A Guide to Paris: What’s worth it and what’s not?

Paris, the city of lights and the city of love. The French capital has so much to offer tourists you could spend a few weeks here and still not experience everything it has to offer. So since most of us don’t have that much time, here is a quick guide to what you should and shouldn’t spend those precious minutes on!

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But for now, let’s get on with the post!

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

Paris is most known for the Eiffel Tower as it is the city’s most recognisable monument, and perhaps the entire country of France. Many will know the famous story of it already but I still find it very fascinating. It was originally built in 1889 as a temporary exhibit for the World Fair of that year, however, people loved it so much they never took it down. I mean can you imagine Paris now without it?

Because of its fame in modern-day, people flock to see it and it is very understandable why. It is truly incredible to see. However, how much of it do you want or need to see?

If you want to go all the way to the top, it will cost you 27 euros (if you want to take the lift, there are cheaper alternatives if you want to take the stairs). Full prices can be found on the Eiffel Tower website.

Here I am going to offer a slightly controversial opinion. It’s not worth it. Plain and simple. While the panoramic view from the top of the tallest building in France is amazing, Paris itself has no real skyline. And if it does, the main thing you want to see in that skyline is the tower itself. Which of course you cannot see if you’re bloody on it.

The Eiffel Tower

Further to this, if you want the best views of the tower, I do not recommend going to the bottom of it. For a number of reasons. Firstly, you can no longer stand at the bottom of it unless you are going to the top. They have completely closed it off for security reasons which is a bit of a shame if you ask me. Secondly, if you do go to the bottom and want to enjoy the view from the gardens it sits in, you are going to get hassled. Like a lot.

Unfortunately, this icon has attracted a lot of street sellers, pickpocketers and scammers. So if you ignore this advice, you better be on your guard.

I believe the best views of the Eiffel tower are from the adjacent banks of the Seine. This is where I got some of my favourite shots from.

The Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe

Noe then if you want to get a good skyline shot with the Eiffel tower in then I believe this to be the place to go. Tickets are 13 euros each which I think is a lot better on your wallet than the 27 the Eiffel tower charges, plus you get to see the Eiffel tower! In my opinion, it is 100% worth it.

View of Paris from the Arc de Triomphe

Included in your ticket is the museum within the arc which explains its history of it and is really interesting to see. There are even toilets and a gift shop at the top of the arc! It is so much bigger than you think, and totally deceiving!

The only downside is that you will have to climb the stairs to get to the top and then again to come back down. But there is a lift for wheelchair and disabled access. But the stairs make it with the climb up, I promise!

The stairs up the Arc de Triomphe

If you are going to visit, make sure you don’t run across the road to get to the Arc and you take the subway tunnels to it. Please do not get run over!!!

The Paris Catacombs

The Paris Catacombs

Visiting the catacombs has been something high on my bucket list for a very long time. And as soon as we planned on going back I knew that this was the one thing that we had to get booked onto. And I assure you, it did not let us down and was worth the visit!

We did book the tickets about 6 weeks in advance, and it’s a good job we did because they sold out a few days after that. Despite them being sold out online, there were still a load of people trying to buy tickets at the doors on the day! So if you are gonna go, book as in advance as you possibly can, Tickets were a little more expensive than some of the other attractions in Paris, but it was worth it. If you want the audio guide (which I also recommend) then it will cost you 29 euros each.

The Paris Catacombs

I won’t spoil it too much here but the catacombs are so much more than I thought. There are the bones of over 6 million people from the 18th century down there. And they have been rearranged to sit in neat rows and pretty patterns. It’s bizarre really because you would expect it to be quite ominous and sad like a graveyard, but it felt quite the opposite really.

But if you are planning a trip to Paris, this is definitely one of the more niche things that you should add to your itinerary.

Musee du Louvre

Musee du Louvre

Now then, this is a two-parter as the outside of the building is stunning and absolutely worth a visit. Plus, it won’t cost you a penny to stand on the square and enjoy the pyramid of the infamous Louvre. However, the inside of the museum, I don’t think it really is, unless you are hardcore into art and/or it’s raining and you want to get inside for a little bit.

