There is no doubt that Paris is one of the world’s most iconic cities.
Unfortunately some visitors can find that their visit is a distinctly underwhelming experience –
so the purpose of this guide is to provide the insider knowledge to make the most of your trip to the city of lights.
One of the biggest problems facing tourists in Paris is that there is just so much to see and do.
The lists of ‘musts’ for Paris that are written are frequently very, very long.
Attempting to cram every single thing into your trip is a recipe for getting burned out and having a bad time.
Make sure you take time to relax into the life of this unique city.
Taking it easy
To make the most of visiting Paris you have to pick and choose what you do carefully.
You don’t have to do everything, Paris has been around for centuries and it will be around for a long time yet – you can always come back again.
Don’t treat your trip to Paris like a one night stand, but the start of a long and passionate affair. You will always find more to keep you coming back.
One of the best tips for planning a trip to Paris is to not plan too much in order to make sure that you can be spontaneous.
Often the best bit about visiting any place is the synchronicity of diving into a random café or taking an unplanned detour.
There are, naturally, options for eating all kinds of food on all kinds of budget in Paris.
In a city and a country that is famous for its cuisine however it would be a shame to miss out on some of the incredible restaurant experiences that are on offer.
This is one area where a little planning ahead can actually go a long way as getting reservations (and making sure you have packed appropriate clothes) is essential.
One of the restaurants in Paris that is very hot right now is Akrame. Close to the Arc de Triomph, it is very tricky to secure a reservation here.
IT is worth it if you can manage to get a table, this is after all a restaurant that was awarded a Michelin star with its first year of opening, which is almost unheard of .
Also with a justifiable reputation is La Tour d’Argent.
This is a Paris restaurant with a long and storied history that has undergone something of a reinvention of late, with many unique and exclusive dishes on the menu.
Another dining experience it is definitely worth checking out is La Table du Lancaster.
Boasting a Michelin star and a location close to the Champs Elysées, the food and setting here are impeccable.
A lunchtime set menu is available at a reasonable rate, considering the calibre of the restaurant.
The top attraction of Paris is the Louvre. This world famous art museum houses some of the greatest artistic treasures ever created, and draws in more than 8 million visitors every year.
Both the number of visitors and the number of exhibits can be problematic!
As with Paris as a whole, you can’t realistically hope to see everything on offer in the Louvre in one trip.
The museum is broken down into eight main departments (they are all colossal) and there are well over 35,000 works of art in total.
A little research ahead of time will help you to decide what you most want to see,
and may provide you with some conversational titbits should you find yourself in an arty and intellectual conversation.
The Louvre can suffer from overcrowding at times, but there are ways to avoid the worst of this.
The museum is at its busiest on the first Sunday of every month, when admission fees are waved – definitely avoid visiting during this time!
Getting an early start can help, and you should note that it is possible to book tickets in advance and use the much less crowded Port des Lions entrance.
Though the Louvre might be the most famous, Paris of course has plenty of other world class museums to visit.
As far as art goes, there are plenty of other choices than the Louvre.
The National Museum of Modern Art is definitely worth a visit. Housed in the famous Pompidou Centre,
the building it is in is itself notable. The collections are exceptional, only the New York’s MOMA curates a larger body of contemporary and modern art.
The impressionist school of painting was one of the most significant French contributions to the world of art.
If you are interested in the work of painters such as Monet, Cézanne and Van Gough then a visit to the Musée d’Orsay is a must.
Allow a good amount of time if you plan on going round this museum as there are a very large number if exhibits.
Outside the world of art there are some other interesting museums.
The National Museum of Natural History is actually made up of a total of 4 sites in Paris, with a further 10 in other places around France.
The Grand Gallery of Evolution is in a truly awe inspiring building, and includes the well-known ‘room of threatened or extinct species’.
The Gallery of Palaeontology and Comparative anatomy is where to see the dinosaurs.
The Eiffel Tower and other Landmarks
This is of course the most iconic of landmarks. It is definitely worth seeing the Eiffel tower, though it is not necessarily worth going up it – especially if it is not a particularly clear day.
In general there are (by design) not many tall buildings in Paris. Le Dhokhan’s hotel in the Trocadero is one that offers a fine view of the tower.
A great many of the other famous buildings and monuments of Paris can be seen on a stroll along the so-called ‘Axe historique’ or historical axis.
Including the Champs Elysées the axe historique takes in the Arc de Triomphe, the Tuileries Gardens and the Louvre.
At the other end is La Defense, which is the only part of central Paris in which it has been permitted to build tall buildings.
License: Image author owned
Thom Adrianno hails from Arlington, Virginia but is now as Euro as they come.
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