Paris is one of those cliché places everybody puts on their First Eurotrip Itinerary, but for good reason. It was the third most visited city in the world in 2014 according to Forbes, and it truly is a must-see. Bonus: Visit with your Significant Other for an unforgettable weekend.
Yes, I had to include the obvious stuff…
1. Steal a kiss under the Eiffel Tower.
2. Take a champagne river cruise on the Seine.
3. Lock your <3 at the Love Bridge.
4.Climb the Arc de Triomphe.
5. See for yourself how big the Mona Lisa is.
6. Stroll Champs Élyséeys.
7. Take illegal pictures at Musée d’Orsay.
8. Crave crêpes…then, eat some.
9. Visit Notre Dame Cathedral.
10. Eat macaroons. Drink wine. Repeat.
Details on the above to-dos:
A cruise on the Seine is a perfect way to see Paris at night, during any season. Since I went during November, it was a little chilly but a covered boat kept us cozy while still being able to enjoy the sites. (Champagne helped, as well.) I recommend O’Chateau . That way, you’re guaranteed a private room in the front of the boat, complete with 3+ glasses of champagne. (The guide was awesome and generous with the wine…his French accent didn’t hurt either). The cruises can get crowded so do yourself a favor and go the champagne route – for only 55 euro, or 45 euro for students! It was the highlight of our weekend trip.
Added bonus – enjoy a delicious dinner at O’Chateau after the cruise and receive a 10% discount!
We climbed the Arc de Triomphe instead of the Eiffel Tower, and I think it’s the way to go. It’s not nearly as busy so you can go right up and it’s cheaper. Plus, you get the Eiffel Tower in the background (2-for-1 deal). I’d rather enjoy the views of the iconic tower than be in it. (Even though we went in the off-season, lines to climb the Eiffel were still 1-2 hours long, for both the stair and elevator option – save yourself some time and grab a bottle of wine – enjoy the view from the bottom of the Eiffel.) Note: Do not try to cross 8 lanes of roundabout traffic (there’s a convenient underground tunnel that will lead you to the Arc.)
The Louvre. A trip to Paris isn’t complete without a visit to the infamous museum. But, plan ahead. You could spend days inside and not see everything, so give yourself a time limit – ours was 2 hours. Get a map and decide which collections you want to see and then your plan of attack. (Don’t miss out on the Mona Lisa). We barely touched on the museum, but there’s so much to see and do in Paris, so unless you plan on spending at least a week there, I wouldn’t spend too much time in the Louvre! A whole day can get away from you.
Champs Élyséeys is one of those popular streets that people tell you to stay away from because it’s busy and touristy. Both are true, but if you’re there during the holidays, I wouldn’t miss it. The window displays and Christmas lights are amazeballs. Paris + Christmas = Classy Perfection.
Musée d’Orsay is another great museum to explore in Paris, especially if you’re visiting during the cooler months. Indoor activities = warmth. The Louvre gets all of the attention, but there’s like a million and one museums in Paris so give the other ones some love, too. (Don’t get caught taking pictures of the artwork.)
Other Tips & Tricks.
Buy a Paris Museum Pass! We did this right at the airport, so we were ready to go from the start. For 42 Euros it gives you access to the a gazillion Paris museums/sites (including the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay) – plus you can climb the Arc de Triomphe for FREE. And you get to skip the lines (although lines for the museums in November weren’t too bad to begin with). They offer 2, 4, & 6-day passes. Check it out here.
Be quick and sneaky when putting a lock on the bridge. This is on most people’s must-do list in Paris, but it is damaging the bridge. I obviously still wanted to do it, but beware, you might get yelled at and shooed away. Don’t dilly dally.
Where to Stay
Airbnb all the way. I’m an Airbnb believer. It’s cheap, convenient, and comfortable. Plus, I love the more authentic experience you get staying with the locals. (and the local knowledge that comes with is great, too!) You can choose a shared or private room or an entire home. Since it was just two of us, we went the private room route. It’s super affordable, and you still get to stay in a great location. (Our host was so sweet and helpful, and we basically had the place to ourself. Not to mention she left us the most amazing breakfast spread one morning complete with coffee, tea, juice, fruit, and fresh croissants – the ultimate French breakfast). Read the reviews, and you can’t go wrong with Airbnb!