Paris, the City of Love. Home to incredible monuments, history, culture & of course food. The cobbled streets, the quaint cafes that seem to never close, the scent of fresh pastries & wine on offer no matter where you are, so many things about Paris seem to pull you into this dreamscape. Earlier this month I was lucky enough to meet up with Lindsey from Seven Day Weekender, an Insta-friend I made over a year ago to take on Paris in 4 short days! After way less sleep than was healthy, the most pastries I’ve ever eaten, the best wine I’ve ever drunk and about 2,000 photos later I’m back & finally put together a round up to give you the best possible ideas on how to make your next trip to Paris the most memorable. Keep on scrolling to find out what the best things to do in Paris are.
How to get there + Getting Around
Flights are easy to come by on multiple budget airlines, when it came to booking Veuling seemed to have the best deal, but I was immediately disappointed when my early flight was delayed over 4.5 hours causing me to lose half a day in Paris. I’m still waiting on compensation, but I definitely wont be flying this airline again. Look into EasyJet for your trips out of The UK & Europe.
From Charles de Gaulle Airport hop on the RER B train from the airport for €10.20 and in 35 minutes you’ll find yourself fairly central (I was going to Gare Du Nord)
InnerCity transit is pretty easy and at most metro stations you’ll be able to buy a day ticket which you’ll see listed on the machine as a 1 Day (zone 1-2) Mobilis ticket = €7.90. This will give you access to all metro lines within those Zones, + The RER lines & the buses in the area. If you want to ride one way a ticket will cost you €1.90.
Lay your head at night
Vintage Gare Du Nord Hostel
73 Rue de Dunkerque, 75009 Paris
With reviews of 80% + in all areas, this was our first stop on on whirlwind accommodation tour in Paris. Located less than 10 minutes walk from Gare du Nord metro station and a close enough to the absolutely stunning area of Montmartre. This hostel boasts a daily breakfast (€6), a gym in the basement & tour options, and the rooms are decent sized (stayed in a 4 person dorm €27/night ) with a pretty great bathroom. Other than that the hostel itself left a little be desired with a broken lift, a luggage room barely big enough for luggage & lacklustre kitchen. It’s a great spot if you don’t plan to do anything but sleep at the hostel though.
20 Bis Rue Degommier, 75012 Paris
On a quiet street in the 12th Arrondissement, this property was one I think we could have skipped. We spent a total of 8 hours here (max) and a few of those were just organizing ourselves to leave. The one downside Lindsey & I both realized after we trying to save a Euro or two along the way was that moving from one accommodation to the next 3 times in 4.5 days was that we spent more time than we would have liked lugging our stuff around from one end of the metro line to another (exhausting). Not much can be said about this location, the staff were nice enough, there is a breakfast but we opted for a bakery hopping breakfast instead, the room was small and there was a lack of outlets. Can’t say much about it because we hardly spent much time there, depends on what you’re after.
70 Rue Julien LaCroix, 75020 Paris
Newly renovated, this Belleville located boutique hostel was the best of the 3 locations I stayed at during my visit to Paris. Boasting Happy Hour from 5-7 nightly, a breakfast at €3.50, a great outdoor courtyard, good bed room sizes & again a great bathroom. The staff were fantastic and seemed to know everything you’d need to know to have the best time in Paris, out of the 3 hostels/hotels we stayed in this would be my #1 recommendation for your visit.
Where to eat
4 Rue Lamarck, 75018 Paris
A restaurant that could only be described as feeling like eating at your grandmothers house (Lindsey & I said this a few times throughout our meal here). Within walking distance of Sacre Coeur, it’s the perfect post sunset meal to cure even the hungriest of people. The pizza here is their specialty and they know their shit! Most pizzas will run you about €9 - €14. Try the Di Parma, you won’t regret it!
1 Rue Chaptal, 75009
This is a spot that Lindsey had visited before I arrived and raved about it, so it only made sense that after our wine. Tasting class the night of her birthday we headed this way to get some grub before exploring more of the city that night. Small plates to share, fantastic wine selection & the friendliest staff I’ve experienced in Europe to date. Definitely suggest the grilled broccoli with sesame seeds, even the meet lover in your group will go back for seconds.
+ every boulangerie/patisserie/corner shop you see
Because Paris has no shortage of corner ships, patisseries, boulangeries..the list goes on. Find yourself one on your way to sit by the seine, or under the Eiffel Tower or just because you’re walking past, get a baguette (bonus if it’s still warm) stop by a market & get some cheese and you’ve pretty much got the best snack in history.
