WHAT TO SEE:
If this is your first time to Paris or if you’re only there for a shorter amount of time, I’m marking things with a * which means it’s a can’t miss sight! With any trip, you have to go into it knowing you most likely wont be able to do or see everything on your list. But to me, that’s what makes it fun as it gives you an excuse to go back ;)
Le Marais: This neighborhood is known as the “Jewish Quarter.” I love walking around this neighborhood as it feels like “old Paris” to me. There’s narrow cobblestone streets and beautiful buildings around every corner. We went and grabbed lunch at L’As Du Falafel which I HIGHLY recommend (more details on that below – keep reading!) and then walked off our full bellies by popping into fun eclectic shops and art galleries.
Arc du Triomphe:* Located on the west end of the Champs Elysees, the Arc du Triomphe is a can’t miss Paris monument! I highly recommend going in the evening after dinner and climbing the stairs to the top to catch the sunset and then watch the Eiffel tour sparkle at 9pm. It’s truly magical! You do have to purchase a ticket to go the top ($12 Euros) but I promise it’s worth the price, especially if you have never been! You can purchase your tickets in advance here or buy them at the door.
Eiffel Tower:* An obvious MUST to see regardless if you have already been to Paris or not! Unfortunately (but understandably) the Eiffel is so highly guarded now, there are huge fences all around and you are now required to go through a security checkpoint. Last time I was in Paris when I studied abroad (in 2008) you could freely walk up and purchase tickets to go to the top of the tower. You must now purchase your tickets in advance and for a certain time, so plan on doing that if you want to go to the top! Like the Arc du Triomphe, we went after dinner. We grabbed a bottle of wine and a crepe and sat underneath the tower just talking and drinking for hours and watched the sky catch fire as the sun set. It was a magical Parisian moment. We ended up having so much fun that we stayed not only for the 9pm sparkle of the tower but for the midnight showing as well. You just gotta soak up moments like these!
Sacre Coeur/Montmarte:* This is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Paris but I have to admit, it was A LOT more crowded than I remembered it being. However this neighborhood still has so much charm no matter how crowded it gets. I recommend starting off going to the top of Sacre Coeur (you can either walk up or pay to take a tram located on the left side). Up top is another beautiful panoramic view of Paris! After you finish at Sacre Coeur, spend time walking around the neighborhood. I love walking around the narrow streets and exploring all the artist markets and galleries. You can literally feel the creative energy bursting at the seams in this neighborhood as it once housed famous artists like Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, and Degas, to name a few.
Saint Chapelle:* The beauty of this Church will literally take your breath away. The stained glass will leave you in awe. An absolute must Paris sight-to-see in my opinion. Pro tip: get there early to avoid waiting in a long line (located on the Ile de la Cite)
Notre Dame:* Also located on the Ile de la Cite, this is another amazing Church to see. I’d recommend getting here early one morning as well as it gets VERY crowded. The lines do move fast, but you wont be able to get a good photo without a million tourists in it. If you don’t care about that, then go at any time! Let me know if you see the hunchback of Notre Dame ;)
Luxembourg Gardens: You won’t regret taking a stroll through Luxembourg Gardens. I’d stop by here if you want a slower afternoon and walk around the gardens. Then find an empty seat and people watch while taking in the beauty that surrounds you!
Musee d’Orsay:* This is my favorite museum in Paris! This museum houses one of the largest collections of impressionist painters.
The Louvre: We didn’t go into The Louvre on this trip (as we had already been) but I definitely recommend going if you’re a first timer! It’s the world’s largerst art museum and of course houses the famous Mona Lisa.
The Seine: If you’re unfamiliar, the Seine is the river that flows through Paris. I recommend going on an evening riverboat cruise or taking a picnic along the river! You can book a nice riverboat cruise in advance (that will require men in jackets) or find a more touristy one day-of that will be less fancy! Whichever floats your boat ;)
Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Pres: This is the oldest church in Paris and one of the oldest Romanesque churches in France! The inside of the church is absolutely stunning and has the most beautifully vibrant colors and patterns.
Musee de l’orangerie:* This museum is located in the Tuileries Gardens next to the Place de la Concorde. This museum is an absolute must as it houses Monet’s famous water lilies. They were so much bigger and more beautiful that I anticipated. Can’t recommend this museum enough!
Palais Royal: If you plan on going to The Louvre, I recommend also popping over to the Palais Royal as it’s very close! Located within the courtyard, you’ll find beautiful gardens in the middle and high-end boutiques (some of the best vintage shopping in Paris!) and cafés. You’ll also find the “Les Deux Plauteux”art installation here as well (aka the black and white columns). I gotta say, they make for a cute insta pic!
Jardin des Tuileries: On one side you have The Louvre and on the other you have the Musee de L’orangerie with the beautiful Tuileries Gardens in between. Here you can also find a “funfair” in the summer months (like a small carnival). It’s fun to go to this in the evening! You can walk around eating cotton candy and playing fun games. You can also ride the swings and catch a pretty epic view of the Eiffel Tour from the top!
Moulin Rouge: I think the Moulin Rouge is definitely something you have to see in your lifetime! I'm definitely glad we went, but to be honest, I wasn't all that blown away. I was absolutely entertained, but maybe I was just expecting something different?! Definitely a fun experience though! Tickets are pricey, but you do get a whole bottle of champagne which was fun :) Get there at least 20 minutes early to get a good table!