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20 Must See In Paris
20 MUST SEE PARIS ATTRACTIONS
Is there any other city in the world quite as romantic as Paris? With whimsical Montmartre and its’ many artists or St Germain and its’ many boutiques, there’s always something to see in this magical city. But what about the must see Paris attractions! From the Eiffel Tower to a day trip outside of the city to historic Versailles Palace, here’s everything you must see and do whilst in Paris…
1. Eiffel Tower
It should come at little surprise that the Eiffel Tower is the world’s most visited paid monument – with at least a whopping 7 million visitors a year. Tickets will set you back €15, but be sure to book through the site or at the tower itself, as some tourist agencies can charge up to three times that amount.
2. The Louvre
As one of the world’s largest and arguably most impressive museums (though the Hermitage in St Petersburg certainly competes), The Louvre is an absolute must see whilst in Paris. Be sure to schedule a half or entire day to visit, as much of your time will be spent waiting in line to enter! Of course the Mona Lisa is a highlight, but be sure to grab a program so you can find some other delightful works amongst the many hallways.
3. Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe stand proudly at the ‘top’ of the Champs Elysees and offers one of the best, if not the best views over the city. The price to climb the stairs to the top is 9,50 € and can be paid on arrival. Entrance is via the Champs Elysees, walking underground (look for the signs).
Sacre-Coeur church stands tall above the city of Paris, at around 130 metres high. Be sure to walk the famous Sacre-Coeur stairs, and perhaps even stop for a bite of takeaway lunch there to enjoy he views. Don’t miss the chance to explore Montmartre, the neighbourhood in which Sacre Coeur resides, and enjoy one of Paris’ most authentic areas.
5. Jardin du Luxembourg
Located in the 6th arrondisement, the Luxembourg Garden is one of the most enjoyable summer attractions in Paris. Whether you take a bite to eat for lunch or kick back on the public chairs and people watch, you’ll be sure to enjoy the summer sunshine for a few hours in the gardens.
6. Musee d’Orsay
Located on the Left Bank of the Seine, the Musee d’Orsay is Paris’ “lesser known” museum, but has become equally as popular in recent years.
7. Notre Dame Cathedral
If you make your way down to Notre Dame Cathedral, be sure to arrive early and line up for entrance to the towers (located on the left of the cathedral, when facing the building front-on). Here you will be able to enjoy a fantastic view over the city and see the famous gargoyles.
8. Day Trip to Versailles Palace
Although technically outside of Paris itself, the Palace of Versailles has long held a high significance for Paris and France. Once the royal residence of King Louis XIV, Versailles and its many hallways are a living history in itself. If you visit during the summer, don’t miss the Palace Gardens. For a great bite to eat, you’ll be delighted to find an Angelina bakery inside the Palace!
This royal medieval gothic chapel located on the Île de la Cité has one of the most impressive interiors in the entire city. The chapel is open 7 days of the week, from 9.30-6pm.
10. Palais Garnier
As the most romantic city in Europe, it should hardly come as a surprise that the Paris Opera House is a delight to visit. The Opera House seats 1979 comfortably and is open both to shows and tours.
11. Les Invalides
Located in the 7th arrondisements, Les Invalides is a collection of buildings – museums and monuments – all containing the military history of France. This is also the burial site for Napoleon Bonaparte.
12. Tuileries Garden
A popular choice, the tuileries gardens are located right by the louvre, en route to the Champs Elysees and Arc de Triomphe if you’re travelling on foot. The gardens even have a few ice cream parlours to keep you satisfied during those long hot summers!
13. Pont Alexandre III
Surely this would have to be the prettiest bridge in the entire city! Running from the left to right bank of the seine, Pont Alexandre III also offers a great view of the Eiffel Tower from afar.
14. Hotel de Ville
Located a short stroll from Notre Dame Cathedral in the 4th arrondisement, Hotel de Ville is an impressive building and the location of the municipality of Paris. If you’re in Paris during winter, Hotel de Ville has one of the cities’ biggest skating rinks located out the front during the cooler months.
15. Disneyland Paris
Located 32km East of Paris, Disneyland Paris is a great day trip for the kids or kids at heart!
16. Place de la Concorde
Place de la Concorde is the largest public square in Paris, located between the Champs Elysees and Tuileries Garden.
17. Catacombs of Paris
If you’re up for something different, why not consider a catacombs tour underneath Paris!? If you dare, there are a range of different tours on offer.
18. The Latin Quarter for Cheap Eats
If you’re tired of attractions and just want to meander through backstreets and find some great cheap eats, head straight for the Latin Quarter – located right next door to more well-known St Germain des Pres.
