Paris is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most beautiful, charming and exciting places in the world. In my opinion and as I highlighted in my previous post, Paris and New York are the two places on earth that you absolutely have to visit in your lifetime.
I was fortunate to have lived in Paris (before moving to Luxembourg) and as Ernest Hemingway used to say: “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
Here’s my top 10:
- The Louvre
My favourite Museum in the World and one of my favourite things to do overall. Worth spending a week here – it’s the largest and most visited museum in the world and easily deserves a separate blog post. Let’s just say you absolutely need to spend a day here, enjoy the architecture of the building (with the famous pyramid), take photos, see Mona Lisa (it gets so crowded these days) and enjoy some of the nearly 40,000 works exhibited.
I particularly like the Rubens and Egyptian collections, but you’ll find so many monumental pieces here that Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo are just some to mention and see. I’d actually recommend planning the 1st trip based on the type of art you like most and then visit the remaining parts of the Museum on subsequent days/trips (yes, over 72,000m2 is too big even for the most ambitious ‘walkers’ out there). Even if you hate museums – make sure to visit this one.
Address: Rue de Rivoli, 75001 & www.louvre.fr/en
- Notre-Dame Cathedral
The most beautiful church / cathedral in the world (yes, I’m using this big ‘best-in-the-world statement again – Paris je t’aime!). Similarly to the Louvre, even if you don’t normally like museums or churches – this one you must do. What’s incredible about both is that they are absolute masterpieces both inside and outside, their architecture is breathtaking and their historical importance as well as sheer beauty and power can overwhelm and will certainly impress.
Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris is considered as one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture so make sure to spend some time admiring the details of the building – its ornaments outside including the famous gargoyle statues, as well as inside statues of Joanne d’Arc, Virgin and Child or Emmanuel – the great bourdon bell.
Address: 6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 & www.notredamedeparis.fr/en/
- Arc de Triomphe (pictured)
Amazing piece of architecture that creates a central point of Paris giving the City of Love its charm and spreading life in multiple directions (by means of Avenues). It offers a wonderful view (climb the top) and perspective from The Louvre to La Défense.
The Arc de Triomphe commemorates French soldiers, with their generals and victories inscribed on the Arch. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. It’s a must stop on your way to other places on the list.
Address: Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 & www.arcdetriompheparis.com/
- Place Vendôme & The Ritz (+Bar Hemigway)
You probably won’t find this as #4 in most travel publications and that’s the whole point of following this blog – you’re reading MJ Top 10 and not TripAdvisor for instance. This is actually one of my favourite things to do in Paris, which my Parisian friends know very well (I always check-in at Place Vendôme and if I’m in Paris I usually hang out around there).
Place Vendôme is just gorgeous and the Vendôme Column (erected by Napoleon I and made of cannons) is phenomenal. Frédéric Chopin and Coco Chanel lived here and the square is currently home to world-class watchmakers (Patek Philippe, Hublot, Rolex, Breguet), fashion houses (Chanel, Louis Vuitton) and jewelry stores (Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron), not to mention the Hotel – The Ritz. I love The Ritz for its opulence, class, charisma and charm. Bar Hemingway is one of my favourite bars in the world, where Colin Field (best barman in the world according to Forbes) serves his signature cocktails. Try serendipity – it is sublime! Paris at its best! ❤
Address: 15 Place Vendôme, 75001 & http://en.parisinfo.com/transport/90844/Place-Vendome
This impressive building is located at the highest point in the City, offering wonderful views day and night. Montmartre – the wonderful area where the Basilica is situated – is where artist from all over the world used to come to get inspired (and they still do). Just hanging out here to have a meal or a drink is an art in itself. I used to live very close and I understood why Parisians go out every day…
Make sure to climb the steps and take some gorgeous photos. Many people would also choose to have a small ‘picnic’ on the stairs, which is a rather romantic thing to do if you’re into such things 🙂
Address: 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 & www.sacre-coeur-montmartre.com/english/
- Luxembourg Gardens
My (and I hear Parisians too) favourite park in Paris. I used to run here when I lived in Paris. The park is just stunning and reminds me of Bryant Park in NYC in terms of authentic vibe and energy created by locals. The architecture (Luxembourg Gardens were created by Marie de Medici) of the Gardens and the Palace is remarkable, as are the sculptures, fountains, flora and everything else. Interesting fact: Victor Hugo’s novel covered the Gardens extensively in his famous “Les Misérables”.
