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Here are the places I visited in Paris for my first trip

At the beginning of this year, after talking with someone about traveling and exchanging some photos, I spontaneously decided to visit Paris for the first time. So keep reading to discover the places I visited in Paris (photos included).

As soon as I made the decision, I went on SkyScanner to (hopefully) find some cheap plane tickets. And I did! I found a plane ticket to Paris and back home for only 53 euros.

“That must be really cheap” is what I told myself and purchased the tickets right away.

I was flying to Paris on the 6th of March and then back home on the 11th of March, so I was happy because I had enough time to explore the city. Or so I thought… because after the 4th day I visited everything I wanted to see and I didn’t do many things in the 5th day.

Anyway, even though the plane ticket was cheap, I got tricked because of two reasons:

  • I didn’t fly to Paris airport, but to Beauvais airport, which is 100 kilometers away from Paris

The bus transportation from the Beauvais airport to Porte Maillot (in Paris – next to the Arc de Triomphe) costs 16.9 euros one way. So I had to pay 34 extra euros. If you add that, the cost of the plane ticket goes up to 87 euros.

“Still cheap” I said to myself, thinking that getting to Paris is not too expensive.

But then I started looking for accommodation and it hit me.

  • I spend 80 euros per night in a really small one-room apartment

Considering Paris prices, 80 euros/night is on the low-end side of the deal. But the space of the accommodation was around 14 meters square, so pretty small.

After looking for accommodation and realizing that this was where I was going to stay, I started having mixed feelings.

Paris was for a while on my list of cities to visit but at the same time it was a spontaneous decision and I didn’t plan to visit any places in Paris this year because of my other traveling plans. But, at the same time, I wanted to visit Paris and get on top of the Eiffel Tower.

Therefore, I accepted my spontaneity, especially after I realized that I couldn’t ask for a refund on AirBnB for this specific accommodation.

I wanted to put a link here to the accommodation, but just checked the price and it went up like crazy (720 euros/night … WTF? I hope it’s just a bug on the platform). But other than that, the host was really friendly, responsive, and made sure I had everything I needed. She even welcomed me with some sweets.

Making the plan

Since visiting Paris was spontaneous, I postponed making an actual plan until 10 days before leaving.

The only thing I did before making the ‘proper’ plan was to speak with 1-2 people about Paris and ask for recommendations of places to visit in Paris. I also checked Reddit.

But because I was lazy and didn’t want to invest too much time into researching, I decided to use ChatGPT. And this is where I started laughing.

Basically, I asked ChatGPT to provide, for each day, a list of 2 to 4 attractions to see in Paris, and for every attraction that required an entry fee, to provide a free alternative.

ChatGPT’s response was something like this: You can visit the top of the Eiffel Tower for 26 euros and, as a free alternative, you can admire the Eiffel Tower from the nearby parks, such as Champ de Mars.

For sure, the Eiffel Tower is a must do in Paris, but not as a free alternative.

And I got this kind of response for everything.

“You can see the attraction that has an entry fee or you can look at it from somewhere else for free.”

When I saw this kind of approach, I started laughing. I’m surprised it didn’t suggest to just search on YouTube for some video with the attractions as a free alternative. Haha!

Before moving on and sharing my plan for every day in Paris, here’s one more thing I did before leaving: I got my tickets online for the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre Museum, and The Catacombs. I recommend you do the same for whatever you want to visit, at least a few days before.

Day 1 in Paris: Arc de Triomphe

The first day was without too many interesting things simply because I was too tired.

When I first got the ticket to Paris, I was supposed to leave at around 3 PM and get to the Beauvais Airport at 6:15 PM. But Wizz Air (avoid them if you can) changed my departure time and, instead, I was leaving at 6 in the morning (the same day).

Therefore, I had to be at the airport at 4 AM but I don’t live in the same city and had to also take a train. And since trains are not that active during the night, I took the latest train the day before (at 8:30 PM) and arrived at the airport at 1 AM.

That’s how I didn’t sleep at all and when I got to Paris I was too tired to do anything.

Anyway, I arrived at the Beauvais Airport at around 9 AM and that airport is pretty small. In fact, it’s so small that it took me 5 minutes to go through the passport check and leave it. And as soon as I got out of the airport, I saw the Bus Station, so it was pretty easy to navigate the area.

Just to make it clear, I got my tickets for the bus transfer from the Beauvais Airport to Porte Maillot Paris on the Beauvais Airport Website.

I spent some time calculating when I would arrive and making sure I got the ticket for the right hour but that was just a waste of time. I got my ticket for 10:40 and left with the bus at 9:20 or something like that. So you don’t have to worry if you don’t have the right hour on your ticket, just make sure you have the ticket.

