Ah, Paris. A city that was once on my bucket list has now become a place of vivid- honestly, magical- memories. From the daily baguette runs and copious amounts of wine, to the charming Parisian alleyways and mornings spent people-watching whilst sipping coffee at cafes... from standing at the Sacré-Cœur and looking down at the bustling neighborhoods, to strolling along the Seine while admiring the city's stunning architecture, Paris, you are exquisite.
I visited Paris mid-August with my boyfriend. His entire dad's side of the family lives throughout Paris (crazy, I know), and they kindly provided hospitality for us. Unfortunately, the duration of my trip was pretty short- one week. Nonetheless, I was still able to immerse myself in its rich culture and endless attractions. Here are a few places I highly recommend checking out and some tips to help make your trip run smoothly!
Things to do
Paris is brimming with a plentiful amount of sights, historical locations, and museums housing some of the world's greatest masterpieces- the Mona Lisa, duh. Give yourself enough time to fully absorb everything this city has to offer!
Eiffel Tower: Our first stop was the Eiffel Tower, and it evoked so many emotions in me. It was truly mind-boggling to see an iconic landmark I'd only previously seen in movies and books, standing right in front of me. Tip: Check out the Eiffel Tower during the daytime and at night, as it becomes draped in gold sparkles. Buy your tickets to get to the top the tower in advance. As expected, the line is ridiculously long.
Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile: This historical monument sits at the center of twelve straight avenues and can be accessed by Avenue des Champs-Élysées. It bears significant French history, and the inside of the arch is entirely engraved with the names of those who fought in the Napoleonic Wars. Tip: Visit the Arc de Triomphe at night as well as during the day- there are significantly less people at night.
Rue de Crémieux: A hidden gem. Essentially, it is a picturesque pedestrian street lined with pastel and bright colored homes, each unique with their own potted plants and flowers. This is the ideal place for that perfect Instagram photo, or to simply admire the charming little road.
Notre-Dame Cathedral: I'm sure you've all watched Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, right? Yup, that was the only knowledge I had of the cathedral prior to my visit- the gargoyles and the bells. However, as I stood in front of the Notre-Dame, I fell in complete awe. The architecture and detailing were incredibly intricate, and the interior contained massive, towering arches. Tip: The line to enter seems dreadfully long, but don't let it scare you away! It moves very quickly.
Jardin du Luxembourg: I like to think of this as the mini Central Park of Paris. This is a lively, beautifully maintained garden. You'll find tourists and locals hanging here.
Montmartre: This quaint town is comprised of cobblestone alleys, dainty shops, street artists, and an abundance of cafes.
La Basilique du Sacré Coeur: This church is perched atop the highest point in Montmartre. If your legs are still intact after exploring the city, go up The Dome- 300 steps up a narrow, spiral staircase. I promise you, the panoramic views of the city are completely worth it.
Palais Garnier: This is one of the world's most recognized opera houses. Upon entering, I was immediately taken aback by the dramatic, grandiose staircase (hence, its name- the Grand Staircase). However, what had me mesmerized was the Grand Foyer. It is a massive room fully adorned in gold, and lined with chandeliers and beautiful paintings. Tip: Purchase your tickets for this spot in advance.
Other must-see spots: Louvre Museum, Pont Alexandre III, Le Marais, Panthéon
Bars/Speakeasies: You're in luck- there is no shortage of these in Paris. Check these spots out: Le Mauri7, Lavomatic (a speakeasy with the appearance of a laundromat- so cool!), Moonshiner
Get to your destination early because popular spots will get extremely crowded
If you are visiting in August, please note that several Parisians are on holiday at this time. Contact restaurants to make sure they are open during the time of your visit.
Take the subway. The subway system is fairly easy to navigate (even for someone who is typically directionally-challenged, a.k.a. me)
Learn the basics of the language, the locals will appreciate (tolerate) you more