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Now that you’ve spent all your euros on museum admissions, it’s time to just kick back, relax, and soak up the air of romance in the City of Love. And there’s plenty to do for free! Here are some of my top picks.
1. Eiffel Tower. Sure, you could pay €5 to take the stairs up the Eiffel Tower, €9 to take the lift to the 2nd floor or €15 to get to the top, but you can’t see the Eiffel Tower from the tower itself! While the views from up top are great, don’t forget to take some time to enjoy the free views of the Eiffel Tower itself from the Champ de Mars and also the Trocadero.
2. Notre Dame Cathedral. Iconic, beautiful, and it’s free to enter! The queues are always long, but the visitors shuffle through at quite a quick rate so step right into the queue and enjoy! You can also climb the tower for a fee, or skip the queue by purchasing a Paris Museum Pass.
3. Sacre Coeur. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart towers over Montmartre and is every bit as iconic and beautiful as Notre Dame. It’s slightly out of the central tourist area but make sure not to miss it!
4. La Seine. No trip to Paris is complete without taking a stroll along the banks of the river Seine in my opinion. Soak in the atmosphere as you walk past the bouquinistes plying their antiquarian wares and the couples leaving a lasting symbol of their love behind in the form of padlocks on the Pont des Arts.
5. Ile de la Cite and Ile St Louis. Two connected islands in the middle of the Seine. The Ile de la Cite houses the Ste Chapelle and Notre Dame cathedrals, and both are home also to quaint narrow lanes flanked by quirky stores like Pylones for funky homewares, as well as little eateries like the delightful cookie shop pictured below and the world famous ice cream shop Berthillon.
6. Jardin du Luxembourg. The Luxembourg Garden is a favourite amongst locals and therefore a great place to rest your feet and people watch. Here, you will find Parisian children floating sailboats on the fountains and adults playing bocce.
7. Place des Vosges. One of the oldest and finest squares in Paris. Previous residents include Victor Hugo and Cardinal Richelieu. Now, you will find upmarket artist galleries and artists here, as well as several cafés. Do yourself a favour – enter through the Hotel de Sully. It’s like walking into a secret garden!
8. Place de la Concorde. Probably the most famous square in Paris, situated between the Champs Elysees and the Tuileries Gardens, and marked by an obelisk gifted to the French from the Luxor Temple in Egypt. Just behind the square is the historic luxury hotel, the Hotel de Crillon.
9. Institut du Monde Arabe. Slightly off the beaten path, I think the Arab World Institute is an architectural gem consisting of sunlight controlled apertures that open and close automatically to control the amount of light and heat entering the building. Yup, I’m a nerd and I appreciate things like that. I also appreciate good views, and the free entry to the observation deck with grand views of Notre Dame Cathedral was another plus.
10. Visit a cemetery or two. While this may seem morbid, I actually quite like the tranquility one can find in a cemetery. You can pay your respects to Alexandre Dumas at the Montmartre Cemetery, Debussy at Passy, and countless notables such as Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison at Pere Lachaise.
These are some of my favourite spots in Paris. What are some of yours?
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