The cheesy t-shirts aren’t lying – Paris is always a good idea. From the architecture, to the fashion, to the culture, Paris is never to disappoint. After spending several weeks in the City of Lights, I’ve compiled a list of top 10 “to-do’s” when visiting Paris. Check out my suggestions (with plenty of touristy pics along the way) and let me know what you think in the comments below!
10. Musée Grévin
This historic museum gives Madame Tussaud a run for her money. Founded in 1882, it boasts the achievement of being one of the oldest wax museums in Europe. But, of course, it’s not like any wax museum. Upon entering, you’ll be taken to a room of mirrors for a show that will convince you of the true magic of the famous Musée Grévin. The museum does a beautiful job of portraying both popular French historic figures and modern-day celebrities, alike. They even have several of their late 1800’s wax figures on display, which will make you appreciate advancements in technology. Even if you are absolutely mortified by the idea of a wax museum (like me!), I highly recommend that you check it out for the architecture alone! At just 22.50 Euro, it is perfect for date night or a day out with the family.
9. Le Marais
Dating back to the 12th century, the Parisian neighborhood of Le Marais has long been known as a hot spot for aristrocracy and a cultural center for Judaism. One of the most fashionable neighborhoods in its prime, Le Marias is still my favorite place to shop in Paris (even over the Avenue des Champs-Élysées), with the best shops located in Rue des Francs-Bourgeois and Rue des Rosiers. Though shopping is usually my #1 priority, it wouldn’t be a trip to Le Marais without taking time to see Musée Carnavalet (http://www.carnavalet.paris.fr/en/homepage), a beautiful museum highlighting the history of Paris. While on your way out, don’t forget to stop at the famous Boulangerie Murciano (http://www.boulangerie-murciano.com/qui-sommes-nous/) for bread or pastries – its namesake has brought recipes straight from one of the most famous pastry shops in Jerusalem!
UPDATE: Musée Carnavalet is now closed until the end of 2019 for renovations! I can’t imagine the museum being any more beautiful, but I can’t wait to check it out.
As the home of the Eiffel Tower, you would think that the Parisian neighborhood of Trocadéro would be #1 on my list. The restaurants are phenomenal – particularly Carette (http://www.carette-paris.fr/), which is quentessentially Parisian with its outdoor seating. Trocadéro also houses the most fabulous Parisian retreat of all time – 6 Mandel, the manor-style townhome (frequented by royalty and fashion designers, alike) where we stayed during our visit (http://www.6mandel.com/f/). We could see the Eiffel Tower sparkling at night from our balcony! Speaking of, with the Eiffel Tower as its claim to fame, you can’t turn down an opportunity to ride to the top and see all of Paris for around 10 Euro (https://www.toureiffel.paris/en). Cruises through the Seine River are also a fun treat in Trocadéro, with entrances right across the street from the Tower.
7. Le Relais de L’Entrecôte
All-you-can-eat steak and frites for 30 Euro – need I say more?
6. Le Bon Marché
Coined as “the first department store in the world,” Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche opened in 1852 and has been fascinating the fashion-conscious ever since. The original founders wanted “a new kind of store that would thrill all the senses” and they got exactly that. Think Barney’s times two. Le Bon Marché is not just a shopping experience, but a cultural sensation, with fashion exclusives, exquisite architecture, and cultural pieces dotting the space. Though I would hardly describe it as “affordable,” a purchase from Le Bon Marché (or even just window shopping) will have you feeling perfectly Parisian.
5. Notre Dame (but, really, the nearby Sainte-Chapelle)
Even before we got married there, Notre Dame had always been a fascination of mine. (http://www.notredamedeparis.fr/en/). A beacon of both architecture and religion, the cathedral and its gargoyles are sure to take your breath away. Which is why I was so shocked when a tiny chapel across the street caught my eye. Literally walking distance from the world-famous Notre Dame is a chapel even more beautiful (if you can believe that) – Sainte-Chapelle (http://www.sainte-chapelle.fr/en/). Its exterior can’t even compete with Notre Dame, but the stained glass of the upstairs worship center will leave you speechless (and is well worth the 10 Euro). Don’t visit one without seeing the other!
Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of Versailles. Though technically not located within the confines of Paris, a 30 minute train ride will get you to the palace gates with no trouble. With its gold-plated decor, Hall of Mirrors, perfectly manicured gardens, and Marie Antoinette’s portraits adorning the walls, you can’t visit Paris without visiting Versailles. Though there are many chic French restaurants within the chateau’s gates, I highly recommend Restaurant Angelina, where you will feel like a guest of the chateau’s visionary, King Louis XIV. However, as Versailles is arguably the most famous building in all of France, it is often way too overcrowded. When I went, we waited in line for around two hours and felt completely claustrophobic while touring the interior. Be sure to arrive right when the gates open to make the best of your trip! Tickets start at 20 Euro.
Montmarte is the ultimate juxtaposition. One on end is the Basilica de Sacré-Cœur, pictured above (http://www.sacre-coeur-montmartre.com/english/). Though the Basilica is certainly architecturally beautiful in its own respect, with charming gargoyles adorning the exterior, the best feature is that it sits on the highest point on the entire city of Paris. The view over the gardens will take your breath away, allowing you to see every inch of Paris. On the other end of Montmarte is perhaps the side of Paris that locals don’t want you to see – Place Pigalle. As the only “dangerous” area I’ve ever traveled in Paris, you will definitely want to hang on tight to your belongings and be wary of pickpocketers. However, if you can muster up the courage, I absolutely recommend that you go. The streets are lined with vintage neon signs hovering over discreet shop entrances, and every few buildings represents one of the historic and theatrical nightclubs of Paris. Most famously of all, Place Pigalle is home to the historic Moulin Rouge (http://www.moulinrouge.fr/?lang=en), one of my favorite places in all of Europe. Always a treat for commoners to aristocracy alike, tickets to see the infamous Moulin Rouge can-can girls can cost anywhere from 87 to 400 Euro (with pastries, champagne, and a gift obviously included). If this will break your vacation budget, I highly recommend that you visit anyways – at least to get a picture.
2. The Louvre
We spent 4 hours at the Louvre and didn’t even get to see half of its treasures. The museum is all that I wanted it to be and more. I will never forget walking into a room in the Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities department, only to immediately tear up because of the delicacy the sculptors illustrated in their statues (and I never cry!). The Egyptian department was a HUGE hit for Geneo – half of our visit was probably spent among the burial art and sarcophagi. And, of course, you can’t forgt to take a selfie with Mona Lisa (though she is so much smaller and disappointing in person). Tickets run for 17 Euro.
1. Chateau Fontainebleau
Where to even begin. Before visiting Paris, I had honestly never even heard of Chateau Fontainebleau. A quick train ride away, the chateau was the perfect day trip. The chateau is truly ancient, dating back to before the 1100’s, and was home to some of the most infamous French kings and queens, including Henry II, Catherine de’ Medici, and Napolean. The chateau is one of the only buildings to have gone unscathed during the Revolution, making it of particular historical importance. Though all of the furniture was auctioned then, the Chateau is now completely redone with period-furnishings, truly taking you back in time. Paying 12 Euro to see what I consider to be the most important piece of history in France is certainly worth it.
That sums up my guide to Paris! Comment below to let me know what you think.