When my husband and I went back to England to visit my in-laws, we decided to also go on a short trip to Paris. Took the Eurostar from Ebbsfleet, Kent (€74 per pax per way) which was nearer to where we were in Essex (South-East of England). The whole journey was about 2 hours 5 minutes which was pretty quick.
From London to Europe
If you’re planning to visit London/England, why not make the most of your holiday like us and include France, Belgium and/or Netherlands in your itinerary too? The nearest station to catch the Eurostar will be St Pancras International (London). And you can easily pre-book your train tickets online via the Eurostar website. Very convenient.
Do note however that the train fare is never fixed and will fluctuate depending on your season of travel.
Plan your itinerary with this travel guide
Bonjour from la Ville Lumière!? That’s ‘City of Lights’ in French. Only stayed in Paris for a few days but it was good enough to see what we wanted to see and go where we wanted to go. We didn’t do much research prior to this trip and only started reading up on places to visit when we were in the Eurostar train. With less than 96 hours to explore Paris, we just wanted to take it easy in this quaint and charming city. Having said that, we still ended up with a jam-packed holiday.?
Wondering what to do in Paris when here? Read on.
Famous landmarks. Impressive architecture. Stunning views. Exceptional arts. Rich history. Eat shop play. This travel guide covers everything you need to know about Paris.?
Disneyland – The Happiest Place on Earth
One of the highlights of our trip was our visit to Disneyland. I had been to several other Disneylands in the world (Los Angeles, Tokyo & Hong Kong) but the Paris experience was by far the best. I totally forgot how old I was when I was there and played like a little kid. Really had so much fun there, whee! Love theme parks.?
Besides Disneyland, there are of course many other places of interest to explore too. Here are my Best 21 Things To Do In Paris.
1. Snap a shot of the Arc de Triomphe
The 50m tall Arc de Triomphe (‘Arch of Triumph’) is one of the most significant and famous monuments in Paris. It was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 and was completed in 1836. This majestic looking structure was built to celebrate Napoleon’s victory as well as to honour those who died in the French Revolution. The Arc de Triomphe sits on Champs-Élysées which is Paris’ most popular shopping avenue. While the Arc is not an attraction where you can spend hours at, you should really come here for pictures and a true Parisian shopping experience.
2. Bedazzled by the Lourve
The Lourve or Musée du Louvre is the world’s largest art museum. This former fortress and palace houses a stunning collection of famous artwork which includes the Mona Lisa painting by Leonardo da Vinci. It is not just a place where you can marvel at priceless masterpieces but it’s also the most ideal platform to learn more about French history, culture, politics and its major events. The Lourve Pyramid looks astounding in the day but is even more impressive when it is illuminated at night, making it a popular destination for those looking to teach English in France. Very photo-worthy indeed.
3. Have a jolly good time at Disneyland Paris
If you have always adored Disney characters and/or easily get excited over cute stuffs (like me), you will love this theme park that is like a giant adventure playground for both the young and old. There’s no better place to bring out your inner child. Come here to meet Mickey and friends (I love Winnie the Pooh!) in person, watch magical shows & colourful parades, have a thrilling good time going on rides, eat at Disney-themed restaurants and don’t forget to bring home a bag of the cutest souvenirs and of course, unforgettable memories too.
4. Watch a cabaret show at Moulin Rouge
“Hey sista, go sista, soul sista, flow sista… Giuchie, Giuchie, ya ya dada…”. My visit to Moulin Rouge (means ‘Red Mill’ in French) in Paris was greatly inspired by the 2001 movie of the same name directed by Baz Luhrmann. Moulin Rouge opened in 1889 as a cabaret for the wealthy elite and had since been a bustling hotspot of Parisian nightlife. Apparently, it was also the birthplace of the can-can dance. Today, you can still catch dinner-shows at the legendary music hall. Worth visiting if you’re into the performing arts. Think colourful, loud & energetic performances. Simply dazzling.
5. Wine & dine
What got me most excited at meal times was the array of breads, cheeses and pastries. So spoilt for choices but I was more than happy to eat them all the time, lol. Of course French cuisine doesn’t just consist of that. The streets of Paris are lined with many restaurants, cafes and specialty shops that serve and/or sell a whole wide range of French food & delicacies such as terrine (pate), coq au vin (chicken braised with wine), rillette (I can never have enough of this!), beef bourguignon, smoked meats, escargot, quiche, macarons, eclair, crepes and more. And it is wonderfully relaxing to dine al fresco on quaint looking streets. Nibble on cheeses and sip on wines as you watch the world go by. What a life.