After one hour and 20 minutes of riding the bus, I arrived in Paris, at Porte Maillot. It’s close to the Arc de Triomphe (1.5 kilometers away), which is the first place I visited in Paris.

As soon as I got there, I saw the big ocean of tourists. There were so many people taking photos and one guy approached me in the first 5 minutes and asked me to take him a photo with the Arc de Triomphe behind him.

We weren’t even close to the building, as I had to take the passage to reach the Arc de Triomphe. As soon as I got there, I took some photos and decided to pay the fee (16 euros) to reach the top of the Arc. And I’m glad I did.

There was a queue of around 20 people but I didn’t have to wait for more than 10 minutes.

To get to the top, you have to climb some spiral stairs but as soon as you get there, the view is amazing. And you get to see everything around you and all the places that you could visit in Paris. It was like the beta version of getting on top of the Eiffel Tower.

Here are 4 photos I took from the top of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris:

After that, started walking to my accommodation and walked 11.5 kilometers on the first day.

I was too tired to do anything else except for going out to buy some food.

Day 2: Louvre Museum, Saint Chapelle, Jardin du Luxemburg, Panthéon, Jardin des Plantes, Jardin Tino Rossi

On the second day, I started walking at 10 AM and walked 23.5 KM.

The weather was good and as soon as I left the accommodation, I went towards the Louvre Museum. I had the ticket already purchased from the Louvre Museum website and paid 22 euros for it.

As soon as I got there, I could see from afar the long queue but I knew about a second entrance.

You see, the main entrance to the Louvre Museum is through the glass pyramid that you see from the big square. And that’s where most people are waiting in line.

But there’s another entrance through the Carrousel du Louvre. That’s a mall below the surface and the waiting line is way shorter. I got there at 10:45 and around 150 people were waiting to get in but it was going fast.

The security guard told me to come back at 11:30 (because I had my ticket for 12:00) and when I got there, the queue was nonexistent, so I just went it.

The Louvre Museum is huge! There are 4 floors and you can get lost pretty easily, which is why you should use the map. I didn’t use it – I just walked around.

But I was disappointed.

After exploring it for almost two hours, here’s what I was thinking:

  • There are too many people (way too many) and, it can easily trigger your anxiety – I think thousands of people are visiting the museum daily (maybe tens of thousands)
  • There are too many paintings, sculptures, and art in general – if you want to appreciate every one of them, you probably need to spend a whole month in the museum
  • Mona Lisa is overrated – the room was overcrowded and everyone was trying to get a picture. When I saw how many people were obsessed with it, I gave up on every idea I had around Mona Lisa and moved on

The Louvre Museum feels like one of these places in Paris that I wouldn’t visit the second time. And if I knew it was so crowded, I would have left it for the last day or not even visited it.

Here are 4 photos from the Louvre Museum in Paris:

After leaving the Louvre, I started walking towards Saint Chapelle and paid 13 euros to enter the church.

I don’t have many things to say about Saint Chapelle except it was an amazing experience.

Such a beautiful place to take a few minutes and do nothing.

I would say that the price was a bit high, considering there weren’t too many things to see. But nonetheless it was amazing.

Maybe, on a summer day, the sun would have had more strength and would have penetrated the painted glass a bit better. That would have probably been a different experience.

Here are 4 photos from Saint Chapelle in Paris:

Next, I visited Jardin du Luxemburg.

This is a big green area with lots of people sitting down and chatting. This place has such a beautiful vibe and, if the Louvre Museum had thousands of people, here were around a few hundred people.

By the way, just as a side tip, if you buy some food around the Cluny La Sorbonne metro station, it’s better to take the food and eat it in Jardin du Luxemburg. That’s what I would have done with the falafel I ate before getting to this place.

Here are 4 photos from Jardin du Luxemburg in Paris:

Next on my list was Jardin des Plantes and on my way there I went past Panthéon but decided not to go inside – just took some photos from outside the building that I’m not really happy with. Therefore, no Panthéon photos here.

Jardin des Plantes is a beautiful walking area, with lots of plants.

I paid 9 euros to visit the plant sera. I think there was also a museum and a small zoo in this area, but I was too tired to do anything else, so I decided to go home.

Here are 4 photos from Jardin des Plantes in Paris:

On my way home, after Jardin des Plantes, I decided to walk through an area called Jardin Tino Rossi and I was happy I did.

It was such a nice place and I also found there a group of old people (45 to maybe over 60) who were dancing swing or rock & roll. Took a break there for around 20 minutes and just enjoyed the scene – it reminded me of Salsa dancing.

