This last semester I had the opportunity to go on a study abroad to Paris. It was the best because I actually got to live in Paris so I feel like I really got to explore and see so much of the city. Here are some of my favorite things I did that I would suggest to anyone visiting Paris.
1) Notre Dame
There are two islands, or “iles”, separated by the Seine River in Paris- Ile de la Cité and Ile Saint-Louis. The Notre Dame occupies most of the space on the second island, Ile de la Cité. This was definitely one of my favorite buildings in Paris. The architecture is really cool from every side you look at it. You definitely have to go through and look at the stained glass windows and interior, but mainly, I think the view from the top of the Notre Dame is the coolest part. This was my favorite view of Paris because of its location on Ile de la Cité. I even attended a mass session here once which I thought was pretty cool
2) Moulin Rouge
This was probably one of the buildings I was most excited to see because the movie Moulin Rouge is always in my top 3 list of favorite movies. It’s a little tricky to find but once you do it’s really fun to stand on the air vent right in front of it and sing Moulin Rouge songs while your hair is blowing all over your face. It’s just such a cute building!
3) Musée d’Orsay
Even though Paris is home to the Louvre, I found a couple of other museums I liked better. The Musée d’Orsay was my favorite because it has one of the biggest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings, which are my favorite. It used to be a train station, which makes me like it even more. We had it the best because our art history teacher would take us up to the best paintings and talk to us about them, but some of the awesome works here include pieces from Van Gogh, Degas and Monet. Those were my favorites.
4) Latin Quarter
This was just north of the Notre Dame. Basically, the Latin Quarter is the neighborhood of Paris with the best and cheapest food from all over the world. You could get anything from Chinese, Indian, to Greek food. My all time favorite thing I bought here was a Gyro sandwich. I don’t even remember the name of the place that I liked the best, because there were a lot of Greek places that sold these, but I remember the flavor! It comes on pita bread, with the delicious freshly shaved lamb meat, lettuce, tomato, fries, and the special sauce. I loved it so much. I even thought it was better than Daphne’s. But also, there are good cheap crepes in the Latin Quarter if you’re looking for something more Parisian. But I’d definitely suggest anything you find there.
5) Luxembourg Gardens
You will get your classic taste of Paris here. There are old men playing pétanque (a French game kind of like bocce ball), old men playing chess, couples drinking wine, and of course, couples making out. A truly French experience. There’s also a really pretty Palais, or palace, in the middle (that unfortunately you can’t go in because the French Senate works there). My favorite part is the little pond/fountain in front of the Palais where you can rent a toy boat and set it to sail with a long stick that you use to push it off the edges.
6) Champs-Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe
The Champs-Elysées is the road with the Arc de Triomphe at the end of it. This road is so fun to walk up and down - I did it many times. There is a lot of good shops (including Zara, one of my favorites) on this street and I even stopped at one of the nice cafés on this street and treated myself to a delicious Parisian lunch one day. I think that the Arc de Triomphe is definitely something worth going to the top of, especially at night. Make sure if you go at night that you are there on the hour because that is when the Eiffel Tower will sparkle for 5 minutes. It is definitely worth the view.
7) La Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre
I think this building is really pretty and the interior is alright too. Just another church. One of the best parts about this building, again, is the view from the top (sorry, I just think Paris looks so pretty from up high!) This building is at one of the highest points of the city and it’s kind of on the outside, so you really get to look over the whole city. Also, it’s in one of the cooler parts of Paris called Montmartre. Just behind this church is an artsy part of the city where artists will paint your face or really cool, unique paintings of Paris. I wish I could have splurged on one of these paintings. Plus, if you keep walking around you’ll find cafés where lots of famous writers like Hemingway and Fitzgerald used to hang out and write at.
8) Hotel de Ville
This was my favorite building in Paris. It was right by the church where our classes were held, so I saw this building almost every day but it still was my favorite. It’s just a really good example of how pretty and old and European all the buildings of Paris look.
9) La Madeline
This is another church, but I really like its Roman architecture. Probably the best part of this church is the view right outside of it. This view to me is totally what Paris is like. The little cars buzzing by and Place de la Concorde in the background.
10) Trocadéro and the Champs-de-Mars
Trocadéro is a metro stop where you get the best and most perfect view of the Eiffel Tower. If you want a nice picture in front of the Eiffel Tower I suggest you come here (this was where I took my favorite picture of the Eiffel Tower), just avoid the guys trying to trick you into buying little Eiffel Tower key chains- they are everywhere! The Champs-de-Mars is the grassy area in front of the Eiffel Tower, which is super fun to hang out at, but I like Trocadéro best.
11) Ok, last one.
Just make sure you take a walk along the Seine River. It is so pretty and you will surely run into the Lover’s Bridge and you can lock your heart away to someone (or something) special. Walking around Paris is just so magical I hope you all get a chance to visit it someday