I’ve been obsessed with Paris ever since my first visit at the age of about 12. I don’t know if everyone ‘has a place’ like this, or if I’m just a weirdo, but something pulls me back time and time again. I imagine the way I feel about Paris is how other people feel about Disneyland – I spend the whole time wide-eyed with wonder, in a magical bubble, certain it’s the best place on earth.
I’ve just returned from my 8th visit, so I felt it was about time I summed up the must-sees, gotta-eats, and definitely-don’ts of my favourite city. This won’t be an uber-cool definitive guide by any means. Soz – I’m not one for scouring Instagram for the newest restaurants, or going on mad bicycle tours. But if you like chilled city breaks, which involve quite a lot of wine and cheese, do read on…
Get an Air Bnb
I’ve now experienced staying in several areas of the city, in both hotels and self-catering apartments. Unless you’re minted, hotels are usually cramped and a bit disappointing – fine if you’re one to spend all day and night out exploring (LOL not me ever), but Air BnBs mean you can chill in a nice environment, save money on meals and drink (the bottle of fizz pictured was 5 Euros and the best I’ve ever had) if you need to, and let you pretend you live there.
Stay in Le Marais
I can’t believe it took me till my 7th visit to properly discover this incredible area. I completely fell in love with it – as did my gbf and my boyfriend, so I feel it has universal appeal. It’s stylish without being stuck-up, almost has a village feel, and is full of gorgeous boutiques and restaurants. It’s also within walking distance to most major attractions. Now that I think about it, I hardly saw any tourists there other than extremely cool Japanese girls.
Don’t bother with the Eiffel Tower
I’ve never been up it, and just don’t see the appeal. I love its design and would rather have photos of it amongst the skyline, than looking out from it. I also hate heights. For the best views, go to Sacre Couer – the views are stunning from the top (as shown in pic), and you’ll see the whole city (including the Eiffel Tower). You have to climb hundreds of tiny stairs, and I thought I was definitely going to die, but the view is so worth it – and I say this as an unfit claustrophobic. If you do get really anxious in small spaces, I’d maybe give it a miss – you can’t really turn round and go back as you climb up, which adds to the ‘going to die’ feeling. It’s still worth a visit due to being situated in Montmartre – my second-favourite area.
Eat lots of duck
The duck confit I ate in Paris was the best meal of my life. Served with crispy skin, tender meat, and on a bed of potatoes cooked in the fat; I have to eat it at least twice while there. Please try snails too – they’re delicious, I swear. If you hate them, you can dredge crusty bread through their pools of garlic butter instead. Other things you should definitely consume lots of: all and any wine, baked camembert, coffee.
Don’t worry about the French being rude
They can be, but once you get over it and realise it’s not personal, you won’t even notice. Having a few words of French helps – but I think this is a courtesy you should extend wherever you go, to be honest. Even though they’ll immediately revert to English upon hearing your shit accent, they’ll appreciate it. We also found that waiters who hadn’t been particularly warm were positively delightful when we returned a second time. Service charges are usually included in the bill/cost of food, so giving a few extra Euros also went down really well.
By far the best way to see the city is on foot. The metro is handy for longer journeys, but where possible I recommend donning your most stylish trainers and walking. It’s definitely a big part of why Parisians stay skinny and why I came home a few pounds lighter despite drinking liquid camembert most nights. It’s such a gorgeous city, and pretty easy to navigate if you follow the river and google-map the rest.
Skip the queue for Le Louvre
Even if you’re not a huge art buff, you have to visit the Louvre at least once. It’s huge, and pretty overwhelming to navigate but an incredible place to tick off your bucket list. Set aside a few hours, go as early as possible, and avoid entering through the Pyramid, which is always insanely busy. I found a great tip on TripAdvisor – google-map the Carousel du Louvre shopping centre and use their entrance instead. We only had to wait about 15 minutes despite it being 1pm. I also really recommend Musée d’Orsay (see pic) – it’s smaller and far easier to navigate but still has some incredible paintings and sculptures. The building itself is an old railway station and really beautiful.
I could rattle on for many more hours, but this post has already surpassed peak engaging-content word count, so I won’t. If you’re on your way to Paris – bon voyage! If you’ve never been – GO, GO GO!