The City of Love and the most romantic place on earth. We were lucky enough to spent our third wedding anniversary here early in September, and it was everything I thought it would be and more. For five lovely, enchanting, thrilling days we walked the city streets and soaked up as much Parisian spirit as we possibly could. Paris is the perfect place to spend a holiday, whether you’re in a relationship or traveling solo.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when planning your first trip to Paris. The city is huge and has a lot of hidden gems to discover. To help combat that I’ve put together a list of moments that made our trip absolutely perfect. You might not be able to do all of them, but I think they’re a good starting place. I’d love to hear your favorite memories from Paris if you’ve already been. I’m already collecting ideas for our next trip!
Watch the Tour Eiffel start to twinkle as night falls.
Have you ever imagined an experience only to have it be much more magical when it comes true? That’s how I felt when we brought some macarons to the Eiffel Tower and watched it light up one evening.
A major bonus to the evening was the free light show (one of the only free shows you’ll get in Paris, according to a friend) that happens every hour, on the hour, from 9PM from 1AM. Watching her twinkle in the evening was definitely a life moment.
Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France
See the Mona Lisa in person for the first time.
Fair warning: the Mona Lisa is a bit underwhelming to most people who go and see her. However we were warned by a friend that we would potentially leave feeling dissatisfied, so going into the Louvre we were prepared.
Even though it was much, much smaller than I had thought it would be, I still loved seeing it. It was easy to let myself get caught up in the fact that I was seeing a Da Vinci masterpiece – he painted it with his own hands! – and I should enjoy the experience for what it was. Plus I stood off to the side, not allowing myself to be crushed by the mass of tourists hanging out right in front. It felt like it was just me and Mona Lisa, and that was pretty cool.
Entrance fee is 15€.
Musée du Louvre, 75058 Paris
Feel the love at the new home of the Love Locks.
The Pont des Arts bridge was famous with lovers. It was a tradition to take a padlock, lock it to the bridge, and throw the key into the Seine. It symbolized the love you and your partner had, which would never be broken. Sadly, the original love lock bridge is no more. Roughly one million locks were removed due to structural issues; part of the bridge collapsed in 2014.
But have no fear, there is a new places for your love lock, and we managed to find it! It’s located next to the Pont Neuf. There is a little area before the bridge spans the water that is not lined with the locks, keeping the bridge safe and everyone’s love alive.
75001 Paris, France
Watch the sunset at the Sacré-Cœur.
On our first night in Paris, we grabbed dinner in Montmarte and found ourselves stumbling up to the Sacré-Cœur with full bellies. We sat on the steps to digest for a bit, but ended up staying through sunset because all of Paris was before us and it was gorgeous.
Paris is such a pretty city, and it’s easy to see why in the magical glow of sunset. Take the time to get to the top of the hill, watch the sunset and enjoy street performers. You won’t regret it!
35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris, France
See the Moulin Rouge all lit up.
OK, so this isn’t exactly up there in my BEST MOMENTS EVER file. But it was still cool to see a different part of Paris.
The Moulin Rouge is in an area of town that is a bit darker, a bit sexier. There are many sex shops and some interesting characters in this area which added a certain ambiance. I did grab my purse a wee bit tighter, but at no point did I feel unsafe. It was far from the touristy center of the Eiffel Tower and felt a bit grittier and a bit more raw.
82 Boulevard de Clichy, 75018 Paris, France
Fall in love with Sainte Chapelle.
I don’t think words are really necessary here. I had heard from a fellow blogger that we should add Saint Chapelle to our list of places to check out, but she didn’t give me any information as to why we should go. In fact, she told me I would understand as soon as we got there, we just had to make sure it happened.
When I walked up the staircase into the chapel, I was struck speechless. You will be too when you get to visit.
Entrance fee is 10€
8 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris, France
Enjoy a picnic along the Canal Saint-Martin.
We chose to picnic on pizza from Pink Flamingo, which I highly recommend, but you don’t have to order food to enjoy Saint-Martin. Grab a baguette and some cheese, maybe a bottle of wine and sit in the shade with everyone else. We enjoyed ourselves for a couple of hours, watching a few boats go by, people riding their bicycles with bags of goodies and couple walking their dogs. It felt like we were experiencing every day life.
Enjoy a French 75 where it (supposedly) all began.
It’s said that Harry’s New York Bar in Paris was the birthplace of such well-known drinks like the Bloody Mary, Side Car and the French 75. We went to Harry’s specifically to stand at the bar and drink a French 75 and we were not disappointed.
