After talking with locals and friends, watching tons of vlogs, I narrowed down my must-see/must-do Paris guide! After awhile, they all started suggesting similar things/places. Special shoutout to Dear Saturdays for giving me so many suggestions! Her blog is so cool!
– beware of pick pockets! caught one pick pocketing me while going down the stairs on the metro
– some places are a little musty like nyc, so don’t be shocked
– lots lots lots lots of cigarette smoking :O my poor lungs
– ask for student discounts, lots of museums/attractions gave us free or discounted tickets with our school ID and 18-26 age proof!
– scammers (pick pockets) are everywhere; be alert
– don’t “sign a petition” they’re distracting you to pick pocket you!
– don’t buy tickets off of anyone. only official places/or legit third party sellers
– ignore random sketch people trying to talk to you/scam you — you’ll know what I mean
classic go-to places
Eiffel Tower: aka 90% of the reason why you came to Paris!
Champ de Mars: a park to eat your wine, cheese, fruit
I could spend all day here, easy. Except, it gets pretty annoying hearing someone trying to sell “beer, wine champagne, cigarette” every 2 seconds. Les Gourmandises d’Eiffel for baguettes and Fromager Marie-Anne Cantin for some delicious cheeses. You can also buy cheese, bread, wine & fruits at a nearby market. It’s bread & cheese; you can’t mess it up. DON’T FORGET THE CORK OPENER.
TIP: Bring something to sit on: bed sheets, blanket or towel. Bring something from your room that you don’t mind getting dirty and washing later! So many people show up with just wine and cheese in their hands, sitting on the grass (mOiST).
Trocodéro: the best view of the whole tower (imo).
This place is actually a dream. Places around here for breakfast/lunch are pretty overprices and poorly reviewed because it’s such a tourist area, so I would avoid eating in this area. Come back at night and see the tower shimmer and light up (times are online).
TIP: Go at 7am — or even earlier. You’ll (almost) have the whole place to yourself. The overcast in the morning make your photos looks stunning; it’s empty!
Museums: Louvre & Orsay Museum & Musee de Orangerie
The Louvre: home girl Mona Lisa is here!
Even if you’re not into art, I highly suggest you go even just for 1-2 hours. For the non-art lover, a short list of things to see: Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Winged Victory of Samothrace, and Liberty Leading the People. Inside and out, it’s a piece of art. Get some a e s t h e t i c pictures for the ‘gram, go ham here.
TIP: US student IDs &/ (18-26), admission is free! No need to buy a ticket, just walk up towards the exhibitions and show them your student ID & maybe your license/passport! Entrance/lines can get confusing and wack, take the entrance at 99, Rivoli Street by the Carrousel du Louvre.
Orsay Museum: Monet, Degas, Van Gogh
A lot of people argue that this is actually the best museum in Paris. If you couldn’t buy tickets online, go line up 20 minutes before they open. no problem going in. Short list what to see: Van Gogh Self portrait & The Ballet Class
Musee de Orangerie: Monet’s water lilies here. breathtaking.
Arc de Triompe: best view of Paris at the top
GO UP! The trek up the stairs is real — be ready to break a sweat. Again, go early in the morning, emptier! ticket price, worth it.
Notre Dame: one of the most famous churches in Europe
Hard to get too close to it, due to construction, so you might need to get pictures near the river instead — still very cool.
The Jardins: French for gardens
The best highlight of Paris: the beautiful, parks/gardens. ALL FREE: Tuileries Garden (find the gelato cart and eat by the fountain on the chairs), Luxembourg Garden, Jardin du Palais Royal. Check out the Palais Royal, which is connected to the garden too!
Sainte-Chapelle: stain glass windows on steroids
The Musée Rodin: see the famous “thinker”
Le Marais: the soho of Paris; chic, trendy, cool LGBTQ friendly
Champs Elysees: beautiful (bougie) area for shopping, pictures
Sacré Coeur: far views of paris; didn’t LOVE; go if you have time
what to eat
Parisian food doesn’t always get the best rep. Here’s what I liked.
Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie: best french onion soup – thicc & cheesy; their foie gras ravioli is popular but I’ll just say this, their normal foie gras was not foie me
Du Pain et Des Idees: famous for their chocolate pistachio escargot pastry; still dream about it
Pierre Herme: macarons (better than Laudree imo); I loved the mogador (chocolate & passionfruit), celeste (passionfruit & strawberry), ispahan (rose, lychee, raspberry); all so good
L’eclair du Genie: well priced cripsy and creamy eclairs
L’as du Falafel: cheap, good meal in the Marais (cute area)
Le Relais de L’Entrecounte: classic place for steak & fries, fyi European meat is kinda stiff? which is why everyone gets it medium rare; experience checked off, food was m e h -ish
Benedict: good brunch all day type of restaurant; truffle benedict was awesome
Le Colimaçon: crispy shell escargot you can eat whole! escargot in general is pricey, this place was reasonable in price and tasted delicious
If you get sick of “classic French” food, check out modern French & French-Asian fusion. Tons of great bites too. In general, food is expensive in Paris. Bistros are all kind of the same: duck, fries, steak, etc.
where we stayed + getting around
Stayed in an AirBnB in the Marais district. Other areas I would recommend 1 through 8th arrondissements (aka areas in Paris). Closer to the river, the better. I know that there are cheaper, nicer places in 18th arrondissement, but I often read/heard about crime/theft/pickpocketing here. Paris was probably the most expensive city we were in, so it’s hard to avoid high prices in general. Because Paris is $$, hostels are not even THAT much cheaper & they tend to be further out. Regardless, the metro works very well so as long as you get home at night safely, it shouldn’t be an issue. Ubers are slightly more expensive than what I’m used to in NY/SF; however, if we were out past 11pm, we called an Uber to go home — for safety reasons.