“A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life.”-Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was right. I experienced the history and beauty of Paris and also questioned a lot of my life choices during my time there.
My significant other and I attended a beautiful wedding in Germany last year. We spontaneously decided we should make a quick trip to Paris since we were only a train ride away. We were able to land a sweet deal on a hotel through Hotel Tonight – definitely recommend them for last-minute bookings! *Not sponsored* just sincerely think they’re awesome.
You’ll notice I’ll be referring to the arrondissements of Paris for locations. Paris is divided into twenty arrondissements or Paris districts. The 1st arr. is in the center of Paris and the rest of the arrondissements are located outside that, going clockwise in a spiral if you look at a map.
We adventured through the city on foot and on the metro. The Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP system) runs the metro. Check out this great guide for tips to get around Paris – it includes prices and names of routes.
Travel With Me to The City of Lights
Tip no. 1: purchase an adapter to charge your electronics. My ignorant mind did not think about the different types of outlets that exist outside the USA. France has two types of outlets: C & E; the USA has type A & B. So if you’re from the USA, you’ll be met with a very different looking outlet than you’re used to. Airbnbs and hotels might already have some adapters for you, but it’s something to consider before you make a trip out there.
Our first stop was a restaurant called Le Quartier General Cafe located in the 5th arrondissement of Paris – this area of Paris is also called The Latin Quarter. We sat outside and watch the crowds of locals and tourists making their way downtown. They had the most delicious cappuccinos!
Tip no. 2: if you ask for water at a restaurant, know that it’s usually not free; you might as well have wine with every meal. 🙂 I was a bit surprised to see that they charged for water – Americans are so spoiled.
Because we were only there for a short amount of time, we decided to do a hop on, hop off bus tour of Paris through City Sightseeing. It wasn’t too expensive – around $30 USD. With City Sightseeing, you get to:
- maximize your sightseeing (11 stops)
- learn about the history of all the main attractions
- create your own itinerary
- choose from 11 languages for the voice guide
- purchase a 1 or 2-day pass
SO much history, so much beauty – Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris is a MUST see in Paris. Admission is free and the experience is priceless.
Tip no. 3: reserve tickets in advance (free admission in many places but reservations are required) to avoid waiting in line – often, tickets sell out so your best bet is to plan this part out rather than go on a whim.
Apparently, this monument called the Effiel Tower is the most popular attraction in Paris (4th most popular in the world). Naturally, we had to go check it out. We witnessed some great views from Jardins du Trocadéro (16th arrondissement).
Tip no. 4: wear sturdy and comfortable walking shoes! I know Paris is one of the fashion capitals of the world, but trust me – you don’t want to be wandering through Paris in flats or heels.
Of course, I had to stop by a brewery and check out the beer in the City of Lights. Frog Pub XVI is located in the 16th arrondissement and was a relatively short walk from the Eiffel Tower. I wouldn’t say this is a must when visiting Paris – I just like my beer.
If you’re looking for a memorable and delicious treat, I strongly recommend Amorino: Gelato Al Naturale – the lines can get long, but it’s worth it! There are so many flavors to choose from and they have a variety of treats aside from gelato. This one is located in the 5th arrondissement.
Whether you’re a book lover or not, you need to visit Shakespeare and Company (5th arrondissement) – this place is among the top most visited locations in Paris so I recommend going early. Originally called “Le Mistral,” this bookstore was renamed in 1964 to recognize the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth. There is something for everyone in this bookstore – it was truly a unique and wonderful experience.
My favorite day in Paris consisted of rain, croissants, cappuccinos, and Jardin du Palais Royal (1st arrondissement). We woke up relatively early and ventured outside the crowded areas – we were the only ones at the Jardin du Palais Royal at one point! Even when it’s raining, Paris remains magical.
Tip no. 5: avoid the crowds by waking up early and venture out rain or shine! Seems like rain keeps many people indoors; who would have thought. We managed – even without an umbrella.
And just like that, our last day in Paris crept up on us without warning. The last location we went to was a coffee shop I found on Culture Trip. It was highly rated by the locals. They claimed La Cafeotheque had some of the best coffee in Paris. So we went to see for ourselves. Verdict: the locals know what they’re talking about.
Tip no. 6 : although it’s fun to see the major attractions in Paris – it’s also worthwhile to check out the mostly-known-by-locals spots. I used the Culture Trip app which provided insights on places to visit by locals – best way to get around!
There were many experiences I didn’t photograph, one of them being when Josh and I wandered around for a late-night bite and got lost. That was quite the adventure. We ended up finding a great pizza spot (far from where we were staying, mind you) and the owner gave us free wine. Lesson learned: some of the best moments start with panic and end with wine.
Tip no. 7: my final tip is to learn a few phrases in French. Although most locations in Paris are English-friendly, learning basic phrases will go a long way especially if you’re lost or need to find les toilettes. Fun fact – many locals spoke Spanish. Could have something to with France bordering the next place I want to visit…
Check out my Instagram for more photos!
Items to consider purchasing for your next trip:
Featured photo by Stephen Leonardi