As I stand in this beautiful city once more, I’m swept up in its magic and am reminded that Paris is the city of enlightenment, a place to just be, a place where you are sure to walk in the footsteps of past intelligentsia. Feeling the rays of warmth from the autumn sunshine and seeing the way the light hits the buildings, I am reminded of why I fell in love with Paris the first time and why I continue to fall in love with it more each time I visit.
It’s in Paris where you can take the time to take in the moment and have your senses teased with the delights of food, history, culture, art and architecture. Whether it’s your first visit or your fifth visit to Paris, its beauty and ambiance will inspire you. No guide book in the world can do it justice.
To really experience Paris is to allow yourself the freedom to explore, to let go of seeing it just for the typical tourist haunts such as the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre. From its covered walkways, historical buildings to its cobble stone streets, Paris itself is a work of art. The beauty of this place is the experience, the way it makes you feel, how it captivates your heart and mind, the way its streets are made for exploring and just going with the flow.
Like many beautiful places in the world, Paris has more than its fair share of tourists. Busloads of people swarm around its popular tourist attractions. People rush from site to site, either to just say they’ve “done” Paris or in the endless search for the perfect Instagram pic. As a much loved city, Paris is in the process of banning tourist buses from the city centre. While for some this may be more than just an inconvenience, for others (including the locals) this will be a welcome relief. For those of us who understand the freedom of walking or taking public transport we understand the opportunity for others to see beyond the main attractions.
Paris is an easy city to navigate on foot or via public transport (It’s easier to navigate than the maps of the metro would have you believe). Within the central part of the city you’ll find it a comfortable walk to many of the major attractions. Finding your way around is simple if you know left from right. With the Seine River running through the city’s heart, it’s easy to distinguish between the left and right bank of the city.
Live like a local.
If you want to really experience Paris, there’s nothing like an extended stay. Booking an apartment a little further out from the heart of town will give you a taste of what it’s like to live in this beautiful city. Having a kitchen in your apartment gives you the opportunity to buy fresh food and immerse yourself in the markets and food stores. One of the best things to do in Paris is to pack a picnic and find a nice park to sit and watch the world go by. Canal St Martin is a popular place for locals to picnic.
Remember France is famous for its cheese, bread, pastries and of course its wine! There are wonderful places to buy fresh produce and cooking for yourself will save you money in the city of lights. If you happen to be staying in the Châtelet-Les Halles district, you’ll find everything you need in and around Rue Montorgueil.
Nestled in the 5th arrondissement is Rue Mouffetard, this is my favourite place to shop for food and wine and once described by Ernest Hemingway as “that wonderful narrow crowded market street which led into the Place Contrescarpe”. And of course, on your extended stay you’ll have the opportunity to practice your French.
Things you might want to see in Paris.
If it’s your first time to Paris, you’re bound to want to see some of the famous sites and it would be a shame if you didn’t. So schedule in some time to visit places like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc de Triumph, the Museum D’Orsay, Rodin Museum and the Palais Opera Garnier. If you’re up to it take a stroll along the Champs Elyse or hang out in the Jardin de Luxembourg.
If you’ve never been to Paris before you may want to take in a show at the Moulin Rouge (a bit like a Disney show but with boobs). If you’re on an extended stay, a day trip to Versailles or a visit to Monet’s House may be on your radar and both provide a great day out. Because of the large crowds you’ll find at some of these popular attractions, you’ll need to get there early or purchase a skip the line ticket prior to your arrival.
Paris has a reputation as a city for lovers and you may think that you’ll feel left out as a solo traveller. Because it’s a big city, you’ll find it easy to be there on your own. If you learn some French before you go, you’ll be set for a great solo experience in Paris.
If you want to make the most of your time, the best guide to Paris is to let Paris guide you.
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