Things to Do in
Due to the worldwide pandemic, please check for destination travel restrictions prior to visiting/booking
Paris is a city of culture, of history, of style, and definitely one of intrigue. Each arrondissement has its own unique feel and walking the city never gets boring. Although it is not cool to be an American in Paris, and it is most certainly frowned upon to not speak French, we were treated well and could navigate around the city just fine.
Arc de Triomphe - Was fun to see this classic Parisian landmark. Made us all feel like we were really in Paris! We did the free version and just viewed it from a distance, you can pay to go inside.
Luxembourg Gardens - Fabulous green space in Paris behind stunning palace. Immaculate grounds, pond with mini sailboats, statues, playgrounds, cold spend all day relaxing there.
Champ de Mars - Large green space on one side of the Eiffel Tower. Playgrounds, outdoor ping pong tables, and fields for people to gather and enjoy the tower. We stayed for the light show at night which is a must for anyone visiting Paris.
Trocadero Gardens - Large man made pond and fountains in the shadow of the Eiffel towel. Major hangout spot for folks taking pics of the tower… has to be one one of the selfie capitals of the world and was also home to an impromptu water slide into the fountain on a hot day.
Avenue des Champs-Elysees - Green space running from the Louvre all the way to the Arc de Triomphe. Fabulous.
Montmartre - Large hill and 18th arrondissement in the city. Known for its art history as it housed famous artists like: Van Goh, Monet, Renoir, and Picaso. Perched atop the hill with sweeping views of the city is the Sacre Coeur Basilica. We also walked past the Moulin Rouge.
Worth the Money
The Eiffel Tower - Quintessentially Paris and a global icon. Panoramic 360 degree views from the “summit.” Way on the crowded side, but worth it for the experience. We made reservations and that made waiting in line more efficient. You can try to time it to be at the top for the sunset.
The Louvre - We took a semi-private tour and it was well worth it. Very informative and well-paced. So cool to see such hallmarks of art as the Mona Lisa, The Virgin of the Rocks, Venus De Milo, Nike, etc…We definitely recommend that if you visit the Louvre you get guide. Anything from an audio guide to an actual guide. It is HUGE and having someone show us around and give additional history was helpful. We explored on our own after that and it wasn’t quite as fulfilling.
Lunch cruise on the Seine River - huge highlight for the whole family. We went with Bateaux Parisiens and it was great. Excellent food, service, entertainment, and wine. There are regular boat tours for 14 euro/person all the way to dinner cruises (nice clothing recommended) for upwards of $200/person and everything in between. We enjoyed our lunch cruise and were incredibly under dressed but were still treated well.
Try a macaron. If you haven’t been a fan of them in the past it’s probably because you haven’t had one made like they make them in Paris. Our favorite (and we tried MANY) came from Christophe Roussel in Montmarte.
Tips for Visiting
Honorable mention for something to do is The Choco Story - A chocolate museum with a demonstration in chocolate candy making and plenty of chocolate tasting. Great for the kiddos.
There was a heat wave when we visited Paris and we lucked out to be there for their hottest day ever. We were not up for the very crowded tourist spots like Versailles or Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte but they were on our list of places to visit.
The Louvre has really fast WiFi and great air conditioning if you are caught on a really hot day in Paris. Much of Paris is not set up well for the heat - you will find a limited number of restaurants with AC and many apartments/rentals do not have AC.
Night views of the Eiffel Tower are great from Trocadero Gardens and also Champs De Mars. Since Paris has a similar latitude to Seattle, summer lights are best seen after 10pm, schedule yourself to be there for the 11:00pm light show (lasts five minutes but is worth it).
Keep a few euros handy to buy souvenirs. The Eiffel Tower keychains were really fun for the kids and they bargained, getting several for free and several more for 10-20 cents. Otherwise, everywhere else takes credit card including the subway.
Paris is very walkable and the metro is easy and reliable. Getting an all day pass for the metro is probably unnecessary if you can walk a few miles per day. Check to see how many trips you will actually need before purchasing a travel card. We got away with three 10 packs of tickets for the entire week, including transport to and from the train station.