I remember taking a train from Sweden to Denmark to catch a flight to Paris ALONE. Maybe that was a little risky of me, but I was meeting my boyfriend in Paris. Ahh, it was cute.
We spent a long weekend in Paris and it was so fun. We went to Denmark, Sweden, and Norway after. I only had a long weekend to get away from the city I was studying in Sweden, but Paris made the perfect destination for a few days.
My first impressions of Paris was that it was more crowded than I expected, it wasn’t perfect and that surprised me for some reason. Looking back I would go back because I feel like it has a different magic than other big cities.
Here are all my favorite things we did while in Paris
Walking up the Montmartre stairs
Our Airbnb was right at the bottom of the Sacré-Cœur church and the first thing we did was walk up to check out the views and neighborhood. There was live music, we had our first peak of the Eiffel tower, and then we walked around and found a cute lunch spot called. I honestly wish I spent more time there, but I will next time!
An obvious favorite, but I was impressed by its size and architecture. It’s HUGE and it would take days to explore it all in detail. We only explored about a floor or two, mainly looking at the most famous exhibits. Hi Mona. Some people say it’s overrated, and it kind of is if you just go for the famous stuff, but if you appreciate the whole museum and its history, you will find that it is beautiful and really worth a visit.
Trying out new restaurants and vegan macarons
As always, I have to try out new restaurants everywhere I go. It’s my thing. There was a vegan bakery a few minutes walking from our Airbnb called Laelo. It was so cute and the girl there was super nice and gave us a little post-it note with recommendations. We also visited Gentle Gourmet, an upscale vegan restaurant. It was a nice experience, but I don’t know if I would go back. We also tried an Indian restaurant close to the Eiffel tower (I don’t have the name, sorry!) but it was delish.
Going to the top of the Arc de Triomphe
This was one of my favorite things we did. The Arc de Triomphe is in the middle of this crazy intersection, and we couldn’t figure out how to get there because there were no crossing lanes!! We were walking around so lost and then realized there were tunnels. Groundbreaking ;).
You pay your entrance ticket and then you have to walk up about 300 steps….. yep, it’s a lot, but the views are SO worth it. You can see the entire city (Paris is so much bigger than I expected) and you have a gorgeous view of the Champs Elysees and the Eiffel tower. I 100% recommend you do this if you are in Paris, I would definitely be back.
Having a picnic by the Eiffel Tower
Must do. So cheesy but totally mandatory. We went twice right before sunset, and we loved it so much. We walked around to get some cute photos and getting to know the area, and then chilled on the grass right at foot of the Eiffel tower.
There were sellers trying to sell cheap souvenirs, and musicians asking for some cash, but you know? We still loved it. You can feel the magic. After sunset, at every hour, the lights sparkle and make you feel like you’re in a movie. There’s not much to say, this is a must.
Walking along the Seine river and getting lost
Even though we did take the subway a bunch, we walked a LOT during our time in Paris. We ended up finding a lot of our favorite spots just by walking and getting lost. We found the Notre Dame, bought some street art, listened to live music, hung a lock on a bridge (they were selling them for a couple of euros) and found a cute gelato shop. Getting lost was my favorite part.
First time in Paris tips:
- This is a city where you need to definitely plan your days. The city is really spread out and it can take 30 mins to an hour to get from one place to another. Try to use Google Maps to plan your days around one or 2 areas. Your feet will thank you.
- Find restaurants you want to eat at and see which attractions are close by, that way you always have spots to eat at, instead of suddenly being super hangry and you end up eating Chipotle (yes, there’s a chipotle in Paris). Pin them on Google Maps.
- But also leave some space to just wander around. Paris is the best city to do that, there are so many cute streets, shops, galleries, etc.
- Use Google Maps to get directions on what metro/subway/bus to take. This is all we used to get everywhere and it was simple enough, no french needed. We took a few taxis (to/from airport) but it felt like the people always chose a longer route to charge you more. We had a better experience with Ubers.
- Stay at an Airbnb! You will feel way more local. The apartment we stayed at was right by the Sacré-Cœur but at night it was quiet and we had a kitchen (for snacks lol) and living room! There are some nice hotels in Paris too, but they are way pricier, so it depends on what you are looking for.
- Learn a little bit of French. It’s not 100% necessary, but it’s nice to say “hello, how are you?” and other short phrases. Sometimes they would answer me back with a whole convo in French and I had to say like ‘wait wait!’ but it was fun! Most people know some English or Spanish.
- Versailles – to go or not to go. We decided to go since it was included in our attraction pass (see next tip) but to be honest, it took about an hour to get there, there was like a 2-hour wait to get in, and by the time we got inside, we were tired and hungry. If you are on the fence, only go if you have 5 or more days in Paris, if not, it will take away lots of precious time to explore the city.
- If you are doing lots of the touristy sites in a few days, you should consider buying the Paris day passes, they let you go into so many attractions for a flat rate. We did the math and it was worth it for us, so you would have to do the math to see if it works for you too. See the passes here.
I hope you liked this post, let me know if you dream of going to Paris! If you have any questions or want to say hi, please message me on Instagram at @amapoland. See you!