Ever heard of Paris Syndrome? It’s a psychological disorder a number of tourists have experienced when visiting Paris, where the ‘city of love’ hasn’t lived up to their expectations and they have been left feeling shell shocked and a bit depressed. To be honest, the first time I went to Paris, I didn’t make much of it. The people were incredibly rude the moment they found out I was English, I seemed to get stuck in tourist traps and was ripped off everywhere I went. Upon returning, I had a much better experience, making friends with locals and going with a full travel plan for when I arrived. I’ll list everything I feel is worth it, but I would recommend going on something like Couchsurfing to meet some locals or other travellers if you want to experience the other side of Paris.
1 – Eiffel Tower
Alright, come on, I couldn’t create a list on Paris without mentioning the Eiffel Tower. Visible from pretty much every part of the city, this building was created in 1889, yet many are surprised to hear it was almost torn down, as most people in Paris hated it. It was actually built for the World Fair, however despite repeated plans for demolition, it ended up staying as a landmark and is now probably the most recognised landmark in the world. I’d recommend enjoying a picnic in the park at the front.
2 – Notre Dame
The hunchback of Notre Dame was one of my favourite Disney movies growing up, therefore this was a must. This cathedral was started in 1163, however following multiple delays on works, it wasn’t actually finished until 1345! You can climb all the way to the top, but the 387 steps will definitely test your fitness levels. Open seven days a week, if you don’t plan on climbing the steps then the visit is completely free.
3 – Louvre
The Musee De Louvre should be the image of art and French culture, but for me it brings back memories of the film Edge of Tomorrow. It is actually the largest art museum in the world, however you will find sections of the museum pretty empty. Why you may ask, well, the crowds have one thing on their minds. A view of the Mona Lisa. However if you do get bored at staring at this illustrious piece behind busy crowds, then there are 35,000 other art pieces to enjoy.
4 – Palace of Versailles
I remember reading in history lessons about the treaty of Versailles, signed at the end of World War I, that shaped Germany’s future, in which the German’s at this time felt was incredibly harsh. The Allies shared out parts of Germany, as well as their supplies and art, which only seemed fair considering the devastation Germany had pushed on the world, however the strict rules were probably a key reason why World War II came around. But I digress, the palace of Versailles has a beautiful garden area, as well as stunning architecture. I recommend packing your own bottles of water, as they will charge a fortune.
5 – Arc De Triomphe
Commissioned by Napoleon, this Parisian masterpiece is an iconic monument that always surprises tourists on the sheer size of the construction. You can climb to the top, while the size is so great, there is a history museum half way up! I recommend arriving for sunset, between 6-7pm.
6 – Le Marais
One of the rare free options on the list, Le Marais has changed its image so many times over the last 50 years. Hosting everything from art galleries and luxurious hotels to bars and a Jewish centre, this district is one of the oldest and most loved areas in Paris. I’d recommend finding a nice cafe and getting a coffee while relaxing after a busy day exploring the city.
7 – Paris Catacombs
It doesn’t matter what city you visit, if you get a chance to visit the catacombs then you should always jump at it, for a really eerie experience. If you have a local expert or a guide, they will be able to highlight the famous people that have been buried here, but I also enjoyed listening to a ghost tour which was taking place.
8 – Montparnasse Tower
Do you know what sucks about climbing the Eiffel Tower? When you get to the top and look out, you can’t see the Eiffel Tower. In fact, the photo I took, people couldn’t tell what city I was in! If you climb to the top of the Montparnasse tower, one of the tallest in the world, then you can get a photo of the city with the Eiffel Tower in the shot, making for a much better snap.
9 – Luxembourg Gardens
Or in French, Jardin Du Luxembourg, this 60 acre land is filled with sun bathers during the summer months. It’s also a great place to take the kids if you’re going on a family holiday. They can have a go on the merry-go-round, ride a pony or watch some of the street shows that occasionally take place in the warmer months. There is also a museum on the lands, which is the Musee Du Luxembourg.
10 – River Cruise
When people visit London, I always recommend they take a boat tour on the River Thames, as they will get a chance to see a lot of the tourist attractions in just a couple of hours, while managing to avoid the crowds and often with an entertaining guide. This is the same for people visiting Paris, as they can take a boat tour along the River Seine, as you look out at all of Paris’s most well known landmarks and buildings.
I hope you liked the guide! If you plan on leaving Paris at all, you might want to also check out my guide on things to do in France.