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  • Make The Most Out Of Paris Tourist Attractions

    It is the most visited, most photographed and most romantic city in the world. Which means that crowds swarm the city at all times of the year. I’m here to help you plan ahead and tell you how to make your trip to Paris’ top tourist attractions efficient, cost-effective & easy!

    How can you make the most of your visit? Well, first things first – plan ahead.

    THE EIFFEL TOWER

    The Eiffel Tower is undeniably the first tourist attraction that comes to mind when thinking about Paris. Anyway, it is the most photographed tourist attraction of all time in the most photographed city in the world. It is absolutely worth spending your time with this one.

    HOW TO AVOID STANDING IN LONG LINES

    There are so many things you can do at the Eiffel Tower but if you don’t plan ahead, you might just end up spending hours in line. On vacation, time is precious. The more time you can avoid standing in lines, the better, right?

    Book in Advance: Buy your tickets in advance directly from the Eiffel Tower website for €17 (up to 2 months in advance). Even though the tickets are available in advance, be sure to book as soon as possible as they do sell out fast. Another great way to avoid the long lines is to book a guided tour.

    Wine & Dine: You can also skip the lines by booking lunch or dinner reservations on the tower. There are two restaurants: The 58 Tour Eiffel which features seasonal French cuisine on the first floor and The Jules Verne featuring exceptional gourmet French cuisine by Michelin star chef, Frédéric Anton, also on the second floor.

    WHAT TO DO

    Although you can’t book your spot in advance, I think it’s also important to note that there is also a champagne bar at the very top of the tower, a macaroon bar on the second floor, as well as various buffets throughout the esplanade, first and seconds floors.

    Enjoy the Champ du Mars: If you’re content with viewing the Eiffel Tower from the ground OR in addition to your visit to the top, I recommend bringing a blanket and a picnic lunch to the Champs du Mars. Or grabbing a bottle of champagne on your way to steal a memorable moment with your loved one. After all, it is the city of love! Keep in mind that in the winter months, the Champs du Mars is actually fenced off but I can’t imagine a picnic lunch is in the cards for that time of year.

    WHEN TO GO

    Personally, I prefer going to places when there is sunlight. I’m a photographer, though and I like to work with natural light. If you want to get a decent quality photo with your iPhone, I recommend going during the day. Oh, and the view is quite pretty, too! If you like the allure of city lights, then I recommend going at night! It’s that simple. Or go just before sunset and you’ll get the best of both worlds.

    If you forget to plan ahead, arrive early. Arrive before the tower opens so that you’re near the front of the line.

    HOW TO GET THERE

    The Eiffel Tower can be seen from the river Seine but it is a far walk between the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. To save time, take the Metro Line 2, 6 or 8. You can also get there by RER Line C or by bus. Paris has Uber, so that’s cool, too. Another fun fact is that you can get a loaner bicycle from Vélib.

    OTHER NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

    • Explore the Trocadero Gardens (just steps away)
    • Take a cruise on the Seine river
    • Check out Napoleon’s tomb at Hotel des Invalides
    • Eat French pastries on Rue Cler

    NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL

    Most tourists are drawn to Notre Dame not only because of it’s beautiful medieval architecture or it’s Disney movie claim to fame but because entry to this Catholic cathedral is free of charge.

    HOW TO AVOID MORE LONG LINES & CROWDS

    I swear, if there’s one thing that will make a trip to Paris so much easier, it really is learning how to avoid lines at each main attraction. It might seem redundant to include this section again (trust me, this is not the last time you’ll see it) but each attraction has different offerings for skipping or jumping the line.

    Save Money & Time: The biggest time & money saver would be to remain outside of the cathedral. Visit the surrounding gardens & taking in the view from the ground.

    Book A Tour: Ultimately the best way to avoid the lines at Notre Dame is to book a tour which will include a guide to whisk you past all of the eager, not-so-prepared tourists. You can also add a walk up the bell tower (like Quasimodo!). All of the aforementioned costs money. If you’re hoping for free entry, arrive prior to opening at 8:00AM & get in line.

