I was lucky enough to go on a trip to Paris this summer to celebrate my 21st birthday, and the city definitely did not disappoint. I’ve driven past Paris before during a school trip to Barcelona, in which a very large group of us 13-14 year olds had the privilege of spending 36 hours straight on a coach. So I suppose I could never really say I’ve ‘been’ there before. This year, though, I finally got round to it! One more European city ticked off my to-go list = check.
We spent four days there in total, and it’s safe to say I had the most magical birthday ever. Although I’d love to be one of those travellers that visit all the chic, low-key, underrated city hotspots where all the locals go, admittedly I am a very typical tourist (and yes, I know, typical tourists are extremely annoying) particularly when it’s my first time visiting somewhere. I’d love to give you guys a long list of all the hip and exclusive happenings of Paris, but instead of Googling information and saying I went somewhere when I totally didn’t, I’m just going to tell you all what I really did in the lovely French capital. Disneyland & Le Tour Eiffel… eat your heart out.
Here are five completely tourist-typical things to do in Paris, all of which I did, proudly, and with no shame.
Top 5 Things to Do in Paris
#1 Eiffel Tower
You don’t think I’m gonna visit Paris and not go right to the top of the Eiffel Tower, do you?! After checking in to our hotel, me and J went out for a spot of exploring as a way to get our bearings on the city. We hopped on the Metro from Port de Versailles and got off at the stop right next to the Eiffel Tower (I genuinely can’t remember the name – soz!). Even though you spend your whole life seeing the Eiffel Tower in photographs, adverts, drawings, you name it – nothing compares to seeing it for real. The Eiffel Tower is practically everywhere you look, no matter where in the world you live, but it truly is a mesmerizing experience to have it right there in front of you.
After a good half an hour taking seriously cringe-worthy and tourist-typical pictures, we unexpectedly decided to visit the top of the tower. By this point it was already about 10pm, and we must have queued for at least an hour and a half. It was 15 Euros each, and totally worth it. I turned 21 on the Eiffel Tower, which is pretty nice to say.
#2 Disneyland Paris
Because I’m a complete child at heart (and so is José, for that matter) we figured that it couldn’t get any better than spending my 21st birthday at Disneyland Paris. Because we’d been to the Eiffel Tower so late the night before and hadn’t got back to the hotel until about 1am, typically we missed our alarm and slept in late, meaning we lost a good four hours at Disneyland, and subsequently a lot of the FastPass rides. Ah, well! The good part of it is that at least we weren’t moping around the park like exhausted zombies.
For those who have been to Disneyland Florida, the Parisian version will probably be nothing special for you. That was pretty much the case for José, but for me, the whole experience was fabulous. During the day we queued for around half an hour-an hour for each ride, but the waits were definitely worth it, as the rides were amazing. My favourites were the Aerosmith Rollercoaster, Tower of Terror, and Crush’s Coaster. I will say it now: for those of you planning on visiting Disneyland Paris and returning to your hotel before the fireworks, DON’T DO IT. The fireworks were the best part of the entire day.
#3 Tuk-Tuk Ride Around The City
Weirdly, I found that a good tuk-tuk ride around Paris was way more fun than I thought it would be. We’d taken the Metro to Notre Dame (which is absolutely stunning, by the way), stopped off for coffees and macaroons (when in Paris…) and decided to take a tuk-tuk ride to the Louvre. There are tuk-tuk drivers beside every major attraction in Paris, all of whom offer similar rates depending on the attraction you want to go to, and the distance between each. We paid 15 Euro, which may seem like a lot, but it really was worth it. It gives you the opportunity to really experience the city from another angle and take good pictures along the way. I’d definitely recommend it!
#4 Arc de Triomphe
Of course, no trip to Paris is complete without at least catching a short glimpse of the Arc de Triomphe. We sauntered along the Champs Elysées, and I’ll be really honest here: it wasn’t as great as I was expecting. The street was crowded beyond control, and I was genuinely expecting a pretty, relaxed, laid-back Parisian avenue, which it was far from. The whole experience was generally a bit overwhelming. Anyway, it was worth it when we reached the end and the beautiful Arc de Triomphe came into view. We took a few pictures and watched in a mixture of both horror and amusement as other tourists attempted to cross the road to access the monument. It was one of those “Are you for real?” moments as we watched people who seriously thought they could cross one of the busiest roads in Europe to access the Arc, and come out of the experience unscathed. Little did they know that there is actually a tunnel, which admittedly took us a good 10 minutes to find, even though it was just across the road to our right.
When we reached the monument, we were genuinely surprised at how huge it is! The entire structure blew my mind away, and it was definitely an emotional experience to see all the names of the soldiers engraved there. Unless you want to visit the top, visiting the Arc de Triomphe is completely free, so I’d highly recommend it for anyone visiting Paris on a budget. We met up with friends later on that evening for drinks in the Champs-Elysées area, and I remember catching a glimpse of the Arc in the distance, all lit up at night. Even in that split second it was absolutely stunning, so going there at night might not be a bad idea at all.
#5 Eat, Eat, And Eat Some More
I was pleasantly surprised by the food in Paris, which resulted in us spending way more time than necessary in those typical Parisian corner restaurants. You know the type with the long rows of chairs and circular tables outside, with everything in sight decorated in red? Yep, those. Although it was quite expensive, the food was amazing. I love the way they bring little baskets of bread before the starter or main course comes out, and it’s safe to say that French wine is deeeee-lish. We even tried snails, which taste fabulous at first thanks to the rich garlic sauce they’re covered in, but after a few seconds, the earthy taste becomes a little overpowering, and only at the last minute do you realise that yes, you’re actually eating snails. Try it for yourself and come back to me.
I hope you folks enjoy your trip to Paris as much as I did.