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Paris Travel Guide - What To Do, Where To Eat & Where We Stayed

Back in October, Dara and I finally took a trip to Paris, and it was everything I'd ever dreamed of. Paris for me was always one of my dream cities to visit, but one I'd just never gotten round to actually visiting. Before our trip, I was slightly worried that it might just be a very over hyped destination, and that we'd find it too touristy with not enough soul, but luckily it was the opposite of that, and it truly is one of the most enchanting cities I've ever visited!

I wanted to share one of my travel guides on this beautiful city in case any of you are currently planning a trip there, or are thinking of visiting, but be warned, this will be a long post because I enjoyed absolutely everything we did, and almost every place we ate. Keep reading to find out what to do, where to eat and also where we stayed in Paris.

What To Do:

There's so much to do and see in Paris that I feel like you'd need an entire month to really explore the city properly, but I do have a few specific recommendations that you should try to fit in. Unfortunately we didn't get out to the Palace of Versailles as we got the open days mixed up which was a shame as it's somewhere I've always wanted to see, but hey, it's just another excuse to go back

1. The Eiffel Tower
Obviously I have to mention the most iconic symbol of Paris first! Now of course you don't have to go up the tower, and can just admire it from a distance (one of the best view points for this is shared further down) but honestly it's an amazing way to see the city of Paris from way up high. A tip I'd have is to book your tickets online as much in advance as you can. I booked ours a few weeks beforehand and the only available times were in the evening, which wasn't a bad thing at all because the city lights were stunning, but it's just something to keep in mind. You can also just turn up on the day to the Eiffel Tower and queue for tickets, but if you're on a short weekend trip like we were, I'd book online to save time so you can fit more in.

 2. Louvre Museum
Another iconic place in Paris is the Louvre, home to some of the most famous pieces of art in the world. I won't lie, one of the reasons I was most excited to visit the Louvre is because of the film Angels & Demons, but also because I would finally get to see the Mona Lisa in real life. A great little tip to know is that lots of the main attractions in Paris are free if you're under 26 years of age and from a country that is part of the EU, so both Dara and I could visit the Louvre completely free of charge. I could have spent days wandering around this vast museum, being completely awestruck by all of the famous pieces of art that I'd only ever read about in books or seen in documentaries, but of course we only had a few hours, so we studied the map and found the main pieces we wanted to tick off our bucket lists, which of course included the Mona Lisa. Don't be put off by the huge queue to see the famous lady that never seems to subside because it does move quite fast, and it's so worth it to see this enchanting painting up close.

3. The Arc de Triomphe
I know this list so far has been quite obvious, but sometimes when you're visiting a new city it can be tempting to not visit the most popular attractions for fear that they're overhyped and not worth the queue, but we found in Paris that all of the top things to see were so worth it, and I think the Arc de Triomphe was one of my absolute favourites. Again, because Dara and I are both under 26 and from an EU country our tickets to climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe was free. The view of Paris from the top of the Arc was absolutely spectacular, we could see so much of the city, even as far as the Sacre Coeur. I'd definitely recommend timing your visit for around sunset as you have a perfect view point for the light show on the Eiffel Tower which happens every hour, on the hour for 5 minutes as soon as it gets dark.

4. Wander The Beautiful Streets
Paris is one of those cities that you can just wander around and stumble across something beautiful at every turn. It can be very easy to just jump on a metro to get around the city quickly but if you have the time, I'd definitely recommend walking as much as possible just so you can soak it all up. There's 2 places in particular that we visited that aren't exactly big tourist spots, but definitely ones to check out. The first is Galeries Lafayette, which is just a fancy department store, but the location at '40 Boulevard Haussmann' is one of the most stunning buildings I've ever seen, and of course all of the gorgeous designer pieces are nice to look at too. The second is Rue de l'Université, which ends right at the base of the Eiffel Tower. Even though it's just a street, with the Eiffel Tower right in the back round, it looks like something from a fairytale. We rented some of the Lime electric scooters that lots of European cities have now and explored the streets around the Eiffel Tower and along the river Seine and it was gorgeous!