19. Saint Germain des Pres for Boutiques
Just next door is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Paris – Saint Germain. Here you’ll find some great boutiques, especially those selling second hand luxury goods.
20. Montmartre for Artists, Art, and the old Paris
Last but not least, you can’t come to Paris and not spend a few hours wandering the streets of Montmartre – the 18th arrondisement in Paris. It is here where you will find ‘the old Paris’ that time refuses to forget. There are also some great cheap apartments for rent if you plan to stay for a week or more in Paris.
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By BROOKE SAWARD
Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. Now in it's third year, World of Wanderlust is home to a collection of the world's best experiences, destinations, tours, hotels, restaurants, and lifestyle brands.
Paris Neighbourhoods: Rue Cler street market Neighbourhood Guide
By Rick Steves
I grew up thinking cheese was orange and the shape of the bread was square: slap, fwomp...sandwich. Even though I’m still far from a gourmet eater, my time in Paris, specifically in the Rue Cler street market, has substantially bumped up my appreciation of good cuisine (as well as the French knack for good living). Come shopping for a picnic with me on my favorite street in Paris. Rue Cler, lined with shops that spill out into the street, feels like village Paris — in the skinny shadow of the Eiffel Tower.
Parisians shop almost daily for three good reasons: refrigerators are small (tiny kitchens), produce must be fresh, and shopping is an important social event. It’s a chance to hear about the butcher’s vacation plans, see photos of the florist’s new grandchild, relax over un café, and kiss the cheeks of friends (the French standard is twice for regular acquaintances, three times for friends you haven’t seen in a while).
Produce shops are stocked with the freshest fruits and vegetables. Each morning produce is trucked in from farmers to Paris’ huge Rungis market, near Orly Airport, and then out to merchants with FedEx speed and precision. Locals generally shop with a small trolley cart rather than use bags needlessly. Also notice how the French resist needless packaging and go with what’s in season.
Parisians shop with their noses. Smell the cheap foreign strawberries. Then smell the torpedo-shaped French ones (gariguettes). Find the herbs. Is today’s delivery in? Look at the price of those melons. What’s the country of origin? It must be posted. If they’re out of season, they come from Guadeloupe. Many locals buy only French products.
The fish monger sells yesterday’s catch — brought in daily from ports on the English Channel, 100 miles away. In fact, fish in Paris is likely fresher than in many towns closer to the sea because Paris is a commerce hub, and from here it’s shipped out to outlying towns. Anything wiggling? These shops, like all such shops, have been recently upgraded to meet the EU-mandated standards of hygiene.
Nearby, smell the fromagerie (cheese shop): wedges, cylinders, balls and miniature hockey pucks all powdered white, gray, and burnt marshmallow — it’s a festival of mold. Ooh la la means you’re impressed. If you like cheese, show greater excitement with more las. Ooh la la la la. My local friend held the stinkiest glob close to her nose, took an orgasmic breath, and exhaled, “Yes, this smells like zee feet of angels.”
In the shop, browse through some of the 400 different types of French cheese. A cheese shop is known as BOF (beurre, oeuf, fromage) and is the place where people go for butter, egg, and cheese products. In the back room are les meules, the big, 170-pound wheels of cheese (250 gallons of milk go into each wheel). The “hard” cheeses are cut from these. Don’t eat the skin of these big ones...they roll them on the floor. But the skin on most smaller cheeses — the Brie, the Camembert — is part of the taste. As my friend says, “It completes the package.”
The charcuterie sells mouthwatering deli food to go. Because local apartment kitchens are so small, these gourmet delis are handy, allowing hosts to concentrate on the main course and buy beautifully prepared side dishes to complete a fine dinner.
At the boucherie you’ll sort through pigeons, quail, and rabbit. You’ll see things you may want to avoid in restaurants: rognons (kidneys), foie (liver), coeur de boeuf (heart of beef). Hoist a duck and check the feet; they should be rough and calloused — an indication that they weren’t stuck in an industrial kennel but ran wild on a farm.
While Americans prefer beef, pork, and chicken, the French eat just as much rabbit (lapin), quail(caille), lamb, and duck. Horse has gone out of fashion in the last decade. (The meat came from Eastern Europe where safety standards were questionable.) The head of a calf is a delight for its many tasty bits. The meat is seasonal. In the winter, game swings from the ceiling.
Locals debate the merits of rival boulangeries. It’s said that a baker cannot be both good at bread and good at pastry. At cooking school they major in one or the other and locals say that when you do good bread, you have no time to do good pastry. If the baker specializes in pastry…the bread suffers.
