My Rocking Top 10 Things To Do In Paris: For The Fun, Free & Romantic

Paris, or if you’re feeling particularly French, pronounce it “Parriee” – and make sure you do the R in the back of your throat. Jokes aside, I love Paris. Don’t get me wrong, in parts it was dirty and grungy just like those pessimistic travellers would have you believe, but the side of it that is wondrous and magical more than makes up for it.

As with most places, it really depends on ‘where you go’. I went there with my girlfriend, and we wanted a hotel for once instead of a hostel (you know, for romantic reasons) – but obviously our budget was a bit tight. We ended up staying in an area that I wouldn’t describe as unsafe, but it’s certainly not your ‘stereotypical’ romantic view of Paris. Oh well, it was great for the backpacking budget!

There are literally mountains of things you can do in Paris, but this is my little ‘Top 10’ list, so take it with a grain of salt and hopefully it gives you a few ideas of what to do in Paris if you’re heading there on a trip sometime soon, all with our own photos from our last trip there!

I’ve broken the article down into four sections, the best of; the fun; the romantic and a couple of the more unique things to do. And of course, a few personal recommendations to finish it off!

5 Of The Best Things To Do
3 Fun & Romantic Things To Do With Your Girlfriend
2 Unique Things To Do
Personal Recommendations

Flowers in one of the many parks of Paris.


 

5 Of The Best Things To Do In Paris

 

See The Eiffel Tower

A jump at the Eiffel Tower using our cheap plastic 4 shot camera.

You can’t really think ‘Paris’ and not at some point think ‘Eiffel Tower’. It’s inevitable, but you know what, in my opinion the Eiffel Tower really does manage to avoid being a cliché. Sure, there are hordes of tourists (you’re planning on going there, right?), and there can be lines and annoying hawkers selling Eiffel Tower paraphernalia – but even with all that, it’s still awesome.

I actually heard on my travels that originally Mr Gustave Eiffel gave the plans of the Eiffel Tower to Barcelona, but they rejected them so he offered it to Paris. Imagine if it went up in Barcelona – what would the world be like now? Would it be as romantic in Barcelona as it is deemed in Paris? Who knows I guess, that’s like wondering what the world would be like if Napoleon won the war or the Nazis triumphed in World War II – but it’s interesting nonetheless!

You can walk up the stairs of the Eiffel Tower, or you can catch the lift. But be aware, to get to the very top you have to get the lift. It’s possible to get a walking ticket to the middle level followed by a lift to the top. Ultimately, if you go to Paris, you’ve got to go to the Eiffel Tower. There are lots of great photo opportunities too!

Eiffel Tower as it's lit up at dusk.

Climb Sacré Coeur

Although many would not like to admit it, the real winning side of popping up to see the Sacré Coeur is the stunning views you’ll get of the Paris vista. Of course the Basilica itself is well worth seeing, and is a treasure trove of religious sights.

The view from the top of the steps at Sacré Coeur.

Visit The Best Museums In Paris

Paris is a city of rich history and vibrant culture. The art scene has been exploding for hundreds of years, and is still an unstoppable force today. This means of course that there are loads of fantastic museums displaying art from all eras. Here are a few of the best museums to check out:

Musee De Louvre

Inside the Louvre Museum.

Everyone knows the Louvre – the home of the priceless painting and the ‘I thought it was going to be bigger than this’ Mona Lisa by Da Vinci. Swing by and check it out, but do give the rest of the museum a go. There are countless treasures to peruse, and being the world’s largest museum I can guarantee you’ll get tired before you can see all the wonders it holds. That’s just part of the fun.

The gardens around the The Louvre are a great spot to relax and enjoy some lunch (provided it’s a nice day) – so bring along your own food in a day pack to help save some Euros. Also, if you possess an EU passport then entry to the museum is fee (I forgot to bring mine along with me, I was so annoyed!).

