Wanderlust Wonderland brings you: a travel guide for ordinary travelers, with must-sees, tips and tricks and the most delicious food, for ordinary travelers, like you and me.
Paris, city of love, I realized I hadn’t written a travel guide for the city yet. I’ve been there a couple of times and I have a kind of love/hate relationship with the city. When going there, I’m always excited to be there but usually the city feels crowded and I’ve had some bad experiences with food in the city. But it really has it’s highlights and great food and it’s certainly a city that should be on your bucketlist. If only for the higlights and the art museums.
When to go
As with all capital cities, you should try to avoid the high season. Paris is gorgeous in spring and autumn, so those are the best times to visit. The city is always crowded, especially in weekends so try to stay a weekday or two if you decide to visit for the weekend. There is a lot to see and do, so try not to squeeze in everything in just a couple of days, but make sure to enjoy the atmosphere of the city as well. And, personal tip, make sure to have a late trainride back if you travel by train. Our train left at 7 pm, we thought we could easily have dinner before we had to leave, but everything was closed, as the French like to dine later in the evening.
There are a lot of highlights in Paris that you shouldn’t miss!
- Of course, first of all: the Tour d’Eiffel, or the Eiffel tower. It’s a magnificent building, I never realized how big it was until I saw it with my own eyes. It’s iconic for the city and should therefore be high on your list. You can wait in line to get to the top if you want to, but it will take you a couple of hours so I wouldn’t recommend it. Plus, you’ll have a great view of the skyline of Paris without its iconic landmark, because you’re standing on top of it! You’ll get a better view from the Sacre Coeur. Another tip: Visit the Eiffel tower both in daylight and at night, when it sparkles! It will sparkle for 5 minutes on the hour, so make sure to be on time!
- The Notre Dame, though badly burned last year, is still impressive. I admit I’ve never been inside (again, long lines) but should be on your list to visit.
- My favourite, in my favourite part of Paris: the Sacre Coeur, a beautifully constructed building that will give you a great view over Paris’ skyline
- The Louvre is the largest art museum in the world and you could easily walk around for a whole day. It has masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo and Nike of Samothrace. TIP if you want to visit and see most of the artwork, buy your tickets in advance and book a timeslot early in the morning. You won’t have to wait in line and it is less crowded, so you could maybe actually see the Mona Lisa!
- Some other highlights are the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Élysées, the most prestigious avenue of Paris, where all the most exclusive shops are located, such as Dior, Prada, Louboutin, Chanel and many others.
- For booklovers, a visit to Shakespeare & Company is an absolute must. An English bookshop that dates from 1919. It’s where James Joyce’s Ulysses was published and also a favourite meeting spot for famous authors, such as Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Joyce.
- A visit to the Opera Garnier is another item that should be on your list. It’s where the notorious phantom roams the halls, plus it has a gorgeous décor.
- Take a stroll along the Seine, especially at night, when the whole city lights up and street musicians will fill the air with the most beautiful tunes!
- Visit l’orangerie, a less famous museum, but my favourite in Paris, where you’ll find Monet’s waterlilies.
- For some quiet time right in the city center, visit Jardin du luxembourgh and watch children play with little boats on the water or elderly men playing Jeu de Boules
- If you love tea, having a cup in le loir dans la théière is recommended. A little teashop inspired by Alice in Wonderland, and the tea is delicous!
- Eating macarons is a must when visiting Paris
- Eating croissants, baguettes and jus d’orange for breakfast is too.
- People watching with a glass of wine in your hand is also obligatory.
- Eating snails, luckily, is not, but it is a traditional French delicacy. I couldn’t tell you if they taste any good, because, well, they are snails, there’s no way I’m gonna try to eat them
- Bring earplugs! This is a city that never sleeps and if you’re staying in the city center, you’ll want to have some earplugs ready
- Get up early to avoid tourists and be able to take magnificent pictures of the landmarks without all the people in front of it
- Buy tickets for museums in advance to avoid waiting in lines
The traveling bookworm
- Not a book, but the Netflix series Emily in Paris is lovely!
- Gaston Leroux – The phantom of the opera, or if young adult is more your thing than classic literature, read the adapation by A.G. Howard – Roseblood
- Catherine Sanderson – Petite Anglaise
- Christine Féret-Fleury – The girl who reads on the metro
- Victor Hugo – Les Miserables