Paris – the city of love, the city of food, and the the city of fashion. This is what dreams are made of right? Truth be told, I’ve been to Paris once before with my family, about 10-years ago, and I wasn’t all that blown away. Perhaps it was the weather? We were there in December, and the grey sky and rainy days didn’t do all that much for the atmosphere. I’m not saying that I hated it. In fact, I still enjoyed my time there but it didn’t quite meet my expectations. We visited Rome during the same trip and I was far more intrigued by Italy. Nevertheless, I have always said that I would love to experience a Paris breakaway again. This time during the Spring or Summer. After all, it is one of the most iconic cities in the world. This time around, Paris absolutely blew me away.
The sunshine, the company, the wine, it all made for a very delightful experience. We are very fortunate in that my boyfriend has a cousin that lives in Paris, so accommodation was already sorted for our Paris breakaway. Major plus! The other great thing is that we really got to experience the city from a locals perspective. We got chaperoned around to local food markets, bakeries, parks, and the best part is, we got to experience some home cooked French cuisine. We were really spoiled and loved every minute of our time here.
I’ve been to Paris twice but still haven’t made it up the Eiffel tower – mostly due to queues and time constraints. But, there is so much more to Paris than just the Eiffel tower. Yes, the Eiffel tower is a breathtaking sight and if you have the chance, you should definitely make your way up. But, don’t forget about the rest of this amazing city. Here’s everything you need to know about your Paris breakaway.
What to do on your Paris breakaway
Take a walk down the Champs-Elysees
This is at the top of the list of the most beautiful avenues in the world. I mean, it goes without saying really, if you’re on a Paris breakaway, then you can’t miss out on this. Maybe even do a little shopping along the way. Located in the middle of West-Paris, the Champs-Elysees is an avenue running from the Arc de Triomphe to Concorde square. It is surrounded by some of the most exclusive shops in the world. Louis Vuitton, Hugo Boss, Chanel, Dior, the Champs-Elysees is a shopper’s dream.
At the end of the avenue, you will find Concorde square. This is where King Louis XVI was executed during the French revolution. In the centre of the square, you will find an ancient Egyptian obelisk, which is the oldest monument in Paris. So be sure to check out one of the most important squares of Paris.
Climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe
Found at the other end of the Champs-Elysees is none other than, the Arc de Triomphe; one of the most iconic monuments in the world. Initially commissioned by the French Emperor Napoleon, it was only completed long after his reign. It serves to commemorate French military victories and French soldiers who died in battle. But this structure isn’t just about the history, it will also give you one of the best views of the city.
If you’re game for the climb, it will cost you €9.50 and take 280 stairs to reach the top. 280 stairs really isn’t all that bad and it will be absolutely worth it. The views are incredible and you will be able to spot nearly every landmark of Paris from the top. Even if just for the view down the tree-lined Champs-Elysées toward Concorde square, this climb is worth it. But, if you’re not up for the climb, you should at least visit the base of the Arc de Triomphe, which won’t cost you anything. You can find up to date pricing information and opening times on the Paris Monument Website.
Find the perfect Eiffel Tower photo spot
Paris is a photographers dream. Clearly I’m no professional, haha, but just like any other travel blogger, it’s all about trying to capture the perfect photo. Paris is filled with photography hotspots, but you might be surprised to discover from just how many locations you can snap the perfect shot of the Eiffel tower. Just a walk from the Louvre down towards the Eiffel Tower is filled with photography opportunities.
The banks of the river Seine, Rue Jean Ray, Notre Dame cathedral rooftop, these all offer incredible photo opportunities, but my favourite is Pont De Bir Hakeim. This is a bridge located right near the Eiffel Tower and across the river Seine. From here you will get a direct view of the Eiffel Tower and often you will find some gorgeous houseboats moored along the river which make for the perfect backdrop of a Paris breakaway.
Visit the Louvre pyramid
We didn’t go into the Louvre but the iconic pyramid was more than enough for me. Sure, if you have the time, you should enter and take a peak at the Mona Lisa, but just know that the queues are outrageous. The museum itself is renowned for its countless artifacts and beautiful artwork and of course, everyone wants a glimpse of the Mona Lisa, hence the long queues. But if you don’t have time to queue, the Louvre pyramid is spectacular and makes for some incredible photo opportunities. It’s a definite must see on your Paris breakaway.
