I’m French and, more than being French, I’m Parisian. I’ve been living in Paris for 2 years and I start to know quite a lot about this city. That said, even if I had spent my entire life in Paris, there would still be places I wouldn’t have heard of. That’s the best thing about Paris: you can find something new, something different in every corner of every street of every neighbourhood.
Of course, when tourists come to Paris, they go to the Eiffel Tower, take pictures in front of the Arc de Triomphe, visit the Louvre, or take the boat on the Seine… I don’t have anything against that, but I do know that tourists are not always aware of some great places in Paris. Thanks to my experience in the city, I want to help you to pick the best places you can go to in the little time that you have. If I can also help you to get some tranquillity by going to original places off the beaten track.
Here are some recommendations to enjoy Paris as much as you can. There is so much to enjoy.
Choices of transportations in Paris are numerous. From your arrival at the airport, you’ll have to pick one of the different means of transport which can drive you to the heart of city such as shuttle buses (I usually take Le Bus Direct shuttle buses, it’s cheaper and reliable), taxis, UBER… After that, when you’ve reach the city, possibilities will be even more diversified: city buses, metro, tramway, bicycles and still taxis and UBER.
What I recommend for you is to take the bus. Yes, reaching your destination will be a bit longer, but at least you’ll be able to see every street, building and shop across the window of your bus. You’ll be truly close to the big city life. Moreover, buses are everywhere in Paris, and you’ll find one anytime at every street’s corner.
Nevertheless, you should take the metro at least once, it’s quite an experience too, and some lines’ section are beautiful.
Tramways are not often used by tourists, because they basically go around the city. You can’t directly reach the city centre by taking the tramway. Nevertheless, the tramway is recent, modern and it’s pleasant to take it from time to time.
All those means of transport (Buses, Metro, Tramway, Suburban trains) will cost you the same prices, as they’re part of the NAVIGO network. If you’re staying for approximately 1 week, I recommend you to buy the “Pass Navigo” for 1 one week. It will cost 22,80€ and will allow you to have unlimited access to all the network. Otherwise, if you just stay for a few days, just buy a book of 10 tickets and that should be sufficient.
And don’t forget to walk, that’s how you’ll get the essence of the city.
DON’T MISS MONTMARTRE FOR ANYTHING IN THE WORLD
Montmartre is not just a neighbourhood of Paris. Montmartre is Montmartre. When you reach this magnificent place, it’s like you’re entering a new city, totally different than everything you’ve seen before. Personally, I didn’t experience anything like this anywhere else. I have been to Montmartre more than 10 times now, and I’m still amazed of how unique it is. Montmartre could be a small village in the French countryside, but it’s just 20 minutes from my home, in the heart of the biggest city of the country.
You can enjoy an amazing view of Paris from there. You can visit the beautiful Basilique du Sacré-Coeur and the whole villages full of restaurants, shops of souvenirs, famous houses such as Dalida’s house (Dalida was a French singer) and even grapevines…
Of course, it’s a touristy place. It will be crowded there, but according to me, that’s just the best place in Paris. So please go there and enjoy Montmartre’s magic.
SPEND SOME EVENINGS ALONG THE SEINE
This is where Parisians meet after their work. In the summer, after 6 PM, you’ll see all kinds of people crowding around the banks of the Seine river: French and foreign students, young and older workers… Until midnight or more, they stay there to talk, drink, party…
As a tourist, you definitely should go there to meet people and have a chat with strangers over a beer or a sandwich.
On the sunny days, it’s magnificent and relaxing to sit in front of the Saint-Louis Island, the Louvre or the Invalides. After a day of visits and touristic activities, go buy a drink and some food at a supermarket close by and head for the banks. If you like to party, you’ll find a lot of popular nightclubs along the river. So if you’re looking for surprising and unexpected evenings, follow the crowd until the end of the night.
Indeed, Paris is a city of culture and history. You’ll find all kinds of museums there: art, science, religion, history, country’s culture…
In 2016, there were 206 museums in the city.
Most famous museums are the Louvre, the Quai d’Orsay, the Quai Branly, the Catacombs. They are all great, especially because their exhibitions are all incredibly rich and complete. I visited a lot of museums in Paris, and in my opinion the most impressive and mythical remains the Louvre. But as you surely know, it’s very crowded, so I just hope you won’t come to Paris in July or August. If you do, just try to avoid going on the weekend and in the afternoon.
Here is a list of my 5 favourite museums in Paris:
- The Louvre: a huge collection of famous and beautiful paintings and sculptures
- The Quai Branly: fantastic exhibitions from all around the world (Asia, Africa, Polynesia…)
- The Arab World Institute: a great immersion in the Arab civilization and in the Islam religion
- Musée de l’Armée: a collection of weapons used by the French army, paintings of battles and kings
- The Catacombs: a single (and a bit scary) environment and atmosphere that you can’t find anywhere else
To see more on Paris’ museums, check this article.
I know that most of the activities I told you about in this article are quite famous, and that you surely won’t be able to avoid crowded queues, especially in the summertime, but there is basically no way to avoid this.
I can assure you that what you get is worth the queue.
And remember that Paris, whatever happens, is always a good idea. Enjoy your stay!