Hey there! So I was in Paris a few weeks ago with my boyfriend. As you may already know, we’ve been to Paris many times. I’ve grown up in the Parisian suburbs, moved out when I was 9 but I’ve been going there every now and then to visit my dad who lives there.
By now, my boyfriend and I got to visit both as locals and as tourists A LOT of what Paris has to offer. Obviously, I can’t say that I’ve seen it all. Even my dad, after living there for over 30 years, couldn’t pretend to have seen it all.
Because Paris has SO MUCH to offer, I thought it could help many to make a summary of my favourite things to do in Paris. Budget-friendly, a bit alternative and both tourist and local approved, this little guide will take you through Paris and hopefully, make your stay as enjoyable and memorable as possible.
Take a FREE walking tour
Whenever I travel to a new place, I immediately look for a free walking tour. These tips-based tours are great since they show you everything you need to see about the city, they teach you a lot without making it boring nor too long. All of that for a price that is yours!
The company we’ve used the most is called New Europe Tours and you can find their Paris free walking tour here. The Paris free tour is 3 hours, starts at Saint Michel and walks you around the historical centre of Paris while learning a lot about French history. They also offer many other tours for a fixed price with student discounts (Versailles, Montmartre, etc).
During our last visit, we’ve found another company called Discover Walks, that offers exclusively free walking tours! The tours are shorter (1h30 compared to 3 hours with New Europe), the guide is a local Parisian guide with a French accent and everything, and they offer many different themes.
We’ve chosen the Montmartre tour for this time and loved it. The fact that the guide was French and really taught the French way of doing things was great, but we did think that there was less content than in the other one.
If you love history, long walk and thorough content, go for New Europe Tour. If you’re into less walking and more discovering the local ways and culture, go for Discover Walks. Both are great and sure worth your time. We recommend doing it on your first day in Paris since you will see many places and monuments that you might wanna come back to later during your stay.
Don’t miss the Sainte Chapelle!
The Sainte Chapelle is not that famous, and many locals don’t even know it exists, which is a pity because it is absolutely splendid. It’s located near Notre Dame and other interesting places, so you can kill two birds with one stone and easily spend half a day on the Île de la Cité.
Practical information: From 1st of April until 30th of September 2018, it is open from 9am to 7pm (admission until 30min before closure). The entrance is free for 18-25 EU residents! You can also take advantage of being in the area to visit La Conciergerie, the Palais de Justice, and obviously, Notre Dame. By the way, you can visit Notre Dame but you can also go up its towers to have beautiful views of Paris.
Bercy Village is a very cute alley with shops, cafés and restaurants. It looks great at night, and there is a big cinema at the end of the street, to finish off the day in a relaxing way. A movie ticket for -26 years old is 4.90€ from Monday to Friday, which makes it probably the cheapest youth fare in Paris.
Get yourself an enigma book!
We’ve discovered the enigma book concept last time we went to Paris and loved it. If you already visited the main landmarks and wanna get a chance to really get to know Paris, those books are exactly what you need. The questions guide you through the district (arrondissement) of your choice, helping you spot tiny details and fragments of history in the streets around you. We used this book, which is in French.
Unfortunately, I haven’t found an equivalent in English yet (I’ll keep you posted as soon as I find one! Don’t forget to post it in the comment if you have one) so it will require that you have some knowledge of French, or that you’re an ace of Google Translate!
Explore hidden passages!
Paris is literally crossed by a very long indoor gallery. It’s continuous across several streets, so there are a few different galleries: Passage des Princes, Passages des Panoramas, Passage Jouffroy (entirely made of glass and metal, and wood for decorations), Passage Verdeau.
These passages are full of atypical restaurants and stores, workshops and antique shops. I love to go there and just enter the shops to get surprised. The architecture is beautiful and it really feels like you step in another age. The Passages are located one after the other so you can just start at one end and walk through all of them in a row, which makes it ideal for a rainy day in Paris. There are many other covered passages in the city, I let you discover them by yourself! Don’t forget to write your favourite ones in the comments.
Paris also has many outdoor passages and cute streets to offer. Take a stroll in luxurious Village Royal (beautifully decorated for Christmas) or in the peaceful Village Saint Paul, located in the lovely district of “Le Marais”. If you are more into a coffee at a terrace, go to the Passage des Petites Écuries, a very cute street that leads to an open courtyard.
Treat yourself to some views
Among our Paris favourite views, there is obviously the one from the Eiffel Tower. Even though I definitely recommend that you go to the top once in your life, the views are already amazing from the 2nd floor (for the 2nd floor you can take the stairs, which is cheaper, but you’ll need an elevator ticket to go all the way up).
The views from the Sacré Coeur and Montmartre, in general, are also really worth it. To avoid the crowds in front of the cathedral, walk around until you get right behind it. There you’ll have great views and not a single tourist in sight.
The last spot that we really like is from the last floor of the Centre Pompidou. The views are unexpectedly stunning! But don’t get fooled by the website or the signs at the entrance. It’s super sneaky and they hide it very well, but the entrances to the museum and the views are free for 18-25-year-old EU residents. You still need a ticket though, so go to the cash desk (not the automatic ones, they won’t consider your free entrance) and don’t forget to ask for the youth rate. You can find the hidden rates here (the document is not available in English but lightest orange means free entrance without a ticket, middle one free entrance but you need a ticket, brown means reduced fare).
That is all for today! I hope these tips on what to do in Paris “when you’ve seen it all” will help you plan your stay or convince you to book a trip! For more tips on how to tourist smart in Paris, check out my Paris ultimate guide for a perfect stay!