03/07/2016

♥ So You Want To Visit Paris This Summer? Here Are Some Tips! ♥


Who doesn't dream of visiting Paris? Without sounding too much like a cliché, it is one of those cities that deserves at least a visit. Being a student in Paris for the past four years now (wow I feel old now!), I have seen the best and the worst of the City of Lights. I can be very critical about it, but truth is I love Paris to bits and I could not recommend it more. However, like in any big city, I am sure, it is easy to get carried away once you get there, and to experience disappointing situations. This is why I have decided to gather in this post all my tips if you are planning a little stay in Paris. 

What to do, where to go, what to avoid... Here are all my tips and tricks to visit Paris!

General advice when you are in Paris

1. Don't be scared to take the métro, instead of getting taxis. It'll be cheaper and quicker. I don't trust taxis in general, and in Paris the traffic is so slow that even for a short distance drive, you might end up paying a lot. The métro can be a little complicated at first, it may be dirty and often smelly, and you might see weird people down there, but it's the best solution to navigate the city.
2. Always have a map of the city AND a map of the métro with you. If you feel a bit lost, of course you can always turn to the people around you, but that person may not be able to help. Paris is a small city, so having these two maps will be a massive help, it'll be easier for you to identify in which part you are. If you're using Google Maps, most cafés have the WIFI so in case of Internet emergency, you can always stop somewhere - there are McDonald's and Starbucks at every corner and you'll always find an Internet connexion there.
3. If people approach you in the streets or in the métro/train stations to sell you anything - métro tickets, phone cards, and so on - or if people in the touristic areas around the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame come to you to ask you to give money to their charity, be very carefulThe pretended charities are pure fraud, and these people will try to trick you into giving them money or they'll rob you when you're not looking. I see tourists getting tricked way too often, unfortunately. 


What is WORTH visiting in Paris

1. I'd say most of the main tourist attraction everybody knows are worth seeing. They are part of the identity of the city, and the majority are beautiful architectural or historical landmarks that shouldn't be missed. Be prepared to face a lot (I mean, a lot) of tourists in the famous areas. At the moment, because of the recent Paris attacks, the whole city is under control. You'll have to open your bags to enter some areas and places, so you might have to queue a little longer than usual to get into museums, but it is for safety checks so that's perfectly normal.
2. If you love art, don't miss the Louvre. Cliché, I know, but it is honestly the most beautiful museum I've ever been to. Don't go just to see the Pyramid, go inside (the fee isn't that expensive for the quality of the art you'll see) and enjoy the different areas the place has to offer. I'll be doing a full post on the Louvre, that will go up on the blog later in the summer (hopefully). The Louvre is huge, and please, don't go in just for the Mona Lisa. To be honest, this painting's not even worth it. One of my favourite parts is the Appartements Napoléon III, the finest 19th-century interiors of the Second Empire. Here's a sneak peak (and a photo of one of the galleries):


3. If there was just one medieval building to visit in Paris, it would be the Sainte Chapelle. Hop in the métro and get off at the stop Cité (line 4). Just a minute from there, you'll probably stop a huge queue of people. Unfortunately, that's where the Sainte Chapelle is! But trust me, it is worth the wait. It is a chapel that dates back to the 13th century, and the top part is incredible: the walls are covered in stained glass, and when the sun comes in, the whole place is drowned in colours. I haven't seen anything similar anywhere. 


4. As for religious buildings in general, most of them are beautiful, but, in my humble opinion, look better from the outside than the inside. Of course, I'd still recommend visiting Notre Dame, the Sacré Coeur, and other little churches, but in my experience, I've always been more impressed by the architecture of the buildings themselves, rather than how they looked inside. So if you don't have enough time to visit the inside of Notre Dame, don't be disappointed: the outside's already pretty amazing! Just look at the building itself, walk around it. It is a masterpiece of Gothic art, and deserves to be seen from all angles. The Sacré Coeur is easier to access, there aren't queues to go in so you'll probably be able to visit it at all times. But the outside is also more beautiful than the inside, I'm sure many people would agree on that!

