Aww the city of light (and love)! Paris is one of those destinations that doesn’t need introductions or explanations, the name speaks for itself. Of course, it is the most visited city in the world and there is a reason why it is – its beauty is incomparable and all its elegance, tradition, or anything Parisian always seems to get to us whenever we visit, always making us want to come back. And although you may have read about it and you may think you already know what to do in this city, I still wanted to write a personal guide to you and show you some other places that may be unfamiliar to you. I also wanted to give a more local perspective, because that’s how I like to feel whenever I visit a new place – like a local. I don’t know about you but I don’t really think it’s fun anymore to just be another tourist, I want to be a traveler, a confident, interact with the locals and make the world my oyster. And you know why? Because when I started doing so a whole different spectrum opened up to me and the places that I visit suddenly become a part of who I am and I can clearly see the magic around it. Anyways, enough of this magic talk, let’s get started with this guide, shall we? :)
To give you a background, I thought that it would be easier to organize a visit to Paris by dividing it in areas or regions so that you could take advantage of walking to as many places as you can. If you prefer taking the subway (you can buy day passes at the stations) then go for it, you can even rent a Segway these days as well if you want. But if you can walk, don’t hesitate to do so as you are able to see the details and the life of the streets, and easily stop anywhere that interests you. Based on that I divided this Paris guide into North, South of the river, East and West, and I hope you guys like it!
On the North of Paris we covered some very amazing and beautiful places. We started off with the Musee du Louvre, which is one of the largest museums
in the world and you can take a whole day to explore it if you want. Don’t forget to check out the Napeleon Apartments, which is this beautifully and luxuriously decorated area of the museum, where you can see how royals lived back then.
Following the museum, we walked up towards the Moulin Rouge, and on the way there we saw Le Palais Royal, Le Comedie Francaise, the Gallerie Susse Freres, the Jardin de Tuileries, L’Opera and the Gallerie Laffaiette. On the later you can do some shopping and visit its rooftop for some super nice views of the area.
When we got to the Moulin Rouge it was already dark, so we could see the lights of this sort of red light district that is filled with bars and interesting shops ;). I had seen a show at the Moulin Rouge at a previous time I was in Paris with my parents, so it is something that is possible to do with your family too if you are over 18.
On the following day we went up towards Montmartre, which is this bohemian artistic neighborhood, famous for being the location for the film Amelie, and an area that I fell in love with right away. All the paintings at the tiny plaza, the house’s architecture and the little shops just adds to the charm of this place. It is worth seeing Cafe les Deux Moulins that is also featured in the movie Amelie, and after having a very nice meal at this lovely place called Clairon des Chasseurs (where they also play live music in the evenings), we went on towards the Place de Tertres to visit Le Sacre Ceur, which is this beautiful monumental cathedral and where you can have seriously breath taking views of the city below you.
From there you can walk down the stairs on the Rue Foyatier or take the inclined railway called Funiculaire back towards the Boulevard de Clichy. One cool and trendy area to go out and hit the bars in Paris is South Pigalle (or SoPi for the locals), and a bar that I can recommend there is the Marlusse et Lapin.
South of the River
We started our exploration of the south of the river by visiting the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Ile de la Cite, stopping at the Place Dauphine for a coffee. Please be careful with these kids that pretend to be mute in this area, they can be very forceful in their approach and they are actually not mute, they just want to take your money, so watch out as the police soon came around to take them away.
Following our visit to the Notre Dame, which brought me back to Gothic medieval times, we crossed the river and decided to have a view of this beautiful cathedral from the top, and one of the best spots for this is from the rooftop at the Institut du Mond Arabe. The entrance is free and you can have a meal or a drink once you are at the top as well.
From there we walked towards Saint Germain and the Quartier Latin, which are also my favorite places in Paris. There you can enjoy many restaurants, cafes, shops, bars and even a market at the Rue Lobineau most days of the week.