Also, there are plenty of cute little cafes and restaurants surrounding the Louvre area. Whether you are just looking for a cup of coffee, a sunset cocktail or a bite to eat, you are bound to find something that interests you close by.
Make you way over to Montmartre
This is the area in which you will find the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, which is located at one of the highest points in the city. It’s great for getting some cityscape views of Paris and the good news is that it’s a short walk to get up to the base of the Basilica. It’s a very busy area, full of tourists and hawkers but it’s a beautiful spot to soak up the sun in Paris on a sunny day.
But our favourite thing about this area was the delicious lunch that we enjoyed at Le Petit Bleu. This is a tiny little mediterranean restaurant tucked away on the right hand side of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. We happened to stumble across this hidden gem, but if you google it, you will find that it has rave reviews. The interior is very small and it may feel a little cramped, but the food will more than make up for it. It’s tasty, good-value for money, and the service is fantastic.
This one doesn’t need much introduction. With a stunning exterior and a just as mesmerising interior complete with intricate stained glass windows throughout, it’s an incredible sight. You can enter the main floor of the cathedral for free, but if you want to climb to the top, there is a fee. You will find two main queues here – one at the side of the cathedral for the climb up to the top, or the queue at the front for free entrance into the main floor.
Located on the Île de la Cité along the La Seine river, there are many other things to do in the surrounding areas of Notre-Dame, so you can easily turn this outing into a half-day or perhaps even a full-day tour on your Paris breakaway.
Visit the Château de Versailles
I’ve left the best for last. The Chateau de Versailles was the highlight of my Paris breakaway and really stole the show. On most summer weekends there is a musical fountain show on display in the gardens of Palace of Versailles. It’s a truly spectacular sight. The gardens are made up of 55 historic fountains, of which up to 32 currently play during the music show.
With an entrance fee of only €10, you really should try make your way over here. The Chateau de Versailles is a magnificent sight to behold, with gardens that seem to stretch for infinity. It’s incredible to imagine the monarchs of France strolling along those perfectly symmetrical, maze-like hedges. You will feel as though you are going back years in time.
Getting around Paris
You can walk through quite a lot of Paris. For instance, you could very easily start your day at Notre-Dame, make your way over to the Louvre, and then walk along the river Seine to the Eiffel tower. You need to be prepared for a lot of walking, but it’s great exercise and there is a lot to see when wandering around the city on foot.
But, there are plenty of people who would prefer not to walk. Also, you would need to make use of transport to make your way over to areas like Montmartre. Thankfully the Paris metro is one of the best systems in the world. With around 300 stations that are connected by nearly 300 kilometers of track, you can get within a couple blocks of anywhere you want to go. The metro runs from 5:30am to 12:30am. Here are the best Metro stops to get off at for some of the most popular destinations mentioned in this article:
- Arc de Triomphe: Charles de Gaulle – Etoile, Line 1 (Yellow)
- Eiffel Tower: Champ de Mars/Tour Eiffel – Line RER C
- Montmartre: Anvers – Line 2 (blue)
- Château de Versailles: Versailles-Château-Rive-Gauche – Line RER C
- Notre-Dame: St Michel – Line RER C (Yellow)
Paris Travel Tips
- Wear comfortable shoes: There is A LOT of walking involved if you really want to explore. So make sure to pack your most comfy, but, of course, stylish pair of shoes.
- Parlez vous francais? If not, at least try to learn the basics. Parisians will give you a much warmer welcome if you at least try to speak a little French.
- Tipping isn’t really a thing: There’s no need to tip, although there’s nothing wrong with giving a small tip here and there.
- Go with the flow: French people often come across as rude and arrogant but this is very much a misrepresented stereotype. Yes, most of that time they not all that fond of tourists (especially those who can’t speak French). But, they are usually direct by nature, so don’t take it personally.
- Book online to go up the eiffel tower: Or be prepared to wait in a queue for hours. It might seem obvious but I learnt this the hard way. You actually need to book as long as two months in advance! You can find all info here.
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