The first thing on your list when visiting Paris should be a trip to one of the two main museums: the Louvre or the Musée d’Orsay. The Musée d’Orsay has a primary focus on Impressionist art, so you’ll be able to see works by Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh. To get the most out of your visit, head straight up to the fifth floor where you’ll find all of the more recognisable and famous pieces.
If you instead decide to visit the Louvre, keep in mind that this is the world’s biggest museum. A big time saver is to avoid entering through the glass pyramid and to instead use the museum’s smaller entrances along the sides of the building. If you’re really looking to save time, be sure to look up in advance the specific pieces of art you want to see, to avoid getting sidetracked in the 13 kilometres (eight miles) of corridors.
After you’ve finished at the museum, walk for 20 minutes to the Notre-Dame Cathedral. This eight-century-old church is nothing short of stunning, with its incredibly ornate Gothic exterior that must be experienced up close.
If you’re looking for food, head across the Seine, past the exquisite Hôtel de Ville (City Hall), and into an area known as Le Marais. This neighbourhood is home to an array of shops, bars and the pièce de résistance: falafel! Here you can try the world-famous Falafel Special Sandwich from L’As du Fallafel. There’s almost always a line at this restaurant, but the wait time very rarely exceeds 15 minutes. It’s worth the wait for a meal that will seriously make you consider a permanent residency in Paris.
The 10th and 11th arrondissements are best for exploring the nightlife along the Canal Saint-Martin. The area is always busy, but especially during the summer months when residents drink wine and play ukuleles along the canal’s edge.
Dozens of hip bars, neo-bistros and down-to-earth brasseries surround the canal. Once you’ve done a fair bit of walking, treat yourself to an exquisite, traditional French meal at Les Enfants Perdus. The food here is reasonably priced, and while everything on the menu is delicious, the lamb is particularly good. Upon finishing your meal, and depending on your fatigue level, you can either hop on the Métro and head home, or better yet, check out the canal’s most famous ‘hidden’ bar, Le Comptoir Général.
Montmartre is the hilly village located north of Paris in the 18th arrondissement. The area is popular with both locals and tourists as it has a variety of kitsch boutiques, charming bars and cafés, offbeat museums, sex shops and so much more. While here, a visit to the large white Sacré-Cœur Basilica is a must. While some only want to snap a quick photo, why not take the time to relax on the stairs while taking in the beautiful surroundings? Standing outside the Sacré-Cœur and overlooking Paris is one of the best ways to truly take in the beauty of this city.
The Jardins des Plantes, located in the 5th arrondissement, features gorgeous and vibrant plants that will require zero Instagram filters. Plus, the park also has a zoo. While it does mean an extra fee, there are a few animals that you can peek at for free. Once you’ve finished exploring this botanical paradise, make your way out to the Rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire, and head across the street to the Grand Mosquée for some unbelievably delicious tea (thé à la menthe). It’s instantly refreshing, and as you enjoy it in the mosque’s calming courtyard, you’ll gain a much-needed burst of energy to continue exploring the city.
You can’t visit Paris and not visit the Eiffel Tower. While the famous landmark is beautiful any time of day, it’s absolutely remarkable once the sun sets and the golden floodlights come on. Also, keep an eye on your watch because once the tower is lit up, it will sparkle for the first five minutes of every hour.
To end your time in Paris, take a walk on the pedestrian road along the river, known as Les Berges; find a cosy seat (the stairs outside of the Musée d’Orsay is a particularly good spot); open a bottle of wine; and enjoy the night.