Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and there is so much to see and do that you couldn’t possibly fit everything into one short weekend. Everyone has heard of the main sights in Paris – the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame. *SPOILER ALERT* these attractions are iconic and probably worth seeing at some point in your visit. But you didn’t need us to tell you that, did you? So here are our top 5 (slightly less obvious) things to do in Paris.
TOP 5 THINGS TO DO IN PARIS
1 GO UP THE ARC DE TRIOMPHE
Most Paris itineraries include a trip up the Eiffel Tower for a view of the famous Parisian skyline. The only problem is that you are stood on the most famous part of the skyline – the Eiffel Tower itself. Add in long queues and expensive ticket prices, we decided to scour Paris for a better alternative. So how about soaking in the view from another landmark, the Arc de Triomphe?
Situated at the top of the Champs-Élysées in the middle of a busy roundabout, the Arc de Triomphe is a memorial to those who died fighting in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. It is open all year round and you can climb to the top of the monument from 10am to 11pm every day for only €12 which is a fraction of the cost of the Eiffel Tower. If you are under 26 you can even get to the top for free!
paris-arc-de-Triomphe.fr, Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008
2 WALKING TOUR OF MONTMARTRE
We love a walking tour and generally prefer to walk around most of the cities that we visit instead of taking local transport. But when you arrive in Paris you will quickly realise that it’s a huge city and the main tourist attractions are fairly spread out. As such there seemed to be a distinct lack of free walking tours available particularly when compared with other cities. So why not try a walking tour of Montmartre instead?
Home of the famous Moulin Rouge and backdrop to the classic French film Amélie, Montmartre is steeped in artistic history. The tour itself lasted an hour and a half and starts outside the Blanche metro station. After winding through the cobbled streets of Montmartre you end up in front of the Sacré-Cœur for a breathtaking view over Paris.
Discoverwalks.com, Blanche Metro station
3 TRY ISPAHAN
Paris is a food lover’s dream. There are so many fantastic restaurants to try and markets selling the best produce. Before our trip, a Parisian colleague of mine recommended one cake in particular that she said we had to try. It did not disappoint. Ispahan is an intoxicating combination of macaron, rose and raspberry sold exclusively at Pierre Hermé. We visited their concept store with L’Occitane on the Champs-Élysées for perhaps the most expensive coffee and cake we have ever had. It was worth it.
Pierreherme.com, 86 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris
4 TRY THE FALAFEL IN RUE DES ROSIERS
Have you noticed a theme to this post? We did not stop eating on our trip to Paris. For any vegetarians and vegans travelling to Paris and worried by what might be on offer, you need to check out Rue des Rosiers. At the centre of the city’s Jewish quarter and famed for its falafel, tourists queue round the corner for freshly made falafel served in a pitta. Beat the queues by getting there early or by grabbing a table inside any of the main restaurants along the street. It’s worth the wait!
5 CROISSANT MAKING CLASS
Continuing on our foodie theme, one of my favourite things to do anywhere in France is to pop into the local bakers and pick up some freshly baked Viennoiseries first thing in the morning. On our recent trip to Paris we went one better and we learned how to make them ourselves at La Cuisine Paris. Check out our full review but in short this definitely makes our list of the top things to do in Paris. The class is three hours long and taught by a team of outstanding pastry chefs. As a bonus you get to take away a full bag of freshly baked croissants, pain au chocolat and more that you have just made. Result!
Lacuisineparis.com, 80 Quai de Hôtel de Ville, 75004
What are your favourite things to do in Paris? Let us know in the comments below.