Remember: Whenever popping in and out of French shops, it’s polite to greet the proprietors(“Bonjour, Madame”) and say “Merci” and “Au revoir” as you leave. Bon appétit!
15 Things NOT To Do In Paris
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It's impossible to see and do everything when visiting Paris, so why waste time doing anything that isn't worthy of your hard-earned vacation hours? The next time you're in the City of Light, don't fight with crowds in tourist traps, eat at the wrong restaurants, or wait in line at the Eiffel Tower. Including a list of the best museums to visit and information on how best to plan your visit, this expert advice will let you actually enjoy the city and make your vacation one to remember.
By Jennifer Ladonne
DON'T EAT AT THE FAMOUS BRASSERIES
Photo Credit: wjarek / Shutterstock Full of history and charm, Paris's legendary brasseries are definitely worth a visit, and all-day hours make them convenient for a quick bite anytime. But you don’t necessarily want to splurge on a meal at a one of the brasseries. It's an unfortunate fact that Paris's big-name brasseries are now often run by chains cashing in on their fame, and the quality-to-price ratio varies drastically from one to the next. A beer or chocolat chaud at La Coupole, Bofinger, the sublime Le Grand Colbert, or Brasserie Lipp, for example, is a great idea. But for a truly French sit-down meal, La Palette, in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés,Le Chardenoux (11th), Terminus Nord, across from the Gare du Nord (10th), and if you're feeling flush, Drouant, deliver on every front and then some. For some over-the-top fun, the newly restored Le Train Bleu, inside Gare de Lyon, is as spectacular as it gets. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Paris Travel Guide
DON'T LIMIT YOURSELF TO THE GRANDS MAGASINS
Photo Credit: andersphoto / Shutterstock In a pinch, you'll find pretty much everything you could possibly need or want at these historic (and huge) department stores, but you'll have to contend with impersonal service and crowded spaces, especially at sale times (late June–July; first week of January on). Paris is known for its many fabulous shopping neighborhoods and enclaves, full of unique boutiques and oh-so-Parisian treasures. The Marais, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the Golden Triangle (Avenues Montaigne, George V, Champs-Elysées), and the Rue Saint-Honoré are the city's most famous and plentiful, but there are scores of streets ripe for discovery: rues Charonne and Keller; the wonderful old market streets Rue des Martyrs and Montorgueil, and Montmartre; the peerless Palais Royal; rue Vavin for kids clothing; and rue Beaurepaire near Canal Saint-Martin. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Paris Travel Guide
DON'T PLAN ANY MEALS IN TOURIST AREAS
Photo Credit: CristinaMuraca / Shutterstock In general, the Place du Tertre in Montmartre, the Latin Quarter, the area around Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and other places where tourists are plentiful are a big no-no. With so many good places to eat in Paris—plenty of them within easy walking distance of tourist areas—it's a shame to waste money on substandard dining. Do your homework ahead of time with a good Paris restaurant guide or website and be prepared to scout out eateries and cafés that aren't catering only to tourists. Alternatively, visit one of Paris's many wonderful épiceries (small specialty grocers), found in every arrondissement, for prepared foods to-go. Or simply grab a baguette and some cheese—et voilà! Instant picnic. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Paris Travel Guide
DON'T SKIP THE SMALLER MUSEUMS
Photo Credit: Paris Tourist Office / Daniel Thierry Paris is a treasure trove for small, gem-like museums, many of them at one-time private mansions that remain exactly as they were when the inhabitants, famous or not, lived there. The list is long:Jacquemart André, Gustave Moreau, Nissim de Camondo, Cernuschi, Musée de la Vie Romantique, Cognacq-Jay, Dapper, the Palais Galliera for fashion, and many more. Don't forget the mid-size museums, like the Musée Carnavalet (the museum of the city of Paris), where you'll find Marcel Proust's actual bedroom; and the excellent Musée Guimet and its little-known offshoot, exquisite Musée d'Ennery. Many of these museums are run by the City of Paris and therefore free to the public. And on the first Sunday of the month, admission is free at every museum. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Paris Travel Guide
DON'T AVOID THE METRO
Photo Credit: S-F / Shutterstock The Paris metro system is safe, clean, and one of the most convenient and economical ways to get around—and simple once you get the hang of it. Pick up a map at the yellow information booth at most metro stations, a carnet of 10 tickets (€14.20, half price for kids under 12), and you're good to go. Metros will take you within a few-minutes walk of almost anywhere in Paris, without having to contend with traffic or worry that you're being taken for a ride. Paris's metro stations are increasingly automated, and though the majority have manned information booths, a few do not, so have cash on hand. Ticketing machines are in English and will take cash or a credit card with a chip, and you can buy tickets with a standard credit card at any information booth. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Paris Travel Guide
