Posted on March 17th, 2016
Paris, Paris, Paris. It’s the city on everybody’s bucket list, host to the symbol of France and one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world. What a lot of pressure! It’s definitely got a lot to live up to. And unfortunately for many people it doesn’t live up to this incredibly high standard. I was lucky enough to begin my year in France with a beautiful week in the French capital. I feel like I had enough time to really do Paris justice and have picked up a few tips and tricks along the way which I’d like to share with you. Hopefully these will help you avoid the feeling of let down and unfulfilled expectations.
The main Paris airport is Charles de Gaulle. From there you can take the B line train direction Saint-Remy-les-Chevreuse to Chatelet Les Halles. This station is then extremely central linking you to the metro and line A and D trains.
I was in Paris for a week and was staying with my host family in a suburb a half an hour train outside of central Paris. This meant that I was needing to be using public transport everyday and so I greatly benefited from the recently launched Navigo card. It’s a card that you can purchase and then pay 21,50 euro to activate. This allows you to make use of unlimited public transport from Monday to Sunday of that week. It really was the best investment and saved me lots of money in the long run. Otherwise it is always possible to purchase single tickets. But Paris is quite spread out meaning you will have to rely on public transport quite often. So have a look into it and see if it’s not more worth your while to purchase this card. More info on the website: http://www.navigo.fr/
While in Paris there a few non-negotiable things that you simply HAVE to do
Sit on the steps of Sacre-Coeur admiring the gorgeous view of Paris and take a stroll through the artist’s quarter as well as have a look at the Moulin Rouge.
The Eiffel Tower:
I recommend taking the stairs and walking up to the top. It will cost you 5 euro. I didn’t book in advance and only waited in line for about 10 minutes. This may be a different story in summer though. In winter the Champs de Mars (park leading up to the tower) is lined with Christmas markets. After climbing the tower you can then keep walking, cross the Seine and make your way to the Place du Trocadero where you’ll be able to look back and have the most gorgeous view of The Tower.
L’Arc du Triomphe:
A huge arch at the top of the famous street Champs Elysees built in commemoration of France’s war heroes.
The Palace of Versaille:
There really is something quite incredible about walking through the grand hallways of this palace whose opulence caused the French Revolution. To get here you’ll need to take the C line train. It is about 20 minutes outside of central Paris. Okay so my biggest memory of Versaille is queues. 3 hour-long queues! BOOK ONLINE IN ADVANCE! It will cost you 18 euros to tour the chateau and gardens. But if you have a trusty EU student visa then you can get in for nada.
Every website I looked at advised me not to go on the first Sunday of the month. It’s free entrance for everyone and so crazy busy. I went anyway and definitely didn’t regret it. I just went super early and stood in the line for web ticket holders by the entrance from the metro station. Obviously no one can prebook free tickets and so it’s fine but no one thinks of this and so joins the end of the very long queue entering through the glass pyramids. Give yourself time, highlight the artworks you want to see and work on a methodical floor by floor and wing by wing basis. Always remember: you can’t see it all in one day, but you can see the best in a few hours.
I didn’t go inside but just had a little look around the outside and at the surrounding area of l’Ile de Paris. It was raining and so my experience wasn’t the best one. But I suppose it is something you at least have to see from the outside while in Paris.
For my more detailed itinerary have a look at my previous blog posts:
Crepes with nutella
Crepes with ham and cheese
I hope this guide gives you a little more insight into how to do Paris well. Stay tuned for more toolboxes on other major cities!