Traveling to Paris? Don't Miss These Sights!
Feature Image: John Towner
Paris is one of those magical cities that you can spend forever and a day in and still wake up the next morning and find something new to experience. The city in itself is a walkable museum between the architecture, people, and doors. (Even the department stores are a piece of artwork.) Just being present in the atmosphere that Paris creates is enough to make you fall in love and never want to leave.
Most of us commoners aren’t afforded the luxury of spending the rest of our lives waking up to “Bonjours!” and fresh croissants. So, if you get the extraordinary opportunity to spend some time in the city of lights and love, here’s what you should not miss!
1. La Maison Rose
Tucked away in the hills of Montmartre, this little pink gem is one not to miss. Open or closed, this place will make you squeal with joy because it’s just that adorable in real life as it is in pictures. No promises that the Frenchman in a hat, scarf, and stripes sketching his habitat will also be present, as one can only be so lucky.
If you have the time, Montmartre is a beautiful neighborhood with impressive views of the city. It is also home to Sacré-Coeur, a church as grand and big as the stairs you’ll have to climb to get up there. Might as well take it all in!
2. Musée de l’Orangerie
This museum houses the collection of Monet’s waterlily paintings. I personally have been to this museum three different times because I genuinely find it captivating. It is centrally located in the heart of the city, so it’s easy to stop by in one afternoon.
3. Eiffel Tower: Day + Night
Listen, I don’t care how cliché it is. Go see it. Every time I go to Paris and see it peeking out behind a building or turning the corner at night and see it sparkling, it literally takes my breath away. Personally, I wouldn’t miss this site. I'm not even saying you have to pay to go on it. You can grab a sandwich and a bottle of wine and have a picnic on the lawn below it while watching the sunset.
After dinner one night, you can take a walk to the Trocadéro where you can get a straight-on view of the tower all lit up. Once the sun sets, the tower lights up for 5 minutes every hour, on the hour! So if you can have your good side ready at the top of the hour, it’ll be worth getting a picture with.
4. Le Bon Marche + Galeries Lafayette
Do I really need to convince you to go shopping in Paris? Department stores are a game changer there. Just go and hide your wallet. Or don’t. Can you really put a price on getting to tell people that the dress they’re complimenting is one that you purchased in Europe?
For every Parisian you see wearing a scarf, there are at least five coffee shops. Paris is filled with them, and rightfully so. If you have ever imagined yourself sitting on a crowded terrace, gazing up from your book and steaming hot espresso only to watch the bustling people of the city go about their day, then you’re in luck. This is the place to live out that fantasy, and here are a few places you can:
Merci - A concept shop, you really hit the trifecta here. You can drink, eat, and shop—and make sure to snap a picture with the famous red car out front.
Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole - Tucked right behind Notre Dame, this is a place you can catch an afternoon break from touring the city. If you’re lucky enough to snag a purple table outside, then you might even consider staying for dinner.
6. Musée du Louvre
Do I even need to explain this one? If you don’t want to spend an entire day dedicated to observing and contemplating centuries worth of artwork, then at least observe the outside. It’s so magnificent and stunning either way. And don’t forget to join in with the millions of tourists who try to stand and get their picture taken while trying to touch the tip of the pyramid. Otherwise, did you even really go?
7. Palais Royal
If you’ve ever followed any blogger on their trip to Paris, then you know about the Colonnes de Buren. An entire courtyard containing black and white striped columns of different heights. If you’re looking for a photo shoot (and honestly, who isn’t in Paris?), then I would suggest starting here.
8. Jardin des Tuileries + Jardin du Luxembourg
Pick one or go to both, but don’t miss out on being able to lean back and relax in one of the green chairs they have scattered throughout the gardens. If the sun is shining—and honestly even when it’s not—you’ll have to search hard for a spot, but it will be worth searching for. Also, you can just bring a blanket and camp out on the lawn. I highly recommend it and bring your own wine and snacks.
9. Don’t Forget the Details
Like I mentioned before, Paris is like a walking museum. Between the buildings, doors, bridges, and everything in between, I usually walk around with my jaw dropped open, only closing it to chew my fourth Nutella crepe of the day. Walking along the Seine River as the sun sets behind the Eiffel Tower is one of my favorite memories. And better yet, it costs nothing.
Pay attention and make sure you have enough memory space on your phone or camera. You’re going to want to transport yourself to these moments 6 months from now when you’re sitting at your desk on a rainy Tuesday.
10. Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles is located outside of the city and is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I spent a small amount of time touring the inside (definitely see the Hall of Mirrors), but I would recommend spending the majority of your time roaming the gardens outside. They have bicycles you can rent to explore them. It is breathtakingly beautiful and worth spending an entire day at.
If you’ve made it to the end of the list and you’re thinking to yourself that all I have suggested is to eat and drink at different locations, then you’re not wrong. So, do it all or do none of it, but if all you do is get to walk around with a café au lait and maybe sip on some wine outside a crowded bistro, then I would call that a successful trip. Paris might be a busy city, but in my opinion, the way to enjoy it is to sit, relax, and take it all in—one pain au chocolat at a time.