Paris For First Time Visitors: Eurotrip 101
Heading to Europe for the first time for the summer? Then you might want to bookmark the Eurotrip 101 series.
We are kicking off with Paris, because let’s be honest: it’s been on your wanderlist ever since you saw the Olsen Twins walk around the city in Passport to Paris, then you fell in love even more during Amelie, you cried with Carrie’s struggles in Paris, and you’ve re-watched the Gossip Girl episodes a million times in preparation. So let’s don our berets and begin…
Best Things To See and Do in Paris
Montmartre is probably the most picturesque district of Paris and is home to the beautiful Basilica of the Sacré Cœur. This rather grand basilica dominates the highest point of Paris, and honours victims of the Franco-Prussian war. But lets not focus on that and feast your eyes upon the magnificent view of the city below.
Built in 1889 the well-known cabaret is considered the spiritual birthplace of the French Cancan. The Moulin Rouge has also featured in a lot of movies (yes, even Zsa Zsa Gabor’s 1952 film), but probably most famously in the 2001 Baz Luhrmann epic, which has increased its draw to visitors from all around the world, who are often disappointed to discover that Ewan McGregor doesn’t live there.
When you mention Paris, most people automatically think of the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower was built for the 1889 World Exposition. Fun fact: when the tower was first unveiled, the populace thought it was a towering horror, and it was nearly torn down. Luckily for every man who needs the perfect spot to propose they didn’t. A quick Tea Tip: The Trocadero is the absolute best place for the full Eiffel Tower pic and for the ultimate Paris feeling you will probably cycle there, get a baguette with cheese and eat it in the park. Wearing a beret is optional.
Notre Dame Cathedral is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in the world and boasts beautiful stained glass windows and a massive organ. But let’s be honest … you’ll only take a photo and squeal ‘Quasimodo!’. You might want to know that it’s FREE to go inside the Notre Dame. Usually there is a long line to go inside, but it moves rather quickly. You can also walk up 402 steps to the Bell Tower of the Notre Dame. It is a separate entrance and costs around 9 euros.
Arc de Triomphe is Paris’ most iconic boulevard and is located on one end of the the Avenue des Champs-Elysées – which is often proclaimed as the most beautiful street in the world. I can imagine way way back it was the place to be for a walk, but today, a stroll down the tree-lined boulevard is far from peaceful and it’s mainly a giant mass of cars. You can walk around outside Arc de Triomphe for free, but if you want to venture inside to the museum to learn more about its history (do we?) and go to the top to get a great view (yes, we do) there is a small fee.
The Louvre is one of the largest and most famous museums and houses some of the most famous works of art in the world, you’ll probably only head to Mona Lisa, the little pyramid because you remember it from Da Vinci Code and maybe you’ll stop by Venus de Milo statue. Don’t feel too guilty though, culture is hard.
Best Daytrips From Paris
Got time for a day trip? Then head to Palace of Versailles, one of the most famous in France. Built in the 17th century, it was the home of many royals – but you’ll probably know if for the 2001 Marie Antoinette movie. The huge building, terraces and gardens symbolise the supremacy and the military power of the French people. Most impressive? The Hall of Mirrors, which consists of 250ft of sheer glass and the gardens when in bloom. If you are going during high season, make sure to go super early and book in advance as queues can be a nightmare.
Time for another day trip? Why not head to Disneyland Paris: the Disney Empire’s European variant of their “Magic Kingdom” theme park. The park is located outside central Paris and it has two themes: The Walt Disney Studios and the Disneyland castle where you can easily spend a day or two hanging out with Mickey and co.
Luxembourg Gardens is a park that’s known for its lawns, tree-lined promenades, flowerbeds and for the picturesque Medici Fountain. The district it is situated in, Quartier Latin, is a very lively area with a lot of little narrow streets, old buildings and nice churches.
Pere Lachaise Cemetery: yes, it might sound a bit morbid, but really it’s fascinating as well as sometimes emotional to explore. Famous residents include Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and Edith Piaf.
Musee d’Orsay: This place is one of the visited museums on the planet and if you’re a lover of art, then this is a sight you won’t want your eyeballs to miss. Le Musee d’Orsay is located on the banks of the Seine, housed in the former railway station the Gare d’Orsay and houses works by greats such as Monet, Cezanne and Renoir. Household names, right?
Have I missed anything?