Cost: ££ – if you’re careful you can do it on a budget
Rating: 8/10 – it’s iconic – if you’ve not been you really should
Trip length: 2 nights (3 days) jam-packed is perfect
I’ve been to Paris a few times over the years for different reasons (DISNEY!!) but in this blog I’ll talk about my most recent trips.
Flights / Eurostar
I’d recommend getting the Eurostar from London St Pancreas International. You can get tickets from £39 each way (£78 total) if you book far enough in advance and it only takes about 2 hours. If you fly you’ll be waiting about 2 hours at the airport PLUS flight time and an airport transfer!
The last 2 times I’ve been to Paris I stayed at the Holiday Inn Notre Dame which is at the heart of all the action. Rooms are around EUR 135 per night – EUR 270 (£240) for 2 nights / 2 = £120 per person. There’s an amazing view of Paris & the Eiffel Tower from the rooftop bar!
If I were to go back & was on a budget I would find a place on Airbnb!
They use the Euro in France – check the conversion rate before you go.
You should walk as much of Paris as you can because there are things to see everywhere and you might miss them if you’re underground! Each landmark is walking distance – just have a map on you / tap your next location into google maps & enjoy the walk. However, if your feet start to hurt then the subway (metro) is cheap and easy to use. OR hop in an Uber!
What we did…
*DISCLAIMER* these photos are from 6 years ago so please ignore my strange posing and weird choice of outfits.
1 – Notre Dame
A must see at the heart of the city! It’s a medieval Gothic cathedral & an iconic sight. If you’re a Disney fan, you’ll recognise it from the Hunchback of Notre Dame (spot the gargoyles!!)
You can go inside for free / get a guided tour if you want to learn more about the history of it but be prepared to queue. If you’d like to get up close and personal to the gargoyles you can climb the towers for EUR 8.50 (£7.50)!
There are lots of little sparrows in the grounds of the cathedral so save some baguette from breakfast to feed them.
2 – Eiffel Tower
It’s a no brainer – you must see the most famous landmark in Paris! In my opinion it’s best enjoyed from the ground, (you can join the thousands of tourists trying to get the perfect Eiffel Tower pic), but you can go to the top if you want. Tickets to the top are best booked in advance as there are always massive queues and it gets busy at the top fairly quickly too. The basic ticket is around £30 but you can buy skip-the-queue passes for more!
3 – The Louvre
It’s the world’s biggest art museum and houses the Mona Lisa (which, lets be honest, is why most people are there)! You can buy standard tickets for about £18 but again there are skip-the-queue options. The architecture & grounds are very impressive and you can walk around them for free.
Don’t forget to fight off other tourists for a place on a plinth for a fun shot!
4 – Arc de Triomphe & Champs-Elysees
Take a stroll down the Champs-Elysees (luxury shops / restaurants) to the Arc de Triomphe (not to be confused with a smaller version near to the Louvre!) This monument honours those who fought and died for France & has the names of all French victories and generals inscribed all over. In the centre underneath is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from WW1. It’s particularly beautiful lit up in the evening!
5 – Versailles
The Palace of Versailles is about 30 mins on a train from Paris and is really worth doing if you have time – it requires a half day at least.
Tickets are about £20 and give you access to the inside of the palace as well as the extensive gardens and grounds.
Not surprisingly it’s an UNESCO World Heritage site and contains the very famous Hall of Mirrors as well as Marie Antionette’s private estate. It’s fascinating to walk through the extravagant royal residances – everything is gold plated!! You get an audio guide so you can learn about each room.
The gardens are massive and really beautiful. You could spend a whole afternoon walking around them!
6 – Sacre-Coeur & Monmatre
At the summit of the Monmatre is the Sacre-Coeur (these photos don’t do it justice). It’s a Roman Catholic church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus & a very popular landmark in Paris. It is at the highest point of the city so does require some uphill walking to get there!
The Monmatre is full of gorgeous cafes / restaurants / shops and has a little market where you can pay artists to draw / cut your portrait. Lovely to walk around but…
BE WARNED – gangs extort tourists in plain daylight on the street by encouraging them to play games (ball and cup was the one I saw most frequently). They make winning look easy with a gang member pretending to be a tourist in the crowd playing and winning every time. When it’s your turn YOU WILL NOT WIN but will be in too deep and have lost a lot of money. Do not play!!
The Moulin Rouge is also close to Monmatre if you want to see it 🙂
There are loads of gorgeous buildings / theatres / museums you’ll spot as you walk around! Stroll along the River Seine and take it all in. (Am sure you could find boat cruises to go on if you fancy!)
If you’re there with a partner (or even a best friend) you can buy a lock to put on Love Lock Bridge! These are expensive in the gift shops so if you’re planning on doing it you might want to pack one in your suitcase.
There are many ‘chic’ restaurants so lots to choose from. Typically if the restaurant has a view then prices will be high but down the side streets you can find some great deals (2 courses for EUR10 etc.)
We didn’t do much research – if you’re a foody I’d suggest investigating and booking before you go to have the best dining experiences!
If you’re really on a budget (which I was one year) then grab a croissant from a boulangarie for breakfast & have a baguette for lunch (delicious!). Food on the go is good if you’re only visiting for a short weekend as you’ll need to be eating as you walk to cram all the sightseeing in.
6 years ago I didn’t know I’d be writing a travel blog so didn’t take photos of everything but here are a few more things you might like to see..
Place de la Concorde – is a really big square at one end of the Champs-Elysees. It was a site of a lot of public executions during the French Revolution!!
Centre Georges Pompidou – an inside out building (the architecture is really interesting). It houses a public library & the modern art museum.
Disneyland – it’s 45 minutes on a train to Disneyland Paris. You’ve definitely got to do it if you have children (or even if you don’t).
There is so much more to do in Paris but the above would be my top list.
If you book in advance you can get cheap Eurostar tickets and reasonable accommodation. However, as with anywhere if you have the cash you could splash out on something fancy! If you eat in expensive restaurants, travel via taxi and pay to visit / go into all the landmarks then you’re going to spend a lot. If you walk everywhere, admire the landmarks from the outside and are sensible about the restaurants you eat in, you can definitely explore Paris on a small budget!