There are many places in the world people talk about and you wonder “Is that place really that great?“
Some of them don’t live up to the hype.
While others are worth every bit of hype it gets.
Paris is definitely worth all the hype.
Within 30 minutes of exiting the train station and walking to my hostel I was blown away by Paris.
I didn’t visit any of the sites or eat any of the food yet; I was only walking the streets.
I could already understand why so many people say Paris is their favorite city.
The Positives outweigh the Negatives.
Before I arrived in Paris I was thinking to myself that “I’m either going to hate this place or love it.”
Some of the negatives I heard were that it was a large, dirty, smelly city.
Full of rude people who don’t want to hear you speak English.
Paris might seem a bit messy 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.
I didn’t think the city was smelly and I didn’t notice the people being rude.
As long as I started a conversation with “Bonjour” the locals didn’t seem annoyed switching to English once I spoke.
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.
Two of the main things everyone talks about when they mention Paris are the sites and the food.
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 people watch.
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 quick) is to 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 one of those things people have to check out.
If you get there early enough you might not be stuck behind 100 people.
Everyone 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).
Don’t make plans to go 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 3.4 km(44 min) walk down Champs-Elysees.
The entire walk you’ll be tempted by smells from restaurants and crepe stands on your way to the Arc de Triomphe.
Feel free to indulge.
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 2.5 km(32 min) 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 so much better for an extra 10 euro.
Now if you’re at the Louvre and you head southeast for 1.2 km(15 min) 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 1.4 km(20 min) you’ll 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 place to myself.
It made me realize that although he has some great art, he also has a lot of work that looks like it was drawn by a 3-year-old.
Maybe I’m not completely understanding 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 just outside of Paris is Disneyland Paris.
Only a 45 km(45 min) car ride east of the Louvre.
It’s Disneyland and it’s French.
That’s about it.
PALACE OF VERSAILLES.
My favorite site during my whole stay in France was the Palace Of Versailles.
It’s only a 27 km(35 min) car ride southwest of the Louvre.
The line to go inside can be pretty long if you don’t get there early enough.
But the wait is still completely worth it.
Palace Of Versailles is the chateau that was occupied by many of the famous french Louis’.
As well as Marie Antoinette.
To this day it’s still one of the coolest buildings I’ve ever walked around in.
Now let’s talk about that French food!!!
It is on another level when it comes to fine dining.
If you’re not trying to spend insane amounts of money at Michelin 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’m also a big bakery junkie.
Bakeries were 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.
Even the vibe you get from walking through the streets or along the Seine River makes you realize this.
In conclusion, Paris seems like one of those cities that can make anyone like it.
Do you know anyone that actually doesn’t like Paris and has a good reason?
Let me hear about it.