PARIS in 10 STEPS
There is A LOT to do in this city and when planning a visit it can be overwhelming. Here are 10 things you must do during your visit. The rest, well, set it aside for another visit or longer stay.
Dan and I super-duper lucky in the we live only a few hours from The City of Light. In 5 hours we can be from our front step to the Eiffel Tour, it is pretty darn fantastic. Since arriving we’ve cut away a few weekends to the glorious city and concocted, in my opinion, the PERFECT checklist for anyone with a few days to spend in Paris.
1 | Stay in St. Germain.
This is hands-down my favorite neighborhood – convenient, fantastic shops and restaurants, and perfectly Paris. There are millions of options in Paris, but there, I’ve taken out the guess work and told you exactly the district to stay in.
Want to make your visit even better? Get a place with a balcony for people watching – my favorite memory from Paris was sitting on our airbnb balcony, sipping wine, tearing off generous pieces of baguette and eating fantastic cheese with our dear friends. People-watching in Paris is the best. We found a fantastic cheese assortment at Fromagerie Saint Charles at 77 Rue Saint-Antoine.
2 | Eat.
There is no question that Paris is culinary destination. Go on an absolutely yummy food tour with Hidden Paris tours. I found that Hidden Paris to be the most reasonable and highest rated option on TripAdvisor. Check out our tour in St. Germain. Our guide, Eglantine was the best!
3 | Visit Musee d’Orsay.
With the extensive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist work (think – Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, Sisley, Renoir) it’s hard not to be blown away by. Dan and I lingered here for hours, mesmerized by all the famous work that we’d seen in books so many times before. This place is the real-deal and absolutely worth a visit. If you don’t remember to make reservations online, arrive at opening to minimize your wait time. Sorry, pictures are prohibited within the galleries but we sure did love the main hall and cute cafe on the 5th floor.
Imagine seeing this piece in real life, it’s spectacular.
4 | Relax.
When it’s sunny head to Hors d’Oreuvres in St. Germain for a crepe to-go and scoot over to the Luxumberg Gardens for a picnic. Hors d’Oreuvres is my absolute favorite creperie, serving as the to-go stand for one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the city, Le Comptoir, it’s no wonder they know exactly how to turn out the perfect crepes. I had the crepe du jour with egg, chicken, fresh cheese, salad and artichoke for 6E. It’s not just the toppings, the magic is in the crepe mix itself. It’s just so darn delicious. The Luxemburg Gardens are just around the corner and a beautiful place to relax right in the city center.
5 | At dusk pick up a bottle of wine and hike the steps of Sacre Coeur.
The steps are the spot to go for spectacular views of the city as it twinkles to life. After you’ve head your fill, stroll Montmartre and get your sketch made by one of numerous artists that call Montmartre home.
6 | Tour the grounds of the Eiffel Tower.
As charming as it sounds, taking the elevator up isn’t worth the wait. After all, there’s not a whole lot to see on the Paris skyline aside from the Tower itself. The grounds are a fantastic place for a picnic and take a few classic shots. Don’t forget, in the evening the tower SPARKLES on the hour!
7 | Buy macarons. Not just any macarons, Pierre Herme macarons.
Hands-down the best sweet I’ve EVER had in my entire life. Each time we visit Dan and I scoop up 5 or so of these delicious bites and try our best to split them, believe me, it’s not easy. Our favorite flavor on our most recent visit was Pistache & Compote de Framboises (Raspberry Compote). As we learned on our food tour, Pierre studied in Japan for awhile and became a master at mixing unique flavors. It’s not your normal chocolate and vanilla show here – image Rose-Litchi-Raspberry, Olive Oil-Vanilla, and Milk Chocolate-Passion Fruit, to name a few.
8 | Celebrate your love!
Hubba-hubba. Grab your travel buddy (friend, spouse, parent, whoever) and hop over to the love lock bridge. Street vendors sell locks nearby (3E) and provide markers to doodle. Grab a lock, your sweetie, and find a special spot on the bridge to lock-away your love forever. Turn your backs to Seine, give the key a quick KISS and toss it over! It’s a classic Paris tradition that you need to take part in!
9 | See Notre Dame.
The sheer size and architecture are a sight to behold. The spectacular history makes this the most interesting and beautiful church in all of Europe. If the lines aren’t too long, head inside to gawk at the stunning stained glass.
I also recommend strolling the grounds of the Lourve. No, do not go inside- I don’t think it’s worth the time. There are too many tourists and the art gets old quickly, your time is better spent at the Orsay. (Yes, I really just said to skip the Lourve.) Sure, the Mona Lisa is always interesting to see, but she’s tiny and a little disappointing. The ‘beware of pick-pockets’ signs warning the mob of visitors are larger than Mona herself.
|If you look around, you’ll see that EVERYONE takes pinch-pictures by the Lourve.
10 | Stroll the Rue Cler in the 7th District.
Perfectly Paris, this is a go-to spot for shopping and charming restaurants. A great place to pick up fresh fruit, cheese and wine for a picnic at the Eiffel or relaxing in the hotel.
AND IF YOU HAVE MORE TIME –
Throw going inside the Lourve in the mix.
Head up to Porte de Clingnancourt metro stop to the amazing Parisian flea markets. Expect beautiful antiques, art and nicknacks. Here are great instructions on how to get there.
For a quick 100E see Moulin Rouge. Lots of singing and cleavage but it’s make for a wild, perhaps touristy, uber-Parisian memory.
Stroll the historic district of Le Marais. Perfectly Paris, this is a go-to spot for shopping and charming restaurants.