Where To Eat:

Before travelling to Paris I had heard a few people say that it's a very expensive city when it comes to food and eating out, but I think any city can be expensive unless you've done a little bit of research. Eating in new places is one of my favourite things about travelling (any excuse right?) so I always look into the food options and make note of a few places I'd like to try before I get there. Also, because Dara and I always usually stay in an Airbnb when we travel (find out why we love it so much here), and we always get an apartment to ourselves, we have a kitchen and tend to not eat out for every single meal which definitely helps to not completely blow any budget we may have set. With all that being said, we did find a few gems in Paris that weren't a rip off and served delicious food, so here they are!

1. Trying The Local Delicacies
This isn't a specific recommendation because the place we tried escargot and some other typical French dishes like croque monsieur and French onion soup wasn't great, but when in France I think it's only right to at least try the dishes they're so famous for. I'll admit, I was not a fan of the escargot at all (although I think it might have been that they just weren't the best quality) but it's something I've had on my bucket list since I studied French in school, so I did it! I'd maybe recommend googling the best places to try escargot, instead of just popping into a random cafe like we did!

2. Pizza Popolare
Part of the Big Mamma group, Pizza Popolare has been a restaurant I've heard a lot about. It was super busy when we visited, and we had to queue for about 15 minutes before being seated but the food was well worth the wait. Classic Italian food, full of flavour and very reasonably priced. The restaurant had a great atmosphere too and if you're a cheese lover like me, you NEED to get the Big Star Burrata dish, it was heavenly!

3. Holybelly 
Like Pizza Popolare, this was another restaurant that we had to queue at for quite a while to get a table, but I'd heard only rave reviews about Holybelly's brunch and I am nothing if not a complete sucker for some pancakes and good coffee. I couldn't fault one thing about our brunch to be honest, the staff were lovely, the food was delicious and the coffee was strong. Since I don't eat eggs, sometimes brunch can be a bit limited for me, but Holybelly had a good few side options that I could add, like a sausage patty and hashbrowns and I loved it all!

4. Lindt Shop - Paris Opera
Technically this isn't actually a restaurant, but if you have a sweet tooth like me, then you absolutely must check out the Lindt Shop which is right across the road from the Paris Opera house, and also right down the road from the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann location. They have a cafe in the shop where you can get all kind of Lindt inspired drinks, including a cup of pure, melted Lindt chocolate straight from a tap they have running, which is a chocoholics absolute dream. They also have every flavour of Lindt chocolate in the shop that you can think of so if you want to bring home a gift for a chocolate lover, this would be a great place to checkout. 

5. Circus Bakery
I have Instagram to thank for this find, because Circus Bakery really is a little hidden gem. A very simple, small bakery, but they bake easily the best cinnamon buns I have ever tried. The bakery is located down a little street just across the river from the Notre Dame, and there's another famous bakery just up the street called Odette which apparently serves the best choux pastry and are famous for their little choux pastry cakes.

Where We Stayed:

Finally, if you're planning a trip to Paris and want a recommendation of where to stay, here's the link to the Airbnb we stayed in. It was in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, so not super central, but with a metro right down the road it was super easy to get around and it worked out at only €73 a night which is super cheap by Paris standards. Or if you want accommodation nearer to the city, and want to save some money, you can sign up to Airbnb and save €30 off your first trip, and €11 off your first experience when you sign up through this link (I'll get money off Airbnb if you sign up too, so it's a win win). If you'd like to know more about why I rave about Airbnb so much and use it for all of my trips you can find my blog posts about my Airbnb experiences here

So there we have it, I think that might just be one of my longest blog posts in a long time, but Paris is easily one of my favourite cities that I have visited so it deserves all of the airtime. I hope you enjoyed this post and that it will be helpful to any of you who are planning to visit the beautiful 'City of Lights' anytime soon. 

Thanks for reading!

Emer x


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