Earlier this year my sister and I finally got the chance to visit Paris. The city of light. It’s the one place that features on most bucket lists and it had been on ours for years. Needless to say, we loved it! I read so many lists of things to do in Paris before I went and I enjoyed them so much I thought I would share my own. However, because not everything can be an alternative and super cool, this one is a little different!
Sometimes you just have to indulge your inner tourist. I love the idea of living like a local, but in reality we were only in Paris for a few days and we had a list as long as your arm of things we wanted to do and see before we left. That’s why this list of things to do in Paris focuses on things that might seem a little cliché but are ultimately fun. Paris is an inspiring city full of amazingly cool people…but I bet they sometimes wish they could indulge in a few things of my list too!
1) Go to French McDonalds
Ok, I’ve started with a controversial one! I can feel all the foodies out there cringing in horror, but hear me out. France might be the gastronomic capital of the world but not everyone is in the mood for snails and frog’s legs. Plus, gastronomic delights come with astronomic prices! I find that visiting foreign versions of familiar franchises can give an fascinating insight into what ‘casual eating’ looks like in the country I’m visiting. French McDonalds is a perfect example, it’s the same and yet different. For starters, there’s a pastry section…seriously! And McPoulet wrap, you’re the stuff of dreams. Plus, Paris is pretty much the most expensive place to eat in the world, and this traveller welcomed a budget friendly quick meal!
2) Eifel Tower selfies
Probably one of the most cliché things to do in Paris but if you don’t take a cheesy selfie with the Eifel tower in the background…did you even go to Paris? I think flocking to the city’s most famous landmark is a prerequisite for any trip to Paris. Join the hoards of tourists trying to capture the moment. Dodge the fake souvenir sellers. Maybe grab a ridiculously overpriced crepe. It’s all for a good cause! Because really, sometimes its fun to just be a proper tourist and go with the moment. Sure, true Parisians aren’t that bothered but I am, and getting a selfie in front of the Eifel tower is definitely one the reasons I came!
3) Wear Breton stripes and (possibly) a beret
Cue eye roll! Why don’t I just throw in a baguette and call it a day right? But there’s something undeniably fun and indulgent about taking obvious fashion cues from the place you’re visiting. Do real Parisians wear berets? Who knows! But I can tell you one thing for free, you can bet I was sporting one as I strolled around the city. I’m not sure if this counts as a thing to do. But if you can’t indulge in fashion in the city that practically invented it, when can you?
Bonus points go to my little sister here, she managed to sport Breton strips whilst indulging in a hot chocolate (as you can see in the picture above!)
4) Drink Hot Chocolate at Angelina
There’s no denying it. The Europeans do hot chocolate better than the rest of us. Rich, decadent and made from real chocolate instead of powdered cocoa, one sip of this is pretty much what I imagine heaven is like. When my sister and I were planning our first trip, one of the top things to do in Paris for us was make a beeline to renowned café, Agenlina. We’d heard their hot chocolate was second to none and that their patisserie selection was known to make grown men cry. So, we joined the insanely long queue (seriously, be prepared to queue) and waited to be admitted to this hot chocolate paradise. Was it cliché? Yes. Were we disappointed? Well, if I tell you that I sometimes still dream about that hot chocolate, maybe you can make up your own mind!
5) Eat croissants and coffee for breakfast
For the longest time, whenever I was having a bad day, I would imagine how amazing it would be to sit in a little Parisian café and have a coffee and croissant. You could say it was my happy place. When days got stressful or overwhelming, I’d simply think about how relaxing it would be to while away an hour in this way. So it featured right at the top of my personal list of things to do in Paris. Sure, it’s cliché, but finally sitting in a café with a warm, buttery croissant, a café noisette and a book? Well, it was priceless.
6) Spend too much on a glass of wine
Picture this. Our first night in Paris. Tired, hungry and more than a little grumpy we realise we need to eat. We’re also slightly overwhelmed by the number of restaurants that we can visit. So, what do we do? We head to a cosy square in Montmartre at the foot of the cathedral and pick the first place that looks inviting. Inside we’re finally warm and the delightful smells wafting from the kitchen are making our stomachs rumble in anticipation. Perfect.
Until we see the menu! How much? Is that really the price?! Yes, my friends, Paris is expensive! But in a rare, life is for living moment, we decided that there’s only one time you can eat in Paris for the first time. So, we paid too much for dinner and topped it off with an equally expensive glass of wine. It was perfect. It’s also the reason we opted for French McDonalds the next day!
7) Recreate scenes from your favourite French film
Whether your more of an art house cinema or a made for tv kind of fan there’s a French film for everyone. So when you are planning your Paris trip, make sure to see if you can fit in a few ‘location’ shots. Spending time searching out your favourite film locations is also a great *cough* budget friendly *cough* way to spend time in Paris. One of the reasons we stayed in Montmartre was because it is where my favourite film, Amelie, was set. Getting to drink a hot chocolate in the Café des 2 Moulins was an added bonus. But I’ll admit, I was tempted to recreate the famous baguette fight scene from the best French film every: Mary Kate & Ashley’s Passport to Paris. #noshame
8) Go on a guided tour
It feels like this should be an obvious one but when I was researching things to do in Paris before my trip it rarely came up as advice. Sure, in theory, its great to ‘live like a local’ but let’s be real. I’m not French, I’ve never been to Paris and I didn’t pay a lot of money for flights, to not see the sights! I had a hit list of monuments and iconic places I wanted to see and a limited time in which to do so. So I took advantage of all the ‘local’ knowledge offered by going on a guided tour. Plus, after that, I had a much better idea of how I wanted to spend the rest of my time.
9) Shamelessly overshare on Social Media
Ok, so…When I went to Paris I had a plan of action. I wanted to take as many pictures as humanly possible. I know, I know. It’s important to spend time in the moment and not looking through the lenses of a camera (or phone) but I still wanted to capture as much as possible on film. Or in this case jpeg. The thing I love most about photography is that it’s great for memories. I look back at the pictures I took in Paris and I’m transported. Then, as an added bonus, I can share the images I love most on social media. In this case, Instagram (make sure you follow me if you love pictures of travel, books and food!). It is one of the best things to do in Paris. It’s definitely cliché. But I’m so glad I did it.
*A little extra*
Visiting Paris for the first time with my little sister is hands down one of my favourite memories of 2017. We packed so much into the time that we were visiting that it took me almost as long to recover when I got back. I do think that letting ourselves be tourists added to the fun of our trip. But ultimately, one the best things to do in Paris was spend quality time with my sister.