Paris is a city that’s very close to my heart.
When I was younger I thought Paris was really overrated and not what everyone made it out to be. Then in 2010, I was in Rome on holiday with a group of friends, and a serendipitous disaster occurred. A volcano started spewing out ash in Iceland, and the majority of the European airspace was closed. There was only one option. COACH.
While horrendous and not an experience I would recommend, this long journey home did afford us a little detour for 24 hours, to Paris.
With a hostel in Montmartre booked and a ‘let’s make lemonade from our lemons’ attitude, we set out on the day that would become the one that I finally fell in love with Paris.Not such a ‘tourist guide’
Kind of like my post about New York, if you want to be filled in on the super touristy sites of Paris, this blog isn’t going to help you – because my advice, again, is just go out and do it. L’Arc de Triomphe, La Tour Eiffel, Le Louvre – they are all really well-known because they are good things to go and see.
These monuments have no particular secrets (unless you’re a student – in which case bring your passport and Student ID along and you can do these things for free or at least at a heavy discount). I can’t illuminate anything else about them, other than if you haven’t done them do them.
Unless it’s raining… Then give the Eiffel tower a miss. It’s fucking miserable up there when the weather isn’t on your side.Against all odds
I’ve had some pretty bad times in Paris is the past. It’s heavy woven into my personal tapestry, so to speak. But sometimes some places are so worth knowing about, and loving, that you have to forget the bad memories they bring up.
My first recommendation is one of those places. Le Pont des Artes is quite well known now, but when I was taken by a walking tour guide in 2010 I was mesmerized and loved the fact that it had been in Sex and the City.
The lock bridge is a pretty well-known and widely exercised European city-staple now, but if you’re an ‘accept no substitutes’ type – this is considered as the original and best.
If you have someone special in your life you can add a lock to the bridge and throw the key into the river Seine. But my best memories have come from walking along the bridge, seeing people paint or play instruments, and looking at the locks of love past.
There’s a lot of love here. Whether it lasted, who knows, but it’s a beautiful thought that at one point these people were that in love. These locks are now symbols not only of romantic love, but platonic, life-long and familial love. What’s not to love about that?The new Eiffel and other amazing views
If like me you like to go up tall buildings, and you’re interested in a skyline that includes the most iconic building in Paris (the Eiffel tower, duh) a great alternative with a better view is Montparnasse. It’s almost as tall as the Eiffel tower and gives a much more iconic glance of the city’s skyline.
If you’re a sucker for a good view my favorite ever place in Paris is Montmartre; specifically taking the spectacular walk up to the Sacre Coeur.
If you can stand all the Parisian scam artists trying to sell you friendship bracelets for prices that push the term extortion to its limits, you’ll be rewarded with what I believe is the best view of Paris, especially during sunset.
Walk around up there and you’ll see different angles of Paris, some including the Eiffel tower for those iconically Parisienne pics.
Around the side of the Sacre Coeur you can follow the road up to a little place with bistros and a couple of small tourist shops. The food here is cheap and standard French fare. That with a glass of wine and you can’t really go wrong.
In the evening often the square is taken-over by outside dining, but during the day come here to watch the local artists paint and buy their work from local artists.Dirty, sexy, Paris
If you’re in Paris for a laugh with friends, while you’re in the Montmartre area you can saunter down to the Moulin Rouge and our favourite as Erasmus students: PIGALLE!
Back in the day Pigalle was a hub for aspiring, and later influential, artists like Toulouse-Lautrec and Picasso.
Nowadays it’s full of hilarious sex shops, complete with scantily-clad, promiscuously placed mannequins. Pretty hilarious all in all.Celebrity haunts
For some odd celebrity spotting, you can also pay a visit to Pere Lachaise, a cemetery which contains a lot of famous people, including Edith Piath and Oscar Wilde.
I’ve heard that since I last went back in 2011, they’ve put perspex around Wilde’s grave. Before, and I hope still, the tomb was adorned with the lipstick kisses of, I’d imagine, thousands or women (and probably a few men as well!)
People would go armed with a bright shade of lipstick and kiss the great bard’s grave.I’m on a…
My biggest tip for Paris – however touristy – is: go on a boat tour of the Seine. Some of the best memories of my life have been on those frickin’ freezing boats at night with my friends. The scenery is amazing, the photos are amazing (if blurry) and the memories are for a life time!
I have some really incredible memories of Paris, with some of the best people I’ve ever known. Go make yours.