5 Must-See Destinations for Your First Time in Paris!

Paris has always felt like a love letter to me. From the first minute I met her, I felt aglow in her romance, her beauty, her cozy allure. She is both a whirling bike ride down busy streets and a barefoot picnic with half empty wine bottles scattered near by. She is both fast and slow, a muted palate and full of color, she is full of big moments and hidden spaces, she is 12 accents and languages heard before your morning espresso. She is complex and simple, beautiful and dirty, relaxed and chic, she is my dream come to life.

Paris is the place I will return to time and time again – each time falling deeper in love and finding beautiful nuance in her streets. I want to share with you the spots that I find dear and hear your stories.

So, today I wanted to share the five tourist spots you must see upon your first visit to this perfect city. There is so much to do and see in this city, it would take a lifetime (and maybe not even then) to see it all, but these five sites are quintessential and are always where I start when I bring a new visitor to this perfect place. Safe Travels!

1 -Climb Montmartre and see it’s Sacré-Cœur basilica views

Montmartre and it’s Sacré-Cœur basilica are one of my favorite places in all of Paris. Montmartre is a part of Paris’s 18th arrondissement and it’s hilly landscape provides some of the most beautiful views in all of the city. Sacré-Cœur basilica sits atop a Montmartre hill and this is a favorite spot for those looking for this classic view. I recommend spending a moment in this spot and then walking around back of the basilica to find quieter parts of this beautiful neighborhood. There is a park just off the back of the basilica that I once read in for hours undisturbed. After seeing Sacré-Cœur I like to wander down the streets of this beautiful town, looking for shops and cafes. This hilly part of Paris is known for it’s artists, musicians and vintage shops ( try Chine Machine – I once spent a birthday trying on all of their clothes in this Montmartre shop.) Steer clear of the streets just off of the metro stops as they are full of tourist trap shops and so many people. Enjoy the views both day and night, rain or shine!

2 – Enjoy a river boat tour on the Seine River to see the Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame cathedral

A river boat, or bateau mouche, on the Seine River is one of the most enjoyable ways to see much of the city in just an hour. I have done such a tour more times than I can count and have enjoyed it every last time! I have been on rainy days, on cold days, on perfect days – but all of trips have one thing in common – we road the bateau mouche after dark! See, this trip is perfect for grabbing a bottle of wine, a few reusable cups, and enjoying your evening being told the history of central Paris as well as seeing some of the cities most beautiful sites. This trip is typically an hour round trip and shows you many bridges, Notre-Dame cathedral and the Eiffel Tower. A bonus of doing this trip at night is seeing the Eiffel Tower in its glittery glory, as the bateau mouche turns its trip around at the point of the famous tower, just as it starts to sparkle . This trip is a beautiful way to spend an hour of an evening drinking in the wine and sites.

3 – Visit Le Louvre, but mostly picnic in the Le Jardin des Tuileries

3 – Le Louvre is one of the most iconic locations (and images) when visiting Paris. It is the home of the Mona Lisa and many other famous paintings and sculptures. This site is one that many tourists visit on their journey to Paris, and I recommend doing the same. But, with my recommendation, I offer some nuances. When I take people to the Louvre I spend some time at the glass pirymid and in the beautiful courtyards but then we journey back to Le Louvre’s garden, Le Jardin des Tuileries with a picnic (wine, cheese, fruit, macaroon, the like) and watch as the world journeys in and out of this little Parisian space. It is the Parisian way to enjoy this internationally known location.

4 – Bask in the light at Sainte-Chapelle

Sainte-Chapelle is one of the most breath taking spaces I have ever stepped into. The giant 15 stained glass windows depict over 1000 stories of the bible and completely surround you in color, light and a bit of magic. It is a space that is breath taking on a cloudy day, but on a sunny day, with light shining into the glass, you will be completely transported. I have yet to figure out a way to take a picture in this space that showcases its true beauty, but like most marvels, you have to see it to believe it.

5. Explore Rue Montorgueil street market

Rue Montorgueil is a mostly pedestrian street near my uncles home in Paris. This is not (yet) a huge tourist location, but it should be on every first timers list of must sees. This street is a pedestrian road that is home to fromageries (cheese shops), boucheries (meet shops), boulangeries, (bread shops), brasseries (resturants), and so much more. You can spend hours sauntering down this street in the 2nd arrondissement collecting supplies for a picnic, having a glass of wine or an espresso, or exploring the hip shops near by. It is an experience like non other and one of my favorite spots to spend time in Paris.

What to bring on this trip

Have you been to Paris? What did you do there? Where would you recommend a first time traveler go? How do you balance being a tourist with the local experience? Tell me in the comments below or share a story here.

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