6. Reminisce the good old days at Galeries Lafayette
For those of you who had lived in Singapore in the 80s, you may remember that there used to be a Galeries Lafayette here. It was located below the former Le Meridien Hotel (currently Concorde Hotel) before it moved to Liat Towers. The upmarket French department store closed its doors in 1992 and disappeared from Singapore’s shopping scene. Galeries Lafayette flagship store in Paris is located on Boulevard Haussmann. The building was designed in an art nouveau style and it has a dome adorned with beautiful stained glass. Fashion shows are regularly held here as well. Fashionistas, this is definitely your go-to place for designer brands and luxury goods. Their gourmet food hall that spans across two levels is worth exploring too. The plethora of beautifully presented food is simply a feast for the eyes.
7. Kiss at the top of the Eiffel Tower
A trip to Paris is never complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower. I don’t know why couples always have to kiss either at the top of the tower or at the bottom but we did the same anyway, lol. I guess it’s because Paris is known as a romantic place and people here are generally not shy of public displays of affection. So yep, when love is in the air, you just have to share a loving kiss with your bae when there.
8. Feel a sense of peace and tranquility at Notre Dame
Notre Dame is a medieval Catholic cathedral that is a notable example of French Gothic architecture. It was built between the 12th-14th century and is the official seat of the Archbishop of Paris. If you recalled watching the 1996 animated film “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, yes, it’s the same Notre Dame we’re talking about. The cathedral is open every day of the year from 7.45am to 6.45pm and admission is free. I’m not a religious person but I’ve always enjoyed touring cathedrals. Particularly like Notre Dame because of its intricate gothic-style design on the outside and majestic grandeur on the inside. As I walked into the cathedral, I could immediately feel a sense of calmness surrounding me. I sat on one of the benches inside and looked up and around – it was a rather therapeutic experience for me.
Note: After the fire that broke out in April 2019, the cathedral will be closed until further notice. It is currently blocked off for restoration works but you can still go and take pictures of the outside.
9. Climb 270 steps to reach the Sacre Coeur
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris or more commonly known as Sacre Coeur, is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica. It is situated on hill Montmarte on the right bank of River Seine. One interesting thing about Sacre Coeur is that you will have to walk up some 270 steps to get to the Basilica but you will be greatly rewarded with a panoramic view of Paris. Trust me, that climb is so totally worth it.
Sacre Coeur is open every day of the year from 6.00am to 10.30pm. Do note photography or video filming is not allowed in the Basilica.
10. Have a picnic in the park
Having a picnic in Singapore never appeals to me because of the heat and humidity but it’s an activity that I look forward to whenever I’m in this part of the world. Picture-perfect weather always cheers me up. It is all too easy and convenient to grab a baguette, pate, cured meats and cheeses from any delicatessen. And if you like, grab a bottle of wine too. Find a spot at Paris’ oldest and most famous Tuileries Garden or Luxembourg Gardens and you can easily while away a whole afternoon.
Or head over to the Parc Floral de Paris, a public park and botanical garden that is also home to about 3,000 plant species. There, you can bask in the sun and have a little nap – it’s a well deserved luxury.
11. Discover something new at a museum
Paris is brimming with museums. Around 130 of them within the city which is a pretty amazing number. Whether you’re interested in history, archaeology, arts (from different eras & periods, old & new), science, photography etc, you will sure find a museum that’s worth visiting. Recommended museums to check out include the Musée d’Orsay (French art), Musée de l’Orangerie (art gallery of impressionist & post-impressionist paintings), Louvre Museum (the world’s largest art museum), Centre Pompidou (modern & contemporary art in Europe), Palais de la Découverte (science) and the French National Museum of Natural History.
And for the chocolate lovers, do not miss the Choco-Story Paris – Musée du Chocolat if you want to learn more about the history of chocolate and/or chocolate-making.
12. Get a taste of local life at the markets
I love visiting markets whenever I travel to a new country. It’s really one of the best ways to experience the local culture. Marche d’Aligre is an outdoor Parisian market with a vibrant, lively atmosphere that is very welcoming. As you explore the market, you can possibly spot interesting and unusual products that are not normally found in Singapore. Most of the stallholders are friendly even if you’re only looking (or taking pictures) and not buying.
Another market worth visiting will be the historic Marche des Enfants Rouges which was established in 1628. It is also Paris’ oldest covered market. Here, you can find a plethora of fresh produce, flowers, bread, wines, cheeses and more as well as a good variety of cooked food that you can take away or eat there.
