The capitals of Belgium and France are just 300 kilometers apart, yet this was only the second time I visited Paris. It was also my first trip since the start of work life, the perfect excuse to splurge in Europe’s most iconic city. These are my ten favorites for a first time in Paris.
#1- Start the day the Paris way
No better way to start the day than with breakfast à la Parisienne. Coffee, a croissant or pain au chocolat, baguette with butter and jam and fresh juice. To be enjoyed preferably on a sidewalk terrace, served with some people watching.
#2- Climb up Montmartre & the Sacre Coeur
There is so much to see in the streets of Montmartre that you easily forget about going uphill. That’s why the amazing view of Paris in front of the Sacre Coeur might come as a surprise. For an even better view on the roofs of Paris, climb to the top of the Sacre Coeur.
#3- Lunch traditionally at Bouillon Chartrier
The actual lunch goes by twice as fast as the line that gets you there. Parisian efficiency is to thank for that. Classy waiters swoop through the dining room, serving tasty French classics at ridiculously low prices. The restaurant has been around for over 100 years, so traditional is to say the least.
#4- Walk it off in Jardin des Tulleries
Jardin des Tulleries is a beautiful place for a post-lunch stroll. The large bassins are surrounded by chairs, inviting you to enjoy a drink in warmer months. For impressionist art that lives up to the dreamy gardens, visit the Musée de l’Orangerie and the Musée d’Orsay, located inside and across the park respectively. The Musée d’Orsay is located in a historic beaux-arts railway station, which alone makes it worth a visit.
#5- Admire the Louvre’s art (or architecture)
The Louvre is another landmark in Paris that stands out for both its architecture and the art it holds. If you had your dose of art by now, you can take in the architecture from Café Marly’s terrace. Because cocktails and culture make a great combo.
#6- Feel nostalgic at Île de la Cité
Île de la Cité holds Paris’ most iconic church, which has Disney to thank for that status. Sunset wraps the Notre Dame in a magical light. But even on less sunny days, it is well worth climbing the stairs of this gothic masterpiece. It allows you to come face to face with the stone statues from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
#7- Sip wine on a sidewalk terrace
Sidewalk terraces are inseparable from the streets of Paris. They are open and packed rain or shine, with heaters to bridge the colder months. No visit to Paris is complete without sipping a glass of wine on a sidewalk table.
#8- Walk up to the Arc de Triomphe
The Arc looks most impressive from a distance, when walking up to it via the Champs Elysées. However, chances are you’ll be more focussed on the window displays along the way. For a sweet break, stop by the beautiful Ladurée shop. Their famous macarons come in many tastes and colors, which might be the reason behind the long lines.
#9- Find the Eiffel Tower’s best angle
The most iconic sight of Paris has many good angles. The Palais de Chaillot reveals the Eiffel Tower in all its glory, but the view from the Seine is equally beautiful. If you don’t fear heights, get inside of the iron construction and take the stairs to the second floor. The top floor is only accessible by a glass lift.
#10- People watch in Le Marais
Why not wrap up the weekend by combining three great features of Paris: French wine, shopping and people watching. Le Marais has many interesting shops and boutiques, which in turn attracts an interesting crowd for people watching.