There are a lot of wonderful cliche things I did in Paris- the Lourve, the Eiffel Tower, etc.- but my favorite were the most underrated. So here are 5 things the ordinary tourist doesn’t do and I highly recommend.
You can also check out my video of my European adventures to Paris, London, and Amsterdam! Jordin’s Europe Adventure 2016
- Take a cooking class!! I went to one called Cook’n With Class and it was the best time we had while we were in Paris. The instructors all speak fantastic English and you have a whole host of opportunities including: macaroon classes, French bread making, wine and cheese tasting, and market tours. My family did a market tour so we, with another family, designed a menu and then we got to go to all of the local markets to buy fresh bread, fish, cheese, and everything else we needed for the meal. Then our instructor helped us cook a traditional French meal with a wine and cheese tasting in the middle. It was simply to die for and would 100% do it again.
Here is my family cooking together in matching aprons, please excuse the fact that I look like garbage and admire the fish I gutted.
- Ballet at the Royal Paris Opera House! I drank champagne and saw Giselle at the Royal Paris Opera House, and I am pretty sure it was the most cultured I will ever feel in my life. It is about $12 to tour the Opera house- which is beautiful and contains a lot of art and history- but $15 to see a show and tour it during the intermission. Just pay the $3 extra to have something to brag about later. Granted we had TERRIBLE seats because it was the only ones we could get, but it was honestly so worth it. The Opera House is a thing of beauty commissioned by King Louis XIV, but the ballerinas doing one of the most famous ballets was the most breathtaking thing I’ve ever seen.
- Versailles! While we are on the topic of King Louis XIV, we might as well talk about his amazing palace. We took a bus tour out there to save money and we had a great time, but they kept us on a tight schedule. It was also windy, raining, and 50 degrees so not a super pleasant day to tour the gardens but they were still spectacular. However, if you can, I recommend ditching a picnic at the Eiffel tower (very cliche in my opinion) and having a picnic in the gardens of Versailles. There is a restaurant inside where you can get a lunch to eat out on the garden. I don’t think you can bring food inside the gates, but the town is very picturesque and also a fantastic place to spend a sunny afternoon!
- Shakespeare and Company Bookstore. I probably could have spent days inside here. It was the cutest little bookstore and most of the titles are in English. If you’re a bibliophile like myself, you’ll really enjoy it because its mostly European literature translated into English, and their writing style is somewhat different than American fiction. Also, if you end up taking day trips, you’ll want good books to read or just while waiting in long lines at all the tourist attractions. It is a short walk just behind Notre Dame along the Siene in a very quaint neighborhood that is less populus than other parts of Paris, so it makes for a very laid back afternoon.
I didn’t end up taking any pictures of Shakespeare and Company, but I was busy reading…
- Climb Notre Dame and see Saint Chappell. This last one may be a tad cliche but I think it was well worth it. The wait was shorter than it was at the Eiffel Tower or the Arch de Triomphe, and cheaper. It also is less crowded and has unparalleled views of the city. We did have to wait about an hour to climb, but that is still shorter than most other places. You also climb a legitimate turret so how can you beat that? Most people see the inside, but I really feel like climbing it is a unique experience. Sainte Chappell is maybe a 10 minute walk down the Siene and is stunning. It is a very small church, and its hidden in a fort so you might miss it, but it is stained glass on three sides and is a quintessential Parisian Catholic Church.
The first two pictures are of Sainte Chappell and the other is the view from Notre Dame.
Bonus: If you’re really into churches, make sure to see Monte Mare. It was easily my favorite of the 3 churches, but very touristy. The area around Monte Mare is also very fun with lots of boutiques and not for from Moulin Rouge.