5. Speaking of Notre Dame, if you have the chance (and the patience to wait a little), climb up to the towers for the best view of the city. Because the Cathedral is pretty central, you'll see all the important landmarks of Paris from there. Up there, between the huge bells and the gargoyles, you'll definitely feel a bit special, seeing all the tiny people and buildings below. I'm telling you: best panorama of Paris, ever! [Check out this post if you want to know more about the towers of Notre Dame]


6. If the weather allows it, go for a walk along the Seine. Although the water is brownish and disgusting, on sunny and warm days, it turns into a rather lovely greenish shade (as pictured above). The river crosses the whole city, and my favourite part of it is the part around Notre Dame and the Île Saint Louis. On summer days, people sit on the quays to sunbathe or to have a little picnic with friends. If you want to feel like a local, this is the thing to do!

7. Coming back to museums (you know I love them), my advice would be to explore the smaller museums. There are plenty of them around Paris. Some museums are houses that were inhabited by the artists themselves, and visiting them, even though you're not familiar with the artist to start with, is a good way to experience that special atmosphere that surrounds Paris and its painters, writers or sculptors. Here are some of them: the Musée Rodin (in the gardens of which you'll see the Thinker, Rodin's most famous sculpture), the Musée Gustave Moreau (19th century painter, his small house is full of paintings and the atmosphere really is unique there), the Musée Victor Hugo (the famous author of Les Misérables lived in a beautiful house that you can now visit, to explore his surroundings)... These smaller museums seem to have a soul that you don't find in bigger ones.


8. Speaking a little French is always a bonus. Most people you'll speak to in Paris are likely to know English (at least basic English), especially in restaurants, shops, etc. However, French people are not necessarily known for their abilities in languages, and you might as well find yourself in situations where you want to ask for information, but can't communicate because of the language barrier. Learning a few words and sentences would be really helpful, it doesn't take too much and makes a great difference. There are cheap conversational guides on Amazon, that contain everything you need to know to survive in a French environment. And to be honest, it makes interaction much more pleasant when people actually make the effort and show their interest in the language - that goes for any place in the world one travels to.


What it would be better to AVOID in Paris

1. Avoid backpacks around busy areas and in the métro. They are so easy to open and steal things from. Pickpockets can be everywhere, especially in the summer as they know a lot of tourists are there, with money, cameras, etc. that could be stolen. It may be common sense advice, but so many people don't pay attention to their belongings and as much as you want to spend a carefree holiday, make sure you always keep your bags close to you, and your most valuable belongings well in small, inside pockets.

2. If you want to spend your pennies on good meals, avoid tourist traps and look out for the restaurants where French people are eating too. In some places, there are a lot of restaurants and cafés - I'm thinking about the area around Notre Dame right now - but you can't really tell which ones are good, and which ones are targeted at tourists, meaning that the quality isn't necessary the best, prices are high, and they try to get you in with a typical (but rather cliché) Parisian decor. Why would you pay 5€ for an average (and small) café crème in a so-called bistrot that focuses on its façade looking 'so French', when you could have the same coffee, at the same price, but at a much higher quality in a little coffee shop hidden in a less touristic arrondissement - even though it doesn't look very Parisian on Instagram? Check out the area of the Marais for little independent restaurants, and the area around the métro station Cour St Emilion (line 14) is a really pleasant, modern area full of mouth-watering restaurants and bars. Plus, it is not a tourist area at all so I'd recommend going there even just once for dinner, you'll feel like a local! 

3. Avoid climbing the Eiffel Tower. That's just a waste of time and energy! The queues to get there are huge, and the view isn't actually the best - after all, if you want to take a good panorama of Paris, the Eiffel Tower should probably be in that photo! I think the best place to see the Eiffel Tower is a little farther away, from the Trocadéro (there's a métro stop to take you there, lines 6 and 9), and when they put the fountains and water cannons on, that's where you can take the prettiest photos of the infamous Tower. 


4. Avoid having a close minded vision of what Paris could be and what you expect to seeMost of the beautiful stock photos we see online are heavily photoshopped, and Paris doesn't always look as pretty as it does in films. I've legitimately heard about this thing called the Paris Syndrome, which is basically Japanese tourists feeling sick and depressed when they arrive in Paris because the reality of the city is far from what they thought it would be. I find the very existence of that syndrome slightly ridiculous, and also a bit scary. Paris is not a postcard; there are dirty streets, strange guys that will catcall you in public, homeless people that aren't blessed with a pretty Neoclassical Parisian apartment, we eat McDonald's too and no, we don't really wear bérêts or eat macarons all the time. We are not particularly chic or elegant - we rather swear a lot, actually. The gap between expectations and reality can be harsh if you have the vision of an idyllic Paris, and it might make you enjoy the city less. Accept Paris with its flaws, and you'll have a much truer, authentic experience - while still enjoying all the beautiful postcard sights and areas that you're dying to see. 


