Paris doesn’t need an introduction. The city of romance, the french waiters arrogance, the old ladies wearing black sweeping the steps outside of their homes as little white poodles run around their feet yapping, the crazy driving that will give any Italian city a run for their money and the Plane trees lining the streets and pavements. All this is mixed into a beautifully designed and lovingly built grand city that still resists the modern era.

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The Eiffel Tower

This also needs little introduction and although a huge building project is already underway to reduce queues and improve visitor facilities, I’d still suggest buying tickets online in advance to beat the queues especially if going during weekends or holidays. Personally I’d climb the steps to the 2nd floor (704 steps), then take the lift to the top before taking the lift all the way back down. You get a much better view on the way up and don’t have to be crammed into the face of another tourist. On a windy day though, keep a tight hold of your camera!

Musée du Louvre

Again this needs little introduction. Covering 4 floors and 3 wings, the world famous Louvre can easily take a day to see. Beat the queues by buying a ticket online in advance, or getting the Paris Museum Pass (which gives you priority) or by entering the Louvre complex via the underground shopping centre Carrousel du Louvre – you’ll still need to queue to get your tickets but it avoids the massive queues going through the main entrance. If you don’t have much time at all, then at least spend some time wandering around the pyramid and the gardens nearby.

La Défense

Although a major business area full of high rise and office buildings, this is definitely worth a visit. Wander around the vast plaza amongst the radically designed buildings, get the small glass bubble lift to the top of the Grand Arch giving you far reaching views across Paris and back to the Arc de Triomphe or try to line up the random looking shapes to create the full picture (you’ll see).

Basilique du Sacré-Cœur

Surrounded by Montmatre in all its slightly edgy and naughty beauty, this totally free stunning church is one of Paris’ most visited locations. Either get the funicular (normal metro ticket works) to the entrance or walk up the many steps. Once inside climb the 300 plus spiral staircase to the top of the dome which rewards you with a staggering view across Paris. The steps and pavement around the church is an experience in itself. with musicians and performers at all times during the day and evening. Just keep an eye out for pickpockets, touts and half hearted con men – don’t let that put you off though.

Centre Pompidou

Designed inside out (you’ll see what I mean when you get there), this huge building combines pop art, contemporary works, street performers and much more. There is a stunning view of Paris from the roof worth a visit alone (included in the full ticket or on its own). Normal entrance includes everything including the temporary exhibits and is free on the first Sunday of the month. People watching goes to another level outside surrounded by weird and wonderful fountains, mimes and buskers.

Other places worth a visit:

  • Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris
  • Les Catacombes
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Cimetière du Montparnasse – graves and shrines of many famous people
  • Promenade Plantée – abandoned metro line turned into a green foot path
  • La REcyclerie – abandoned metro station turned into an eco farm
  • Tour Montparnasse – spectacular views in an office building with a super fast lift

Tips and tricks:

  • The totally free offline app works a treat including saving offline everywhere you want to go without any signal or WIFI.
  • ATMs and card payments are common in Paris but having cash isn’t a bad idea. As always, our Revolut cards worked impeccably and saved us a lot of money.
  • A weekly metro pass may work out cheaper than buying a carnet (book) of tickets and will certainly be cheaper than a few daily tickets.
  • If driving, find parking in advance – don’t expect to be able to park on the side of a road or find a parking area.
  • Airbnb could offer a better priced alternative to a hotel room especially for families but make sure you are in a good location or at least close to a metro station.

Check out my other Europe trips such as and and and and and and and or how to get free hotel stays or find free airport wifi passwords around the world