With decor that is romantically Americana, this bar is definitely a treasure. After walking through saloon doors, you’re surrounded by vintage college pendants. Sit by the bar and enjoy watching the lab coat wearing bartenders mix drinks, an experience you won’t soon forget.
5 Rue Daunou, 75002 Paris, France
Let yourself feel small by the Arc de Triomphe.
The Arc de Triomphe is huge. Twelve different lanes of traffic converge here, which means traffic is insane. There are so many cars driving around this monument! It’s easy to find yourself getting swept away with the energy here and just be amazed. I know I was. Just be really, really, really careful when crossing any of the streets that surround the monument!
You can actually go to the top of the monument for a small fee. Hours vary by time of year. From April 1 to September 30 it is open from 10 a.m.-11 p.m. From October 1 to March 31 the hours are 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Entrance fee for the monument is 8 €.
Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris, France
Use your French skills to buy lunch at the Rue Cler Market.
Ryan has been practicing his French for months in preparation for this trip. He was very proud of himself when he was able to buy our lunch speaking only in French in the market on Rue Cler. It was also the first time he was able to order everything without resorting to English! Whether your fluent or just learning like us, I think the first time you order something and are understood is a great feeling to have.
The Rue Cler Market is quite close to the Eiffel Tower, which is a perfect backdrop to eat!
Entrance is free.
rue Cler, 7th arrondissement
Look out over all of Paris at the Montparnasse Tower.
We were told by a friend that Parisians hate the Montparnasse Tower. They hate it so much, building skyscrapers in the city was banned after it was built. But some of the best views of the city can be found from the top of this 210 meter high tower. Mostly because you can view the city without the Montparnasse Tower in your sights!
Entrance fee is 15€.
33 Avenue du Maine, 75015 Paris, France
Find some hidden gems in the Passage du Grand Cerf.
The Grand Cerf is a covered arcade found between the 2nd and 3rd. We walked through this brightly lit shopping alley, enjoying the sun shining down through the roof and window shopping. There is a really great vintage thrift shop or two here, which were my favorite parts. We managed to snag some beautiful drawer pulls as a unique souvenir!
Entrance is free.
8 Passage du Grand Cerf, 75002 Paris, France
Pay your respects at Père Lachaise Cemetery.
The Père Lachaise Cemetery was founded in 1804 and covers a total of 48 hectares. The tree-lined paths are large and sweeping, which kind of make it feel more like a park than a cemetery. We specifically went to see Jim Morrison’s grave (I love the Doors) and had an added bonus of finding Oscar Wilde’s grave as well.
We ended up walking through Père Lachaise Cemetery for a couple of hours, partly because we got lost and partly because it was surprisingly peaceful. It didn’t feel morbid, which I was worried about, and it also didn’t kill the anniversary buzz. It was nice to pay respects to people who lived and loved in Paris before we ever stepped foot in the city.
Entrance is free.
16 Rue du Repos, 75020 Paris, France
Find a shady spot in Luxembourg Gardens for a break.
We spent our last morning in Paris relaxing and reading in the Jardin du Luxembourg, 25 hectares of green space in the city. Created in 1612, these gardens today are a beautiful spot for some peace and quiet. The gardens are actually split into two different spaces, a French garden and an English garden. Sitting between the two are a pond and forest, perfect spots to find either sun or shade to sit in.
We were far from the only people enjoying these gorgeous gardens; there were plenty of people relaxing, some were playing tennis and we even saw an elderly couple playing chess.
Entrance is free.
Rue de Médicis – Rue de Vaugirard – 75006 Paris
Wait in line at the Notre Dame de Paris. It’s worth it.
The first time we saw the Cathedrale Notre Dame, the line was outrageously long. The next day we went back, it seemed like it was even longer. But we filled our water bottles at one of the city’s many public fountains and waited in line to get inside. We were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves inside the Notre Dame within ten minutes, even though we started at the back of the complex. And it was so, so worth it. They have great exhibits inside, but truthfully what I loved the most was the feeling of peace and tranquility that I left with.
You can climb to the top of the Notre Dame, all 422 stairs, for a 10€. Services are held every day, multiple times a day.
The Notre Dame de Paris is open every day from 8:00 am to 6:45PM. Entrance to the cathedral is free.
6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France
Truthfully, I wish we would have had more time in Paris. But that’s the beauty of travel, isn’t it? It whets your appetite to see more; more of the places you’ve already been to and more places you have yet to reach.
We’re in Split, Croatia right now! We enjoyed a week in Dubrovnik which was nice, if not a bit too long. There was plenty of sun and swimming though, which was a great way to start our October! We got to Split on Monday and already feel like we’re more at home and comfortable in this city.
Are you excited for fall? What are you plans for the coming months?