DON'T WASTE TIME ON THE CHAMPS-ELYSEES
Photo Credit: Casadphoto | Dreamstime.com Though this famous street is still spectacular, especially when viewed from the Arc de Triomphe, its glamour has been tarnished by dealerships, megastores, and overpriced cafés. Though there are some notable exceptions (perfumer Guerlain's superb historic flagship, for one), you'll find mostly chains, and many American ones at that.If you're dying to check out the Levis, Banana Republic, or Abercrombie & Fitch superstores, go for it! If it's a truly Parisian walk you're after, stroll along tree-lined Boulevard Saint-Germain; the Rue des Martyrs, from the heights of Montmartre; along the Canal Saint-Martin; or Les Berges de Seine, a new route along the river, beginning in front of the Musée d'Orsay. With no car traffic to deal with, a stroll along the river offers great, up-close views of many of Paris's best monuments and bridges. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Paris Travel Guide
DON'T STAY INSIDE THE CITY LIMITS
Photo Credit: Kiev.Victor / Shutterstock When booking a trip to Paris, whether it's your first or your 15th, keep in mind that some of France's—and the world's—greatest treasures lie within an hour from Paris. You'll be well rewarded by adding an extra day or two to travel a little farther afield to explore some of these riches. An easy, hour-long train ride from Paris, Chartres cathedral is an absolute must-see, especially now, as it undergoes an astonishing restoration (and to see the cathedral rising up in the distance over the flat countryside is an experience in itself). Besides splendid Giverny, also an hour train ride away, consider Vaux-le-Vicomte orFountainebleau; the Château de Chantilly, with its world-class art collection, Le Nôtre gardens, and famous stables; and the charming medieval town of Senlis, a short taxi ride from Chantilly. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Paris Travel Guide
DON'T WAIT IN LINE AT THE EIFFEL TOWER
Photo Credit: Shootalot | Dreamstime.com The Eiffel Tower isn't one of the world's most visited monuments for nothing. While you won't want to miss the thrilling ride up and extraordinary views, waiting in long lines is not the ideal way to spend precious vacation time. And you don't have to. Intrepid visitors can walk the 328 steps to the tower's first level and take the lift from there. Many tour companies, likeEasy Pass, offer "skip the line" tours (and you can stick with the tour or not). The time you'll save skirting lines is worth a little extra cash. If money is no object, your very best bet is to book a table at Alain Ducasse's swank Le Jules Verne restaurant on the tower's second floor (3-course lunch, €98; dinner, €185). Along with gorgeous views, you'll dine in splendor and arrive like a VIP on a dedicated lift. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Paris Travel Guide
DON'T BE AFRAID TO EAT LIKE A PARISIAN
Photo Credit: Escargot by Eric Chan CC BY 2.0 Find out what the fuss is about from the source. From garlicky escargots to boudin noir (blood sausage) and tête de veau (calf's brains), the list of French specialties and delicacies is long—and it needn't involve slimy creatures or mysterious parts. Dishes like confit de canard (preserved duck leg) tender lapin (rabbit) or langouste (spiny lobster from the coast of Brittany) are well worth a try. Vegetarians should look for white asparagus, fraises des bois, and any truffle dish they can afford. You might have heard a lot about unpasturized cheeses being dangerous (and too fattening), but the French are the best argument to the contrary. With enough varieties to enjoy a different cheese every day of the year—from cow (vache), goat (chèvre), or sheep (brebis) milk—ask the fromager to give some advice and grab a baguette! Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Paris Travel Guide
DON'T BE AFRAID TO GO OFF THE BEATEN PATH
Photo Credit: Paris Tourist Office / Jacques Lebar Paris's parks—both large and small—afford memorable experiences, fabulous views, and outdoor cultural activities galore. The city proper's largest green space, La Villette is more than just a park. Home to Cité de la Musique, Cité des Enfants, and the new Paris Philharmonie, it also borders on the fabulous arts center Centquatre and has tons of summer activities for the whole family. The Bois de Vincennes—and the next door Chateau de Vincennes, France's best preserved medieval chateau—includes the fabulous Parc Floral (see their outdoor concert series), the newly opened zoo, and so much more. Check out the glorious views from lovely Parc de Belleville (20th), and the Buttes Chaumont (19th) is a perennial favorite. As weird as sounds, Paris's cemeteries are wonderful for a historic stroll: Père Lachaise is tops, followed by Montparnasse and Montmartre. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Paris Travel Guide
