Enough people have asked about what to do in Paris that I’ve decided to make a list…mostly so I don’t have to write it out anymore. So, if you’re searching for a mix of authentic Parisian living and tourist hot spots, here is the (short) list:
1. Eat crêpes! They are quintessentially French cuisine, and for good reason. Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad ones out there. If you want exceptional crêpes, our personal favorite is Breizh Café (but make sure you make a reservation first).
2. Try gourmet Berthillion ice cream. It will be the best ice cream of your life (seriously, I was in Italy for 8 days and I couldn’t find gelato that beats it).
3. Get pastries from Pierre Hermé (or macaroons if you’re into that sort of thing). I had a vanilla flavored Paris brest there that gave me a mouth-gasm. It was totally an accident, because I went there late in the day and there wasn’t much left, but I’ve never been so excited by vanilla flavored anything. Ever.
4. Do things other than eat! I know it’s hard, but you can, for instance, visit Montmartre. Even if you’re not religious and/or not into seeing famous churches, you should go, because it is the highest elevation (and subsequently provides one of the best views) of the city. There is apparently a small garden behind it which is also cute.
5. Have a picnic in the sunshine on a Sunday. The Jardin du Luxembourg is fantastic, as is the Jardin Tuileries, which happens to be right next to the Louvre. Or, if you want to go to the edge of the city (and possibly spot some prostitutes, if you’re into that sort of thing), there is the Bois de Boulogne. No, but really, there aren’t that many prostitutes. People take their families all the time because there’s a cute park, a lake, and long paths for walking.
6. Go to the catacombs. I haven’t been, but I want to, because it’s totally creepy. Basically, they are underground tunnels lined with the bones of dead Parisians. Why? Because after centuries of the plague, starvation, influenza and other epidemics, Paris’ 200 cemeteries ran out of room.
7. Enjoy art! Pompidou is the big museum for modern art. The Louvre is the Louvre, and all art lovers are obliged to go (but don’t expect to do it in one day…or even three). Also, this photo gallery/exhibition center is supposed to be good. It is also free Wednesdays after 5.
8. Take a day trip to Chateau de Versailles, the decadent palace commissioned by Louis XIV. It’s only 45 minutes outside of Paris on the RER (the metro lines that go to the suburbs), and the gardens alone are worth it.
9. Take a walk along the Promenade Plantee. It’s an old railway bridge that was converted into a walkway, planted with trees and flowers.
10. Listen to the sound of your bank account emptying at the most famous shopping district of Paris, the Champs Elysees, where you can check out Louis Vuitton’s latest fashions, go to a movie, or sample perfume at Sephora’s flagship store. Don’t forget to check out the famous Arc de Triumphe while you’re over there.
11. Do I have to tell you to go see the Eiffel Tower? You will probably pass by it, even if unintentionally. What you didn’t know is that there is a restaurant up there that’s impossible to get a reservation for. If you have connections, though, how would you feel about inviting me?
That’s my list of best things to do in Paris. Of course, there are a zillion other things you can do, like go to one of the hundred other museums I haven’t mentioned, swing by Notre Dame cathedral, or enjoy a ferry ride along the Seine. I’m sure I’ll be coming up with a Part II one of these days.