Have you ever dreamt of going to Paris? Of visiting the city of love and style and glamour? Sipping lattes at chic cafés and exploring the world famous sights?
This is the guide for you who wish to live that dream and not let it fade away in an overcrowded tourist shop on an all-inclusive package nightmare. Here are my five top tips for a wonderful trip.
Have Lunch On an Epic Landmark
The best dinner spot in Paris does not have to be particularly expensive, surprisingly enough. Grab a salmon roll, a salad and a petite dessert in any of the many deli supermarkets littering the streets of Paris. Head off down the steps to the underground tunnel that allows you safe passage to the Arc d´Triumph. Make sure to arrive around seven or eight ó clock and settle yourself on the stone benches at the bottom of the arch facing the Champs Elyssée. Lean back and watch the gorgeous sunset color a distant Louvre fifty shades of pink. When darkness strikes the most famous street in the world will glitter from the lights of a thousand cars and you will be one of the few left to enjoy it.
Get Acquainted With The City
Take a walking tour. I know, I know, you are probably thinking “what is this doing on a different guide to Paris?” Quite simply put it´s the best way to learn how to navigate your way around the city without having to walk with a map in front of your face the whole day. Also, the Sandemans New Europe tours are nothing like the dreaded hop on hop off bus tours where you fight with a throng of other tourist to snap a quick photo before you speed off to the next attraction. Instead you leisurely stroll around the streets while learning about the history of the place from an enthusiastic guide, as well as those much kept secrets (like the fact that there are five entrances to the Louvre so no, you don´t actually have to wait in line for hours.) The guides work on a tip basis only which means they will ensure you have an awesome time
See Versailles From The Outside
If you´re in Paris for more than three days I would definitely recommend a visit to Versailles. Not necessarily to visit the castle though, but rather to see the gardens and Marie Antoinette´s estate. Rent a boat on the canal, watch the afternoon fountain show and walk along the palace walls to gawk at the sheer size of it. My personal favorite however, are the picturesque gardens and country looking houses that once belonged to Marie Antoinette. The Paris suburbs feel a thousand miles away as you pass by the stables and paddocks, watching the goats and feeding the bunnies. A sunny afternoon it is the perfect place for a picnic. If you do want to enter the palace make sure you do so in the evening and after having bought the tickets at the tourist information center first. This way you skip the line and avoid the large midday crowds. The garden is free during the week and charge a €9 during the weekend.
Wander Around Truly Parisian Areas
There is a Paris away from the Eiffel tower and the Champs Elyssée. A Paris where you meet actual French people with baguettes in one hand and a café crème in the other, greeting each other with kisses and incomprehensible-but-oh-so-beautiful-French. Dare to walk into the narrow alleyways away from the tourist trail in Montmartre and discover the hidden gems of this old village that has remained partly the same for centuries while being incorporated into the massive city of Paris. The streets around Mouffetard are another excellent spot for café lounging and gelato eating (!!) and the market place next to the metro stop is cozily French. Another way is to simply get off at any random metro stop and go explore. That is how we found the beautiful area of Saint Paul where I´m sitting right now, writing this post with a cappuccino in my hand.
Have A Glass Of Wine By The Seine.
The best place to do so is on the small peninsula Point Neuff located behind the statue of King Henry IV. This is also the only place left where you can find the lovelocks as the more famous bridge further down the street has had to remove them. When you reach the peninsula make sure to settle yourself along the sides of it if you´re bringing alcohol as it is prohibited in the park. Here you will sit elbow to elbow with Frenchmen and internationals alike and the close proximity opens up for nice conversations with strangers. A constant stream of tourist boats passes by and you will feel like a true Parisian returning their waves as you sip on your glass of red wine. PS: Forget the bottle opener – someone else will have one and it´s a great conversation starter!
So what are you waiting for?
Book that longed for, late summer long weekend and enjoy the City of Love!