I have just got home from a lovely trip to Paris with my friend. It was my second visit and I love the city! I love the architecture, the history, the art, the food…the list goes on!
I thought I would share some of my highlights, recommendations and tips I’ve picked up from both of my trips.
See the sights
I’ve read several guides on what to see and what can be missed but everyone is different and has their own interests and time scale. Personally I think the view from Trocadero gives you the best view of the Eiffel tower. If you do have time its fun to go up the Eiffel tower itself but be prepared to wait in a long line!
I think the view over Paris from the Sacre Couer is better (and free!) than from the Eiffel tower itself. I love wandering around Monmarte, and if you have time spend an afternoon wandering the streets and stopping at some of the little cafes or vintage shops.
Notre Dame is absolutely beautiful inside but you will probably have to wait a very long time if you want to climb to the top so if you are short on time I would skip it.
A lot of people would say the same about the Louvre but I do think it is worth it. Make sure you book tickets in advance so you can jump to the front of the queue and not have to wait to get in. The tickets are valid for 30 minutes from the time you book (really useful if you underestimate how long it will take you to get there like we did!). It is closed on Tuesdays.
The Pompidou is great for modern and contemporary art, with many famous works on display. I love the design of the building too. It also has an escalator to take you up to see the view from the top. You can buy a separate ticket for this if art isn’t your thing but just want to see the view.
If you can, visit the Opera house! We booked tickets to see Lear. It a new production and probably one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen. I really enjoyed it though. The seats we had were right at the back as we left it quite late to get tickets (I was on a fold out chair!) and it was very hot, so if you go take a fan or just pay a bit more to get better seats! There were French and English subtitles so it was easy to follow what was going on. The building is amazing though, I felt very cultured as we sat sipping champagne listening to the orchestral chamber music!
Enjoy the food (and wine!)
We booked a cheese and wine lunch at the wine bar O Chateau. It was fantastic! The lunch included a glass of champagne, 2 white wines, 2 red wines, cheese to pair with each and bread and meats. I picked up some really useful knowledge about French wine too. I would definitely recommend doing a wine tasting.
The food in Paris is also pretty special. We made the effort to find a proper French restaurant one night. It was in Monmarte, full of locals and served amazing food. The tourist restaurants serve decent enough food but I would try to find a proper restaurant if you can.
On one of the mornings we headed over to Monparnasse to visit Pierre Herme. They do the most amazing macaroons. The flavours are so delicious. My favourite was passion fruit and chocolate. They are pricey but I thought they were worth it!
Be wary of some of the men
On both of my trips to Paris I have experienced unwanted attention from the men when walking around or when sat in a cafe. It’s not something I have experienced in other European capitals. In Paris I have had a homeless man come and try and stroke my hair (until my husband jumped up and protected me), men make comments as you walk past on the street, one man came up and banged on the window at us while we were enjoying our wine. It’s not very nice, me and my friend either just ignored it, giving them no attention at all or shouted no at them and walked off. I’m not sure if its just a cultural difference but its something to watch out for.
Learn the language
I have been trying to learn French for a while now but unfortunately I haven’t got very far with it (things just won’t stick) but I have found knowing some basic phrases really helps! Yes most of the locals speak very good English but they are a lot friendlier and respectful if you at least try (no matter how bad your pronunciation is!)
Take your time and don’t be afraid to detour!
There’s so much to do in Paris and if you are not careful you end up running around trying to fit in as much as you can and not taking time to let your environment sink in and enjoy where you are. I see a lot of tourists so keen to go and take the photo and then rush off that they don’t stop and enjoy where they are and what they are doing. I love photography but I sometimes see it as a bit of a curse. We got shouted at a few times by people in the Louvre for getting in the way of photos when we were trying to actually look at the art rather than be in a photo next to it!
Besides it really is lovely to just wander the streets, for example as we were leaving Pierre Herme to head to the Luxembourg gardens we came across a vintage book market. It was really interesting to wander around and look at the beautiful ancient books, I think we spent about an hour just browsing! You never know what you will come across. And definitely make sure to take time to stop at a little cafe and people watch while sipping a glass of wine!