This post is written by our co-president, Simran Thakral. Check out her original post here.
As soon as it was confirmed that I was going to the UK to pursue higher studies, I had begun planning my travels around Europe. I had always loved travelling but never really got much opportunity to do so apart from the once-a-year family vacation abroad which really isn’t the same as travelling on your own. Come the Easter holidays, I was glad to find four amazing friends that shared my enthusiasm for travel to visit the beautiful city of Paris with me. It was by far one of my most favourite cities on our 10 day long Europe tour.
When people think of ‘Paris’ they tend to think of the “city of love” and have all these preconceived notions of how “amazing” and “wonderful” the city will be like. Is it all wanderlust? No, of course not. There are parts of the city that are dodgy and shady- just like everywhere in the world. When I say I really liked Paris though, I mean the culture: the language is beautiful, the accent is music to my ear, the food is amazing, and I think the hospitality we received made it one of my favourite cities on our Europe trip!
Where to stay:
We were very lucky to have the opportunity to stay with one of our friend’s relatives in Paris. Not only does it give us free accommodation, but also that we got to experience the authentic Parisian experience. We stayed with an old retired French couple that was just lovely. I wouldn’t change it for the world- it was absolutely great. The hospitality, the food- everything. I think the reason Paris was my favourite city was because of this experience. You know what they say; it’s the people that make a city.
For hostels/hotels, I did not really do much research so unfortunately I can’t recommend. But there are a ton of affordable and good hostels around the city so a quick Google search should do the trick.
How to get around:
There is the “Paris Pass” you can get as a tourist, which includes transport on the metro as well as tourist attractions. But we were recommended by a local to buy 10 metro tickets at once, which allow you to take 10 journeys. This works out to be the cheapest. Especially since there are already many free attractions for you to enjoy and also so that you don’t have to unnecessarily pay for all the attractions but only fork out for the ones you’re really keen on. When in doubt, Google, how do locals travel?
Things to see/do:
- Eiffel Towel
This does not even require an explanation. If you go to Paris and you don’t visit the Eiffel Tower, then you can’t claim you’ve been to Paris. Generally, I understand that doing touristy things can prevent you from experiencing the city in a more authentic way. However, if it’s a wonder world and an icon of the place it is definitely worth visiting.
You don’t have to go all the way up. I honestly do not think it’s worth the money, especially the queue-jump. But we ended up doing so because we missed our bike tour (I know, I know) and could only exchange it for Eiffel Tower que-jumps. Sit on the grass overlooking the Eiffel Tower and just people watch. Wait for the lights to be turned on. It truly is amazing. We didn’t get the chance to do this as we had to hurry back but it was such a shame though.
- Walk along Champ Elyses to the Arc De Triumph
Perhaps one of the most famous roads in Paris. It is a 1 km long stretch that leads to the Arc De Triumph. You have the option of taking the metro all the way there, but I’d say walk the whole stretch as you get to take in the vibes of the place.
- Notre Dam (free)
This is one of the oldest churches in Paris and the architecture is very gothic.
I went to two museums: Carnavalet (free) and Picasso (free for students). Carnavalet is a history museum, while Picasso is an arts museum. Despite not being a “museum person”, I found Carnavalet really interesting- especially the French revolution section. The only downside was that most of the descriptions were in French. Picasso- well, I am not at all an artsy person so I just wandered around throwing words like “impressionism” to try and sound sophisticated. We left out the Louvre, where the Mona Lisa painting is situated, deliberately as the line was ridiculously long. Museums are generally a great way to learn about the culture/history of France so I definitely do recommend visiting at least one in Paris.
Need I say more? You’re in the land of croissants, baguettes, crepes, macaroons, and the list goes on. Oh, we also tried snails! It was not bad, not as slimy as I thought it would be as they prepare it using a lot of garlic. I have one restaurant in particular to recommend if you’re visiting the Carnavalet museum- Le Voltaire. Be sure to order the quiche- it is beyond exquisite.