Paris, the City of Lights
Oh Paris, the City of Lights – everybody who’s anybody wants to go to Paris because of the charm it presents in the media. You know you’ve been to Europe when you’ve been to Paris. Seen the Eiffel Tower? Check!
Best times to go
Spring which is considered shoulder season is the best time to go – late April can still get a bit chilly but is pleasant enough to walk around the town without getting to uncomfortably warm. There are not a lot of other tourists – something to take note of especially if you are connecting at Charles de Gaulle, which is already a nightmare trying to get you from one terminal to another.
Summer is the busiest time to see Paris– you’ll be sharing the Mona Lisa with a couple of hundred people trying to catch a glimpse of it too. School is out and college kids are traveling around Europe’s biggest cities like Paris. Skip summer unless you are one of those college kids and can’t go during the rest of the year. I prefer Spring time for family travel. Weather is perfect in summer though, but expect prices to be much higher than you would normally pay during the off peak season.
The metro will be your best friend – most of the tourist sites have stops that are directly on the metro. Its map may seem like different colors of spaghetti but it works the same as London’s: each line has their own color, which makes it easier for you to navigate around. It will save you money too if you get the day pass
Places to See:
- Eiffel Tower – Built for the World’s Fair in 1889, which at the time Parisians scorned, this structure has become the symbol of Paris and visitors flock to this site daily just to climb up to the observation deck. Expect crowds, so book your tickets in advance.
- The Louvre – What used to be a palace, it is now a big museum that houses masterpieces such as Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa among others, Caravaggio, the Winged Victory, and several other collections. It may take days and days to try to navigate and see all the masterpieces so your best bet would be to have a cheat sheet of things you want to see in advance and make a plan of action.
- Arc de Triumph – A monument erected for those who died and fought for the French Revolutionary & Napoleonic wars, it is also the place where their tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located. One of the most iconic aspects of Paris – but it is a nightmare trying to drive through the circle that surrounds it, where 12 boulevards converge on a roundabout.
- Versailles – technically not located within the city of Paris, this palace is so big and beautiful that it is worth a mention on its own. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its sprawling gardens and vastly decorated interiors, there’s nothing else that comes close in terms of opulence. Can theoretically be done on a day trip if you move fast enough, but you probably won’t see everything it has to offer.
What to Eat:
French cuisine is considered one of the best in the world. Try the macaroon – these sweet filled biscuit types are all over the world but initially started in France. Each mini sandwich biscuit is filled with different flavours, and are normally in pastel colours. A note before you become addicted: they are a bit pricey.
Crepes are also widely available in different fillings: be it a heavier snack or a dessert one. Another thing to try in Paris is the quiches – you may have had them at your local coffee shops but you can definitely taste the difference between the two versions.
Paris is one of the most metropolitan cities in the world and is definitely worth more than a few days to stay in. It can get expensive though, and can be either a love it or leave it city for some. If you do decide to go, keep an open mind, and learn a few phrases of French while you’re at it.