Get your pastries from
39 rue des Vinaigriers, 75010 Paris
The Must Try : Chocolate Baguette & The Croissants (the best in my opinion)
Du Pain et des Idees
34 Rue Yves Toudic, 75010 Paris
The Must Try : Escargot Aux Pralines (trust me it’s not what you believe escargots to be)
(Multiple Locations around Paris)
Visited 226 Rue du Rivoli, 75001 Paris
The Must Try : The Hot Chocolate
Au Petit Versailles Du Marais
1 Rue Tiron, 75004 Paris
The Must Try : Viennoise Chocolat & The Rum Baba
Boulangerie Papatissier; Jennifer et Julien
10 Place Jaques Bonsergent, 75010 Paris
The Must Try : Chocolate Eclairs & The Saint Honoré
14 Rue Monge, 75005 Paris
The Must Try: The Croissants & Baguettes
25 Rue Grand Pont, 76000 Paris
The Must Try: Christophe Adam Eclairs (My favourite was Salted Caramel)
Get up before the sun…no really I’m not kidding! This is something I tend to do no matter where I visit, but in Paris where the crowds can get slightly overwhelming it’s a must do. To be able to see the Louvre with not a single soul around is worth the several caffeinated beverages you may need to keep going strong. Seeing the Palais Royal and strolling along to the sounds of the birds instead of screaming children? Setting up a picnic along the seine without anyone around? This and so much more are the reasons I would suggest it, plus on a short 4 day trip it means more time to explore.
Selfies & tripods are the norm at The Eiffel Tower. Whether you’re on your own or in a group, you never want to be dubbed the photographer & miss out on being in all the photos from your trip so invest in a tripod & have a little fun at the Eiffel Tower! We managed to spend a good chunk of time here on our first full day and it seemed we had the park in front all to ourselves (winner right!) A great spot to soak in the views, the sun, have lunch or just sit and stare. The Eiffel Tower really didn’t disappoint!
See the City sparkle from the Arc De Triomphe & be mesmerized by the L’Etoile..aka the craziest roundabout in the World (I think). 12 lanes of cars, trucks or scooters leave you wondering how in the hell you can get across to the Arc, but never fear! There is an underground tunnel that will take you directly to the entrance without having to navigate the roads above. If you time this properly you’ll get a spectacular view of the light show the Eiffel Tower puts on (every hour on the hour after dark). The city sparkles during the day, but theres something to be said about seeing Paris from above at night. Cost = €8 or free with a Paris Museum Pass
Galleries Lafayette, whether you’re a fashionista with expensive taste, a foodie with a taste for the finer things or just want to see everything you can’t afford & all the items you want to eat then this is a must! From specialty foods, restaurants, pubs, pastry shops, a homewares sections, & of course the massive department store for high end goods there is much to be seen. And if you make it there in time you’ll be able to see the crazy beautiful Christian Dior hot air balloon hanging in the concourse. Cost = Free entry
Bring the treats & the wine to the river. When you’re in Paris meeting with your long time instafriend who just so happens to also be having her birthday you start the morning off with a bitcoin picnic along the Seine. Stop at any of the above mentioned bakeries, a market fro fruit & chefs & a local shop for a cheeky bottle of rose & get yourselves to the Eiffel Tower side of the Seine & enjoy! (And yes wine for breakfast did happen & we don’t feel guilty about it)
Put your chef hat on at a cooking class. There are so many on offer in Paris so whatever your experience level is you’ll be sure to find something suitable. In a post from earlier this month I gave you the low down on my Macaron making class with LaCuisine Paris so that’s obviously my recommendation! They also have lots of different cooking/baking classes & food tours as well that sound unreal!
Channel your inner sommelier with a wine tasting. Paring so well with a cooking class is of course..wine tasting! And what better place to do it than the country that brings us Champagne? Ô Chateau is where Lindsey & I took to tasting some incredible wines and I wrote all about it here for you check out!
Get back to photography basics with a walking tour. No matter where we are if you have a smartphone you have an instant way to take a photo. A way to create a lasting memory to look back on. This is exactly what a tour with Paris Polaroid Tours is like. Armed with a polaroid camera & an insanely knowledgeable guide you’ll hit the streets of Paris to see these iconic monuments through a new viewfinder, and at the end? You’ll have souvenirs to take back home with you.
