Paris, the city of lights, is somewhere that’s on everyone’s bucket list. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre – there’s no shortage of incredible sights and important monuments to see and love. After visiting the city I was in love – it’s such a great place to explore, running from metro to train through the city is an adventure itself (and a quick way to burn 1,000 calories, too!)
If you’re reading this in the lead up to your own adventure in Paris, then I’m jealous. Ha! You’ll have an amazing time! Today I wanted to talk about some of the incredible sights in the city, and my own personal tips on how to see them best!
When Scott and I finally planned to visit Paris, one thing I was immediately aware of was the sheer amount of things that we wanted to see and do. Paris is filled to the brim with cultural significance and monuments/experiences of immense importance, and because of this, I had to do my research and scrape together a list of sites with the closest metro/train stations and lines so that we could optimise time from getting from one site to the next.
For the sake of ease, I’ve bunched the main sights into the following categories: Educational, Monuments, Religious and Retail.
When we first arrived in Paris, we went straight to the ticket office and picked up Paris Visite tickets which covered the zones we wanted to see (Paris is split into 5 five zones: with central Paris in zone 1, and the outskirts, Charles du Gaulle airport and Disneyland, in zone 5). Since we were staying in a hotel located in zone 5, we always bought a ticket that covered every zone: which I think actually eased our mind a bit anyway because it meant we could travel absolutely anywhere on any line or form: whether that’s the RER or the metro or bus and not get in trouble by possessing the wrong tickets!
Quick Money Saving Tip: if you’re from an EU country and are currently between 18 – 25 years old, you get free entry into all museums in Paris! Definitely make full use of this, as you can end up saving at least £100 if done right!
An assortment of buildings and museums that are centred around France’s military history: Les Invalides is the resting place of Napoleon Bonaparte. After reading War and Peace earlier this year, I was really interested to see the tomb of Napoleon: and after visiting it, I’m eager now to learn more and more about French history and the Napoleonic Wars.
Also, the architecture of Les Invalides is absolutely gorgeous as you can see. I found that one of the things that surprised me most about Paris was the extent of gorgeous architecture that it has: I really had no idea the city contained so many beautiful buildings.
The Catacombs are a site that Scott and I have always wanted to see: but people on the internet are serious when they say that you better be prepared to wait for entry if you haven’t bought your tickets online!
Unfortunately, Scott and I were two unlucky chaps who didn’t buy their tickets online and weren’t able to get inside because of the waiting time (they only allow 200 people in every 45 minutes, which I know sounds like a lot of people – but when you get in the queue I can guarantee it’s already 400-odd deep!)
I’ve still included it on my list because The Catacombs is such a fascinating place, and if you do have a trip to Paris coming up then I can’t recommend you do it enough. I know it’s almost at the top of the list when it comes to reasons why Scott and I want to return to the city of Paris!
Want to read more about The Catacombs? Here’s some interesting blogs I read about it before deciding whether or not I wanted to go see them: here
The Louvre. Need I say more? Holding the title of the world’s largest museum, and the keeper of the iconic Mona Lisa, the museum is one of the first things you think of when somebody mentions Paris. I absolutely loved it, though while wandering the halls I definitely wished that I had a better knowledge of art/art-history, because if I had then I know that every piece of art in the building would be something that would’ve left me marveling at it’s antiquity.
Nevertheless, just being among such fantastic pieces of work and getting to see the Mona Lisa was just absolutely brilliant. I can’t recommend the place enough.
The Arc du Triomphe
The Arc du Triomphe was absolutely incredible. When we emerged from the metro and saw the arc for the first time, my breath was taken instantly. It’s such a beautiful and powerful memorial to those who lost their lives in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Reading their names and seeing the incredible pieces of art dedicated to them inside had both Scott and I speechless with respect.
Also, we travelled to the top of the Arc and the view over Paris was absolutely amazing! It costs €12/£10 to travel to the top, and once you get up there and look over the skyscrapers, the Eiffel Tower and straight down the Champs Elysees – it definitely got me excited to be spending the rest of the day exploring these beautiful places!
The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower, one of the most iconic things about Paris, is somewhere that everybody has to visit when they’re in the city. Following the tower in the distance, Scott and I walked down the Champs Elysees and across the Seine basking in the chilled Sunday air.
It was such a lovely atmosphere, and the view from the Tower is incredible!
Now I’m not an overly religious person – but seeing Notre Dame had me struck at the gorgeous architecture. It’s just absolutely breathtaking. Like seeing the Arc, when we emerged from the metro and saw the building stood there in all it’s glory I felt speechless. There’s something about these beautifully huge works of art that make you feel so much smaller / in perspective with the rest of the world and history.
Entry to Notre Dame is free, so Scott and I queued up and were inside within 10 minutes (the line always looks super long, but it moves incredibly fast!). The inside was just as striking. I didn’t take any photographs inside as it’s requested that you don’t.
Sacre Coeur was the last thing that Scott and I went out to see during our stay in Paris! It was a bright, beautiful day and the weather had actually gotten quite warm so while we walked up the gardens at the front, we were both sweating from our big coats we had on!
Seeing the church was amazing, and I’m so happy that I did it. I know it’s all I keep talking about, but honestly there’s something about that French architecture that’s so astonishing to me! I can’t get enough of it!
The Champs Elysees
The second most expensive strip of real estate in Europe, and one of the most expensive in the world: the Champs Elysees is a gorgeous avenue in Paris lined with shops, boutiques and restaurants. Gazing at the stores was about as much as I could personally afford, but just seeing the beautiful store designs was enough – and seeing the only McDonalds in the world with a white M was pretty fun, too!
As far as department stores go, Galeries LaFayette blew me away just a little bit! For some reason, I thought the brand Acne Studios existed on Tumblr and Tumblr alone, so to see it in Paris and in the Galeries not only had me shook – but to see the price tag attached to their clothes – had me SHOOK. The store though is absolutely beautiful. And as I wandered around it, I couldn’t help but think about how much prettier I bet it gets in November/December.
I made a beeline instead for the stationary and library floor, on the second to top – before taking a trip further up onto the rooftop for a gorgeous view of Paris.
When I was a teenager I used to work in a department store, so personally, I am #notaboutthatlife – but I feel like working in the Galeries would just be a stage of stress ahead anything I could ever deal with!
Shakespeare and Company
Shakespeare and Company was low-key one of the shops I was most excited for in Paris. I’ve mentioned this before in a blog post, but if you take me anywhere: and I mean anywhere: then I’m probably going to find a bookshop. And even more than that, Shakespeare and Company is like crawling inside a book lovers dream store.
One thing I wasn’t expecting was for it to be so close to Notre Dame: like, across the road close. For some reason I always imagined it tucked away in some Parisian backstreet so to see that it was so close to the immensity of Notre Dame shocked me!
Overall, our trip to Paris was incredible – I’ve already booked a trip back for later this year, and I can’t wait! While I was there I managed to visit Disneyland, which you can read a travel diary about here, and for Halloween, which you can read about here.
Do you love Paris? Or have you ever visited? I’d love to know! Make sure to comment below or tweet/Instagram me @mileinmyglasses!
I hope you’re having a great day.