Paris is full of famous “must-see” sites which can easily fill a week or two. The best advice I can offer visitors to the city, other than, “Enjoy,” is be prepared so you see your priorities and you don’t waste time in line.
The major attractions, the Louvre, Versailles, and the Eiffel Tower, can have long lines so buy tickets online and plan as far in advance as possible. During the summer, tickets sell out quickly. Another option is to take a tour that allows you to skip the line. Also check out the Paris Museum Pass which, depending on your plans, may be worth the investment. The pass also provides a river cruise on the romantic Seine and a day on the Hop On/Hop Off Bus. (If you want the view of Paris, but don’t want to go up the Eiffel Tower, check out Montparnasse Tower.)
In addition to these tourist attractions, a walk by Notre Dame Cathedral is a must. We were fortunate enough to stay nearby on our last stay and visit it before the fire. Currently the cathedral is closed, but visitors can still walk by and marvel at the amazing structure.
Visitors also need to see the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile (Arch of Triumph) and walk down the Champs-Élysées to window shop. Leave time throughout your stay in Paris to enjoy street performers and take coffee and dessert breaks.
Montmartre is another site you will not want to miss. This mountain, which towers over the city, is topped by the glistening white Basilica of Sacre-Coeur. The church was consecrated in 1919 and is still an operating church. If the views of Paris from Montmartre itself aren’t enough for you, you can climb the tower stairs of the church to see even more of the City of Lights. Montmartre has retained many of its artists who display their works on the street and in the galleries that line the picturesque streets. Restaurants abound on every block so you don’t have to worry about where you will eat during your wanderings on the mountain. At the base of the mountain is the famous Moulin Rouge. You can make reservations for shows or simply go to say you’ve been.
Paris does offer something for everyone. For a break from the crowds, and to provide a playground for our 8-year-old granddaughter, we visited the Luxembourg Gardens. Disney lovers may choose to visit Disneyland Paris. Book lovers will enjoy a visit to Shakespeare & Company. The English-language bookstore was founded in 1951 by American George Whitman at 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, Kilometer Zero, the point at which all French roads begin. The building, which was originally a monastery, was built in the 17th century and is now covered, walls and floors, with books of every type.
Another visit our family enjoyed was to the Catacombs. In the 1700’s, Paris began consolidating its cemeteries to eliminate health issues. The bones were bought to this old quarry site which was outside the city limits at that time. (The city has grown so the Catacombs are now in Paris.) The bones are artistically arranged, so the visit is very interesting. (I wouldn’t recommend this site to anyone with disabilities, claustrophobia, or with very small children.)
Paris is, indeed, a treasure box of worthwhile sites and hidden gems that one article (or even two hundred articles) can barely skim. What is your favorite site in Paris? Do you have recommendations to skip the crowds? Please share in the comments below.