The museum costs 17 euros to get in which in the grand scheme of Paris, it isn’t too expensive. However, if you aren’t really keen on art or you simply want to see the inside of the building and get out of the cold wet weather then I think it might be a little much. But there are some amazing pieces on display here.

Its biggest boast is being home to the Moana Lisa. But you probably won’t be able to get close enough to actually see it, unless you enjoy pushing to the front of the barrier in a concert-like fashion.

The Mona Lisa hall, 2017

There are of course other reasons to pay the 18 euros to go inside, the building itself is very beautiful and it is a very nice place to spend a few hours. But Paris has so much to offer so I just don’t think it is worth your time just to say you have been.

Jardin desTuileries

Instead, use those hours to explore the hidden corners of the Jardin des Tuileries which is right next to the museum. We grabbed a coffee from one of the stalls and enjoyed the gardens a few times because they are really beautiful.

The Sacre Coeur

The Sacre Coeur

The Sacre Coeur is a very beautiful Basilica in the north of the city. Despite it being a little further away from the city, it is defiantly worth a visit. The Sacre Coeur sits on tip of a hill which involves climbing a lot of stairs to get to it. There is a lift you can pay for if you aren’t able to do the steps. Either way, the view from the top is regularly noted to be one of the best views of pairs. And it is definitely the best free view of Paris on this list!

We visited twice, once in the evening to see the sunset, which would have been great if there were no clouds obstructing it, and again in the morning. Both times the view was amazing but I would definitely recommend timing it with either a pretty cloudless sunset or a bright blue sky day.

Sacre Coeur

You can also go inside the basilica if you want, although we never did as the view over the city is what you really want to see. It is free to visit but is a working church so beware of mass times etc when visiting.

Musee d’Orsay

Musee d’Orsay

Paris is absolutely full of museums and art galleries, another famous and popular one is the Musee d’Orsay. Its exterior isn’t as famous as the Louvre but it is still a Parisian icon. The museum itself is in a former train station which you can go to the upper decks and see the resemblance of its past life. This is what makes it so famous. If you want to visit it will cost you 16 euros each, which isn’t too expensive compared to the other places on this list. But again if you aren’t really interested in art then it might not be worth it for you.

Van Gogh

It also homes famous paintings, most notably some of the works of Van Gogh are here. It’s not quite as dramatic to see these as it was the Mona Lisa, however the room they are on display in is a small one and there are a lot of people trying to get a view.

Musee d’Orsay

There are also these huge clocks in the top corners of the building which people love to go and get photos of. When we were searching for Paris this was one of the shots that kept coming up.

Paris Zoologique

Paris Zoologique

When we are travelling, one of my favourite days is a zoo day! We both absolutely love animals and I really enjoy seeing them. I know zoos can be a bit controversial so if you don’t agree with them just glaze past this one.

Paris Zoologique

Paris’ zoo is a little out of the city centre and took us about 25 minutes to get there on the underground from the Hard Rock Cafe in the centre of Paris. And when you get off there is about a 15-minute walk. But all in all, I do think the zoo is worth it!

Tickets cost 20 euros each which is a little more than many of the other things on this list, however, the zoo is one of the best ones I have visited. In terms of the animals they have, I would describe it as ‘quality over quantity‘ as you will absolutely see every animal they have on offer because of the layout of the park, but there aren’t thousands of different breeds because the enclosures were so much bigger than others I have seen.

Luxembourg Gardens

Other places you should visit in Paris

  • The Luxembourg Gardens
  • Hard Rock Cafe (touristy I know but worth it!)
  • Walk right along the Seine
  • Notre Dame (It is getting rebuilt right now so there isn’t much to see but still go see it!)
  • Princess Diana Memorial
  • Moulin Rouge

Thank you for reading this post, I know Paris content is a little outside the norm for MackemLife but usual content will resume soon! I hope you have enjoyed this post and feel free to stick around and follow me on any of my social which are linked down below!

Restez en Sécurité et Bonne Aventure

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