DON'T RELY ON TAXIS LATE AT NIGHT
Photo Credit: Elena Dijour / Shutterstock You can spend an hour looking and still not find a taxi; and even if you do, you may still get attitude or the runaround from the driver. Unlike New York and other major cities, you can't depend on flagging down a taxi in Paris, and the taxi stand system is maddening and unreliable, even in the daytime. Smartphone car services, like Uber, LeCab, AlloCab, and others operating in Paris, have become an excellent alternative. Increasingly popular (despite semi-successful attempts by taxi drivers to have them legally abolished), they provide fast, reliable service—in English—and are almost unfailingly courteous. And you won't have to worry about the meter ticking away while you pass the same monument for the third time. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Paris Travel Guide
DON'T THINK TOURS ARE TOO TOURISTY
Photo Credit: Paris bicycle tour by Jean-Pierre CC BY-SA 2.0 There are tons of excellent tours—on foot or bicycle—that can show you sides of Paris you may not see on your own, offer insider tips and historical facts, get you through the lines and into VIP places, and enrich your entire experience. For 20 years, Paris Walks has offered a series of enticing strolls, led by friendly, knowledgeable experts, that explore everything from fashion and chocolate to churches, along with specific neighborhoods and historic themes. Underground Paris gives an insider's initiation into Paris's rich street art scene. Bike About has a great range of discovery bike tours, for groups, family, or private groups, in off-the-beaten path neighborhoods, as well as Versailles and the Champagne region. Fat Tire offers day and nighttime bike (or electric scooter) tours in Paris and beyond that gets you through the lines. For more about recommended tours, see Paris's Best Insider Tours. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Paris Travel Guide
DON'T SKIP PRE-TRIP PLANNING
Photo Credit: Larjon | Dreamstime.com Paris is smaller than many major cities, but wandering around the city—an absolute must—can be frustrating if you don't understand its layout and street plans. Familiarize yourself with the arrondissement system and have some idea of the neighborhoods before going, or cram on the plane ride over. Once here, hands down the best investment you'll make is a plan de Paris—a small, inexpensive map by arrondissement (Paris L'Indispensable is a good one, €6.50, at any newsstand) that lists every street, monument, and museum. Don't neglect guidebooks and apps, including French apps in English, like the superb Visit Paris by Metro app (RATP), which offers accurate metro schedules down to the minute and detailed itineraries. The apps can save a lot of time, money, and frustration. Guidebooks can be invaluable for getting the most out of a neighborhood too—and you won't incur roaming charges! Plan Your Trip: VisitFodor’s Paris Travel Guide
DON'T PASS UP VÉLIB’ RIDES
Photo Credit: Vélib' bikesharing station, Paris by mariordo59 CC BY-SA 2.0 Paris's bike-for-hire system Vélib’—for velo (bike) and liberté—is one of the best and cheapest in the world. All you need is a credit card with a chip and you're off. Rentals are easy, stations are everywhere, bike lanes are safe and Paris-wide, and rentals are 24 hours a day, all-year round. Here's how it works: go to the terminal at any Vélib' station; follow the on-screen instructions in English; select your subscription (1-day, €1.70; 7-day, €8) and bike; wait for the green light and go. The first 30 minutes are free, the second half hour is €1, the third costs €2, and every half hour after costs €4. Last June, Paris inaugurated P'tit Vélib,’ for kids ages two to eight (with adorable bikes of the appropriate size), which can be rented at the Berges de Seine, Canal St-Martin, and the Bois de Vincennes. Plan Your Trip: VisitFodor’s Paris Travel Guide
DON'T LEAVE YOUR KIDS AT HOME
Photo Credit: Nick_Nick / Shutterstock Paris is an amazingly kid-friendly city, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. If you follow basic rules, you and your kids and will have a great time. For starters, every museum, foundation, arts center, and park in the city has a tantalizing list of activities for kids, some in English. Paris's top hotels—including Le Bristol and Meurice—have added new attractions for kids, including cooking classes and tours, leaving parents some free time to hit the spa. From Guignol puppet theaters, historic merry-go-rounds, playgrounds (theLuxembourg Gardens has all three, for example) to interactive museum exhibits (Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle, Cité des Enfants, Palais de la Découverte) and amusement parks (Jardin d'Acclimatation), your children will be well-entertained during their visit. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Paris Travel Guide