Ahh, Paris. The city of love. I had wanted to go to Paris for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I had artwork of the Eiffel Tower all over my room, promising myself I would make it there someday. I dreamed about Paris for so long, when I finally had the chance to go, I hoped I wouldn’t be disappointed. Let me assure you, I was not! This city is everything you hear it is, and more. It was absolutely magical and I cannot wait to share my time there with you!
We arrived in Paris mid afternoon on our first day, so we checked into our hotel, the adorable R. Kipling Hotel in the Pigalle/Montemarte areas of Paris. We quickly got settled (after ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the adorable street views out our open hotel window) and set about exploring!
Our hotel was literally a 5 minute walk from the famous Moulin Rouge and a 10-15 minute walk to the cutest part of Montemarte and the Sacré-Cœur. This was my absolute favorite neighborhood in Paris and where we ate dinner all 3 nights we were there. SO charming and picture perfect, I felt like I was walking in a movie set!
Keep reading for a list of top things I recommend doing in Paris, some are cliche (but must-do’s), and also some personal tips:
- See the Moulin Rouge, Sacré-Cœur, and Montemarte area: Some of the cutest cafes and restaurants, and that authentic Parisian feel that you think of when you think “Paris”…complete with street musicians playing accordions and crêpe stands on the corners…just adorable! Take a few moments to sit on the steps of the Sacré-Cœur, and take in the views overlooking the city. Photo tip: Find La Maison Rose cafe in Montemarte for a gorgeous backdrop for an Insta-worthy shot!
- Eat dinner at Le Vrai Paris: We happened upon this spot not far from the Moulin Rouge. It’s charming and beautiful on the outside, which intially drew us to look at the menu. It sounded good, so we got an outdoor table on the patio. Tip if you go here – order the honey + rosemary Camembert with baguette as an appetizer. It will change your life!!! It was the most delicious thing we ate in Paris.
- See the Eiffel Tower during the day: This is an obvious one, but it truly is breathtaking. We planned to go up to the middle deck of the Eiffel Tower and booked our tickets online in advance (totally recommend doing this to avoid ticket lines on site). Also we went first thing the morning to avoid crowds. We only waited about 20 minutes in security lines. The views from the observation deck were amazing!
- And at night: You cannot go to Paris and miss the experience of the Eiffel Tower lighting up at night. It’s almost like a ritual. It was perfection. After dinner in Montemarte, we Uber-ed (Yes, Paris has Uber!) to the Eiffel Tower ready to find the perfect spot on the Champs de Mars (the long green lawn next to the Eiffel Tower). We brought towels from our hotel to sit on, and found a good spot. There were vendors walking around selling bottles of rosé +champagne (which you can definitely barter with them on the price) so we snagged a pretty pink bottle of rosé to sip on. I’ve never felt more Parisian, with all the other people around, enjoying their evening picnics on the lawn watching the sun go down sipping on bubbly. The sparkling lights come on every hour on the hour, starting at dark, and last for 5 minutes. Everyone cheered when they came on, and it was 5 minutes that I’ll remember forever!
- Take photos at the Trocadéro: The Trocadéro is a large building on the opposite side of the Eiffel Tower than the Champs de Mars, and it provides the most perfect spot for getting those dreamy shots with the Eiffel Tower in the backdrop. I loved the cool angle the steps provided for our shots.
- Cross two of the most famous bridges in Paris: The Pont Alexandre III and the Ponts de Arts. The Pont Alexandre III is a beautiful bridge that is instantly recognizable by the ornate architecture and the view of the Eiffel Tower. The Ponts de Arts is known as the “Love Lock Bridge” which of course now had to have the locks removed as they were weighing down the bridge too much. But the pedestrian bridge still offers gorgeous views of the Pont de Neuf and people still managed to find to spots to declare their love with an inscripted lock. Let love live on!
- Walk through Jardin de Tuileries: Paris is full of stunning parks, but this was my favorite. We strolled through the Tuileries Gardens on our walk to the Louvre, as the park sits right next to the famous museum. The park is a botanical dream, with endless flowers, and little ponds and fountains. Green chairs are speckled all over the park, for passersby to sit and enjoy a peaceful moment. We took a break from walking and sat in these chairs for a good 15 minutes. It was lovely!
- Visit the Louvre: We made the personal choice to avoid going into the museum itself, as we wanted our time to be spent exploring the city rather than waiting in lines, but if you have the time or are an art-lover, of course a visit inside is a must-do! We enjoyed seeing the beautiful architecture of the exterior and snapping some photos of the famous glass pyramid.
- See the Notre Dame Cathedral: What would a visit to Paris be without seen the Notre Dame?! We are Catholic, so visiting this site was especially meaningful to us. We went to Mass there first thing in the morning and it was so special! Also the early hours are key to getting a photo of the church without all the tourists in the front! By the time Mass was over, there were long lines out front and buses unloading even more tourists.
- Visit Luxembourg Gardens: From the Notre Dame, we walked to the Luxembourg Gardens. It was so beautiful and we loved spending time in the park as a nice break from the busy tourist sites. The palace there is just stunning and there plenty of places to sit and take in the view.
- Stroll the streets of St. Germain: This is the neighborhood that sits between the Eiffel Tower and Luxembourg Gardens and is one of the most charming neighborhoods of Paris. It was my 2nd favorite area after Montemarte. The streets are very narrow and wind all over with classic Parisian architecture everywhere, just oozing with charm and prettiness.
- Eat macaroons: This goes without saying! You have to try macaroons in Paris. There are two places I was told to try them: Laduree and Angelina. We didn’t try any from Laduree, but we stopped in a small Angelina in St. Germain and got a mini box to try. They were très magnifique!
- Spend an afternoon in the 4th Arrondissment + Le Marais: Another incredibly charming area of Paris…I mean the city can do no wrong! Tip: Stroll along Rue de Rosiers…it is a pedestrian filled stone street filled with shops and restaurants. It was magical! Plus it’s just a few minute walk from the gorgeous park Place de Vosges. It was the perfect spot to sit in the grass and take in the afternoon sun after a long day of walking.
- Eat crêpes + have a coffee at a French café: This classic Parisian staple is not hard to come by. There are crêpe stand all over the city, but we chose a sit down café in the 4th arrondisment near Le Marais district. We had savory crêpes for lunch and I also got a delicious latte with the biggest dollop of whipped cream I’ve ever seen! Mmm it was so good!
- See the Arc de Triomphe + Champs-Élysées: Such a famous monument that cannot be missed! It was so much bigger in person than I was expecting. I loved the rush of the cars flying by in the circle around it and turning to look down the famous Champs-Élysées. Take time to stroll down the famous avenue full of busy shops + cafes, and many many tourists!
We spent our final night in the City of Love back in Montemarte and ate dinner at the famous Le Consulat. After a delicious meal + a few glasses of wine (of course), we walked to the Sacré-Cœur to sit on the steps and take in the city from above one more time, dreaming about the day we get to visit Paris again.
Has anyone else been to Paris? What are your favorite must-see spots?