Musee D’Orsay

This funky converted train station from 1900 houses numerous 19th century and Impressionist paintings. Featuring many of the greats such as Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir and Pissarro – if you’re an art lover it’s definitely one to put on the ‘must do’ list.

Musee Rodin

The mansion was originally built for a wig maker in 1730 – but the artist Rodin lived for a number of years until his death in 1917. It was turned into a museum in 1919 – got to love all the facts, hey?

Musee Rodin has a large number of Rodin’s early work (stuff like sketches and water colours) and of course large collections of his sculptures (including the world famous ‘The Thinker – you know the bloke who is resting his head on his hand). It also has a bunch of Rodin’s furniture and antiques, and the private gardens are a great spot to sit and relax.

Honourable Mention – Arc De Triomphe

It’s quite an impressive monument to see, and definitely deserves an unofficial Top 10 honourable mention. It’s great for doing a jumping photo in front of!

Celebrating the big old Arc with a jump!

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3 Fun & Romantic Things To Do In Paris With Your Girlfriend

 

Picnic Around Paris

A great way to be romantic is to have a picnic at one of the many parks in Paris. Grab yourself a fresh baguette, some brie and succulent cherry tomatoes (and maybe a bottle of Rose wine) – and get ready for a simple romantic feast.

When I was there with my girlfriend, we chose the green grass areas in front of the Eiffel Tower to watch the sunset. It was cliché but charming and I do highly recommend it. It was really nice (although bring something to sit on, and put some shopping bags underneath to stop your bum getting wet) and we did it two nights in a row. I’m not sure of the legality of drinking a bottle or two of Rose wine there, but we did it and didn’t have any problems (except for getting a little tipsy).

Our picnic setup at the Eiffel Tower.

Walk The Seine & Dine In The Latin Quarter

Another great thing to do is to walk along the Seine at dusk towards the Notre Dame. It’s magical at night when it is all lit up, so gaze at it for a while then head around the Latin Quarter and find yourself a cosy spot to sink down into a romantic dinner at one of the many fabulous cafes and restaurants that sprinkle the area.

Second hand book sellers along the Seine river walking towards the Latin Quarter.

Winter Fun

If it happens to be winter, then there is always the option of ice skating at the Eiffel Tower Ice Rink. Yes, I know I’ve managed to bring in the Eiffel Tower again! You can also just wander around and gaze at all of the Christmas decorations that gloriously scatter the streets.

If you’re really stuck for things to do, just pick an area like Montmartre or St Germain and simply explore the nooks and crannies and finish the night with some local French wine and indescribably tasty food.

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2 Unique Things To Do In Paris

 

The Les Puces (Flea Markets)

Mountains of stuff!


Officially known as Les Puces de Saint-Ouen (but everyone just calls it Les Puces, which translates as ‘The Fleas’) – this market is massive (it covers over seven hectares) and is one of the largest antique markets in the world.

Don’t pigeon hole it just to antique stuff though; this market has everything from gangster rap apparel to second hand chucks (converse shoes) to expensive antique furniture to old Parisian post cards.

We had a ball there just traipsing around, exploring and making a few small purchases (unfortunately all the cool antique stuff was wildly expensive for us mere backpackers). It’s the most fun on the weekend – so aim to get there for a Saturday or Sunday.

To get to Les Puces catch the metro to Porte de Clignancourt and basically follow the crowds.

A street around Les Puces.

Visit The Highest Point In Paris

And no, it’s not Sacré Coeur. The highest point in Paris is actually on the hill of Bellville, just near the Telegraphe Metro Station. There is even a cemetery to wander nearby where you can enjoy amazing views of the city.

