Paris Stories and Tips

My Top 5 Must Go Places

The Pantheon Photo, Rome, Italy

There are thousands of things to see in Paris and after ten visits, I still find things I've never seen before. However, these are the 5 things that you can't miss in my opinion.

1. The first thing you think of when you're planning a trip to Paris is the Eiffel Tower. It is visible from almost all parts of the city, but is not really in walking distance from the centre. The area around the tower is an obvious tourist trap, overflowing with over-priced cafes, people selling tacky souvenirs and queues of people. But, it is worth it to see Gustave Eiffel's controversial masterpiece.

You can go to three floors in the tower, by means of lifts in each of the four 'spokes'. Get there early though because the queues are unbelievable both to get up and come back down. When I went, I only made it to the second level because I was very conscious of the swaying of the tower! I think it's about ten Euros to go all the way to the third level and if you're feeling energetic, you can cut that amount in half by using the stairs rather than the lift!

I have only been up the tower once for two reasons. The first is the queues and the second is the fact that any photos taken from the tower obviously won't include Paris' most famous land mark!

2. The Louvre is possibly one of the most famous museums in the world and depending how much its contents interest you, you could devote an afternoon or your whole trip to its millions of exhibits.

Stop first outside to really appreciate the size and grandeur of the place and have a look at I. M. Pei's controversial Pyramide, a colossal glass structure which offers a complete contrast to the intricate features of the rest of the building.

Inside, you'll find most people making a bee-line to the Mona Lisa which is housed behind thick bullet proof glass. Even if you fight your way through the masses to the front, you'll find museum personnel preventing you from taking pictures. It's not to be missed though. You can also find works by Bottecelli, Rembrandt and Goya to name a few.

Price-wise, it's about 8E to get in, with same day readmission allowed or about 5E after 3pm and on Sundays. It's free entry on the first Sunday of each month and is closed on Tuesdays.

3. The Sacre-Coeur offers fantastic views over the whole of Paris. The church itself is a white concrete affair that is very mediocre by Parisian standards, but the area around it is well worth a visit. In summer the main square is brimming with outdoor restaurants, artists peddling their works and people soaking up the atmosphere.

In front of the church is a grand staircase on which you will often find people sitting in groups, perhaps strumming a guitar or playing Frisbee. If you want to see the real, romantic Paris, this is definitely the place to go, with plenty of people milling around at all times.

4. The Quartier Latin is another place to go to find the real Paris. It is the student area and is full of bookshops, cafes and fountains. Here you will find the Sorbonne University and the Pantheon, which houses Foulcault's Pendulum - the experiment that proved the earths rotation.

Whilst you're here, be sure to try the kebabs served in the hundreds of little takeaways. Nothing like our 'after-drinks heartburn givers', these are pieces of pork from the spit with salad and chips all wrapped up in a naan bread with sour cream and are a delicious yet cheap meal that will make you're mouth water - mine is just writing about it!

5. The Champs Elysees is an avenue which runs from the Louvre up to the Arc de Triomphe and houses some of the finest restaurants and shops in the world. You can see concept cars in the many car show rooms, ogle the price-tags in the Louis Vitton shop and even stop for an (over-priced) steak tartare.

At the top is the Arc de Triomphe which you can climb to the top of for impressive views back over the avenue and the Louvre or in the other direction to the Eiffel Tower and the Grand Arch De La Defense.

So, whatever you do in Paris, make sure these five things are on your list!

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