The Tuileries Gardens is another park that’s absolute must-do and is arguably more popular than Luxembourg Gardens. Just do them both on a nice sunny day in Paris!
Address: Boulevard St Michel, Paris 75006 & Jardin-du-Luxembourg
Famous Avenue and mecca for shopaholics from around the world. I especially love Champs–Élysées during the winter with its Christmas decorations. It’s one of the most impressive and expensive streets in the world & this is where Paris glamour is shining. The stroll around it is an absolute must, yet this position also falls slightly lower due to similar effect to Times Square in NYC, i.e. “too touristy”.
Must do nevertheless, yet for more authentic and world-class shopping experience with fewer visitors I’d recommend Saint-Honoré or Avenue Montaigne.
Address: Champs-Élysées, 75008 & http://www.champselysees-paris.com/
- Eiffel Tower
One of the most famous buildings in the world and the “business card” of Paris. The history of this building is fascinating and I encourage you to learn more about it. The Tower itself is a landmark in itself and the views from the top are certainly impressive and worth the visit. Try to skip the line though, either using guided tours, booking online or arriving early / not on a popular day.
The Eiffel Tower is among the most popular tourist attractions in the world, but actually climbing the top (the wait included) is not making top of my Paris list (I’d argue that it has to be done once but not more). One of the best views over The Eiffel Tower is from the Shangri-La hotel – especially if you get a room with the terrace…now that’s romantic!
Address: Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 & www.toureiffel.paris/en/
- Le Polidor & Saint Germain
As you may have noticed, I always make sure to mix the list to include few sightseeing attractions, as well as bars, restaurants and other interesting places. Listing restaurants in Paris is as difficult as it is for New York or London and therefore I decided to go for something less conventional and recommend a truly legendary place – traditional, authentic Parisian, old-fashioned with great quality “home’y” food – Le Polidor. The restaurant has become something of a tradition since 1845 and served such guests as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Victor Hugo and many others. The wine list (800+ positions) will satisfy even the most demanding of guests. No reservations, cash only.
Since you are already here, make sure to discover Saint Germain – one of the most interesting ‘quartiers’ of Paris and the famous area for artists. You’ll find inspiration here, be it in the form of architecture, cafes, restaurants, Sorbonne University or just people hanging around. The area also includes some exquisite boutiques and many of my friends like to stay here as well.
Address: 41 Rue Monsieur le Prince, 75006 & www.polidor.com/en/
If you only have 1 or 2 days in Paris, you will not have the time to visit Versailles. But if you do have a full day to invest in one of the most memorable trips in your life – then I recommend going to Versailles and seeing the Château and the Gardens. Actually, I love it so much that I’d advise to stay overnight, especially that they have one of my favourite hotels in the world – Trianon Palace (Waldorf Astoria) that offers Gordon Ramsey restaurant, 2800m2 spa, tennis courts and any other royal thing that you can think of.
The Palace of Versailles is one of the most beautiful architectural feasts in the world – nothing short of Louis XIV genius and splendor. The Gardens are at least equally impressive and make you want to spend all your days there. Both are incredibly beautiful and romantic, but please bring patience – the wait for the Palace may be substantial. Versailles’ old town is also very charming and has some gorgeous small cafes and restaurants. Make sure you add 1-2 days to your Paris trip to go to Versailles (20km away) – it will be worth it!
Address: 1 Boulevard de la Reine, 78000 Versailles & http://en.chateauversailles.fr/
Paris is the city with the most charming energy, it has a soul of its own and that’s why it’s called the city of love and the most romantic city in the world. One of the best things to do in Paris is to wander around, getting lost in its beauty. Every time I go to Paris and even when I think about it – it makes me profoundly happy and grateful to be living in Europe – and one of the reasons I keep doing so.
Let me know what you think and share your experiences from Paris and beyond!
Safe travels and don’t forget – Moving is Living!