic French cuisine, and a lot of them offer meat-free and dairy-free twist. With a lot of cafes around, you can make the most out of coffee culture in Paris. There are a lot of pretty coffee shops that you can visit, including the Le Consulat, Café Oberkampf and Odette.
10. Bring your student ID
If you’re lucky enough to still be a student, don’t forget to bring your student ID. It is worth noting that your ID can guarantee you some free or reduced entry to most French monuments and museums. The same is true if you are under 26 and have other ID, and if you are a resident of the EU. Other establishments across the city offer student discounts.
11. Enjoy small museums
The Louvre is the most popular museum in Paris, but you can also find a lot in smaller museums as they contain equally important and beautiful art pieces. Head to the Musée de l’Orangerie and Musée Marmottan to find Monet’s famous murals. Visit Musée Rodin if you want to have a romantic museum experience.
12. Know that the best view of the city is not on top of Eiffel Tower
For a lot of people whose dream is to visit Paris, included in their bucket list is to climb the Eiffel Tower. But if you want the best view of the city, climb atop the rooftop of the Arc de Triomphe at the end of Champs Elysees.
You can also head to the Galeries Lafayette rooftop terrace located above the Art Nouveau Cupola. This place offers unparalleled views of the Eiffel Tower, Opera House and more.