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Personal Recommendations & Hot Tips For Paris

 

Le Jardin d’en face

Restaurant recommendation in Montmartre, Paris.
Location: 29, Rue Des Trois Frères 75018 Paris
Nearest Metro stop: Abbesses

We ate here on our last trip to Paris, and it was wonderful. It’s pretty small (but cozy), so I wouldn’t recommend going there with a big group. The menu doesn’t offer a million things (just how I like it), but the food is DELICIOUS. It really was fantastic. When we go back to Paris we’ll be going again. So, Le Jardin d’en face gets a big old Tom Stamp of Culinary Approval.


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Trudy and I put our heads together and came up with a few tips for those who might be backpacking to Paris:

  • If you’re in Paris for a few days, your best bet is to buy the 10x pack of Metro Tickets. I’ve found it ends up being much cheaper than purchasing a daily ticket or the like.
  • For great views to rival the Eiffel Tower and Sacré Coeur, head to St. Georges Pompidou and catch the lift of the maze of escalators up to the ‘restaurant’. Don’t go in and eat there unless you’re loaded, the real reason to head up is to enjoy the superb views from the top of the building. It’s free and easy, and you get to catch the escalators all the way down!
  • In a cafe or restaurant, ask for ‘Kir’ – it’s a tasty mix of a red fruit liqueur and white wine. Ask for a “Royal Kir” which replaces the white wine with champagne! (Thanks Ancre for this tip).
  • If you’ve never tried Macaroons before, head to a famous shop called Laduree and get some. Yum!
  • If you buy a fresh baguette (which is mandatory in Paris), then make sure you take a bite as you walk out of the bakery – that’s what all the locals do!
  • Montmartre is a great spot for live music.
  • For those who like vintage shopping, you’ll want to hit up the Les Puces, Montmartre and Marais.

I'm about to enjoy a scrumptous chocolate Macaroon.

7 Responses to “My Rocking Top 10 Things To Do In Paris: For The Fun, Free & Romantic”

  1. Louise says:

    Another good one Tommy..I love the jumping photos..keep those coming..

  2. Hey Tom, Have just spent the last hour or two cruising my way around your site – loved it!!As fellow Aussies and travellers i have gained some great tips for our upcoming trip to Europe – thanks heaps!! We have spent many years travelling this great country we live in and this is our first big foray OS apart from a few Asian and south pacific destinations, so any helpful hints i can get are fantastic! Not doing the backpacker thing, but with two kids in tow one is always looking for ways to save a buck. Can’t wait to get to England and France – any tips on Spain, especially the northern part above Portugal??
    Cheers, Chris

    • Tom says:

      Hi Chris, thanks for taking the time to leave a comment 🙂

      As for Spain, I haven’t backpacked it EXTENSIVELY (I’ve been to Costa Brava region including Barcelona, Madrid and San Sebastian) – but as for the part north of Portugal I would highly recommend San Sebastian. It’s not directly north of Portugal but it is on that side of the coast, and when you’re used to travelling in Australia everything is close by anyway 😉

      The pintxos in San Sebastian are fantastic (like a better version of tapas) and it’s got a great big bay that would be a great swimming spot for you and the kids. It does get pretty busy and touristy in the summer months though, but might be worth a visit if you’re in that area! Best of luck!

  3. Ancre says:

    This is a very nice article (I lived in Paris, and I didn’t even knew that les puces existed – definitely going to see that next time ! ).

    There’s a few mistakes you made though ! It’s “Sacre Coeur” (well, Sacré Coeur technically) and not Sacre Couer – it means sacred heart. And Kir is a mix of a (generall) red fruit liqueur and white wine. Royal Kir (“Kir Royal”) replaces the white wine with champagne.

    Voila ! 😀

    • Tom says:

      Hiya Ancre, thanks for leaving a comment! I’ve corrected my bad spelling of Sacré Coeur and the correct combination of Kir, both good tips (sometimes my spelling is cringeworthy haha). I also added in your point about the Royal Kir. If you have any tips as someone who was an expat in Paris, do share!

  4. Rick says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t go to the top of the Arc de Triumph! There is a small scale version of fortifications up there.

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