Bonjour Monsieur, Bonjour Madame!
Going to Paris? Predictably you have planned gliding to the top of Eiffel tower, walking through Champs Elysée and shopping at Gallerias Lafayette, besides other expected things on anyone`s itinerary. But I assure you that my this post will save a lot of your precious time and help you view Paris from a different perspective; one that is much Parisian.
- Don`t queue up for the lifts at Eiffel Tower- The tower as you might know has three levels and the lifts go up-till the second level first, which also means that the special skip-the-line tickets get you till here. From the second level, you have to again stand in a long queue to get to the top. You must also make sure that you have the right tickets for going to the top floor or a reservation at the restaurant there. I went till the second level and decided against going to the top level simply because I lacked patience of again waiting in a tiring queue. But, it definitely will be worth going to the top floor in the evening to enjoy wine and dinner at the restaurant there. However, this one does call for a personal experience and stance, so I would not strongly push you against it. All I will suggest is taking the stairs instead of the lifts and booking skip-the-line tickets in advance, which will ensure a quicker entry.
- Don`t shop the obvious from the obvious- Paris is a great place for fashion goods and there is no denying that but don`t get trapped into international luxury labels alone. Visit Gallerias Lafayette for the number of choices it offers and also the beautiful building that houses it but do not waste more than an hour here. I was actually really turned off seeing long queues of tourists outside many big stores. What`s luxurious about lining up to shop anyway? Too tacky for my taste! Then comes the famous Champs Elysée, which houses the biggest flagship store of Louis Vuitton and many labels to die for and then comes St. Germain district that not only has insane number of stores but also Cafe de Fleur, where you might run into Kate Moss and Mario Testino if it is fashion week time. However, I will still suggest you to not shop at the above mentioned and rather explore on your own much more Paris specific brands and boutiques. Walk your way through small little streets of le Marais, Bastille and Belleville districts and you will find boutiques that can surprise you with unique choices. Like, I discovered Mademoiselle Chapeaux. This place makes beautiful customised hats. You can buy ready-to-wear or book an appointment in advance to get one made just for you. Only a lady knows the value of a well fitted hat. Isn’t it? These things you can only discover by your own-self. Dare to enter shops that please you and not just brands that you know of. The chic in you deserve more than Champs Elysée, etc. And don`t forget to buy a French perfume 🙂
- Don`t waste money in expensive bars and restaurants- There is no restaurant I like in Paris more than the Parisian gardens. The symmetry and the style that outlines every inch of the gardens is impeccable. It is one of the rare cities, where I wanted to grab a bottle of wine and sit in a garden than seat myself in a fancy Michelin star one. You must definitely go to nearby Versailles, no matter how less or more time that you have. Within Paris, you should spend some time in Jardin du Luxembourg. There are many beautiful gardens that you can go to but these two are my top recommendations, besides any quite and peaceful garden that you might find conveniently when your body begs rest. It is actually a great way to discover the real Parisian life. You can even grab a book if you like or just see young and old Parisians play Boules, the typical French garden game.
- Don`t treat the Louvre as a must see SPOT- Neither the Louvre and nor the Mona Lisa that it houses are must see spots. The Louvre is a MUSEUM where you must go expecting to see art and history you grew up reading about in books. This place requires few days to be seen and not hours. If you truly are an art enthusiast then grab a book ahead of your trip and understand the different types of art it has. Maybe you can, depending on your time plan on seeing only certain parts of the museum or some specific gallery. Honestly, you will not be crucified for not seeing this place on your trip to Paris. You must visit it only if you are sincerely interested.
- Don`t neglect Montmartre- Probably, it is Moulin Rouge that you will want to limit yourself to because of the famous Nicole Kidman starrer movie by the same name. But trust me it is more you want to see. Go uphill the Montmartre district till the Basilica of Sacre-Couer, the big white church at the top of the hill. This village like district stands many must see places like the Moulin de la Galette (originally, a windmill and later turned cabaret where Van Gogh used to pay visits), Au Lapin Agile (20th century cabaret that used to be frequented by Picasso, Maurice Utrillo, and Toulouse-Lautrec), Bateau Lavoire (youth hostel where Picasso and many important poets and artists lived), Place du Tertre (artists square),La Maison Rose (the building of this restaurant features in one of Maurice Utrillos famous paintings), besides a lot more. And yes for all those Amelie lovers like me, you must not miss Les Deux Moulins, the restaurant where Amelie used to work in the movie. Now don`t tell me you are not tempted to see this district full of artsy surprises.
P.S: For some beautiful pictures from the fashion capital click here.