As the saying goes: ‘Paris is always a good idea’.
For your very first trip to the city of love to returning time and again – there is always something fantastic to experience.
Of course a Paris first timmer’s itinerary is quite different from the initiated franco-capitalophile’s. But from touring the sights and eating macarons to discovering local gems, there’s no wrong way to do (or re-do) Paris…
But if you’re looking for inspiration, be it for your first or your hundredth visit to Paris, here are 8 ideas:
1. Notre Dame VS Sainte Chapelle
Notre Dame cathedral is on every Paris visitor’s list – with good reasons: the gothic exterior are absolutely gorgeous and the views from the top are absolutely breath-taking. But the queues are equally impressive, often stretching all the way around the building.
There is, however, a much lesser known but just as shiny gem on Ile St Louis: the Sainte Chapelle. With floor to ceiling stained glass, it truly is dazzling (and there’s hardly ever a queue)!
2. The Louvre VS street art
Thanks to its incredible painting, sculpture and artefact collections, the Louvre is the world’s most famous and most visited art museum, with 7.3 people visiting the Mona Lisa each year.
It is an absolute must-see – if only for the incredible contrast between the 16th century Palace and the modern glass pyramids. However, said visit must be very carefully planned and timed to avoid the crowds – a problem you won’t have with street art.
Paris street art scene is growing by the day – from gigantic murals to geeky space invaders slowly taking over the city, there’s something for everybody – as long as you’re willing to explore!
3. French café VS ethnic food
Everybody loves a good café meal. Classic dishes, excellent wine and more crème brulée than you can shake a stick at… what’s not to love?!
But there’s only so many café meals one can have before it all gets a bit steak-frites-on-repeat… Luckily, there’s many less Frenchie-by-the-book yet incredible and authentically Parisian options.
L’As du Falafel is a local’s favourite (and an absolute bargain!), then there’s rue St Anne’s for all things ramen restaurants and Saigon Sandwich (8 rue de la Présentation) for Paris’ best Bahn Mi.
Super popular Big Mamma group restaurants serve the best Italian fare that side of the Alps, and then there are those small plate places such as Frenchie Bar à Vin that can do no wrong and turn any cuisine they touch into culinary gold!
4. Champs Elysées VS Le Marais
If there ever was a list of over-rated Parisian attractions, the Champs Elysées would definitely come up on top.
To be completely honest, I’m not sure why it’s so popular – there’s nothing there that you can’t find someplace else, and it’s always SO crowded (not to mention the fact that all the food is sh*t and widely overpriced).
Le Marais however, with its small, boutique-style stores and charming little alley ways is gold for any shopping addicts.
Personal favourites (and my bank account’s worse nightmares) include G. Detou (a culinary Alladin’s cave), Mariage Frères (for the best tea) and of course design dreamland Merci!
5. Macarons VS niche sweet treats
Macarons are a timeless classic and – much like Paris – always a good idea!
But they’re not the start all end all of sweet treats and in the past few years, Paris has been taken by storm by many super sweet trends, éclairs and choux to name a few!
Definitely worth trying as well… and well, if the choux fits…
6. Tuileries Garden VS Canal St Martin
Paris gardens are beautiful places to walk around. They have tall trees, gorgeous white alleys, water fountains and carefully trimmed flowers beds.
What they are not are very green and a place to relax or socialise. But that’s okay – Parisians invest the water banks for that.
From impromptu picnics on the banks of the Seine to epic day-and-night parties by canal St Martin -that’s where the fun is!
7. Montmartre – top of the hill VS the bottom!
When it comes to visiting Paris’ best known hill, many only talk about the top of the hill, its (admitedly gorgeous) basilica and its street painters.
But the truth is, the bottom of the hill, though a touch more rough, is the trendy neighbourhood. Amazing bakeries, indepedant stores and restaurants the locals like to keep to themselves, there are countless local gems to be discovered.
8. Boulangerie VS… Boulangerie!
Because nothing beats carbs served French-style!
One thought on “8 things to do in Paris – for first timers & seasoned travelers”
Such a wonderful list – I’m super excited to head back to Paris in a few weeks!