Paris is a city full of timeless architecture, amazing food, and some awe inspiring sights. If you find yourself in the city d’amour these are our top 9 unmissable sights that you need to see when you visit Paris.
1. The Eiffel Tower
So any to do list in Paris has to include the Eiffel Tower. If you want to see Paris from above you can either walk up the stairs or get the lift up. The stairs are the cheaper option. For €7 you get access to the second floor, as long as you are prepared to walk the 669 steps. You can also get the lift up for a reasonable €11. Just be aware that the queue is longer for this option. You do also get a choice to purchase an additional ticket taking you from the second floor to the third floor for an additional €6. Check out our post here on all things Eiffel Tower related.
2. The Louvre
So first things first, the Louvre is huge. It showcases nearly 35,000 works of art and stretches 700 metres along the Seine. It has been estimated that if you actually wanted to look at every piece of artwork it would actually take you about 9 months.
Most people don’t have this long to admire the art, so getting straight to it, the two most popular art works in the museum are the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. We managed to catch a glimpse of the Mona Lisa, and I should add that a glimpse is the key word here. Don’t expect to stand around and quietly admire this artwork. It is more of a have a look, get your selfie and go type of situation (with a few elbows to the face as someone else tries to get their selfie might I add).
3. The Champs-Elysees
Nothing feels more Parisian then wandering around the Champs-Elysees. At least in my mind. There is so much going on around here, and don’t even get me started on the crazy drivers! Spend enough time here and you will soon tune out the car horns and screeching tyres. The shops around here are all luxury and designer, think along the lines of your Dior, Louis Vitton, and Chanel. Although it’s not all just for women, as Dave was hugely impressed by the Ferrari shop located along here as well.
Even though everything was out of our budget it was still amazing to visit. There are some quirky little bars that can be discovered along the side streets as well. And if you can afford it we do recommend forking out for a meal around here, as the atmosphere and the hustle and bustle is really amazing. Another tip is to visit the Laudree store along here. There are a range of decadent cakes and macarons that you can purchase, and it is definitely a hell of a lot cheaper than the Ferrari shop.
4. Arc de Triomphe
Another sight which is just as synonymous with Paris as the Eiffel Tower is the Arc de Triomphe. The monument was commissioned in 1806 following Napoleon’s victory at Austerlitz the previous year. Whilst Napoleon had fallen from power a decade later the Arc still serves as a symbold of French patriotism to this day. Beneath the Arc lies the tomb of the unknown soldier. This honours the 1.3 million french soldiers who lost their lives in World War 1.
We recommend paying the €12 to climb the 284 steps to the viewing platform at the top of the Arc. You do get a few points to rest along the way, and the view is really worth it. You also get a fantastic view of the Eiffel Tower from here.
5. Sacre Coeur
This is one of the most beautiful churches in Paris, so we definitely recommend taking the trip out to Montmatre to admire this beauty. The neighbourhood surrounding the church is also really quirky and a great place to explore, or sit and have a coffee. One tip is to watch out for the people around the church who will try to scam you. We had people trying to tie bits of red string around our wrists. Apparently it is really difficult to get this off and they will make you try and pay for them. The best thing to do is to be forceful and say no. Another thing you might notice are the women begging outside. Whilst it is really heartbreaking to see if you want to help you are better donating to a registered charity.
6. Notre Dame
Recognisable by its stained glass windows, spires, and gargoyle statues, Notre Dame Cathedral took nearly 200 years to build. It was actually supposed to be demolished after the damage that was inflicted after the French Revolution. Apparently what saved it was the popularity of the book the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Admission is free so you can pop in and spend as much time admiring the inside as you want.
You also have the option of climbing the towers for €10. You get the opportunity to get up close to the architecture and really appreciate the design. Just be warned though you will need to climb the 387 steps to get to the top and we have been told there are not too many places to rest along the way. Even if you decide not to do the climb, visiting the Cathedral is really memorable. One of our most cherished memories was visiting the Cathedral while a mass was taking place in the centre. The acoustics were perfect for all the hymns and even though it was in French it was just mesmerising.
7. Take a Seine Cruise
There is something romantic about seeing Paris from the water. You can either do a day or a night cruise and you get to float along the Seine and learn its secrets whilst gazing at the city’s attractions from the water. We opted for a day cruise and I will admit that the weather was not the greatest when we went. Still we learnt a lot about the city and its history. Our cruise departed from around the Eiffel Tower and lasted an hour.
8. Pere Lachaise
Apparently this is one of the world’s most visited cemeteries, and with its beauty and famous occupants it is not hard to see why. You could argue that it is the most fashionable resting place in the world. Admittedly I am not usually one for cemeteries (who is) but there was something oddly peaceful walking around Pere Lachaise.
Some of its famous occupants include Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison. Oscar Wilde’s grave stands out as it is not only large but has lipstick kisses all around it. Jim Morrison is buried in a different section of the cemetery attracting a lot of rock and roll fans. Apparently it is not unusual to see security guards posted near his grave because fans would come here to take drugs and have sex on his grave.
9. The Moulin Rouge
If you are looking to see a cabaret then the Moulin Rouge is a must. It is located in a pretty seedy part of Paris, but seeing a show here for us was a must. You can’t go to Paris without seeing the Can-Can. You can do dinner and a show, or you can just book the show. We got a small bottle of Champagne to drink whilst watching which was a nice touch. The show is extravagant and the costumes are grand. There is a dress code you must adhere to, so definitely don’t think about showing up in shorts or a tracksuit.
The show does contain nudity but it is done so in a tasteful and artistic way. The tickets are a bit pricey and you should expect to pay over €100 for a ticket especially at the weekend. If you are wanting dinner alongside the show then this is significantly more.
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