Have you ever been to Paris? Do you think you'll come to visit some day?
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19 comments:

  1. i need to see the saint chapelle!! i remember last year i went up notre dame because you suggested it and it was so worth it. the view from there is magnifique!

    then i absolutely loved le marais, it is my favorite place in the city, and there is the modern museum of photography or similar which i highly recommend in the area!!!(:

    next time i want to try to do the things parisians do and disguise myself as a localXD i'll have to avoid speaking french though because my accent is terrible XDD

    xx from Brighton
    Cate ღ kate/idoscope | youtube | Enter my Charlotte Tilbury GIVEAWAY here

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    1. Oh I'm glad my recommendations helped you! Le Marais is an awesome place indeed, I didn't know about the museum so thanks for letting me know! You should never avoid speaking French, we love it when foreigners speak our language :D xx

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  2. Thank you SO much for this post! I'm bookmarking it for when I go to Paris. Because, I am going to Paris at some point, I know that for sure, even though I haven't got a trip planned (yet...).
    I will definitely keep in mind everything you said. I like finding non-touristy spots so thanks for that too.
    Hope you are having a grand weekend.
    Much love,
    Mona

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    1. You are very welcome Mona! I hope the day you go to Paris I'll be there to make you visit the city :D And thanks for the photos too xx

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  3. Also, great photos! Paris looks beautiful in your shots.

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  4. This was such an interesting read! Paris is somewhere I'd love to visit. Beautiful pictures too!

    gemmaandthelittleblog.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. I hope you do visit one day, thanks Gemma! xx

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  5. Even though I have been to France numerous times, I haven't been to Paris except to change trains. It is something I really want to do some day though.

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

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    1. It is totally worth visiting! xx

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  6. I have only been to the airport for transfer and I didn't have time to explore the place, but I want to visit there one day! Thanks for all these suggestions and tips. When I travel somewhere new, I try to avoid those people asking money for charity, it is really hard to trust people. Also those pickpockets are f.... annoying, can't they just get a decent life, right? x

    Ela BellaWorld

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    1. That's a pity! Well I hope you get to visit soon :) These people do appear in several big cities I reckon, that's a shame because you can't help but feel unsafe sometimes in these cases. Pickpockets are troublesome too, the police keep working on it but unfortunately, they're hard to get rid of! xx

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  7. Great post! I try to visit Paris every couple of years (we have friends there) and would definitely agree with most of these! Except for climbing the Eiffel tower, I actually did it on my very first night in Paris, there were hardly any queues and the view from the top with all the lights was so magical that I nearly cried. xx

    http://www.shakespeareandsparkle.com/

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    1. I'm glad you had a great experience climbing the Eiffel Tower, the view must be a lot nicer in the evenings - I had not thought about that! xx

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  8. Really great travel guide, thanks for sharing. I generally visit Paris with work, so don't often get to see much of the city.

    Tiffany Tales – A British Beauty & Lifestyle Blog

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    1. You should definitely take some time to visit Paris by yourself one day, it has so much to offer! :) xx

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  9. This is a great post. I recently visited Paris too, I love the city.

    xx
    ForeverAmber

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    1. It is an amazing city indeed! xx

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  10. Gorgeous photos and great advice :) I'm visiting Paris in just under 2 months for the first time since I was a child! Luckily one of my friends is Parisian so will be able to guide us but I still plan on dusting off my questionable GCSE French skills. I'm glad you said not to bother with climbing the Eiffel Tower :') I can never be bothered doing the standard tourist haunts (didn't go up the Empire State or Statue of Liberty in New York either) when they're so crowded and stressful and there are other great photo spots where you can take skyline images that have the biggest landmarks in them (because you haven't climbed it haha)

    Jasmine xx

    Jasmine Talks Beauty | US & Sephora Giveaway

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    1. That's exciting! I hope you won't have any problems visiting the city, with a local everything will go smoothly I'm sure :) You are right, there are less crowded spots where you can enjoy a good panorama of a city - I'd say go for church towers or even terrace bars, these are more and more popular now so there are some in most big cities :)

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