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Paris, France: A guide: of what to avoid, what to visit, and where to shop.

Paris is full of everything you can imagine. This city holds the world-famous museums that must be visited at least once in your life. To me, this is the capital for culinary magic and the entrance to a fashion world that you will never forget. This city is magical, and it makes you love everything about it. To have the best experience in this magical city, here’s a rough guide: what to avoid, what to visit, and where to shop.

Places to visit only if it’s necessary or it’s your very first time:
Location:

Eiffel Tower is a magnificent structure that repentance France. Tourists from all over the world travel here to view it, however, a lot has changed. The tower is now surrounded by tall glass, and a slick metal fence that makes it impossible to walk underneath without first hitting a security checkpoint. As well as the tower is occupied by souvenir sellers, that set up shops on blankets leaving barely any room to walk by. Thieves are hard at work at this location. The whole walk around made me feel like I was in Marrakesh. Honestly, the only distinction between a flee market, and the Eiffel Tower is the heavy French military presence.

P.S this wasn’t how it was a few years back, and my reaction to this whole location was completely different.

My Recommendation:

If it’s possible, avoid this location or view it from afar. If you must visit this spot, pack lightly (no large items such as backpacks, they won’t allow them inside the tower for safety reasons). As well as be prepared to stand in a few lines (the first line is a security checkpoint, the second line is to purchase tickets. My recommendation on tickets is in my previous post >). Once exciting, the tower watch your bag. Honestly, you won’t notice how fast they work, the thieves I mean, in just a second you can lose your phone or something far more valuable like your passport.

Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower
Location:

The Tuileries Garden is a public location that is at the heart of Paris and across from Louver. Now the garden is fantastic full of sculptures, fountains, beautiful vegetation, and an amusement park. After leaving Louver, most spectators come here to relax on one of the many benches and chairs spread out throughout the park. What no one tells you is that this place is terrific for thieves and pickpockets. P.S again, a few years back, this wasn’t the case.

The Tuileries Garden
The Tuileries Garden
Recommendation:

Visit the garden, because it’s hard not to, I mean it’s lovely and at the heart of Paris. However, stay alert at all times, watch your bag and pockets. If you sit down, make sure to take everything out of your pockets and put it somewhere in from of you like a fanny pack.

Here is a quick story of happened to us at the location:

My husband and I sat down on a bench overlooking the Louvre, not five minutes went by when my husband jumped up and started yelling at a teenager. My initial reaction is he must have said something inappropriate because he was holding his crotch. But no, he was just trying to steal his phone, and when the teenager got caught, he grabbed his crotch, walked three feet to the nearest tree, and started to pee, mind you its 3pm, and everyone is watching.” On our part lesson learned, we wore pants with zipper pockets and bags in front of us.

Location:

Notre Dame is a beautiful medieval Catholic cathedral and one of the top tourist attractions in Paris. This magnificent 14th-century monument was, unfortunately, severely damaged by an accidental fire a few months ago.

Recommendation:

Avoid this location there isn’t much to see, the whole cathedral is blocked by a tall fence and is undergoing a reconstruction process. Instead of this location, go to the Roman Catholic church and minor basilica. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris offers tourists a chance to explore the 12th-century church for a small fee. Please note throughout the tour, there are 300 steps to be climbed to the top of the dome. Once you reach the top of the church, you will be rewarded with a spectacular view of Paris.

Other great Places to visit:

Park: Bois de Vincennes is a green oasis for Parisians. The gardens spread over 995 hectares of land and is full of biking/hiking trails, lakes, a botanical garden and a zoo. This park is also great for walking your dog. On the edge of this beautiful park, you can find a 14th-century Château de Vincennes. The castle is one of the oldest structures around. Build in the 14th-century to accommodate a king and protect him from invasions. The century-old structure has a moat, towers, a pavilion, & staterooms. The entrance fee is 9 euro, and the ticket is valid for one year from the purchase date.

Bois de Vincennes
Bois de Vincennes
Château of Vincennes
Château de Vincennes

Musee d’Orsay is a less busy museum then let’s say the Louvre and is very much worth visiting. This grand structure that is home to French art was built on an old Orsay railway station to house a Universal Exhibition of 1900. Located opposite the Tuileries garden and on the edges of the Seine river. Now the museum is open every day to the public. To avoid the entrance line, purchase tickets online.

Rmn-Grand Palais in 2000 was named a historical monument and for an excellent reason. This massive structure has exceptional dimensions, what stands out to me is the glass roof of 17,500 m2. Worth noting the grand Palais is only open for exhibitions, and if you get a chance, stop by. Because soon it will close its doors for three years to undergo a complete renovation.

Grand Palais, is a large historic site, exhibition hall and museum complex located at the Champs-Élysées
Grand Palais, is a large historic site, exhibition hall and museum complex located at the Champs-Élysées
Petit Palais
Petit Palais is a great alternative option if Grand Palais is closed, and it’s free.
Let’s Go Shopping:

If you want to leave Paris with something special, here are a few of my favorite streets to shop on. Please note if you are planning on buying something expensive more then 200 euros take your passport with you to get taxes back. That’s about 10% in credit card refunds and about 8% in cash refunds. To claim your VTA, stop by customs at the airport on your way back home.
P.S: I prefer cash refunds because, in the past, I’ve had trouble receiving credit card refunds.

The Streets:

Rue Saint-Honoré is my favorite street to shop on. The long and narrow road is full of luxury boutiques, cafés, and most importantly its away from the hustle and bustle of Paris. My favorite cafe is on this street, to find out more about Bread and Roses read this blog post >.

Le Marais also know as SoMa, is a very fashionable district, full of hip boutiques, quirky shops, and delicious cafés. In this area, you can find the lush Place des Vosges that is home to elegant arcades and the Musée Victor Hugo, where the writer lived.

Champs-Élysées running between Place de la Concorde to Arc de Triomphe. Is a busy street, however full of different shops. Here you can find H&M, Nespresso, Dior, and the world-famous Louis Vuitton Maison flagship store. To get into the boutique, you’ll have to stand in a long line, similar to a museum. At the end of this long street that stretches for 1.9 km is Arc de Triomphe that isn’t too overcrowded and worth a visit.

Arc de Triomphe is one of the most celebrated monuments in Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe is one of the most celebrated monuments in Paris, France

How to get around:

Paris is a city meant to be walked! Every street corner is like a museum, worth a thousand photos. Walking this city is a must. However, not everyone is up to the challenge and must use transportation to get around. Here is a list of ways you can get around.

A new method of transportation is all around Paris (and other cities in Europe.) Electric bikes, electric scooters, and motorbikes are all available to rent via phone application. One minute on the electrical scoter depending on the app, is 20 to 25 cents.

Use the metro. It isn’t that scary to use, I would say its quite easy to navigate around and trains run often. If your planning on viewing more then one location during your trip, this is the way to go. The coast of one ticket is 1.90 euro, days passes are available as well. My suggestion is to calculate roughly how many times you will be traveling and from there buy a one-way ticket or a day pass.

Uber is also popular among locals and visitors. Easy and fast to get around. However, if you are visiting during the summer (heatwaves) Uber is quite expensive, because no one wants to walk in 110-degree heat. For any other time/day, it’s quite affordable and convenient.

Read more about Iconic locations in Paris with tips/recommendations >

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