“Paris is always a good idea.”
Paris: the city of love!
Before I went to Paris, plenty of people told me that I shouldn’t expect much. It’s dirty, crowded, and overrrated. I was told to skip it and head south.
So, having never been to France, I took their advice. My travel buddy and I only planned five days in Paris, after which we headed down south for over three weeks.
Everyone lies! Haha! Paris was simply amazing. Of all the European cities I’ve been to, Paris is my number one favorite.
Yes, it’s dirty. Yes, it’s crowded. And yes, the Mona Lisa is a lot smaller than you’d expect! But let me tell you – there is a certain charm to Paris that can’t be described. It really feels like magic.
We loved it so much, we went back at the end of our trip, for three extra days.
Here’s a little tourist info for you! Seriously, if you’re considering visiting Paris, just do it. Plan it out, make it happen! It’s worth it!
Here are my personal favorite things to do in Paris:
Le Pont des Arts on the Seine – This bridge, crossing the Seine, is absolutely covered in padlocks! The locks represent a relationship, and usually have names or initials etched onto the front. It’s beautiful to see a bridge covered in little tokens of love. It’s a great spot for overlooking the beautiful Seine! Bring a padlock and lock up your love in Paris. How romantic. 🙂
The Louvre – So much artwork, so much history. It’s just a crazy experience! It’s definitely one of those places that tourists already plan to visit, but make sure you get there with plenty of time to soak it all in. Fun fact: admission to the Louvre is free on the first Sunday of the month!
The Sacré-Coeur – This church, looming over the streets of Montmartre, is glorious. The view from the steps is amazing–it feels like you can see for thousands of miles. This was also my favorite church, hands-down, that we visited in Europe (yes, that means quite a lot). Indescribable, you just have to see it. I suspect it was also an amazing experience because it’s the only church I’ve been in that’s full of people, and completely silent. Eerie and beautiful.
Bastille farmer’s market – Every Sunday, the funky-cool neighborhood of Bastille has a giant farmer’s market. A vegan’s delight! It’s mostly food, but there’s some crafty things, too. It’s fun for those who are trying to improve their French, and it’s a great way to pick out some perfect produce! You can also get great souvenirs and gifts here.
The Eiffel Tower – You GOTTA do it! Bring a bottle of wine, sit in the grass of the Champ de Mars, and just stare at that giant hunk of metal. It really is strangely beautiful. Then, as the sun starts to set, walk to the lookout point. It’s cheaper to walk than to take a lift (5 euros instead of 9 euros) and you’ll feel awesome about yourself afterwards. Night views from the tower are gorgeous. The tower also twinkles for 5 minutes, every hour on the hour. It’s a wonderful experience to be surrounded by the city lights and the lights of the Eiffel Tower.
Cemeteries – Speaking of parks…my favorite green spots in Paris are cemeteries. My personal favorite is the Montmartre cemetery, but the Père Lachaise is also divine. Parisian cemeteries are full of history, and the tombs and gravestones are fantastic works of art. Some might think it’s creepy to hang out in a graveyard, but I personally find them beautiful; it’s basically an outdoor space commemorating the lives of loved ones.
Picnics in parks – Especially as a vegan, it’s much easier to just picnic throughout Paris. French food is typically not vegan-friendly (croissants! escargot! brie!) and restaurants are not usually willing to make things that aren’t specifically on the menu. Try fresh produce, vegan-friendly french bread (most baguettes are safe unless they’re brushed with egg whites), and a jar of apricot jam! So tasty, so easy to take to a park.
If you want a sit-down experience (or really must have some vegan protein, stat), there are some vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Paris.
Au Grain de Folie: 24 rue la Vieuville 75018 Paris (Montmartre). A homey vegetarian restaurant close to the Sacre Coeur with healthy, wholesome bowls and quirky atmosphere.
Le Grenier de Notre Dame: 18 rue de la bucherie, 75005 Paris. The very first vegetarian and macrobiotic restaurant in Paris–get a zen meal of steamed veggies, tofu, or seitan, and vegan fruit pie of the day. (Yes! Vegan pastry in Paris–oh la la!)
Paris is just a great place to explore for yourself. My favorite neighborhoods for boutiques and cafes were Bastille and Montmartre, so that’s where I found myself most frequently. Remember, Paris is always a good idea!
Also by Abbie: Vegan Beer Bread Recipe
Photo: Abbie Zulock; DG Jones; Le Grenier de Notre Dame