There are many places in the world that you hear a lot of people talk about and you wonder “Is that place really that great?”
Some of them don’t live up to the hype and some of them are completely worth every bit of hype it gets.
Paris is definitely worth all of the hype.
Within 30 minutes of exiting the train station and walking to my hostel I was blown away by how amazing Paris was.
I didn’t visit any of the sites or eat any of the food yet; I was just walking the streets.
From that I could already understand why so many people talk about Paris, or why Paris is their favorite city.
Before I arrived in Paris I was thinking to myself that “I’m either going to hate this place or love this place.”
Some of the negatives I heard was that it was a large, dirty, smelly city full of rude people that don’t want to hear you speak English.
Paris might be a bit messy looking with all the crappy graffiti everywhere.
But if they had some real artists do murals over that stuff you’d be looking at one of the coolest cities ever.
The size of the city might look big once you’re standing on the 2nd level of the Eiffel Tower but I still found it to be remarkably walkable.
I think the only time I took the tram was to get to a train station in a hurry.
I didn’t think the city was smelly and I didn’t notice the people being rude.
And as long as I started a conversation with “Bonjour” the residents didn’t seem annoyed by switching to English once I started to talk.
Two of the main things everyone talks about when they mention Paris are the sites and the food, and for good reason; they’re both great.
The Louvre is the most visited museum in the world.
Even if you’re not into art it’s still a cool place to hang outside of and do some people watching.
If you do go inside you should know that unless you have 3 months to kill you won’t be able to see everything.
My recommended plan of attack(which is relatively quick) is to just go to the Denon Wing of the museum.
See highlights like Mona Lisa, Da Vinci paintings, and Greek sculptures.
Mona Lisa will certainly not impress you, but it’s just one of those things people have to check out.
If you get there early enough you might not be behind 100 people crowded around a tiny painting behind glaring glass.
After seeing Mona you can check out more of the French and Italian work like Leonardo da Vinci.
Before leaving you can swing by the Greek section to see the sculptures(which was my favorite part).
However, don’t plan on going to the Louvre on a Tuesday because that’s the only day it’s closed.
From the Louvre, if you go northwest, you can take a nice 3.4km(44min) walk down Champs-Elysees.
The whole time you’ll be tempted by amazing smells coming from the restaurants and crepe stands on your way to the Arc de Triomphe.
Feel free to indulge. We understand.
ARC DE TRIOMPHE.
Arc de Triomphe is cool for some good photos and that’s about it.
If you plan on going up the Eiffel Tower there’s really no reason to go to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
From the Arc de Triomphe you can take another nice 2.5km(32min) walk over to the Eiffel Tower.
I was utterly surprised at how gigantic the Eiffel Tower really is.
From all my years of seeing pictures I never realized the sheer size of it.
Once you’re done gawking at the massive structure you’ll obviously want to go up it.
The 2nd floor is accessible by stairs which makes it cheaper than taking the elevator.
5-7 euro to take the 668 stairs, or 8-11 euro to take the elevator.
The top floor can only be reached by elevator and it’s 14-17 euro.
I never went to the top, but I can’t imagine it being much more amazing for an additional 10 euro.
Now if you’re at the Louvre and you head southeast for 1.2km(15min) you will end up at Ile de la Cite.
The small island in the middle of the Seine River.
SAINTE-CHAPELLE and NOTRE-DAME CATHEDRAL.
Here you’ll have Sainte-Chapelle and Notre-Dame Cathedral.
The Sainte-Chapelle gothic cathedral is totally worth the admission.
The amazing interior architecture and stained glass artwork inside is extremely impressive.
Notre-Dame isn’t as impressive on the inside as Sainte-Chapelle.
Nonetheless it’s like Arc de Triomphe or Mona Lisa and should be seen and have its picture taken.
From Ile de la Cite if you go northeast up Rue de Pont Louis Philippe for 1.4km(20min) you will eventually make it to the Picasso Museum.
It’s the largest collection of Picasso’s work.
I went there right when it opened on a rainy morning and had the whole place to myself.
It made me realize that although he did have some great art, he also had a lot of work that looked like it was drawn by a 3 year old.
So maybe I’m not completely understanding of his work, but it was interesting to say the least.
Other notable sites in the city are:
The Catacombs – underground tunnels lined in human bones.
I’ve heard it’s become more crowded since the horror movie As Above, So Below came out.
I didn’t have time to make it to The Catacombs myself.
Although what I’ve heard is they’re not nearly as cool as he Church Of Bones outside of Prague.
Napoleon’s Tomb – Is… you guessed it… the Tomb of Napoleon.
I didn’t even know about this until I took a guided city tour that brought us there.
The explanation for why his tomb is built the way it is was kind of funny.
Let’s just say that Napoleon was a little ego maniac.
Paris Sewer Tour – apparently that’s a thing.
I didn’t partake in learning about the world’s longest sewer system, but if you’re interested the opportunity is here.
SITES OUTSIDE OF PARIS:
The biggest and most famous site outside of Paris is definitely Disneyland Paris.
Only a 45km(45min) car ride east of the Louvre.
It’s Disneyland and it’s French. There you have it.
PALACE OF VERSAILLES.
Now let’s talk about that French food!!!
It is on another level when it comes to fine dining.
If you’re on a budget and not trying to spend insane amounts of money at Michelin starred restaurants you’re still in luck.
Even the average dishes are still great in France.
I’m no food critic, so I don’t have any specific destinations.
But if you’re going to Paris to eat your way through the city you will have a hard time finding a bad place to stuff your face.
I went to a restaurant with some guys from the hostel and ordered 3 different dishes just because I wanted to try all the “French specialties.”
I had Veal, Escargot, and French Onion Soup.
Our waiter laughed and said “That doesn’t even go together.”
But I did not care. I wanted it all.
I’m also a big time bakery junkie.
That was my go-to place when I needed a quick snack.
And let me tell you; Paris EXCELS at pastries.
Like I mentioned in a previous post, France needs to have a Bake Off against Italy because I really don’t know who does it better.
Take Me Back.
Famous sites and food aside Paris really is an amazing place.
Just the vibe you get from walking through the streets or along the Seine River makes you realize this.
There’s a sense of: knowing what you want, looking good, working hard, and playing harder here.
In conclusion, Paris seems to me like one of those cities that can make anyone like it.
No matter what makes you happy I’m sure you can get that same feeling from going to Paris and exploring the city.
Do you know anyone that actually doesn’t like Paris and has a good reason?
Let me hear about it.
My name is Jeremiah and I'm an Arizona desert rat in search of the next adrenaline pumping adventure.
Follow me as I show you What and What Not to do when visiting new places in search of Cheap Travel and Cheap Thrills.