Paris is unarguably one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Full to the brim with life, history and stunning architecture. In September 2017 I spent 3 days there, and with research and a lot more luck I managed to find a few lesser known ways to get the most out of this wonderful city without breaking the bank. Here’s my list of things I recommend you should and shouldn’t do when visiting Paris.
Don’t pay to climb the eiffel tower
The Eiffel tower isn’t the only place to give spectacular views of Paris. If you don’t want to pay the admission fee (the lift to the top costing €17 for an adult ticket), instead pay a visit to the beautiful Sacré Cœur whereby it only costs €6 to climb to the dome and see the panoramic views.
On the other hand, if you prefer not to spend a penny, you can visit Galleries Lafayette which is situated in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. Galleries Lafayette is an incredibly big shopping centre, and the best thing about it is that it’s free to go to the top of! At the top, you can see across Paris, including the Eiffel Tower.
In addition to this the decoration of the inside of the shopping centre will knock you off of your feet too (see the photo at the bottom of this post). If you do visit Galleries Lafayette, make sure you visit the gift shop on the second to top floor where you can buy all sorts of cool travel trinkets !
The Notre Dame is a must-see in Paris. Situated on a small island in the middle of the Seine, you can easily walk there from the metro stop Saint-Michel Notre Dame across a small bridge.
From the outside you can see its impressive gothic architecture, and if you walk around the back there is a small garden that some how has the air of being completely different to the front of the cathedral – and is a view less seen by tourists.
From the inside, of which you can entre for free, you can walk around the periphery of the cathedral and explore the religious and architectural history, one interesting presentation being it’s stages of construction beginning in 1163 until the present day.
Carnet of tickets – or walk ! It’s not as far as you think it is.
A carnet of tickets, which can be bought from any metro station, costs €90 for 10. For my 3 day stay I bought this carnet and only ended up using 7.
This was mainly because I did a lot of walking, and I was shocked how quickly I could get to places – as I assumed that everything was a long distance away.
From approximately the Moulin Rouge in Montmartre (where my hostel was situated) it took me about an hour and a half to walk to the Eiffel Tower, and that includes going in the wrong direction for a good 10 minutes.
The louvre contains some of the most impressive paintings from all over the world, including the Angel on the Rocks and of course the Mona Lisa.
This museum is absolutely massive and it is impossible to see and appreciate everything it has to offer in one day. I’d say that I managed to get around only ¼ of the museum in 3 hours. Entrance to the Louvre costs €15, however there are two ways in which you can get in free of charge !
Every Friday from 6 p.m. admission to the museum is free for under-26s of all all nationalities, as long as you present a valid ID.
From October to March, admission to the museum is free for all visitors on the first Sunday of each month.
So if the Louvre is somewhere that you’re dying to visit but you don’t want to pay the admission, plan your trip around these dates and tiles ! In addition, admission is also free for everybody on Bastille day. So if you happen to be in Paris on the 14th of July, be sure to pay a visit !
Don’t bother with the Bastille
Being an avid musical fan and taking inspiration from Les Misérables, I thought it would be a good idea to go and visit the site of the Bastille prison, expecting there to be a museum or some kind of ruins.
I was very mistaken as now there is in its place lots of roads, the Bastille Opera and the colonne de Julliet which stands as memorial for the events that passed. However, if you want to see a traditional French strike, apparently this is the place to visit.
Eiffel Tower at Night
The eiffel tower at night, or even better during sunset, is something that I highly recommend seeing. Sitting on the grass, watching the sun set and the eiffel tower lite up and sparkle is something I will never forget. Although try and find somewhere that the merchandise and alcohol sellers can’t not bother you.
Montmartre, which homes the Sacré Cœur and the Moulin Rouge, is a charming district that is full of life. It is a little bit out of the centre of Paris, however it is well worth a visit.
When walking through the streets in the evening, there were packed bars with music pouring out and people dancing just outside of the door – it was brilliant ! And this was on a Monday night, imagine what it would be like a weekend in the summer ! Therefore, if you have the time, I highly recommend paying a visit to this lively district.
Overall, this was my itinerary for my stay in Paris ;
– Arrived in the afternoon
– Visit the Sacré Cœur
– Walk through Montmartre
– Take the metro to the Arc de Triomphe
– Walk along the Champs Elysées
– Walk through le Jardin des Tuileries
– Visit the Louvre
– Visit the site of the Bastille (not recommended!)
– Visit the Notre Dame cathedral
– Visit Galeries Lafayette
– Visit the Eiffel Tower at sunset
Some final advice
Be careful when visiting museums in Paris as many are closed on days through the week (something that I did not expect!). For example the Louvre and the Pompidou centre are closed on Tuesdays, so make sure that you check their opening times online before deciding to take a visit.
There’re definitely many more secrets to exploring Paris than those that I have listed here, but I hope that this is a good start to your stay in one of the best cities in the world !
Feel free to ask me any questions, thank you for reading.