Paris; This city has absolutely everything you could want from a holiday destination; amazing food, gorgeous architecture, a rich history (dating back to the 3rd century BC) and an abundance of museums, churches and lavish gardens. Paris will always hold a special place in my heart and is a destination that I never get tired of visiting.
The best time to visit Paris is spring or the beginning of summer, the temperature is quite mild and the hordes of summer tourists from not only other parts of Europe but around the world will not yet have ascended on the city. However with a temperate climate all year round there is no wrong time to go, during the winter months the temperature rarely dips below freezing.
Currency: France uses the Euro and almost everywhere accepts card, however having some cash would be advised if you wanted to buy some small trinkets and keepsakes from the numerous stalls dotted around.
Where to stay: My favourite place to stay is the 8th and 9th Arr. here you are far enough removed from the numerous tourist traps of being in central Paris, while still being close enough to walk down to the Seine or alternatively catch the very easy to use and efficient metro.
What to see:
- Eiffel Tower; the most visited paid tourist destination in the world, this stunning tower was built between 1887-89 for the world’s fair and has become one of the most recognizable symbols in the world. The panoramic views from the top are jaw dropping. The best time to go up is for sunset; however expect long queues and lots of people. But it is worth the jostling to get to see Paris transform from day to night. You can also find yourself a nice spot on the grass and have a picnic as the sun sets over the Eiffel tower, just be prepared to be hassled a few times by people selling selfie sticks.
- Versailles; The sun kings palace is a 45min train ride from the center of Paris and leaves quite frequently every day (RER C line – but google maps will provide you with the most accurate timetable from your location) and is one of, if not the most impressive palace I have seen, with an estimated 2 Billion Euro being spent on the palace, furniture and the grounds during the reign of Louis XIV. The decadence is extraordinary with more gold and baroque than you can shake a baguette at; you can take your time wandering through the many palace rooms but will usually take around 2-3hours to do a complete circuit. The palace also boasts amazing and gardens and grounds which are the perfect place to relax for a b.y.o. picnic. Be warned though you are not permitted to take bags into the palace so any food you have make sure it’s in a cooler bag which you can leave at the coat room.
- Louvre; the most visited museum in the world and originally a Palace to the French Royal family. The collection showcases artworks and objects of antiquity from across the globe including the famous Mona Lisa. If you are hoping to see the Mona Lisa try and arrive early to the Louvre heading straight to Mona as crowds can make it very difficult to get close the more the day wears on. Walking the corridors and rooms of a palace while admiring exquisite paintings, collections from Egypt, Greece and the Roman period along with many others is a surreal feeling. Be sure to grab a museum guide/map and don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes even if you won’t be covering every one of the 65,000 pieces of collection on display. While the Louvre is one of those experiences you feel like you have to tick off the bucket list, I would advise that unless you are a big art and/or history buff you could easily give this a miss as it will consume you’re whole day and if you are on a tight schedule it may not be the best cultural experience for you.
- Arc de Triomphe; Built at the end of the famous high end fashion street the Champs-Elysees, this arc stands as a monument to the fallen soldiers of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. It also houses a tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War 1 with the first eternal flame lit in Western and Eastern Europe for over 1500 years. It is also the central pivot point of one of the most insane round-a-bouts in the world, and how there aren’t continuous crashes I will never know. While the Arc is cool to take a look at the Champs can be very busy and extremely commercial so if you were looking for an authentic Parisian shopping experience you will not find it here, my advice would be to go see the Arc and take an awesome time-lapse of the crazy driving but then head over towards the district of Montmarte where there is an abundance of boutique shops and originally the home to the poor artists of the city in the late 19th century to early 20th century including the great Van Gogh. The beautiful Basillica Sacre-Coeur is also located in this district and provides beautiful views of the city. Grab a macaroon at the bottom of the steps at one of the many boulangieries and make your way up the steps to the top. One street over on the top of the hill is a small square called Place du Tertre where the best street artists in Paris sit and for a reasonable fee you could get a hand drawn/painted picture within minutes, a beautiful souvenir to hang on your wall at home. Or if you weren’t keen on becoming a masterpiece yourself you can watch as others sit and get their portraits taken.
- Notre-Dame; With the origins of this church being laid in 1163 and then continuing throughout the years, this church is one of the greatest examples of French Gothic Architecture. With gargoyles, crypts, a treasury and an incredibly rich interior, this is everything that resembles the wealth of the church in the medieval period. While in the area you can take a walk back down the Seine towards the Eiffel Tower along the way you’ll find some small stalls selling souvenirs and books which are super cute and fun to have a browse.
What to wear;
The girls; A Women’s Floral Print maxi was the daytime choice of garment.