If you’re following me on any social media platform you will know that I recently spent a long weekend in Paris with my Joey. Now I’m definitely no travel blogger but I was definitely a tourist and have some great tips to share with you on navigating touristy spaces whilst there.
What will you find in this blog post then? I’m going to be talking about the places you might be interested in visiting (especially as a first timer in Paris) and how you can be organised enough to enjoy and navigate those busy spaces. There’s loads to look forward to in this post and obviously some really lovely photos all taken on my Pixel 2 XL. I decided not to bring my DSLR to really test out my new phone… anyway that’s a totally different blog post… let’s get right into it.
I’m going to start with the Eiffel tower because it was such a wonderful experience but I would literally change everything about how Joe and I approached visiting it.
Seeing the Eiffel tower in the distance for the first time is so existing and the excitement only grows the closer you get to it. Being stood underneath the Eiffel tower is an experience in itself and a free one at that!
There are 3 budgets for visiting the Eiffel tower which is great because if you’re travelling with little to no money you can still have a great experience at the Eiffel tower.
- Free – It’s 100% free to get through security and stand underneath the tower however you will have to queue up with a massive 2 hour wait on a busy day if you are ticketless. It’s worth it just to look up and see the absolutely amazing engineering that went into the structure. You can get some great Instagram shots too!
There are also some options for tickets to take the stairs up to the 2nd floor which are all below €25. I believe they start at €12 for the first floor via the stairs. Definitely check out the official website for pricing and options (I’ve included a link at the end of this post).
- €25 per person – The cheapest ticket (for the lift) to go up the tower is €25. For €25 you will get to jump the 2 hour wait in the security queue and get a lift up to the second floor. The view from the 2nd floor is absolutely incredible. You don’t miss out if you don’t go to the “Sommet” which is the highest point. You can see everything from the 2nd floor and it’s bigger than the “Sommet” which means you have more room to get your cheesy pics and Instagram shots.
- €50 per person – The Sommet is the most appealing ticket but the least appealing price. It’s the most expensive ticket and for this price you get access all areas. You can jump the security queue, get a lift up to the 2nd floor and get a lift up to the Sommet. It was really cool going all the way to the top and believe me you feel like you’re stood at the top of a very sturdy needle. The view is amazing and everything that moves on the ground looks like an ant. You’ll be glad to know there are no shaking or vibrating sensations at the top of the tower. I would however recommend if you have any fear of heights or struggle with vertigo avoid going to the Sommet (you might still be fine on the second floor as it’s more like being on a roof garden height wise I mean).
Here is my recommended checklist and last bit of info for visiting the Eiffel tower:
- Each floor has toilets so don’t worry about holding it in after queuing up.
- Bring snacks! Nuts, cereal bars, protein bars, cooked meats, crisps… that kind of thing. We were at the tower for 4.5 hours and didn’t bring snacks… don’t be like us.
- BOOK YOUR TICKETS BEFORE YOU GO unless you’re just planning to look at the tower from the ground! This was such an error on our part. I even went to book tickets but thought it would be better to have freedom of arriving whenever. I was wrong. Remember you only need to book if you plan on going up the tower at all.
- GO EARLY! Make it the first part of one of your days so that you beat the mad rush of tourists. I guarantee you will enjoy your visit 100% more.
- You can buy a glass of champagne at the sommet! I think it’s €13 for a glass but I didn’t fancy drinking so you’ll have to check the website. Bring money with you if you’re planning on getting some bubbles!
Arc de Triomphe
Built in honour of those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, this gorgeous monument felt like the centre of Paris. It’s located in the centre of a roundabout and initially appears unreachable until you discover the underground passage leading to it. I’m not entirely sure if they have step free access to this monument so maybe look for an official site if you require access information.
To view the Arc de Triomphe is totally free but if you would like to go to the top of it then it costs €19 per person. We decided not to go up the monument as it was very busy and queues were very long. We also knew we would be going up the Eiffel tower the next day so we waited to get our view and I definitely don’t regret that decision. I do however think viewing the city from the Arc de Triomphe would be a totally different and beautiful experience. If you look closely at the next image you can make out the people on top of the monument.
On the day we saw the Arc de Triomphe there was a memorial happening which was really beautiful and to ensure it remained that way they had placed metal railings around it to prevent tourists going underneath it. You only have to approach it to see the pride that went into it. Engraved with names of generals and other important figures during the revolution and war, the building is really a breath taking addition to Paris.
If you fancy getting some window shopping or actual shopping done you can visit the famous Champs-Elyseés which is basically a really long road full of luxury shopping experiences, bistros and attractions. I thought this would be a great follow on from talking about the Arc de Triomphe because it is located on the Champs-Elyseés.