Day 3: The Eiffel Tower, Bois de Boulogne

On the third day I started walking at 10:30 and walked 19 KM.

As soon as I left, I started walking straight to The Eiffel Tower and got there at around 12:15 and decided to get in line, even though my ticket was booked for 13:30.

I purchased the ticket before even getting to Paris and paid 29.4 euros for it.

After around 20-30 minutes of waiting in lines (there are two queues – one outside The Eiffel Tower and another one below it), I climbed the stairs to the second level and then took the elevator to the top.

And even though it was full of people, it was a great experience.

I loved climbing all the stairs (674 according to Google) and felt a bit brave to be so high up (300 meters). Surprisingly, I didn’t feel fear at all even though I don’t like heights.

The views from both the second level and the top of the tower are amazing and this is one of the few experiences I would repeat in the future.

I don’t have a specific reason, but I loved the Eiffel Tower. Maybe it’s because I got to participate to the experience by climbing the stairs all the way up to the second level.

Certainly, the Eiffel Tower is one of the best things to see in Paris and you shouldn’t miss it.

Here are 8 photos with the Eiffel Tower in Paris and a reel I posted on Instagram on that day:

After The Eiffel Tower, I started walking towards Bois de Boulogne, which is a beautiful park with a lake in the middle.

As soon as I got there, I had the same feeling I had the day before when I got to Jardin du Luxemburg.

It feels like Paris is split in two: the tourist side and the local side. While The Louvre Museum and The Eiffel Tower are part of the tourist side, The Jardin du Luxemburg and the Bois du Boulogne are part of the local side.

As soon as you get out of the touristic areas, you get to experience Paris as locals do, without the rush of having to see the next thing on your list.

Here are 3 photos from Jardin du Luxemburg in Paris:

After walking around the park for a short period, I decided to take the metro back home.

It was the first time I took the metro in Paris and it was quite simple to figure it out, but the vending machine didn’t want my Revolut card, so I had to use the ING one. The price of the metro ticket was 2.15 euros.

Day 4: Zoo, Catacombs, La Maison D’Isabelle

I started my fourth day at 9:30 and walked 21.3 KM.

The Zoo opened at 10:00 and I walked directly to the Zoo. Considering it was Saturday, the waiting line was pretty short (around 20 people). But considering it was Saturday, I was surrounded by children and that was a bit unpleasant. I mean, too much screaming!

It wasn’t the most impressive Zoo but it was ok. I paid 22 euros for the ticket and visited almost everything in almost two hours.

This Zoo reminded me why I usually avoid visiting zoos. In some cases, the animals seemed more captive than free – for example, the giraffes were in a place with no sun at all and you could look at them through a thick glass. That was sad.

Here are 3 photos of some animals in the Zoo in Paris:

After leaving the Zoo, I walked for 20-30 minutes to get to the metro station and took the metro to the Catacombs.

I already had a ticket – paid 29 euros for it before getting to Paris – and arrived there 3 hours earlier than the hour I booked online. But that didn’t stop me from getting inside, as I am too pretty to be left outside.

I’m joking. 😀 The guards were nice and told me to go in.

It was probably the second most fun experience I had, after The Eiffel Tower.

The first thing you do is to go down around 20 meters below the surface level and you get to explore an area (the Catacombs) where lots of bones and skulls are preserved. From what I read, they preserve the bones of millions of women and children from hundreds of years ago.

The walking passage of the catacombs was somewhere between 300 and 500 meters and I really enjoyed it. I even touched some bones and a skull just to make sure they’re real – I guess they are.

Here are 2 photos of the Catacombs in Paris:

After that, I started walking back home and, on my way, I stopped at the renowned croissant place called Le Maison D’Isabelle – it was awarded the top prize for the best all-butter croissants in Paris and the surrounding region in 2018.

I purchased two butter croissants and one almond croissant for 4.9 euros. The almond one was so good!

On the 5th day I didn’t do anything, except for walking for a few kilometers in the neighborhood and getting something to eat. I was a bit too tired and had enough visiting. I guess, 4 days would have been just enough.

General impressions about Paris

After visiting Paris for a couple of days, here’s what I think:

  • The city is crowded, but not overcrowded. Except for weekends. On Saturday, Paris was waaay overcrowded, especially in the tourist areas.
  • People seem nice, even though it feels like they don’t want to speak English.
  • It’s cleaner than expected (considering it’s a capital).
  • Pedestrians and drivers don’t really care about traffic lights, especially if there’s no big intersection.
  • Smoking is like second nature to people from Paris, just like spitting.
  • There are days when you’ll hear a police siren every 5 minutes.

That’s it for my first time in Paris.

With love and optimism,
David

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