Looking back: A must-see-and-do list for Paris.

My friend Jessie was heading to Paris and asked if I had any advice on where to stay, what to see, and the must-do items I learned from my travels, so I created this list.

(Of course they are far more things to see/do than this list, but here are a few things to get you started! And remember, I was there from June-August so this is a ‘summer list’.)

First and foremost:
Get this Paris offline map on your phone!!
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Download this bit of brilliance to your phone. I have found it indispensable- you don’t need to be connected to wifi and it doesn’t use data roaming to work– you can find the nearest metro, a Starbucks (if you need wifi), a grocery store (like a ‘franprix’ or ‘carrefour’), museums, galleries, (and many other things), and always find where you are and which direction you are facing. It’s free. And awesome.
(There is also the same kind of free app for Amsterdam, London, Prague… Etc)
IMG_5013The Sunken Chip
-delicious fish and chips, UK style. And if weather permits, taking it over to the banks of the Canal St Martin to eat it.
(Nearest metro: Chateau D’Eau (line 4) or Jacques Bonsergent (line 5)
IMG_3436The Artazart bookstore and boutique by the canal St Martin- honestly the coolest selection of books ever. Plus other cool things, but dear god the books. I could have bought a dozen.
(Nearest metro: Chateau D’Eau (line 4) or Jacques Bonsergent (line 5)
IMG_1971The Loire Dans La Théière:
A busy little tea shop with unbelievable desserts. In the Marais area, where there are all sorts of other fantastic eats. Laptops not allowed.
(Nearest metro: St-Paul (line 1)
The Musée des arts et Métiers:
Full of inventions, toys, design, engineering and architecture, it’s extremely cool to check out.
(Nearest metro: Arts et Métiers (line 3 or line 11)
 
IMG_5094The Pere Lachaise Cemetery
This place is huge and remarkable. I liked it best on a cloudy day; you can spend hours here exploring ancient gravestones and famous resting places. I was interested in this place far more for the beauty than the celebrities.
L’Orangerie
I know there are numerous art gallery/museums that will be recommended to you so this shall be mine. This beautiful gallery has a lower level of many artists, and my favourite part on the main floor: two rooms with wrapping floor-to-ceiling paintings of Monet’s water lilies like you’ve never seen them.
You can also walk through the Jardin De Tuilleries afterwards, on your way to the Louvre or towards the Marais area.
Nearest metro: Concorde (line 1, 12 or 8)
IMG_5765Rent ‘Velib’ bikes – if it isn’t too cold or rainy, this is a great way to get across town quickly and leisurely.
You can rent a bicycle online or at a velib station with a credit card- it’s 1.70€ for 24 hours, and you can use a bike for up to 30 minutes at a time (as many times as you want) for no extra charge, so it’s great to get places a little quicker, or enjoy a ride along the Seine. We found it perfect in the evening- the least amount of traffic on the roads. The roads often have bike lanes and we always felt comfortable on the roads here- drivers and cyclists cooperate. The stations are all over the place, and there’s an app for that as well.
IMG_2974Have a picnic. (Just about anywhere):
There is nothing like buying some good cheese, a baguette, grabbing a bottle of wine and finding an outdoor spot to eat. Way cheaper than a restaurant and you can enjoy the beautiful evenings that Paris often has. Three of my favourite places are: along the Seine (by the Musee D’Orsay, or at Pont Neuf), in Champs Des Mars- the park at the base of the Eiffel Tower, or the Jardin du Luxembourg.
IMG_1719Speaking of the Jardin du Luxembourg: go there. 🙂 It’s huge, beautiful, and a fabulous place to walk through, or sit and people watch. My favourite place in the garden is by the Medici Fountain.
(Nearest train line RER B- Luxembourg, or Metro: Notre-Dame-Des-Champs)- you can also walk here from the Odeon station.
 
IMG_5242Parc de la Villette
This was a very late discovery and we went there to check out their outdoor movie festival, but the park and area have even more to offer than that. In addition to all the pathways and walkways and playgrounds and artwork here, there is the largest Science Museum in Europe, The City of Music museum, IMAX theatre (in La Géode, pictured above), and numerous venues for music and events.
You can walk a lot in Paris, but if you take the metro, my suggestion is to buy a pack of ten tickets. I think you can use the same ticket for 60 minutes (any direction) on the metro but don’t quote me on that. I don’t know the bus system very well aside from the fact you need tickets (or exact change) for buses too.
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In terms of food, there are endless possibilities. Crèpe stands are all over and the price is often very reasonable, boulangeries (bakeries) are common and amazing, and fruit stands (even sometimes in the metro stations!) often have the absolute best fruit you’ve ever had. If you want the most concentrated restaurant options, get off the Metro at Saint-Michel(just southwest of Nortre Dame) and head south. There are a lot of cool restaurants in the Marais area, just west of the Etienne Marcel metro stop, and Rue Mouffetard (right by the Place Monge Metro stop) is another awesome spot for a variety of options. There are markets all over, and they happen regularly, often on a schedule like Sunday/Wednesday/Friday or Monday/Saturday. Fun to wander through and amazing selections of food, flowers, and sometimes housewares and crafts.
Festivals abound, but some I got to and loved:
1) Fête de La Musique (3rd Saturday in June)  (Free music festival with concerts galore!)
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2) La Plage Sur La Seine (August)
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An Eiffel Tower statue made out of metal lawn chairs

3) En Plein Air (Outdoor Cinema Festival) @ Parc De La Villette (July-August)

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Bring a picnic dinner, drinks, and your own blankets (or rent chairs and blankets for a reasonable price) and enjoy!

