TOP 10 (70% FREE!) ‘SEE AND DO’ – PARIS, France
According to the Habitual Runaway
1. Walk Ile de la Cite. One of only two natural islands in Paris, Ile de la Cite is centrally located, easy to walk and FULL of history. At the western end, a Merovingian times palace, and at the eastern end, historic Notre Dame. Definitely a great walking tour, and an opportunity to gape at the incredible architecture.
2. Check out the Catacombs. There aren’t many places in the world like the Catacombs. Even if you aren’t into cemeteries, or ‘creepy’ things, this location is worth a visit. Once stone mines, over many years and for many reasons, more than 6 million human remains (bones) were relocated here – and stacked neatly in an artistic fashion. It is said that it is the Catacombs that prevent tall buildings from being built in ‘downtown’ Paris. To build up, you must anchor down, and with miles of tunnels circling around underground, that just isn’t possible.
3. Visit the Louvre. There are lots of world class museums and art galleries in Paris – and if that is your thing (and you have the money), you need only to do a quick google search to find thousands of reviews and suggestions. If you are like me, and tend to travel on a ‘shoestring budget’, then my suggestion is to check out THE art gallery, the Louvre. Truly is is a two day tour at the very least, so my suggestion is to arrive early and make use of the entire day. There is so much to see – endless history – and then you can say you have been to the Louvre!
4. Champ Elysees is arguably one of Paris most famous streets, and it is a great way to check out Parisian life. With the Arc de Triomphe at one end and artists, performers, dancers, shopping, cafes and incredible historical buildings to look at along the way, it is worth a walk on any budget, at any time of day.
5. Look at the Eiffel Tower – and that is all I suggest you do. I often wonder why people find it so important to climb the tower to look over Paris. I kind of understand the ‘view’ aspect of it all, but I DON’T get the rest of it. It is costly, always packed with other tourists, and the line up is usually atrocious (even in the rain) – hours long each time I have been. AND if you are up on the viewing deck with others, it is possible to be so crowded out that you aren’t actually able to see the view anyway. Add to that the possibility of fog and rain, cost, time, crowd – and I just don’t get it. Having said that, you HAVE to see the Eiffel Tower while you are in Paris, I just think it looks best from the adjacent park – which is a beautiful perspective that is free and without lineups.
6. Pont Alexandre III is the most ornate, famous bridge in Paris. Located at an important intersection right across from the Eiffel Tower. There is even an old beautiful carousel with incredible views of the tower and bridge, that is worth a visit for a few photographs. It was here I indulged myself in some cotton candy, which I ate standing atop Point Alexandre III, while watching boats traverse the Seine River.
7. The Luxembourg Gardens are a gorgeous place to spend some downtime. Considered to be one of the ‘most successful’ parks in the world, in part because of its perfect integration into the fabric of the local community. Featuring many amenities, you can get pony rides, cool your feet in one of many fountains, smell the flowers, grab some food and watch a marionette show. It is also a great place to spend some time hanging out in the shadow of the ornate Luxembourg Palace. There is a carousel in the gardens too.
8. Walk the Latin Quarter, just to mix it up a bit. Full of bistros and students, the energy of the Latin Quarter (named so because Latin was the University learning language in medieval times), is young and ‘hip’. Worth a stroll and a stop for lunch, to check out this notable source of inspiration for many.
9. Check out Hotel de Ville. You can get there by getting off at the Metro station of the same name. This location has been an important site of municipality since the mid 1300’s. Many historic events have taken place here – particularly during the French revolution.
10. Be sure to visit other parts of France. I make strong recommendations for a road trip to medieval walled town Boulogne Sur Mer, or gorgeous Lille. Compiegne is a great place to check out Joan of Arc history. Wherever you choose to go, you must set foot outside Paris, if you are able. France is an incredible, large and varied country – worth renting a car and taking a peek at.