    A Performance: Skip the line by purchasing tickets to an evening musical performance at Notre Dame. Check online prior to traveling to see if there are any musical performances happening during your stay. As always, planning ahead is recommended! If you’re a little more spontaneous, you might check-in at reception upon arrival to make your reservation.

    The Paris Museum Pass: The Paris Museum Pass includes entry to over 50 museums in and around Paris. This includes Notre Dame, L’Arc de Triomphe and The Louvre. This pass is offered in 2-Day (€48), 4-Day (€62) and 6-Day (€74) consecutive day passes. It can be purchased at both Paris airports or at several museums/attractions throughout Paris, including Notre Dame. To see a full list of where to buy the Paris Museum Pass, click here. It is possible to purchase this pass online in advance. They will ship it to you before your trip plus shipping costs.

    BEWARE OF SCAMMERS

    Paris is where I first learned of scammers. A seemingly free experience is not free. Outside of Notre Dame was a man who was feeding pigeons. There were literally hundreds of pigeons surrounding the areas outside of the cathedral. Think Mary Poppins but not quite as magical.

    He gave me some feed and motioned for me to feed the birds. The pigeons flocked to me. To be honest, if I was afraid of birds, this would be my nightmare. But I spent about 10 minutes feeding pigeons while they flew all around me. Once I was done and tried to walk away, the man asked me for money.

    Be very aware of this and don’t let it waste your time. The experience is nothing short of a scam to get your money.

    HOW TO GET THERE

    Take the Metro line 4 to Saint-Michel station and walk to Notre Dame from there. You can also take the RER Line B or C to Saint-Michel Notre Dame. You can also use Uber or walk, depending on time.

    OTHER NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

    • Visit one of the oldest restaurants in Paris, Au Vieux Paris
    • Check out the charming bookstore Shakespeare & Company
    • Get the best ice cream in Paris at Glacier Berthillon
    • Walk along the Seine River

    THE LOUVRE

    The Louvre can take up an entire trip to Paris if you’re not careful in planning ahead! This one is especially important to know how to maximize your time. It is, after all, the largest museum in the world with an area 782,910 sq ft (72,735 metres) and approximately 38,000 objects within.

    It is impossible to see all The Louvre has to offer in one visit. A lot of tourists go to the Louvre to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, The Winged Victory of Samothrace or The Vincent de Milo sculpture. As you can imagine, the crowds for these pieces are dense and can sometimes be challenging to maneuver.

    HOW TO AVOID EVEN MORE LONG LINES & CROWDS

    Unless you arrive before the museum opens and you’re one of the first to enter, it is almost impossible to avoid crowds at the most popular pieces. If you do encounter a large crowd surrounding The Mona Lisa (or any of the other popular pieces) then waiting to get to the front is worth your time.

    Purchase in Advance: Tickets purchased in advance online (€17) will offer quick entry to the museum (in under 30 minutes). You can also purchase tickets day-of at the museum (€15) but do not include quick entry. Tickets are only valid for the chosen service, date & time. Once a visitor enters and uses the ticket, leaving the museum will result in an invalid ticket and cannot be used again.

    Take A Guided Tour: Taking a tour is also a great way to avoid lines. The Louvre offers many different tour options including those for families & children, disabled and groups. They also offer a guided tour that advertises avoiding crowds on Fridays at 7:30PM that will allow you to discover the lesser known treasures of the Louvre.

    The Best Entrance To Use: Advance & regular ticket holders can use the “Porte des Lions” entrance. If you do not already have a ticket, the “Le Carrousel du Louvre” is your best bet for entering and avoiding long lines. DO NOT use “Le Pyramide” entrance near (You guessed it!) the Pyramid at the front entrance of the museum. You can use your Paris Museum Pass at most entrances.