Get deep (underground) into the history of Paris. Nearly 70 ft under the magical streets of Paris lies 200 miles of passageways & the remains of 6.5 million people. While the catacombs might not sound like it’s for everyone it’s one of the things I gave up going to The Louvre or Luxembourg Gardens for & so happy I did. We didn’t purchase tickets online and with that ended up spending nearly 2 hours in line to get in (so buy tickets in advance if you don’t want to spend a morning in line is what I mean). In advance tickets are €29/each including an audio device, if you wait in line the tickets are €13/person + and additional €5 for the audio device.
Moulin Rouge/Montmartre Area. While tickets to see a show at Moulin Rouge were out of our budget that shouldn’t stop anyone else from going to see the marquee if nothing else. The lights, the music & the vibes in this area make you think that Ewan McGregor might pop out serenading you with a rendition of “Your Song” or you may feel compelled to bust into a can-can. The neighbourhood itself is called Montmarte and is located in the 18th arrondissement & full of gorgeous buildings & gardens (better seen during the day of course), and tons of bars, nightclubs & restaurants for a night on the town.
Museums + Cathedrals
Cost = Free
This Roman Catholic Church was erected and dedicated to the sacred heart of Jesus. An absolutely stunning minor basilica on one of the view hilltops in Paris giving a fantastic view of the city & a must see spot for sunset. The steps in front of the basilica are full of musicians, tourists, & locals taking in the view all while enjoying a drink or two.
Cost = Free
Located in the Latin Quarter of Paris the stunning facade is a replica of the Pantheon in Rome, a museum and a burial place for some of histories most important legends. Tombs include that of: Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Louis Braille & Marie Curie to name a few. During my visit there were some outrageous instalments including dudes jumping on a trampoline & some serious Matrix worthy table spinning happening.
Cost = €12 or Free with Paris Museum Pass
Housing mostly incredible works of art from the likes of Monet, Degas, Renoir & Van Goh this museum also gives you incredible views of Paris through the very Instagramable clock face from the top level. Be ready to wait in line to even just get a view out of these windows, and even more so when you want to get that shot, but trust me the views & art from this place are worth it
Notre Dame Cathedral + Tower
Cost = Free entry to the Cathedral /10€ for the tower or Free with Paris Museum Pass
Located on the Île de la Cité, this is one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture which is easily seen by the gargoyles surrounding the cathedral. The inside is stunning with lots of stained glass and a huge open altar in the centre. Be sure to book in for a chance to get up into the towers (using kiosks at the cathedral you can select your time and can only use the ticket for the time you’ve selected) for insane panoramic views of the whole city & change to see how it felt to be Quasimodo of course.
Cost = €10 or Free with Paris Museum Pass
A few blocks further from Notre Dame & you’ll come to see a slightly unimpressive building, but trust me, it’s what’s on the inside that counts (just like your mother always told you). Commissioned by King Louis IX, slightly damaged during the French Revolution but restored in the 19th century it is the most extensive work of 13th century stained glass in the World.
*Note about The Museum Pass.. I purchased the 2 day pass at €48 & in my opinion it wasn’t worth it for the amount of museums/attractions I had time for. I used it for entrance to the following locations:
Notre Dame Tower
Arc De Triomphe
There were a few free spots that I didn’t even need my pass for, and for two major attractions (Eiffel Tower & The Catacombs) the pass doesn’t apply. The way it works is once you enter your first museum the staff stamp it with the date & from then you have exactly 2 days to use it (or 4 or 6 depending on the pass you purchase). That’s 48 hours to see any many museums as possible in consecutive days which really didn’t mesh well with the timeline. This works if you have a longer time in Paris, say 7 days so 2 days spent inside at museums isn’t terrible, but for me when the weather is good the last thing I want to be doing is be inside.
And there you have it, 4.5 days in Paris very well spent (if I do say so myself) meeting up with my (then) instal-friend, now real life friend Lindsey. Up before the sun every day & in bed late into the night, definitely making the most of every single second I had on my first trip to Europe. There were a few key things I didn’t get the chance to do (only so many hours clearly) so I’m already compiling a list for when I get the chance to get back to Paris, which is hopefully soon. I missed out on the Louvre & seeing the Eiffel Tower up close at night, Luxembourg Garden & Versailles, but I don’t regret not being able to do those things this past month. And gives me even more of a push to get back. I’ll also say, don’t be intimidated by any language barrier you may think exists. If you don’t speak French never fear, it’s not the end of the World. Being bilingual is a bonus but my Montreal French skills struggled because the language is quite different. Most people we encountered could speak both even if the English was a little limited. There is always a way to make it work, so if you’ve been dreaming of Paris but lack the language aspect, let me tell you-book that ticket, & get ready for the trip of a life time in La Ville Lumière!