There are new exhibits and events going on all the time, so check out TimeOut www.timeout.com/Paris/en for their ‘hot list’- a list of things to do and see each week. I found this site really useful.

Hope this list has some things you find helpful. Let me know what you have found and would suggest! I’d love to learn about more must-see things for my next visit there! 🙂

My summer in panoramas.

It seems fitting I share the panoramas I started to take along my trip this summer as there were times where it took more than one look or one simple photo to take in the amazing sights around me.

Here are some shots from my trip that I captured with the panoramic function on my iPhone. A couple have appeared in my previous posts, but it’s fun to see them all together here one after another.

When I first arrived in Paris I had to go to one of my favourite places- Montmartre. Here’s the view from the steps of the Sacre Coeur on a cloudy day.

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Being able to explore inside the glorious Palais Garnier, I was almost inspired to buy opera tickets, but never ended up back there.

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Next up, the Louvre. I took this photo from the less-populated entrance.

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It was a few days in to my first week in Paris that I discovered my new favourite place, the Jardin du Luxembourg, including the palace, and palm trees and pond (oh my!)…

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I spent many evenings having picnics with friends here, and daytimes getting some sunshine, reading, or people watching.

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I honestly didn’t know that you aren’t supposed to take pictures inside the Shakespeare Company Bookstore. It serves me right, then, for if you look closely there’s a weird morphing/disappearing person in the middle of this photo.

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Thanks to my amazing French teacher, we got to go inside the Sorbonne (one of the oldest universities in Europe), and this is one of the incredible lecture halls…. including the carved wood ceiling and fresco painting.

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The Musée Carnavalet was one of the first museums I came across, and the grand courtyard was everything you’d expect from a French garden. Stylish, sophisticated, and completely symmetrical.

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It was inside the Chapel at Château Vincennes on a beautiful and sunny day that I captured this photo.

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The view from the top of the Centre Pompidou allowed me this far off view of the Sacre Coeur, and the entire skyline of Paris.

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It was an overcast day in July when I couldn’t leave Monet’s Garden without a couple panoramic shots of the water lilies and romantic overhanging willow branches.

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The evening sight of Lyon before we embarked on our cruise down the Saône and then the Rhône river.

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And Lyon by day. The view on  a rainy day. Red-tiled rooftops as far as the eye could see reminded us of Florence, Italy.

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In Viennes we learned all about the Cathedral of St Maurice, which was built in the early 11th century and then added to for almost 500 years.

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In Arles we toured this amphitheatre, where events still take place today.

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Avignon during their Theatre Festival is truly papered from one end to the other with posters of the hundreds and hundreds of shows going on. And all along the way roaming artists and performers acted out scenes and handed out pamphlets to encourage people to come see their productions.

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And yes, we did take an evening ride on the ferris wheel before leaving Avignon.

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With the freedom of picking up a rental of a car, we explored the fields, orchards, hills, and vineyards of Provence and found ourselves staying down the road from here; near Carombe and Bedoin, with a beautiful view of the famous Mont Ventoux.

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The lavender fields near Sault were every bit as amazing as we dreamed. Possibly better.

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And the lavender fields went on and on….

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The hilltop town of Gordes was a welcome sight after twisting and turning mountain roads.

One of our favourite places we discovered in Provence- Roussillon, also called ‘The Red City’.

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The view of the Alps from the top of Mont Ventoux.

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And August brought us to the northern coast of France, and the stunning view along the walkway to Mont Saint Michel.

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This was the view from our hotel room. We were so glad to stay on the island to appreciate the magic of Saint Michel at the end of the day without the swarms of tourists that flood it in the daytime.

The view of Mont Saint Michel at dusk. It was incredible to have the tide completely out and be able to simply walk barefoot in the sand out to this point to see it. 🙂

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Amsterdam was a beautiful, interesting city and we could have wandered the canal-lined streets for days.

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The city of Amsterdam is full of tourists from all over the world and full of Dutch souvenirs. One colourful sight? Clogs.

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We started our exploration of the city of Prague at the oldest Medieval castle in the world, and St Vitus Cathedral.

Definitely our favourite place to start our adventures from each day: Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic.

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One of the many bridges in Prague.

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The colourful buildings of Prague that look like they are made of white chocolate and candy…. and of course the Astronomical Clock and Old Town Square in the background.

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When we went to see the open-air film festival at the Parc de La Villette, we barely scratched the surface of this amazing area full of various gardens, sights, and activities. This dome we later found out held the IMAX centre at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie- the largest science museum in Europe.

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Our last apartment had the most beautiful view of the Sacre Coeur, and so this post comes full circle, with one of the places that made me fall in love with this part of the world. Hope you enjoyed seeing my summer’s adventures in a panoramic summary.

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