We had lunch at the Restaurante Chez Gladines in Saint Germain and we also recommend checking the Cafe de Flore, which is one of the oldest coffee shops in Paris attended by many famous philosophers in the past. And in the Quartier Latin we can recommend the restaurant Le Procope, which is one of the oldest restaurants in Paris, and the restaurant Caveau de la Huchette. At night, we recommend checking out the rue Duc des Lombards and enjoy some live jazz performance in one of its bars.
On our next day at the South of the River, we decided to visit the world famous Eiffel Tower. Of course we had to go there as no Paris trip would be the same without it. We had some coffee at the Les Deux Abeilles and continued to meet the tower from the East side. Once I saw the Tour Eiffel, a tear almost fell off my eyes, as it did not matter that I have seen this famous landmark many times before, it is still such a beautiful icon that it brings out exhilarating emotions to anyone who is around it. We did not go up the tower this time we were in Paris, as we wanted to capture it from different angles that we haven’t seen before.
With that in mind, we then went to Champ de Mars and took a few photos from there. We also went to the Montparnasse area and had lunch at the Ciel de Paris, which is a restaurant located at the top of the Montparnasse building where we could capture an outstanding picture of the Eiffel tower right from the front. After walking around Montparnasse, we went to the Jardin de Luxembourg and watched some Parisians play boule at the park.
Other places you can visit in the South of the River are the National Museum of Natural History, the Musee du Quai or take a river boat or dinner cruise at the Seine.
On the West side of our itinerary in Paris we decided to focus on the shopping part of our trip :) We started walking along the Champs-Elysees all the way towards the Arc de Triomph. As some of you may not know, you can climb up the stairs and go up the Arc and enjoy an extraordinary view of that area as well. As we found the Champs-Elysees way too packed of tourists, we decided to switch our attention to the shops around the Avenue Victor Hugo, the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré and the Avenue Montagne instead.
From Avenue Victor Hugo, we walked down the Rue des Belles Feuilles towards the Jardins du Trocadero, where we could take some amazing pictures of the Eiffel tower, this time from another angle. From there, we decided to check out the Palais de Tokyo and the Musée d'Art Moderne. By the time we left the museum, we were presented by this amazing sunset in between the two museums, and we grabbed a glass of wine there just to admire the colors of the sky with the Eiffel Tower in the middle – it was simply amazing!
Other spots you can check out on the west is the Porte Dauphine and the Foundation Luis Vuitton.
The East part of our Paris exploration was also incredible and it started to get harder and harder to pick which area we liked the most. We started off at Le Centre Pompidou and walked around this modern and trendy area of Paris. The shops there are open on Sunday, so if you are worried about the stores being closed when you are there on this specific day of the week, this is one of the few places where you will find them open. You can find some great exhibitions around there as well. After that we followed towards Le Marais, which is an area that we very much enjoyed, especially how lively it was, as well as its shops and cafes. We ended up having lunch at the Marche des Enfant Rouges, which is the oldest covered market in Paris. This market gets super packed on the weekend with cool people, and where I had one of the best burgers of my life!
Following, we walked down towards Saint-Paul and the Rue Saint-Antoine towards the Place de La Bastille. Around there you will find many other restaurants, shops and the Opera Bastille.
From there we took a Uber to Canal St Martin and the Place de la République. I would suggest going there during the day and have a sit, drink or conversation by the river. We had dinner at this restaurant called Les Fabricants located not too far from the Place de la Republique and had drinks at the Bar Chez Prune at canal St Martin, which is attended by Brad Pitt apparently :) Another place I would recommend for eating is the Le Comptoir General, which is this really cool restaurant/bar that serves exotic foods and drinks, and they also have live music and djs in the evening.
If you guys have time, don’t forget to visit the Versailles Palace as well! And I hope I didn’t forget to mention anything cool or worth seeing while in Paris. If I did please use the comments below – we would love to hear more suggestions, which I would probably use next time I visit this fantastic city!
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For another awesome Paris guide and more information, you can check out this blog post by Isabel at Bel Around The World.