Our trip to Paris was very spontaneous. My boyfriend and I had been chatting about it for around 2 weeks and ended up booking a week before we went. A cheap flight with EasyJet flew us out to Charles de Gaulle Airport, and our trip was a whirlwind to fit in seeing all the sights.
We headed to the Eiffel Tower for 9am on the Monday morning, as it was in January and off peak, there wasn’t a single person queuing. The only downside to coming during off peak times was that the top deck was closed for refurbishment. The lower deck was fully open and still gave a great view.
We also returned on the Tuesday night to see the light display, which was well worth waiting for. The 20,000 light bulbs sparkle and shimmer against the black night sky, it looks incredible. Time your visit to arrive just before the clock strikes the hour as this is when they are switched on.
If you want to get a good photo of the Eiffel Tower against the sky, head to Trocadero. There is a viewing platform behind the Palais de Chaillot.
Musée du Louvre
The Louvre is a must for art lovers. If you are under 25 you can get free entry, just bring your passport with you.
It’s a huge building, you could spend hours in there, but if you are just after the Mona Lisa, save time and just see her first. I didn’t realise how small the famous painting would be, it’s just a little larger than an A4 piece of paper. You might have to queue or move around other tourists if you’d like a selfie with the infamous woman.
If you want to tick the typical tourist photo box, stand on the plinths outside the Louvre, and try and angle your hand in the air, so it looks like you are touching the top of the glass triangle. Yes, I did this, no shame.
Pont des Arts
The ‘love locks’ bridge unfortunately now has plastic rails and the locks have been removed. Some resourceful couples have attached their padlocks to lamp posts and bicycle chains instead. It isn’t as impressive as it used to be but, it has a beautiful view down the river.
Arc de Triomphe
Make your way to the Arc de Triomphe by walking down the tree-lined Champs-Elysees. The monument itself is in the middle of a very busy road, so take the underpass. You don’t need to pay to see the monument, but if you want to climb to the top and see the view, you have to queue and get a ticket. The arch has hundreds of names carved into the stone, those who lost their lives fighting for France. There is also the Memorial Flame, which is the grave of the unknown soldier. It’s a touching monument to those fought for France and a place to take a few minutes to remember.
Sacré-Coeur is a basilica in the heart of Pairs. It’s set on the top of a hill, so be warned there are lots of steps. The effort to reach the summit is worth it for the view overlooking Paris. I’m not religious but appreciate the architecture of churches and cathedrals. It’s free to enter and join a service.
A word of warning, groups of men try and tie ribbon or string to your finger and demand money for the gift. It’s a shame a religious place has intimating figures in its grounds.
It’s a short walk to the main square in Montmartre from the Sacré-Coeur, where the French artists paint and create caricatures. It’s a hive of activity in the summer but we had the pleasure of wandering down quiet streets and enjoying traditional French food at one of the oldest restaurants in Montmartre, La Mere Catherine.
The Latin Quarter
This is known as the student area, we met a friend of my boyfriend and enjoyed a few drinks in the little bars in the area. It has a bohemian charm.
Notre Dame de Paris
Another of Paris’ world famous landmarks, I urge you to climb the number of stairs to the top. Yes, you’ll be out of breath and feel so unfit when you get to the top, but the gargoyles are worth it! The gothic architecture mixed with the moody skyline makes for incredible photos.
This museum houses more recognisable art from Degas, Monet, Manet and Van Gough. I found I was more interested in the art in D’Orsay than the Louvre. Again, you can get in for free if you are under 25, with your passport.
For the ultimate shopping experience head to La Galleries Layfette, it’s like the Harrods of France. I paid a visit to the Chanel boutique and made my first ever Chanel fashion purchase. I went for a caviar leather purse with the classic burgundy interior. I’m besotted with it! I could have spent hours in their beauty hall.
You can’t visit Europe without hunting down the mothership. I was left unattended and got sucked in by minis, opssss! The store on the Champs Elysées is the largest one in Paris, so make the most of the hard to get brands and fill your basket!
We’d chosen our hotel because of its artsy interior design. The Coq Hotel was just 2 minutes’ walk from a metro station and a lovely wonderful community vibe. They hosted cinema nights and welcome drinks to help travellers socialise if you wanted to.
We bought a 3-day pass to the metro which cost around €25, which I fully recommend as the landmarks and attractions are quite spread out. The train from Charles de Gaulle Airport to the centre was €10, which we paid twice to get there and back.
You have to eat your weight in cheese, pastries and baguettes. All three things can be found at Paul, it’s a chain across Paris where you can pick up light bites from. There is also a chain of pastry shops called Brioche Dorée, or which I recommend if you need a sweet pick me up!
There are restaurants on every corner so you will never be short of options. My favourite dishes were duck a l’orange, French onion soup and apple tarte.
Have you visited Paris before? Where were your favourite spots?