10 THINGS TO DO IN PARIS
My days in Paris were short and sweet, and I am already missing the delicious food, the strolls, the views and the Parisian vibes. The City of Light has always been one of my fave cities in the world, not only because I lived there during my early 20s, but because my experiences have always been lovely. So I was incredibly happy when my sister announced that she would be getting married in France… that meant that I would return to Paris! The day finally arrived and a few weeks ago we took a flight from Miami to Paris, spent the weekend, and then drove on Monday to Dordogne, the southwestern region of France. We returned to Paris the following Friday and stayed six more days. Today I’d love to share with you my 10 things to do in Paris! … and a few photos I took on this trip. 😉
SAINT GERMAIN DES PRÉS
This quarter of the 6th arrondissement of Paris is one of the swankier neighborhoods in Paris’ rive gauch (left bank), filled with brasseries, upscale boutiques, yet not overcrowded with tourists.
Two cafés that I recommend to try are Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore, I used to go to the first one with friends for l’aperitif (love this French habit!). The aperitif is a friendly ritual that Parisians do before a meal, they share a drink (nothing too high in alcohol) and something salty like chips. They also do it on regular week nights!
Sit outside, order the croque-monsieur and a Monaco bière with grenadine (my fave!). While the timing of the aperifit may remind you of the American Happy Hour, it is not the same concept. Happy hours celebrate the end of the ‘work-day’ but the aperitif is something else, it is not the end, it is the ‘beginning of the night,’ so the mind set is very different. And while in Paris I used to do the aperitif almost every night, here in Miami, I rarely make my way to any happy hours!
Skip the lines at the Louvre and visit this beautiful museum instead! Musée d’Orsay houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces of the world. Inside are the works of a few of my favorite artists: Pierre Auguste Renoir, Édouard Manet, and Claude Monet. This museum is housed inside the former Gare d’Orsay, a railway station constructed for the 1900 World Fair. The view from the top level is amazing!!
I have a big admiration for painters and their art, that is one of the reasons why I initially moved to Paris – to focus my studies on Art History. If you are in Paris for a few days, and not sure whether to visit this museum or the Louvre, consider the following: the Louvre exhibits over 35,000 works of art (that’s a lot!), Musée d’Orsay contains 2,000 paintings and 600 sculptures. Back in the day, I visited the Louvre over a dozen times (3-4 hours inside each time), and I still have tons to see! … plus it is overwhelming due to the size of it.
CAFÉ DE L’ESPLANADE
This café (pictured above) is my absolute favorite café in Paris, and it has a spectacular view of Les Invalides! I love how cozy the outdoor seating is, the trendy inside decor, their menu, and that it sits in all of its Parisian splendor. Overall, it is a discreet, quiet, and elegant café in the exclusive 7th arrondissement.
I found this café because it was less than half-a-block away from the apartment where I used to live. [Side note: if you walk 50 meters up the street shown on the left side of the photo above, my apartment was there]. I loved going there with a friend who lived nearby, to study for exams while enjoying the peaceful view.
If you are going to splurge and treat yourself, this place can be a nice option, but I suggest that if you go for dinner – make the reservation the day before. Also, the gorgeous Musée Rodin is around the corner, it is dedicated to the works of my favorite French sculptor, Auguste Rodin – go check it out!
PALAIS DE TOKYO
If you want a fantastic view of the Eiffel Tower, make your way to Palais de Tokyo located near Trocadero in the 16th arrondissement!
Afterwards you can also enjoy lunch or dinner at two trendy restaurants that I highly recommend:
(a) Restaurant Le Coq and (b) Monsieur Bleu with a magical view of the Eiffel Tower. This time I had a lot of fun walking through Trocadero, and down to the Eiffel Tower. I’ve climbed it in the past but not this time, it was too windy.
Château de Versailles is one of the largest palaces of the world and a “don’t miss” destination! Let me give you a little background history: Versailles was the seat of political power in France from 1682, when King Louis XIV moved the royal court from Paris, until the royal family was forced to return to the capital in 1789, within three months after the beginning of the French Revolution.
What is the quickest way to get to the palace? By the Metro / RER system – it is a 40 minute train ride from Paris to Versailles. Once you arrive, it’s a 10 minute walk from the station to the château. Inside you will have the option of doing a guided tour, but it is not mandatory because each area of the palace has a sign that explains each room’s purpose. Make sure you visit the gardens!
I highly recommend dining at this true French bistro, what a great discovery it has been! This charming place offers wonderful service, the prices are inexpensive, and it is packed with locals. We had to wait a bit, but we did not mind because it felt so cozy inside. It is located a few steps from Musée d’Orsay in the 7th arrondissement.
ARC DE TRIOMPHE
There is a route that I would love for you guys to do next time in Paris. Start at Place de la Concorde, walk past the Petite Palais, then walk through Champs Élysées, until you arrive at the arch. It is not short, but oh-so-enjoyable! Once you arrive to the Arc de Triomphe you may climb it (245 steps) all the way to the top to see Paris from above, and also the Eiffel Tower at a distance. I climbed it with my brother and my mom this time, and we enjoyed it. Afterwards we all went to dinner to Casa Luca, an Italian restaurant a block away – the pasta was so good.
You can also view all of Paris from Sacré Coeur (it’s the highest point in the city!) located in the 18th arrondissement. Visiting during the day or at nighttime are nice options. Either way, make sure you see Place du Tertre, a lovely hidden area with lots of painters! You can get to this artistic side of Montmartre by walking behind the basilica, and following a little street that curves to the left towards a square with restaurants. It is so cute! Many cartoonists will be ready to draw you as well.
CAFÉ DE LA PAIX & PALAIS GARNIER
Café de la Paix is located in front of the majestic Opéra Garnier in the 9th arrondissement. Let’s start by saying that it opened in 1862, and its proximity to the Opera has attracted well-known novelists, poets, and writers over the years. I always enjoy sitting at one of the tables outside and ordering some food! This café was declared a historic site in 1975 by the French Government.
Did you know that the Paris Opera is one of the top 10 Opera Houses in the world? If you would like to attend an ballet, or an opera at the Palais Garnier, book it way in advance. Otherwise, you have the option of taking a guided tour of the public areas of the Opera. It’s pretty amazing!
That’s it! Those are my 10 things to do in Paris! Hope this post guides, helps, or inspires you while spending time at one of the most-visited cities in the world!
Lots of love <3