The "City of Lights" was never part of my bucket list. I thought that it was just a typical big city packed with tourists (and pickpockets). But I was wrong! Despite getting lost a couple of times and enduring a mean stomachache here, this lovely metropolis managed to capture my heart.
Frenchies might appear as snobs and Paris might seem 'dangerous' after all those terror attacks and snatching incidents. But this city is beyond all those horror stories and stinky train stations combined. It is teeming with art, culture, history, nature, and bright lights--- making it perfect for solo travelers like me.
If you're planning on traveling here, here's my list of fun things to do in Paris:
1. Marvel at Eiffel Tower's majesty.
As they say, Eiffel is the heart and soul of Paris and one must not skip this landmark if you're in Paris.
I've seen this tower maybe a million times from friends' and relatives' photos, postcards, movies, keychains and all other kinds of souvenirs. But I have underestimated its beauty. Up-close, it is majestic.
You need to see it more than once from different locations.
Be a tourist and line up early to see its amazing architecture.
I was told not to bother going up the tower. But who knows? Maybe the view up there is even more amazing.
Relax and chill at Jardines du Trocadero. You'll get better wide-angled pictures of Eiffel from here.
And if you're frustrated with kind-hearted strangers with 0 photography skills, Trocadero is camera-timer friendly. So many places to mount your camera on ;-P
Eiffel and Trocadero are always packed with tourists, vendors and scammers. But there's always a peaceful spot for you to enjoy the majestic tower.
I wish I also visited Eiffel up-close at night but I only managed to say goodnight at Eiffel from Montparnasse Tower. See #15 on my list.
2. Appreciate art.
Everybody knows that Paris has plenty of great museums. But if you have limited time, visit The Louvre-- the queen of all museums.
It would take days for you to explore the whole museum so be sure to get a map upon entering the museum and check the areas that you want to visit. I'll write a separate post about this gigantic museum soon ;)
Aside from the famous Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, the Louvre has gazillions of stunning and historical art pieces.
I wish I also had the time to see Musee d'Orsay but I gotta save that in the future ;-)
3. See the greens and gardens of Paris.
Be one with the locals (and horde of tourists) by chilling at the different gorgeous parks and gardens of Paris. They have lots of beautiful greeneries everywhere.
Jog! Read a book! Sip wine! Eat Parisian food! Listen and figure out the sweet French language! Reflect!
Among my favorites are Parc de la Villette, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, Tuileries Garden, Jardins du Trocadero and Jardin du Luxembourg. I wish I took plenty of photos now that I'm already thousands of miles away. But while I was there, I just had to enjoy the view and take it all in ;-)
These views made me fall in love with Paris. It made me wish that I could have the same kind of serenity and beauty in the middle of the concrete jungle back home :-(
Thanks to my good friend Remi for touring me around Parc des Buttes-Chaumont while talking about Nietzsche and other interesting things :))
4. Pay homage to Proust, Wilde, Chopin and other celebrated human beings at Pere Lachaise Cemetery.
Believe it or not, this is one of my favorite places in Paris :) It's not crowded, it's very peaceful and the challenging "treasure hunting" for famous people's tombs can be enjoyable too.
Cemeteries bring a lot of nostalgia but it also shows how humans celebrate life.
It is interesting to see some known people with simple tombs and how other families can afford fancy mausoleums. It's also sad to see that some tombs are already forgotten and abandoned.
The views inside Pere Lachaise Cemetery are actually scenic and calm. Watch out for a longer article about this ;-)
5. Follow traces of Amelie.
There are so many beautiful films set in Paris but Amelie is my all-time favorite (tied with Before Sunset hehehe). It was so fun to trace some locations where Amelie was filmed.
This is Amelie's apartment and the grocery store. Au Marche de la Butte is located in Passage des Abbesses, Montmartre. And Amelie's photos are displayed all over the grocery store :))
The next one I visited is Amelie's workplace-- Café des Deux Moulins.
The café is so cute and artsy inside but unfortunately, the food is forgettable :(
Café des Deux Moulins is at 15 rue Lepicat rue Cauchois. There are plenty of other locations in Montmartre including Notre Dame Cathedral.
6. Go up the hill of Montmartre.
Montmartre is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Paris. It has hip and artsy vibes everywhere. And the views are amazing- rain or shine!
I'll write more about this beautiful hill soon ;-)
7. Cruise or walk along the Seine River.
Because of lack of budget and 'balls' to go alone, I did not take the cruise. Instead, I walked along the romantic Seine River a couple of times.
And no, I did not put my padlocks at the poor bridge :-P
The Seine is actually 777-kilometer-long so you'll get different views of it, depending where you are. Be sure to walk along Pont Neuf, the oldest standing bridge across the Seine River.
In contrast to its romantic aura, The Seine also has its tragic side. More than the novel Les Misérables (where the antagonist drowned himself here), in real life, this place is also popular for dumping bodies and suicides.
8. Admire French architecture and lifestyle by getting lost in different arrondissements.
The best way to explore Paris is to get out of a random metro station and explore the different arrondissements without the aid of a map.
It's always interesting to chance upon different landmarks, buildings and monuments.
Parc de la Villette has awesome buildings like Cite des Sciences et de l'Industrie, Philharmonie de Paris, Cite de la Musique and Conservatoire de Paris.
Even the dome of the mall Galeries Lafayette is breathtaking!
9. Savor French food.
I am not really a fan of French cuisine but there were still plenty of delicious French food that captivated my taste buds ;-)
French crepe is #1 on my list!
Other meals were too good that I ended up devouring them before thinking of having #foodporn photos. My stomach's bad.
I really loved French tarts, croissants, chocolate mousse, creme brulee, macarons, and souffle! Sweetness overload!!!
It was also my first time to try steak tartare. It's not photogenic but it's delicious!
Tip: Always go where locals eat. They know better than tourists ;)
10. Attend a gig.
I was so lucky to be able to attend a gig of one of my favorite artists Asgeir at Cabaret Sauvage. It's always refreshing to watch shows in a different place with a different crowd.
11. Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most popular monuments in the world. The Arc is dedicated to those who fought for France in the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars.
You can check the names of all French victories and names of generals on its walls.
You can also see four different sculptures on each of the Arc's pillars.
Champs-Élysées is France's most famous shopping area. The flagship store of Louis Vuitton is located here and there's always a long queue to enter the shop. Buying LV here is cheaper than anywhere else in the world.
You can also purchase other known French products like Coco Chanel, Hermes, A.P.C, Pigalle, Lacoste, Longchamp, and Sephora in this popular shopping avenue. But if you don't like crowded shops, you can skip Champs-Élysées.
I also love shopping in different pharmacies in Paris. French cosmetics are cheaper and have more variety here. You can shop different brands here like Bioderma, Biotherm, Yves, L'Occitane, Avene, La Roche-Rochay, Mustela, Vichy, Le Petit Marieillais, Nuxe, Klorane, A-Derma, etc.
If you wanna buy affordable food, Monoprix has great variety of cheese, jams, biscuits, chocolates, spreads, tea, and mustard. I regret not having enough baggage space for more cheese. My cheese stash was able to survive my long trip from Paris to the Philippines ;-)
13. Visit Parisian landmarks and learn about French history and culture.
There are so many Parisian landmarks worth visiting like Moulin Rouge.
Be sure to check out Napoleon Bonaparte's statue too for more French History 101.
The Pantheon is also an interesting Parisian landmark to learn all about French history.
La Madeleine Church does not look like a typical Roman Catholic church. This religious structure is also a dedication to the glory of Napoleon's army.
This bronze sculpture of Joan of Arc is honored every May Day as part of the tradition of far-right groups.
14. Visit stunning churches like Sainte-Chapelle and Notre-Dame de Paris.
Sainte-Chapelle is my favorite church in Paris because of its heavenly interiors. Its stained glass windows are jaw-dropping. Each design depicts stories from the Old and New Testament.
Notre-Dame de Paris is also a stunning Parisian church with its stained glass windows, sculptures and French Gothic architecture.
I'll post a separate article about these two churches soon ;)
15. Say Bonne Nuit at Montparnasse Tower Panoramic Observation Deck.
Paris becomes more enchanting at night. It's a totally different city with its glittering streets and an illuminated Eiffel Tower right at the center of it all.
You can catch the Eiffel Tower Light Show from its panoramic observation deck before you say Bonne Nuit to this magnifique city.
Je T'aime, Paris. I had a very merveilleux time. A bientôt!
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