Paris is a city like no other, and you won’t be too surprised to learn there are plenty of places to visit while in Paris. Unlike some other major cities, where the reality falls short of the long held expectation, what might surprise you is that some of the places to visit in Paris that seem overly familiar and clichéd turn out to be incredibly enjoyable, and well worth the effort.
Best Places to Visit in Paris – Are best got to by just Walking Around
One of the first things I realised about the French capital is that it is the best place I have ever been to for walking around aimlessly.
It might sound weird but one of the top Paris travel tips I can give you is to just put on your walking shoes and see what you happen to stumble upon. I was staying in a hotel out in the 18th arrondissement if my memory serves. This meant that I was pretty far from the centre but I decided to head out and just walk there on my first morning. I had barely left the hotel when I saw a windmill on a building that looked very familiar. I soon realised it was the spectacularly famous Moulin Rouge.
This is a cosmopolitan part of the city so I bought some Thai spring rolls to follow my baguette and headed off in search of some more amazing sights. Before long I saw the most amazing vision in front of me; a stunningly beautiful church on a hill. It turned out to be the Sacre Coeur church.
I hadn’t any idea that I was staying so close to these world famous attractions, which shows the timeless wisdom of not doing any research before travelling.
Best Places to Visit in Paris – The Eiffel Tower. Seriously
In the end I took the Metro in to the centre to carry on my stroll. The big question in my head was whether I would even bother going to see the Eiffel Tower. After all, isn’t it just a vastly over-rated hunk of metal? I decided I should really check it out since I was here and I was transfixed by it.
I still can’t explain it but there is something magical about standing under this structure while listening to Charles Aznavour sing La Boheme. I stayed here so long that it got dark and I got a brilliant surprise when the tower all lit up. I stayed here for ages, taking silly selfies with my new beret and munching on hot dogs, which is another of my unexpected Paris travel tips.
The Arc de Triomphe is a short stroll from here and it is also a lot more interesting than I had expected, being another one of the best places to visit in Paris.
Best Places to Visit in Paris – Notre Dame
Usually I walk into cathedrals at the worst possible time, like when someone is cleaning the floor or when the world’s saddest funeral is taking place. However, things were very different in Notre Dame.
I walked into the creepy, gothic cathedral and within 2 seconds the organ player started up the creepiest, most gothic tune I have ever heard. I couldn’t have been more freaked out if Quasimodo had swung down and screamed “Sanctuary!” in my face.
This was the perfect way to see this place and I loved wandering around it while listening to the otherworldly music.
You can head up to the roof here by climbing up a steep set of stairs, which is definitely one of the most exciting things to do in Paris. It is a magical sort of place and an ideal spot to take a break from the busy streets and seek some, well, sanctuary.
Paris Travel Tip: Try to Speak some French
I arrived in Paris with a French vocabulary amounting to, at best, 50 words. In fact, some of these half remembered words from school probably weren’t even real words. However, I love speaking foreign languages when I travel. I geared myself up for my first real conversations by listening to people on the Metro. There is something insanely satisfying about listening to foreign conversations on public transport. You think you pick up the odd random word but you have absolutely no idea whether they are talking about last night’s sports action, the price of bananas or the chances of life existing on Mars.
It is worth mentioning that Parisians have a reputation for being rude to tourists and for being intolerant of people who don’t speak French correctly. However, I found that everyone was really polite to me when I stumbled my way through basic questions. Give it a try the next time you are in Paris and you might be pleasantly surprised how much you enjoy it.
Best Places to Visit in Paris: By Robert Bell
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