So, usually, people are always touting about seeing the things that AREN’T tourist attractions and that you will have a better travel experience and generally amazing life if you don’t go to tourist spots and actually get into the culture. Which is true. I love getting to a new city and just being. I love finding out which cool bars to fo to, which restaurants are the bomb diggity, and stumbling upon some cool spots. I also like tourist attractions. Because some are really cool. At least, some of them are.
So, which tourist attractions are actually worth it in Paris? Quite a few, actually, and a lot are FREE.
Let’s start with the most famous tourist attraction of them all: the Iron Lady. It may be cliche, it may feel annoying to wait in a long line, but just go to the Eiffel Tower. Even if it’s just to say you’ve been up the Eiffel Tower. Because that’s pretty fun to say.
When the views are pretty neat from up there, it’s what’s going on on the ground that’s more fun. Looking up, while you’re underneath the Eiffel Tower is pretty damn cool. It’s also pretty cool to sit in the grass or the benches nearby and have your own picnic. No judgment on what picnic means to you. It could be some macarons or a chocolate bar or a full-fledged basket with cheeses and breada and wines. If you find yourself accidentally at the Eiffel Tower (I’ll te ya, she sneaks up on you!) and are craving a picnic, there are about a million ans one crepe carts all around the city, especially in the tourist spots. They’re actually pretty decent.
My favourite spot of the Eiffel Tower is the market just outside if the actual tower, itself. Here, you can find tons of great goodies like cognac, soap, yummy crepes, and jewelry.
You have two options when seeing the Eiffel Tower: seeing it at night, all lit up or seeing it during the day. I’ve done both, and honestly, I’m not sure which is my favourite. Both have different pros and cons (like fun sparkly lights during the night and clear views during the day) and I doubt you’ll regret doing one over the other.
Price: 16.30euro takes you right to the top! Discounted rates for students, children, plus different floors can be found here.
This palace isn’t in Paris and requires a but of traveling, but is only a short train ride away. The town is absolutely adorable and walking through the grounds of Versailles (while exhausting) puts you back into another time and place. Who doesn’t want to pretend they’re a princess and meeting their forbidden lover in the forest?
I always urge people to spend the entire day here, really getting to see the entirety of the palace and grounds, immersing yourself in the history. Of course, not everyone is as excited about an old palace as I am. I’ve been three times and, as long as I’m in Paris long enough, will continuously keep going back.
Price: 20euro gives you a ‘passport’ to the entire grounds and you can add on what you like, such as a guided tour or those weird phone audio guides. They still do those weird phone guides, right? I never take them because I like to pretend I live in the palace and am leisurely strolling through. They also have shows you can check out if it corresponds with your visiting dates.
Yes, the stores are basic and overpriced, yes it’s just a street, yes there’s a McDonald’s on it with a dooe chandelier. Champs Elyesees is a long-ass street, guys. And, it’s pretty cool. I mean, for a street.
Even if you stop in to the giant McDonald’s for a cheap quick bite (you don’t have to feel guilty, either!) Or take a selfie in the sunshine, it’s fun to explore.
Champs Elyesees also leada you to the Arc de Triomphe, which gets my husband going because it’s a giant traffic circle. Yeah, he’s into things like intersections and roadways. While there are tons of arcs found all over the city, it’s still pretty cool to see the most famous one, and this tourist attraction doesn’t require tickets or a day pass or a guide or booking in advance. You can just walk up the street and bam! You’re at the attraction.
You don’t have to spend money in any of the shops, but window shopping in the sunshine is a magnificent time. And, might I suggest a macaron from Laduree?
Price: free unless you shop. And, that’s between you and your credit card.
An old prison, famously where they kept Marie Antoinette, Conciergie is a must-see in my mind and not just because they still use it as law courts! I absolutely love the history of Marie Antoinette and walking through Conciergie was eerie. The stones in the courtyard have turned green over time, you can see where they kept Marie Antoinette, something that is both safe and exciting. Even the outside of this mammoth building is foreboding! But, it never used to be a place to be feared; Conciergie used to be the royal residence until the end of the 14th century. How fitting is it that Marie Antoinette spend the remainder of her life here as Queen, a building that once housed royalty.
