With beautiful architecture, a rich history, and oozing culture, it’s no surprise that Paris is one of the top tourist destinations in the world.
Paris is often referred to as the City of Lights because it was one of the first cities in Europe to have electricity. Though perhaps it should more rightly be known as the City of Landmarks, with so many famous monuments and attractions located there.
Top of that list is the Eiffel Tower. Named after its designer, Gustave Eiffel, when built it was the tallest structure in the world at 324m – a record held until the 1930 completion of New York’s Chrysler Building. While the entry lines are often long, it is worth the wait to enjoy a lunch or dinner in one of its restaurants or sip a glass of champagne as you take in the sweeping view of the city from atop this iconic structure.
When you’re back on ground level head to Avenue des Champs-Elysees. This street in Paris is renowned for its cafes and high-end luxury shopping. It is also the location of the annual Bastille Day parade as well as the finish line of the Tour de France. It’s a great place to sit down, sip a coffee, and people watch the day away.
Another must see is Notre Dame, though going inside to marvel at the treasures and towers of this French Gothic cathedral will have to be saved for a future visit as it’s not due to reopen until December 2024 after a fire in 2019 severely damaged it. However, the building itself is a treasure to behold and perhaps you will see Quasimodo peering out through a window.
To see treasures up close head to The Louvre, arguably the world’s most famous museum and home to without question the world’s most famous painting. While I found Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa overrated – it’s surprisingly small! – there are almost 400,000 objects and 35,000 works of art to inspire you.
Next door to The Louvre you will find the spectacular public gardens, Jardins des Tuileries. The park was once the private playground of Catherine de’ Medici, back when the Louvre was her royal palace. Today it features splendid French-style gardens, a boating pond, two playgrounds and a carousel. If you’re holidaying with kids, it’s a great stop to wear them out between museum visits.
The Basilica of Sacre Coeur should also be on your list for a visit. Not so much for the building itself – though it’s pretty amazing – but for the spectacular view of the city from its front steps and the undeniable charm of the surrounding Montmartre neighbourhood. Visit in the late afternoon to watch talented street performers do their thing as the sun sets over the city.
By now the kids are sick of sightseeing – and probably quite a few adults are too – so the next stop is ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’, Disneyland Paris. Where better to visit make-believe castles than in a city full of authentic castles!
Once the kids are tucked in bed, Paris has a pretty decent nightlife scene to explore. Nightclubs, lounges and bars, plus plenty of shows such as the iconic Moulin Rouge Cabaret Show. There are also a few casinos throughout the city if you’re feeling lucky.
When it comes to French cuisine, no matter whether you’re dining somewhere casual or at a fancy restaurant, the quality of the food and wine is excellent. I wasn’t game to try snails or frogs’ legs so I can’t recommend them, but you may have a braver palate. But the real star of the Paris food scene is the pastries. Miam miam!
While the fairytale-like image of Paris portrayed in movies and books doesn’t quite match the reality of this bustling city, the architecture and beauty of the city is unbeatable. If you love a holiday that involves a ton of sightseeing, than Paris is the place for you.