Paris has a timeless charm that never ceases to delight even the most seasoned tourists.
The city is abuzz with cafés, bars and bistros swarmed by both tourists and natives especially in the summer. Stylish dewy-skinned Parisian women in their nonchalant hairstyles clutching designer bags, Parisian men with certain je ne se quoi in wearing tailored clothes walk the streets with pride and panache. Bouquinistes line up a 3-kilometre green stalls on both banks of the Seine where you can buy stamps, posters, postcards, vinyl records, old magazines and books. The gorgeous view of the city from the cobbled streets of Montmartre to Sacre Cœur and the Eiffel Tower light show at night (no matter how touristy it is) at Champ de Mars while kicking back a bottle of wine are just few of the thousand reasons why one must visit Paris.
The best way to explore the City of Light is on foot or as Parisians call it, flâner, which means to simply walk with no destination and soak up the city’s beauty.
PLACES TO SEE
Musee de Louvre
Palais du Louvre
Arc de Triomphe
île de la Cité
1. Don’t be in a pickle! Booking a room in the summer is almost a highway robbery, museum queues are incredibly harrowing, meals are costly and parks are packed with people. You may avoid the hassle by booking hotel rooms (hostels or bnb’s) and museum tickets in advance.
2. Skip some of the busiest parts of the city. There are plenty of underrated quartiers in Paris that are as equally picturesque and interesting as the rest. Visit Saint-Germain where the famous Flore and Deux Magots cafés both with rich political and literary histories (but with the astronomical prices, you might as well gawp rather than sip a coffee) or the Latin Quartier where you can find some excellent bars and restaurants and Père-Lachaise where you may visit the graves of Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Fryderyk Chopin and James Morrison.
3. Take the Metro when you get tired of all the walking. Paris has 16 metro lines and a metro station is never more than half a kilometre away from any point in the city. Plus, there’s always a charming entertainment onboard.
4. Get the Day or Multi-day Metro Pass. If you’re staying in Paris for a day or more, always opt for the day pass or multi-day pass Metro ticket valid for all zones and covers Paris Metro, bus, tram, RER & Transilien suburban train.
5. Master the art of Flânerie. As a solo backpacker, I don’t recommend booking day tours or hop on-hop off tourist buses. Paris is meant to be traveled on foot at a comfortable pace (unless you only have a day to spend). Always choose to live in the moment!
6. Go for the best patisseries in Paris. With the slew of cafés and patisseries, it could be difficult to choose where to eat. Taste the best french macarons from patisseries like Ladurée, Stohrer, Pierre Hermé or Gérard Mulot instead of filling up all day on croissants and crêpes.
7. Walk along the River Seine. If you’re a hoarder like me, you may want to shop for books, vinyls, posters, post cards, souvenirs and old magazines here to your heart’s content.
8. Learn a few French phrases. Some tourists may have an awkward run-ins with a Parisian when asking for directions. Avoid these things by equipping yourself with basic French phrases that may come in handy. You wouldn’t believe how a simple Bonjour, Merci, Bon Soir, s’il vous plaît with a smile can make things so easy for you.
9. Avoid Tourist Traps. It never hurts to download an app and check restaurant recommendations that are not located near any of the tourist trap spots. But don’t forget to indulge every once in a while.
10. Download TRIPOSO-Paris. I can’t stress enough how helpful this app has been to me in all of my backpacking trips. This app has everything you need: from offline maps, booking your accommodations, building your city walks, directions on how to get to your next destination, restaurant reviews to off the beaten path suggestions- this app will change the way you travel – forever.
11. Know the difference between Left and Right Bank. The difference is easy to tell, the feel and history of each side of the banks is what you have to find out for yourself (Hint: Left bank is my favourite).
12. Visit less crowded exhibits and museums. I personally prefer to visit exhibits and museums that houses my most favourite artists’ paintings. I find the experience more intimate and more satisfying. You can stare at a painting for as long as you want without anyone judging you or eyeballing you to move.
Someone asked me before if I would want to live in Paris and I remember firmly answering no.
Perhaps, in retrospect, I should have said YES.
Besides, Paris is always a good idea.
For a List of Free Things to Do in Paris. Click HERE. [vivafbcomment url=”” width=”450″ count=”on” num=”6″ countmsg=”Comments”]