Paris is a huge city, full of great museums, galleries, things to do and places to eat. We arrived here from Nice by train and stayed for two nights near Latin quarter. I would certainly recommend this area if this is your first time to explore Paris attractions, as it’s really lively and relatively safe. It’s also very close to the Notre Dame de, which is one of the best Paris attractions and not too far from Louvre. First we chose the Hotel du Commerce, which was one of the cheapest properties in this area. When we arrived, our room was under renovations, so the hotel offered us a room at another property of their chain – Hotel Moderne Saint Germain.
Instead of writing a typical “How I spent my holiday” I will list a top 5 Paris attractions and suggestions how to spend a few days in this wonderful city if you just arrived here for the first time.
Paris attractions nr. 1: Eiffel Tower
This was high on our list from the beginning on. The tower, it’s construction and history are really impressive. So here is how to get there from, let’s say, Notre Dame. Option 1: walking. It’s going to be a long walk! We only made it halfway and ended up taking a bike taxi. By the way, if you care about your life, don’t take these! The drivers don’t really care about traffic and keep going even if they should give way! We nearly had a heart attack when he started left turn into the traffic, some cars stopping only 20cm from our feet! There is no protection of any kind. Really scary!
Another option is to take a bus 63. It will only cost you 2€ and will take you to this amazing Paris attractions in around 20 minutes. Last but not least, a metro is also an option. Didn’t try it that way, but should be just as good. Metro tickets are a bit cheaper (1.90€).
We were lucky to get to the tower by sunset, allowing us to take very nice pictures. The tower is really pretty when lit up, so make sure to stay until it’s fully dark, too. If this is your first time in Paris, you might find numerous security checks unusual. Before entering the tower, you will have to go through security gates. We decided to take the lift all the way up (17€), there is also an option to go just half way (so called 2nd floor) for 11€. The lifts are rather slow and getting back down involved a lot of waiting in the queue. It’s totally worth it, as Paris at night is magnificent. Although there are warning announcement every now and then, watch out for pickpockets. It seems to be a big problem.
This seems to be a popular option for travelers, who are first time in Paris, as well as people with tight schedule. You can circle around Paris for a few hours and see all main attractions. I noticed at least three different bus operators. Most of them start from Notre Dame. The prices are quite different though. We checked the green line (green buses), and their day pass cost 33€ per person. That’s quite a lot. Good news is that there is a cheaper option – bus line called Foxity. Their daily pass costs 20€ and takes you to all major sightseeing’s, such as Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Champs Elysees, Notre Dame, Place de Concorde and shopping district near Opera house.
Here is my review of this bus line on Google Maps:
Totally OK bus tour. Yes, there are no clearly marked bus stops, but if you just remember the place you went off, just need to come back to the same spot. We never had to wait for the bus more than 30 minutes. The audio worked on all 3 buses we took during the day. All drivers were polite to us and we didn’t have a single problem. Their only minus to my opinion is not too many stops and the route doesn’t go to Mont Martre/Moulin Rouge. Otherwise great tour and much cheaper than other buses.
This is your chance to try out Paris metro. Here is how to get there from Notre Dame: go down to the metro and take Line 4 (direction Porte de Clignancourt) from Saint Michel/Notre Dame. Get off at Barbès – Rochechouart station and walk along Boulevard de Rochechouart until metro station called Anvers. Turn right and you should see the Sacré-Cœur cathedral. Walk up the stairs and enjoy the view over the city from the hill. Facing cathedral, on your left there are some cozy restaurants and artists selling their paintings. You should certainly check them out, even if you are not going to buy. These are small pieces of art, you can see artists at work. If you continue on Boulevard de Rochechouart, you will eventually reach famous Moulin Rouge.
Although we visited this area during daylight, you could feel it’s not really the same as back in Latin quarter, where we stayed. There are a lot more shady people moving around, so it might not be the safest place during evening/night hours. Unless you are visiting Moulin Rouge for the show (one of the best and known worldwide Paris attractions), I would only recommend visiting this area during the day.
Walking along Seine
There are only so many museums you will have time to visit during your first time in exploring Paris attractions. Instead of wasting your time in long queues, trying to catch every possible attraction, you should really just try to enjoy the moment. You stay at Paris will be unforgettable, if you manage to get the taste of what the city is all about. In order to do that, you need to just be, walk around, do some people watching. Did you know that there are 37 bridges over Seine, of which 5 are pedestrian only and 2 are rail bridges. Some of those bridges are true works of art. The oldest- Pont Neuf – Paris’s oldest bridge, built between 1578 and 1607.
All the way along the cost of Seine, there are numerous green kiosks. Among souvenirs, you might find some pretty old collectibles, such as antique books, journals and comics. Working hours are quite unpredictable and depend on the weather. It’s among the cutest Paris attractions!
For around 15€ you can have a boat trip – nice way to spend an evening, have dinner or just relax from long day of walking.
First time in Paris – Eating out
Many restaurants are offering lunch deals – for 10-15-20€ you can have 3 course meal. Sounds great? Well, here is the thing. These lunch deals are not quite the same as normal menu. They are meant for quick bite. So when you order one of those (especially for 10€), don’t expect too much out of this. If this is your first short stay in Paris, I’d recommend avoiding those menus and trying something great instead. It’s not that you won’t get what you pay for, but the food won’t be that great and will leave you with “nothing special” memory. And that’s not the kind of memory you would want to leave Paris with. There is so much great food to try here!
There is hardly any shortage in places to eat out in Paris! The place we stayed in – latin quarter – has some short streets with different kinds of restaurants coming one after another. Whether you would like traditional French, Spanish, Mexican, Japanses or any other cousine, you can easily find it here. If this is your first time, don’t miss your chance to try snails! That’s right – snails (or escargot, that’s how they call them). I now, it might sound crazy to even think about it, but this is just first thought. Truth is – they are are really tasteful. Just mention to the waiter that this is your first time. He will be happy explain and show you how to eat a snail. By the way, snails are just an appetizer, so make sure to order something else or you might leave hungry. Price for 6 snails: 6-10€.
We didn’t try mussels in Paris, we only had them in Nice, but I don’t think there is much difference. Mussels are really great to try, if you like seafood. I say some restaurants offering them in mussels+beer package for 10€. Go for it, you will most probably enjoy that. I have never tried them before and loved them!
Paris, like any other French city, is filled with Pâtisserie’s – bakery that specializes in pastries and sweets. You will virtually find them on every corner. You could say, ut’s a Paris attractions of it’s own! Among other amazing desserts, one of the most popular ones are Macaron’s. These are great to try and bring back home as souvenirs. The prices are quite high, especially if you by from the bakery rather than from supermarket. While walking along Saint Michel street we stumbled upon an open air market and one of the stalls was selling those. I paid 12€ for 14 pieces, which is not too bad. As I said, you might find cheaper and pricier options.
Paris is great at any time of the year. However, I would highly recommend visiting at late September, when the weather is still warm, but the tourist masses have gone. September is a great month for most of South Europe – you can combine a bit beach holiday like we did in Nice and then take the fast train up to Paris and enjoy this gorgeous city – all in one week.
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