Paris is one of the world's great capitals and you have to visit it at least once in your life. To help you with the essentials of the French capital, If it is your first time in Paris, then this is my list of recommendations.
It's your first time in Paris and you've heard so much about this city that you're a bit overwhelmed. You've seen so many photos on Instagram that you're not sure where to get your hands on them. Many travelers believe they can visit everything at once, but that is impossible! My recommendation is that you focus on the great classics and make a list of what you want to see yes or yes. You can always improvise or change the route at the last moment. It is better to be clear about what you want to see before arriving in the French capital than not to improvise on the fly.
15 Things You Can't-Miss Your First Time in Paris
1.-The Arc de Triomphe
It is at one end of the Champs-Elysées, in Charles de Gaulle square. It is one of the famous monuments of Paris and one of the most visited. It was built by Napoleon and is the emblem of his power and glory. I recommend that you visit it because you can access its interior and go up to its roof. Here you can buy the ticket for the Arc de Triomphe.
The views of Paris from the terrace of the arch are beautiful with the Eiffel Tower in the background. But also because you can see the star shape of the twelve streets that converge on it. This is one of the places that many travelers include in a route through the city.
- Price per person: Adults: €12. Under 18 years: free entry. EU citizens between 18 and 25 years old: free admission. Free entry with Paris Pass and Paris Museum Pass.
- Hours: From April 1 to September 30: from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. From October 1 to March 31: from 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
2.-The Louvre, the essential museum
The Louvre Museum is another of the best places to visit in Paris because it is one of the great art galleries in the world. It is visited by about eight million people annually. It is the national museum of France and contains collections of sculptures and paintings from before the second half of the 19th century. The first time in Paris I recommend that you go to this museum late in the day and visit the essentials of its ten permanent collections. If you go at the last minute there are always fewer people.
Several of the masterpieces of universal art such as the Gioconda (Renaissance), The Venus de Milo, The Victory of Samothrace (Ancient Greece), The Coronation of Napoleon (19th century), The Parthenon frieze fragment (Ancient Greece), and the Hammurabi code (Mesopotamia) are here. I recommend that you read it to organize a visit to this museum on your own. If this is your first time, you can purchase the two-hour guided tour of the Louvre.
Notre Dame Cathedral is the religious building that we all visit for the first time in Paris, we have it on our list of essentials. Gothic in style, with its two unmistakable towers, it is one of the city's well-known silhouettes, along with the Eiffel Tower. This is a cathedral that must be explored inside, in search of the significant moments that it lived through: the self-coronation of Napoleon and Josephine Bonaparte or the beatification of Joan of Arc. Entry inside is free. If you are interested in learning more about this building, there is a guided tour of Notre Dame.
Another recommendation is that you climb the towers to contemplate the views of Paris from above. The entrance costs €8.5 and you have to climb almost 400 steps because there is no elevator. It is advisable to arrive early in the morning because the queues are usually up to two hours. It is also essential to go through it from the outside from the main façade to the apse. The best place for this is the Square Jean XXIII, although you can even cross the Seine. The views of the river and cathedral are unbeatable.
4.-The Basilica of Sacré Coeur de Montmartre
Montmartre is a bohemian neighborhood and it is always the best time to visit Paris. In high season you cannot take a step without meeting an artist with his easel and many groups of tourists strolling through Montmartre and Sacré Coeur. In spite of that, it is a very romantic place, and it still maintains that very Parisian air. No wonder everyone drops by if they're in town.
If you want to avoid going up the stairs there is a funicular that you can pay for with your metro tickets. You should also stroll through the Place du Tertre among artists, restaurants, and tourists, but above all, enjoy the views of Paris for free from the steps of the Basilica. It is possible that it will happen to you and you will be lucky enough to witness an impromptu concert while you wait to see the sunset. There are many places with a beautiful city skyline that will not cost you a single euro.
It is the second most visited monument in the French capital. It is a good argument to include it in your list if you travel to Paris. We are talking about a whopping six million people who pass through there. So you can already imagine that to go up to the Eiffel Tower without queues it is better to buy the ticket in advance. It is the quintessential symbol of Paris and a source of pride for the French, although it was not always so. At the time of its construction, it generated many debates and controversies. It was also a provisional building that was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1889 and the intention was that it be demolished 10 years later.
Luckily they didn't destroy it because we would have missed the chance to see Paris from the second floor. The third floor is so high that the human eye cannot clearly perceive either buildings or anything else.
This is the great avenue of Paris. The place to go and be seen. Place of forced passage for Parisians, provincials, and tourists. The baroque idea of building these great avenues was to impress. And I have to tell you that it will on your first time in Paris what to see.
It will take you a long time to walk the two kilometers between Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe. Above all, advance along the upper part of the street. It is full of shops, cinemas, and restaurants and you will be looking from one side to the other. Towards the middle are the Grand and Petit Palais and the University of Paris. In the lower area, there are many green areas and gardens.
7.-Opera Garnier or Palais Garnier
The Opera Garnier building is another of the essential monuments of Paris. It is designed in the Empire style and is another of many that remain from the time of Napoleon. The completely symmetrical façade, a large dome, and, in this case, golden statues, are the characteristics of this building.
