Let me guess, you’ve seen all the TV shows and movies and you have an idea of what Paris is like.
You’re picturing a bicycle ride with a baguette in the basket, an evening at the Moulin Rouge, and the Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile.
I’m here to tell you, as an American who’s been living in this city for years, that there’s so much more to Paris than these clichés.
So buckle up, my friend, we’re about to explore the Paris that truly shouldn’t be missed.
In this article…
The Iconic Eiffel Tower
Cliché? Maybe. But there’s a reason this iron lady has been standing tall since 1889, captivating hearts worldwide.
The Eiffel Tower is an architectural marvel that must be seen, but here’s a pro tip: don’t just stop at gazing at her beauty from afar.
Ascend the tower at sunset, when the City of Light lives up to its name. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
Louvre Museum: More than just Mona Lisa
The Louvre Museum houses some of the world’s most exquisite art pieces, and yes, that includes the famed Mona Lisa. But don’t let Da Vinci’s lady hog all your attention.
Explore other sections too. Admire ancient Egyptian artifacts, Greek sculptures, and Napoleon’s apartments.
And remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither can the Louvre be fully appreciated in one, so plan accordingly.
Montmartre: Paris’s Artistic Soul
Once the stomping ground for artists like Picasso and Van Gogh, Montmartre is where the bohemian soul of Paris thrives. It’s more than just the Sacré-Cœur Basilica (although that’s a beauty not to miss).
The artists’ square, charming cafés, vineyard, and the cabaret of Moulin Rouge all make Montmartre an irresistible part of Paris.
Not Your Ordinary Cathedral: Notre-Dame de Paris
While the 2019 fire tragically damaged parts of this iconic cathedral, the Notre-Dame de Paris remains an essential part of the city’s history and architectural grandeur.
Gaze at its detailed façade, say hi to the gargoyles, and if you’re lucky to visit post-restoration, don’t miss the chance to climb up for a panoramic view of Paris.
The Chic Marais District
Picture this: narrow cobbled streets lined with pastel-hued houses, a vibrant LGBTQ+ scene, and an enticing mix of designer boutiques, vintage shops, and falafel stands.
That’s the Marais for you. And while you’re there, visit the Place des Vosges, the city’s oldest planned square, for a picnic.
The Catacombs: Paris’s Underworld
Ready to delve into the macabre side of Paris?
The Catacombs, an underground ossuary holding the remains of over six million people, is a hauntingly unique experience.
It’s a chilly reminder of the city’s past, far removed from the glittering lights and romantic allure.
Sainte-Chapelle: A Stained Glass Wonderland
Nestled in the heart of Paris, Sainte-Chapelle is a gem that many overlook. Its 15 magnificent stained-glass windows depict over 1,000 scenes from the Bible, casting a
kaleidoscope of colors that’ll leave you spellbound. Remember to visit on a sunny day when the chapel is at its most brilliant.
Food, Glorious Food
From the crusty baguettes and buttery croissants to the escargot and crème brûlée, Paris is a gastronomic wonderland.
The humble crêpe, the falafel in Marais, or the Berthillon ice cream on Île Saint-Louis, they all compete with the fanciest of Parisian restaurants.
Palais Garnier: The Grand Opera House
With its grand marble staircase, gilded moldings, and Marc Chagall’s painted ceiling, the Palais Garnier is more than an opera house – it’s a masterpiece.
Whether you catch a performance or take a guided tour, the opulence of this place will leave you awestruck.
The Banks of the Seine
Paris is not just about grand monuments and world-class museums.
It’s also about sitting by the Seine on a sunny day, watching the boats float by, enjoying a picnic, or just strolling down the riverside as the city lights start twinkling at dusk.
The banks of the Seine offer some of the best views and are an essential part of the Parisian experience.
The Booklover’s Heaven: Shakespeare and Company
The iconic bookstore that once hosted the likes of Hemingway and Fitzgerald is a must-visit for any literature lover. Get lost among the stacks of books, attend a reading, or simply soak in the atmosphere of this magical place.
The Majestic Palace of Versailles
A short trip from Paris, the Palace of Versailles is a grand display of royal opulence. The palace, the Hall of Mirrors, the expansive gardens, the Grand and Petit Trianons, and Marie Antoinette’s estate – it’s a day trip well worth your time.
Paris, my dear reader, is an onion with countless layers. Peel back one, and you’ll find another, each more intriguing than the last. It’s not just about ticking off the attractions, but about experiencing the spirit of the city.
Get lost in its streets, mingle with the locals, savor the food, and let the city surprise you. As Audrey Hepburn said, “Paris is always a good idea,” and I’m here to vouch for that!