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Your Guide to Paris
Having been fortunate enough to have visited Paris numerous times before my year abroad, I knew the city pretty well before I had the chance to live there. However, there are always new places to discover in Paris and today, I thought I would share some of my favourites. Whether you are planning to spend your year abroad there next year, or are looking to organise a city break during the summer holidays with the hope that foreign travel will soon be allowed again, these are my recommendations for your visit.
For The Culture Seekers:
- Louvre – Being probably the most well-known art gallery in the world, and the fact that is home to the Mona Lisa, as well as many more famous works of art, the Louvre is an absolute must. It is free for students and the gallery is also open late on Wednesdays and Fridays, so make the most of the less busy, night-time exhibitions.
- Versailles – Positioned slightly outside of Paris, and due to the sheer size of the grounds, this chateau will require a day visit. The interior design of the castle is stunning and the gardens surrounding the estate are worth exploring too. And, at the very end, you’ll find a lake with rowing boats that you can hire!
- Sacré Coeur – Located at the highest point in Paris, this church has incredible views and is equally breath-taking inside. Montmartre – the area that surrounds the Sacré Coeur – is definitely one of the nicest in the city and is the perfect spot for a late afternoon apéro. If exercise isn’t your forte, no fear…there is a cable car to carry you to the top.
- Notre Dame – Although recently destroyed in a fire that burnt the top portion of the building, the remains of the Notre Dame are still visible from St-Michel and hopefully soon the cathedral will be restored to its previous glory.
- Ateliers des Lumières – This art gallery is truly unique with the works of art being projected onto the walls. The exhibitions change every few months, but each feature famous French artists like Monet or Van Gogh. Definitely worth a visit.
For The View Admirers:
- Eiffel Tower – A Paris staple. Did you even go to Paris if you didn’t take at least one photo of the Eiffel Tower? But all jokes aside, the view from the top is incredible, and I’ve heard that the restaurant there isn’t bad either.
- Arc de Triomph – Whilst you can get a good picture of the Arc de Triomph from the Champs-Elysée, many forget that you can equally get a good picture of the Champs-Elysée from the Arc de Triomph. There is no elevator however, so make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes.
- Tour Montparnasse – One of the uglier buildings in Paris but also one of the tallest: Tour Montparnasse is an office skyscraper in the south of Paris that has an observatory dock on the top floor, which flaunts some of the best views of the city.
- La Défense – This is the business district – essentially the Canary Wharf of Paris – and is home to an array of office buildings and an underground Westfield Shopping Centre. La Défense is most recognisable from the Arc that sits in the middle of the district, which also offers the opportunity to view Paris from its top floor.
For The Nature Lovers:
- Coulée Verte – The Coulée Verte is a long path that follows the old train track route from Bastille to the Bois de Vincennes. Consequently, the majority of the path is positioned above the road, and has since been decorated with flowers and benches so fellow nature lovers can enjoy the view.
- Bois de Vincennes – The ending point of the Coulée Verte and the biggest park surrounding the city’s perimeter, the Bois de Vincennes has so much to offer: from pedalo boat hire on the lake to an amusement park and circus situated in the woods, it has it all. I recommend hiring a Velib city bike and going to explore.
- Chalet des Iles – Imagine a cocktail bar, on an island, in a park, that can only be reached via boat. This is Chalet des Iles. It is tucked away in the Passy region and makes for the perfect first date spot. Rowing boat hire is also available for use around the island’s lake.
For The Shopaholics:
- Galéries Lafayette – Any real shopaholic would need no introduction when it comes to Galéries Lafayette. The department store has a few locations in Paris, with most famous being near Opéra. It is spread out over a handful of buildings, with the biggest having … and a rooftop bar.
- Bon Marché – Bon Marché was the first department store in the world and offers some of the top designer brands, as well as La Grande Épicerie, where you can buy luxurious food products from around the world.
- Châtelet Les Halles – Similar to at La Défense, Châtelet Les Halles houses an underground Westfield Shopping Centre, with the likes of Zara, H&M and Fnac. However, this metro station is always the busiest and the easiest to get lost in… you’ve been warned!
For The Adventurer:
- Disneyland – For those that haven’t let go of their youth yet, Disneyland Paris is the perfect day trip. With rollercoasters, parades and gift shops, the amusement park offers a magical experience for all ages.
- Cruise – The Seine is home to an array of Bateaux Mouches, which each offer tours of the city via boat. However, if you want a more luxurious experience, it is worth placing a dinner reservation for a cruise along the Seine.
- Hot Air Balloon – Every summer, park André-Citroën opens up its doors for Parisians and tourists alike to get a unique bird’s eye view of the city on board the world’s biggest hot air-balloon. Definitely a worthwhile experience.
For The Hopeless Romantic:
- Love Lock Bridge – Paris’ famous love lock bridge, Pont des Arts, was unfortunately replaced with glass panels due to the sheer weight of the locks causing damage to the bridge’s railings. However, there are still plenty of bridges in Paris where couples choose to leave their tokens of love. It is definitely worth exploring to find your own unique spot, but try not to overcrowd an already popular location.
- Moulin Rouge – Pigalle is essentially Paris’ red light district, with the street covered in adult shops and shows. At the end, you’ll find the Moulin Rouge, home to cabaret dances and the perfect place for a once in a lifetime performance.
For Being Wined & Dined:
- Palaces – Like any capital, Paris offers countless palaces that double up as luxurious hotels. Although slightly out of budget for a typical student, spending a long afternoon here, drinking cocktails with friends was one of my favourite past times during my year abroad. I recommend Hotel de Crillon and Mandarin Oriental!
- Big Mamma Group – If you love Italian food, you’ll love the Big Mamma Group. With locations all over the city- from Oberkampf to Pigalle – it is worth seeing what restaurant is closest to you. And you should definitely try the truffle pasta whilst you are there.
- Brasserie d’Auteil – Situated in Passy, this is another good place to come for Italian dining. The restaurant is huge, with outdoor, indoor and terrace seating; but always reserve a table first, because it will get fully booked!