13. Explore the coolest hoods
The Marais is a trendy neighbourhood with this old-meets-new kind of vibe. Part of its charm lies in its cobblestone streets, hip boutiques, historic places of interest, unique concept stores, food markets and lots of dining options. It’s also the hub of gay nightlife in Paris.
If you’re into art and history, take a walk in Montmartre where it’s filled with street artists. Have your portrait drawn by one of these artists or support them by buying their works. Definitely make meaningful souvenirs.
Head over to the Latin Quarter that offers an atmosphere of medieval Paris where you can marvel at gothic architecture. It’s located near universities and has tons of cafes where you can cafe-hop to your heart’s content.
For something different, make your way to Belleville and check out the street art and graffiti that adorn the walls of the alleys. Stroll up to the highest point of the Parc de Belleville and enjoy a breathtaking view of Paris.
14. Be enchanted by the grandeur of the palace
The over-the-top extravagant Palace of Versailles (Chateau de Versailles) was built by Louis XIV mainly to impress and to show off the absolute power of the monarchy. This UNESCO World Heritage site has 2,300 rooms that are spread across 63,154 square metres of space which is really massive. Be transported back to the 17th century as you walk in the footsteps of royalty while marvelling at the sheer size and grandeur of the inner palace. Even the formal French-style Gardens of Versailles that surrounds the palace is a pretty amazing sight.
15. Stroll along the river or take a boat ride
After you’ve been awed by the breathtaking view of Paris at the top of the Eiffel Tower, head back down and take a romantic stroll along the River Seine. Walk towards the direction of Pont Marie which many say it’s the most romantic bridge in Paris. By tradition, couples and newlyweds would come to this bridge to kiss and make a wish that’s guaranteed to come true.
Alternatively you can also take a boat ride that brings you from the Eiffel Tower to the centre of the French capital where you can enjoy stunning views of the Lourve, Notre-Dame and more.
16. Pay respect to famous French people at the Pantheon
The Pantheon was originally designed to be a church but is now a mausoleum for prominent figures in French history such as Victor Hugo, Marie Curie, Voltaire and Alexandre Dumas. The building which is located in the heart of the Latin Quarter, is exemplary of early neo-classicism. Its facade was modelled on the Pantheon in Rome. However its interior looks like a Gothic cathedral.
17. Have your portrait drawn by a street artist
The Place du Tertre is a vibrant square located just a stone’s throw away from the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre. It’s a very touristy area where many French artists gather to showcase their artwork and talent. If you would like to have a portrait drawn, this is definitely the place to go. There are also plenty of bistros and cafes where you can chill out and watch the artists in action.
18. Meet The Thinker
The Thinker is a bronze sculpture created by French sculptor Auguste Rodin, whose other iconic works included The Kiss, The Age of Bronze and The Burghers of Calais. It shows a man resting his chin on his hand and seemingly deep in thought which represents philosophy and knowledge. The sculpture is located at the garden of the Rodin Museum which is dedicated to Rodin’s creations.
While some Chinese Singaporeans believe that rubbing the belly of the Laughing Buddha will bring them good fortune and luck, perhaps you can try touching this man for some ‘cheem-ness’ too.?
19. Catch an opera or ballet performance at the historic Palais Garnier
The Palais Garnier is a 2,000-seat opera house built for the Paris Opera in the 19th century. It’s one of the most famous opera houses in the world because it was featured as the setting in Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera which till today, is still one of the most highly-acclaimed musicals. The opera house itself is a historical monument worth visiting. And watching a performance here can be a really surreal experience. You gotta try it at least once.
20. Shop on Champs-Elysees and dine at Michelin-starred restaurants
Champs-Elysees is the most well-known avenue in Paris where designer boutiques, art galleries, cafes, theatres and cinemas throng the street. If you’re into prestigious labels or French brands like Hermès, Louis Vuitton (flagship store in Paris is on Champs-Elysees), Chanel, Dior and Christian Louboutin, this is definitely the best place to shop. Besides these luxury brands, you can also find more affordable options like Longchamp, Sephora, L’Occitane, Celio and many more.
After all that shopping, take a breather and enjoy a meal at a top-notch Michelin-starred restaurant. Pick from favourites like L’Atelier Etoile de Joël Robuchon, L’Orangerie, Pierre Gagnaire, Le Clarence and more.
21. Explore the secret world of the Catacombs of Paris
The Catacombs of Paris are underground ossuaries that were created in order to ease the strain on the city’s overflowing cemeteries. They currently hold the remains of more than six million people which is really an alarming number. The interesting thing about this place is that it is a completely different world that lies beneath all that glamour and glitz of the capital city. The Catacomb is not for the scaredy-cats but if you want to see a different side of Paris, this is worth a visit.