    WHEN TO GO

    The Louvre is open until 6:00 PM most nights and open until 10:00 PM Wednesdays and Fridays. The museum is closed on Tuesdays. If you prefer to visit later in the day, I recommend going in the evenings as it is typically less busy. But keep in mind that some wings of the museum are closed and inaccessible in the evenings.

    When To Avoid The Museum: From October through March, the first Sunday of the month is free for all visitors. If your hope is to have a less crowded, efficient trip to the museum then I recommend avoiding the first Sunday of the month.

    HOW TO SEE IT ALL

    If art and history is your thing & the Louvre is high priority on your list of attractions to see in Paris – do not try to see all of it in one day! It is impossible. If time allows, visit the Louvre more than once. You can spend hours inside of The Louvre and still not see everything it has to offer.

    It can’t hurt to do a little research beforehand to know what you want to see, and where it is located within the museum: browse the Louvre’s collections online or choose a visitor trail to maximize your time and see what you actually want to see.

    HOW TO GET THERE

    Travel to the Louvre by Metro line 1 to either the Rivoli/Louvre or Palais Royal Musée du Louvre stations. You can also take the RER line A to the Chatelet Les Halles station. And of course, you can also Uber or walk from your destination.

    OTHER NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

    • Visit the Tuileries Garden
    • Visit the Place de la Concorde
    • Walk by the Statue of Molière
    • See a show at the Comédie-Française

    L’Arc de Triomphe

    Standing at the western end of the Champs-Élysées is the Arc de Triomphe. Like the Eiffel Tower, you can travel to the top for an incredible panoramic view of the city.

    AVOIDING EVEN MORE LONG LINES

    The only way to access the top of the Arc de Triomphe is by climbing the 284 steps to the top. That being said, there is a handicapped only accessible lift that will take you to the attic room which leaves 46 stairs to climb from there.

    Time: If arriving without advanced tickets, wait time is said to be about 15-20 minutes which isn’t bad compared to wait times of other popular Paris attractions. To see the Arc de Triomphe properly, including time to climb to the top, it is recommended to allow about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

    “Skip The Line” Tickets: Probably the option that will save you the least amount of time, you can purchase specific “skip the line” tickets in advance online here. Tickets at reception are €8 (students: €5).

    HOW TO GET THERE

    From the Louvre, you can walk through the Tuilleries Garden and then walk the entirety of the Champs-Élysées to get to the Arc de Triomphe.

    If you prefer not to walk on foot, take the Metro line 1, 2 or 6 or the RER line A, both stations Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoille. You can also take the bus or Uber. The thing to note about reaching the Arc de Triomphe is that it is illegal to cross the traffic circle by foot. There is an underground tunnel on the Avenue de la Grande Armee side of the circle. You can access this tunnel from the Wagram exit of the Metro.

    OTHER NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

    • Walk along and explore the cafés, theaters and luxury shops of the Champs-Élysées
    • Relax at Monceau Park (a short 20 minute walk from the Arc de Triomphe)
    • Enjoy a pastry and more beautiful views of the city from Hôtel Raphael’s terrace
    • Try one of the best macaron shops in Paris, Ladurée

    WRAPPING UP

    To summarize, here are the key points to making the most out of these four tourist attractions:

    • Do your research! Plan ahead.
    • Book advance tickets online
    • Take the Metro, bus or Uber to save time
    • Book a guided tour to skip lines
    • Be aware of scammers!

    One Last Tip: You might find it helpful to print a map of Paris tourist attractions and a map of the Metro lines to bring with you on your next adventure!

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    Courtney Koss
    Courtney Koss

    Hi, I’m Courtney and I like long walks down the wine aisle. All kidding aside (or am I?)… I’m a yoga teacher and a lifestyle photographer with a passion for traveling that I can definitely thank my parents for. My favorite adventures include hiking, eating and drinking.

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