Our weekend away was less about shopping and much more about food and tourism but I couldn’t turn up my first opportunity to visit a Sephora. If you haven’t been then I highly recommend checking it out. I managed to do some damage to the bank account and probably could have done more if I didn’t have my voice of reason with me aka Joe haha.
As well as visiting Sephora on the Champs-Elyseés I went out of my way to visit Cire Trudon who are the oldest functioning candle makers in the world. Seriously… you won’t have smelt anything like them. They have a long history having been established in 1864. I was only travelling with hand luggage so I got a smaller candle which wasn’t a problem getting through airport security. I chose ‘Solis Rex’ as the scent to fill my home with. This was the nicest shop experience I had the whole time I was in Paris. The staff were so lovely! Just an all-round 10/10 make sure you check it out if you have the chance.
Sephora was another shop on my list of musts! I had never been to a Sephora before my visit to Paris. I highly recommend checking it out, especially if you are into your makeup and skin care. I managed to get hold of some Fenty beauty and an incredible eye shadow pallet by too faced. When I swatched the tester I couldn’t believe my eyes lol… SOLD! There are so many new and exciting things in there. I managed to get hold of a really unusual face mask by ‘the oozoo’ which includes a syringe applicator shot thingy… it’s very interesting and I can’t wait to try it out (make sure you follow me on IG to see when I use it). Even if you’re not a huge makeup person check out the skin care stuff in there because I guarantee you will come across some weird and wonderful brands and products! Ever considered an egg mousse face mask? Well you might when you see it!
I tried Pierre Marcolini’s chocolates when I visited Brussels with a friend a little while back so I knew what to expect when I came across one of his chocolatiers in Paris… pure quality and joy! Joe was less convinced until I made him eat one of their macarons! We have slowly been working our way through the chocolates. I didn’t take any photos of the chocolates because I like some things to just be for us 🙂 which I think is important in such a media dominated world. Just trust me when I say they are delicious, instagrammable and worth a visit!
Laudrée is a must when in Paris for the first time! Again like the Eiffel tower be prepared for a queue. It moved very quickly and as you can image wasn’t the most personal experience because they must serve thousands of people everyday and their staff are only human. Laudrée are one of the world’s best known first sellers of the double decker macaron. They sell roughly 15,000 a day… WHAT! That is madness (and info straight from wiki lol). Their macarons were very delicious but honestly I enjoyed the one I had at Pierre Marcolini more! I would say it’s worth checking out if you’re on the Champs-Elyseés because it’s a beautiful store and you won’t find more macarons in one place lol! They also have a restaurant next door but it was so busy I couldn’t even pop my head in to have a look so if you’re going to do that I would recommend whatever booking is available!
I can’t lie I found the Louvre to be an exhausting and underwhelming experience. It is absolutely massive in there and if you really love your art, it is worth planning a whole day around visiting this museum. This a 100% book your tickets online situation. Whatever you do DO NOT BUY TICKETS FROM TICKET SCALPERS OUTSIDE. We were approached and asked if we wanted to buy a ticket, when I said we had already been in the scalper offered to give me a free Eiffel tower trinket for my used ticket. His intention was to sell it on and the poor tourists who purchased these tickets wouldn’t even know they were used until they were deep into the building scanning them for entry. I obviously said no.
I do recommend going to see the Mona Lisa if you’re in Paris because I’m not a hater! If you’re in Paris for the first time there are things you probably really want to do like visit the Eiffel tower, eat a fresh croissant, eat a macaron and see the Mona Lisa. I just don’t think it was a very enjoyable experience. She was SURROUNDED by a huge crowd of people edging their way forward to get a really underwhelming image with her. If you want to avoid it go early and make an A line for her and plan the rest of your visit around other aspects of the Louvre. There are some absolutely stunning pieces in there including Venus de Milo.
Here is my recommended checklist and last bit of info for visiting the Louvre:
- Book your tickets online before you arrive! It’s €17 per person and the Louvre isn’t open on a Tuesday!
- Bring water
- Bring lunch if you’re on a budget. There are some wonderful options in the cafe but it’s not the cheapest place.
- If you’re a type 1 diabetic bring sugar (don’t make our mistake and find out you need sugar when you’re miles into the building and the nearest gift shop is beyond the Mona Lisa!)
- Book your tickets online (definitely don’t buy them from people outside the entrance)
I hope you’ve got loads of useful information from this post I’m going to stop here before this blog post turns into my first book! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below and if you try out any of my tips for your own visit. I have also included links to the Louvre & Eiffel Tower for ticket purchases here: Louvre: www.louvre.fr/en Eiffel Tower: www.toureiffel.paris/en
Keep an eye out for my next Paris post: Parisian Culture – A Weekend in Paris