Ah Paris. PAREEEE! I do love the French capital. Chic architecture, yummy pastries, symmetrically satisfying sights and more culture than you can shake your baguette (and beret) at. I’ve been to Paris a number of times, so the first half of this post will cover the essential places to tick off, and then the second half will talk you through more off the beaten path options. Check out my videos at the bottom of the page too!
Can you believe in my previous four (yes, four) trips to Paris, I’d never stepped foot in the Louvre? Mad I tell you, mad. The Louvre is breathtakingly beautiful. Fascinating, awe-inspiring… an art lover’s dream. And of course, essential when visiting the city.
I took to the museum for an evening, which I think is quite possibly the best time to visit. It’s about €17.00 to get in, but if you’re younger then concessions are applied (check the Louvre website to see if you’re eligible). The museum is open every day but a Tuesday, and it’s best to either go on Wednesday or Friday, as it closes at 21:45 instead of 18:00.
We got to the museum around 17:00, so we wanted to try and cover as many essential art pieces as we could, so we downloaded an unofficial app and used the museum map too. The Mona Lisa is at the top of most people’s lists, but I can’t say I was that impressed in comparison to other beauties the Louvre has to offer. Also you have to queue to see it, and it’s tiny?!
– Liberty Leading the People (aka Coldplay’s Viva la Vida album)
– Winged Victory of Samothrace (aka lady with no arms and no head, but still majestic AF)
– Venus de Milo (aka lady with no arms… why do none of these ladies have arms?!)
– Gabrielle d’Estrées and Her Sister, The Duchess of Villars (aka the nipple tweak)
– Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss (aka a hot marble make-out)
The Eiffel Tower (in the evening)
I know, I know. The Eiffel Tower. Groundbreaking travel advice. I’ve been up to the top and while it’s an experience perhaps everyone should do at some point, I do think if you’re not into heights, the elevator ride up is a puke-inducing experience. Also it’s expensive. And busy. And everything is so tiny from that high up…
Long story short, the best views are from the top of the Arc de Triomphe (which I’ll cover in my next point). I enjoyed seeing this world-famous landmark in the early evening as the sun was setting. You’ll experience the Eiffel Tower for free (yay) and pretty when it’s lit up, making for some epic photos.
Arc de Triomphe
The best views of Paris are from atop the Arc de Triomphe (in my opinion). The sights of the streets below are satisfyingly symmetrical, and from several angles, you’ll get to see the Eiffel Tower, the Sacre-Coeur, La Defense, Le Champs-Elysees and much more. It’s a little bit of a climb up a spiral staircase, but let me say it’s worth it!
Entrance to the Arc is about € 13.00, and it’s free if you’re under 26.
Technically this wasn’t part of our 48 hours in Paris, but if you have a longer trip planned and want to do something outside of Paris, Disneyland is a slice of fun escapism. I wrote a blog post on how to spend a day there, which you can read here, along with how to get cheap Disneyland Paris tickets too.
Off the Beaten Path
Père Lachaise Cemetery
Funerary art, Gothic graves… what’s not to love?! Père Lachaise is great for a peaceful walk and is situated in the 20th arrondissement.
Taking up around 44 hectares, this place has over 70,000 graves, many of which might sound familiar. Get a map online to find the resting places of the likes of Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Colette and Jean de la Fountaine. This place is also free, so a great option if you’re on a budget.
Shakespeare and Company
Shakespeare and Company isn’t any ordinary bookstore. The 17th-century building used to be a monastery, before becoming a bookstore that saw the likes of Joyce, Hemingway, Stein, Fitzgerald, Eliot, and Pound gathering there. Since the day it opened, this place encouraged artists to stay and sleep among the shelves and in exchange, they would help out in the store and each write a one-page autobiography (there are now thousands!).
Pop into the quirky building, and tread its uneven floors looking for literary gems. Take a seat in one of the nooks and escape in a book, or pick up the latest copy of a bestseller to take home.
Louis Vuitton Foundation
If you don’t have enough time to go to the Louvre, you could opt for the Louis Vuitton Foundation.
The building itself is an architectural spectacle, and it’s easy to get to via a shuttle bus from near the Arc de Triomphe. Check the schedule to see what’s on, as the programme changes quite a bit. A standard adult ticket will set you back €16.00 and if you’re under 26, it’s just € 10.00.