For a few years, it has been hiding a secret on the east façade, where the carriages stopped: a restaurant that must be seen through the undulating glass façade that seems totally suspended without any type of support. A wonder within another wonder.
8.-Seine river cruise
Many of the cruises on the Seine depart from the Eiffel Tower jetty. The duration is usually one hour and the explanations are through audio guides in Spanish and English. From the deck of the boat you can see the representative monuments of Paris. I like to do this type of tour to take the pulse of a destination. Especially if it is large and you have little time. It helps you to assess which monuments you are going to want to visit or how much time you can dedicate to each one. You can also do this illuminated Paris cruise at night so in this case, the best time to visit Paris to make this tour is during summer or spring. From the bateau mouche you will see the buildings of Paris such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame or the Louvre but with the addition that with the lights they look beautiful.
9.-Forum des Halles
Les Halles is the central indoor market for fresh food in Paris. It is typical of all of France and reminds us of our food markets. In 1971 the old building was demolished and a new shopping center was built. Much of it is underground as a small city on different levels. It includes the largest station in the city: metro and suburban train (RER), swimming pool, offices, shopping center (Forum), and a 4-hectare garden.
10.-Place de la Concorde and The Luxor Obelisk
This square in Paris is the largest in the city and also very representative of the capital of the Seine. You can walk from the Louvre museum, passing through the Tuileries to get here. The history of this square is to make anyone's hair stand on end. It was the place where for two years, during the French Revolution, thousands of heads rolled on their guillotine. Including those of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI.
In addition to its monumentality, another thing that you can see if you travel to Paris is the Egyptian obelisk of Luxor. It was a gift from Egypt and was located at the entrance to the temple of Ramses III. In total twenty-three meters of pink granite with hieroglyphics from the time of the Empire of Ramses II and III.
11.-Pigalle and Moulin Rouge in the Red Light District
The red light district is another of the classics of Paris that is full of tourists, especially at night to take a tour of the neighborhood with admission to the show at the Moulin Rouge. The Belle Époque was a place of leisure for society. People went to cabarets to eat, drink and enjoy a show of music and dance. The prices were popular and that is why people from all statuses social gathered together, along with many artists. The Moulin Rouge on Place Pigalle is the famous cabaret in Paris, along with the Lido on the Champs-Elysées, and another of the best places to visit Paris.
The difference is that the show that is performed at the Moulin Rouge is unique and unrepeatable (it is not performed anywhere else in the world). The choreographies are perfectly synchronized, great designers participate in the costumes and you can see the girls with the famous cancan.
The cradle of haute couture is on this six hundred and fifteen-meter street. There are exclusive brands of clothing, accessories, and shoe stores on one side and the other of the avenue. Dior was one of the first to settle in Faubourg Saint-Honoré in 1947. Even if you don't buy anything, you have to go to admire the facades and shop windows.
You have to see this microworld, which looks like something out of a Vogue page: with models, jet setters, designers, movie stars, and wealthy tourists who are a little intimidating and never run. The views of the Eiffel Tower from here take your breath away, as do the windows of Chanel, Versace, Max Mara, Loewe, Saint Laurent, and Louis Vuitton. Do you need more reasons to visit Paris?
13.-Tuileries Gardens and The Place du Carrousel
This is one of the gardens in the center of Paris. For me, apart from being beautiful, it is charming. It forms part of the Baroque axis that begins at the Louvre Museum and continues through this park to Place de la Concorde, from there to the Champs-Elysées, and ends at the Arc de Triomphe. A curious fact about the largest park in the city is that, initially, it was designed in an Italian style to the liking of Catherine de Médicis.
Currently, it is rebuilt in the English style. You will love this haven of peace in the middle of the big city. Walking the avenues full of trees, statues, ponds, and fountains is necessary to disconnect and recharge your batteries. You cannot miss the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. Napoleon ordered it to be built as an entrance to the park.
This square is another of the places in Paris that is associated with luxury and you can visit it if is your first time in Paris what to see. That's why I imagined it big and ostentatious. However, it is quite the opposite, it is discreet and not so big. It follows the example of classical French urbanism with the column in the center.
On one of its sides is the Ritz hotel in Paris and the world-famous jewelry stores: Rolex, Cartier, Bulgari and Tiffany. This last jewelry is one of the coveted showcases and where photos imitating Audrey Hepburn are not lacking.
15.-The Père-Lachaise cemetery
The list of celebrities buried in this cemetery is endless: Balzac, María Callas, Chopin, Comte, Delacroix, Jim Morrison, Molière, Édith Piaf, Óscar Wilde,… A peculiarity of this cemetery is that along with the mythomaniac tourists there are always Parisians walking around as if it were another park in the city.
I recommend that you stop dreaming here and do it there. Go and have a wonderful time. Lastly, just one thing before we wrap up. Leave me a comment telling me what you think of the selection, or any questions that have arisen. I am delighted to help you and thus help other travelers. I forgot, thanks for reading! (>‿◠)✌