I’m going to be totally honest and say that we didn’t do much research on what we wanted to do in Paris. We tacked on a 3 day trip to Paris because we needed to go through a major airport on the way back and figured it would be a great way to spend our last few days on vacation. Between the food and culture, we were hoping that our days would be filled up with stuff to do.
I’m happy to report that not prepping for Paris didn’t turn out to be a disaster. We quickly learned a few French phrases and with lots of smiles and apologies for our mangled French, we were able to order food, pay admissions and enjoy our time in the City of Lights.
On our very first day in Paris underneath some gorgeous weather, I decided that I was NOT going to stand in lines. The lines for the Eiffel Tower were 2-3 hours and every major place we went there were SO many people just WAITING around to enter establishments. Not quite what I wanted to do for my first visit to Paris. We decided to ditch the touristy spots and did our own exploring on foot. Exploring let to some wonderful experiences, and here is my list for 5 things to do in Paris for first timers!
1. Musee Rodin
We did this museum on our first full day in Paris, early enough so that there were no lines. Musee Rodin was probably my favorite place of the entire trip. The sculptures were gorgeous in person and the weather was overcast but not cold so we spent the majority of time outside. We strolled the gardens and were able to read all the plaques without being crowded. I should also say that the food in the cafeteria was AMAZING. We ate pastries tea and coffee in the garden and it was just perfect.
2. Picnic in the Jardin Luxembourg
We started off eating at sidewalk cafes but soon realized that making our own picnic and heading toward the local parks was the best bet for us. We purchased soft cheeses and meats at the Monoprix and grabbed fresh baguette bread at places like Eric Kayser and Poilane. Our favorite place to relax and eat was the Luxembourg Garden where we watched people play tennis and chess. I loved that the Parisien gardens had tables and garden loungers out for people to utilize. There was such a strong relaxation vibe at every outdoor spot we went to.
3. Exploring Le Marais and the 7th Arrondissement
We had the best experiences just exploring the neighborhoods of Le Marais and the 7th Arrondissement. Our hotel was in the 7th and just outside there was an avenue that had a huge farmers market and other activities each day. A marionette tent set up outside of our hotel one day and a ton of local children came to see the show. We also found a patisserie that was a half block away from our hotel that we ate at every single day. They had the best flaky pastries and tarts, plus we grabbed baguettes to make a picnic out of.
4. Bateaux Parisiens
For about 40 Euros, we took the Bateaux boat ride along the Seine. The entire day the boats were crowded so we decided to take one at dusk and the boat was half full. It was a wonderful way to see city landmarks and also to get a close up of the bridge architecture-the photo above is of the Pont Alexandre. Remember to bring a sweater, it gets cold on the water!
5. Shopping the Monoprix
The Monoprix is Paris’s version of Target but much better. We found the most adorable children’s clothing, delicious food and anything we needed at this store. I came back to the hotel almost every day with a full Baggu tote filled to the brim with gifts, beauty items and stuff for the kids.
If you’ve been to Paris, what are your favorite places to explore? Do you avoid 3-hour lines in Paris like the plague?