Even if you don’t reat care about the history of the last King and Queen of France, just viewing the interior of this place is magnificent and so very Knights of the Round Table.
This is a relatively quick tour Nd is easy to sneak into your day while your friend goes shopping.
Price: quick tour and affordable. 9euros will get you in.
Both the mall and the marketplace. This is a really cool street in Paris (follow fue Montorgueil) and housed the food markets that fed all of Paris back in the days of yore. There are tons of great patisseries and boulangeries mingling next to Monoprix’s, Franprix’s and delightful cafes and restaurants. For delicious thai food on the go, I recommend Monthai.
Shakespeare & Co.
This famed bookstore is a must for any book lover, as long as you are ready to wait in line to even get into the store. Still, it’s a pretty neat place to see and there are books absolutely everywhere. Bonus for travelers: they speak English.
Price: free, unless you buy some books, which, duh, you’re going to buy.
My favourite spot in Paris. Iove sitting in the park, quietly resding before anyone has arrived, enjoying the muted sounds of the park. I love sitting and watching the carousel later in the morning tinkle its little tune as little Parisien kids laugh and speak better French than I do. It’s a perfect spot to meet people, it’s a perfect spot to relax in the sun during the say, it’s a perfect spot to spend your time in Paris.
There are so many little parks and wonderful spots to enjoy Paris in, and everyone will find their favourite, but this one is mine. It’s so close to everything touristy and yet doesn’t feel crowded or stifled with tourists. It’s very close to the flowers market, and is where I spent mornings on my last two-week trip to Paris. It’s an absolutely wonderful way to spend the morning of your visit.
And, if you get a little bored you can visit L’Orangetie for some Monet action or hawk-eye the Louvre to hit it at the right time to beat the lines. L’Orangerie is a museum I would recommend, but if you’re not super into art- especially Monet – then strike it off the list.
The Louvre, while at the top of everyone’s list, is my least favourite museum I have visited in Paris and wi never be on nt things to do. Why? Because it’s insanely busy, I’m not into a lot of the collections housed there, and there are just so many other great things to do in Paris! Perhaps I will re-explore this major attraction on another visit, but for now it stays firmly off my list.
Picasso National Museum
Nestled between buildings in the Marais, this old private mansion houses Picasso’s work and is a definite must on my things to do in Paris.
The mansion, itself, is fun to explore while you take in the shapes and beautiful deformities that is Picasso’s work. The basement gets a little weird as Picasso got weird and freaked me out so much I simply left to get some champagne from the cafeteria. Or, did I get the champagne first? Hard to say, but I do remember the champagne.
Explore the neighborhood before and/or after you get weirded out by Picasso’s work and get lost in the charm of the 3rd arrondissement.
Price: 14euro. Free on Sundays, but you cannot book in advance.
If there is a tourist attraction not on this list thay you’ve been fishing and going and dreaming of seeing in Paris, just see it! If it’s something you’ve been thinking of and pining over for years, then you will regret not going, even if you’re disappointed. While these are the tourist attractions that I believe are the best ones in Paris, others may have a way different view on these. Remember to make your trip, YOUR trip and not listen to everything I, or anyone else, says about attractions anywhere in the world. I have no desire to go to the sewer museum in Paris (yes, it’s real, check it here), but you may find it fascinating.
A lot of people don’t believe in seeing the Eiffel Towe, but I do simple because it is so iconic. Most wouldn’t give too hoots to zoned time in Deux Magots, but I love the fact that I could be sitting in the same spot as Hemingway once did.
Take travel bloggers advice on things to do and see, but make the trip your own. Because things always look different when seen through another set of eyes.
Other ramblings about Paris: