Paris has captivated minds and hearts for centuries: it is the birth place of some of the world’s most renown writers, artists and designers, as well as being known for architectural marvels like Notre Dame Cathedral and the Arc de Triomphe — just to name a few — and of course, its rich cultures that manifests in a vibrant art and food scene. Our digital content creator, Jeanne, visited the City of Light in January and managed to sample Paris in a weekend. Here are her tips on how to make the most of your time in La Ville Lumière.
Hello there! We can all agree that 72 hours is nowhere enough to enjoy all that Paris has to offer but you can still have an amazing and memorable trip if you sightsee mindfully. I would recommend skipping Moulin Rouge, Basilique Sacré Coeur and Les Halles and focus on these touristic lairs instead.
WHAT TO SEE
Mouffetard Street is the one place I wish I would have visited sooner in my trip (and more often). On the weekend the whole street throbs with activity : imagine a narrow cobbled street brimming with shops and stalls selling fresh produce (les fromages, les vins!) as well as art, books, clothes and other trinkets. There is also a variety of restaurants sure to arouse your gourmandise. If you’re on the go, there are hot chocolate stands that sell thick, frothy and absolutely decadent chocolat chaud you’ll love.
Take the boat on the Seine
Yes, it’s super touristy but when you’re short on time, a sightseeing cruise on the Seine is just what you need. Hop on a bateau-mouche and get a commentated boat tour of historical monuments situated along the Seine river including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Conciergerie and the Musée d’Orsay.
Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe
Touted as the most famous avenue in the world, you cannot go to Paris and skip les Champs-Élysées. Known for its cafés and stylish shops, it runs close to 2 KM between Place de la Concorde and Place Charles de Gaule where the Arc de Triomphe is located.
The Louvre OR le Château de Versailles
The Louvre and the Château de Versailles are huge estates filled to the brim with art, history and exquisite (opulent!) architecture. Pick one and come back to Paris to visit the other when you have more than three days. I visited the Louvre during my first visit in Paris, almost 9 years ago, and I still remember sitting down on a bench and admiring a painting that spanned one whole wall, tears streaming down my cheeks. It was beautiful; it transcended space and time and I would never trade the experience.
Grande Mosquée de Paris
Recommended by our e-commerce specialist (shout out to Aline!) who is French, the Grande Mosquée de Paris is situated in the 5th arrondissement and is also the largest mosque in France. Built in 1926 as a token of gratitude to the Muslim soldiers from France’s colonial empire who fought bravely during World War I, the Mosque is not only architecturally pleasant to the eye but also, selon Aline, the best place to enjoy a fragrant Moroccan-style mint tea and rejuvenating hammam (steam bath).
Visit the Eiffel tower, by night
Don’t get suckered into paying 15 euros to wait in line, only to gaze down at the city for 5 minutes before heading back down again. Visit the Eiffel tower by night and stay on the ground for a truly Parisian experience. If you still want to see the city from above, enjoy a spectacular view from La Terrasse des Galeries Lafayette — drink in hand.
The oldest café in Paris, this timeless gem located in Saint-Germain-des-Prés has played an important role in Paris’ cultural life since 1884. In its heydays, it was frequented by artists and writers such as Picasso, Prévert, Hemmingway, Sartre and Beauvoir, just to name a few. Although I can’t vouch for its food menu, a café au lait anywhere in Paris is still the best coffee you’ll ever taste. Especially when you’re sipping it in such a historical place.
I don’t eat meat and so exploring France’s food culture was a tad limiting for me. Thankfully, I’m not a vegan, so I gorged myself silly with cheese and fresh bread and yes, wine and espresso. But for those of you who want to eat a good (vegan) meal, I hear Le Tricycle on Paradis street is your go-to for brunch and lunch.
Brasserie Printemps is a large traditional brasserie with a hefty dose of history. Enjoy food and drink in in a magical and luxe setting under the Printemps cupola, a dome-like structure made of coloured stained glass. Feel free to wander around and grab a sweet treat at the Café Poushkine on your way out.
Le Chalet Savoyard
Whilst in Paris, eat like the locals: enjoy a raclette à l’ancienne or a fondue au fromage at Le Chalet Savoyard in the heart of the 11th arrondissement. Boasting a cottage décor with a modern touch, its menu is simple and totally delicious. This is another one of Aline’s coup de coeurs