Paris has always been a dream of mine. Having bought plane tickets for a trip once and never made it, Paris was “the one that got away” and a trip I had always wanted to take. My expectations of this city were so high that I was scared to get disappointed, but it was more than I could have ever hoped for.
The diversity of people in Paris was astounding; I loved that people from all walks of life fit in this city without a second glance. Since we were visiting at the height of tourist season, traffic and crowds were chaos, but we expected as much. Although my family rented a car to travel to multiple countries, we ended up taking alternative transportation a few times to avoid traffic. On the flip side, a plus about having a car was that while driving through the city, we accidently ran into many monuments and sites we planned on seeing. Some of the famous sites that I was lucky enough to experience during my 5 days in Paris were The Notre Dame, The Louvre, The Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Élysées, Palace of Versailles, Tuileries Garden, Moulin Rouge, and Pont Alexandre III. Some of the historic sites took much less time to see than others, leaving us with more time to explore other places such as The Palace of Versailles (which was a day trip in itself), The Louvre, and Champs- Élysées (depending on how much shopping you want to do).
I recommend seeing all the sites I listed above, as they are more “famous” sites in Paris. I personally loved The Louvre (museum nerd), The Notre-Dame, and The Palace of Versailles best. All of these were longer excursions filled with lots of history and art. Based on your interests, you might want to spend the majority of your time elsewhere, but for me, the history and beauty of these places mesmerized me. I felt like I experienced what the true history and culture of Paris was. More advice from me on “must-do’s” in Paris would include going to Laudree (the first macaroon shop) on the Champs-Élysées, trying escargot as an appetizer, eating a baguette in one of the many beautiful parks while people watching, and definitely going to The Louvre. Even if you are not interested in museums or art, I recommend at least running inside to see the Mona Lisa (it is iconic).
Reflecting on my time, I feel that I was really lucky to go to the city of love, with someone I love. We spent our last night in Paris on a date that I’ve always dreamed of. After exploring The Louvre, we walked for hours through the Tuileries Garden eating gelato and people watching. We finally walked over for a late dinner at a restaurant a block from the Eiffel Tower called Café Gustav’s (which was incredible, I recommend). We waited until dark to buy a bottle of wine and walk to the park under the Eiffel Tower to sit under the stars and watch the Tower sparkle. As cheesy as it sounds, I do not think I have seen anything more nostalgic and beautiful than the twinkling of the Eiffel Tower at midnight; I feel very lucky to have shared that moment with someone I love.
The city of love was worth all of the hype and more. I cannot wait to visit this city again and wander among the unique atmosphere and culture that is Paris.