Paris is without a doubt one of the most iconic cities in the entire world and, therefore, is also a must visit on your study abroad agenda. Once there, you’ll feel as if you could sip espresso outside of a Parisian café for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t that lucky, so here’s a brief guide on how to make the most of a weekend in the city of love.
To Get Inspired
Watch: Midnight in Paris.
Listen to: Edith Piaf, Carla Bruni and Louis Armstrong’s, “La Vie en Rose.”
This really only applies if you’re living in London, but definitely take the Eurostar train from London to Paris. Tickets cost as low as £29, but even if they’re more than a plane ticket, remember that the cost of transportation to and from the airport adds up quickly (the cost of the train from London to Stansted Airport is £18 each way). Flying also takes up more time in general than the train between needing to arrive early, going through security and getting from the airport to your destination. With the Eurostar, it’s a quick 2.5 hour ride and then you’re dropped off right in the center of Paris.
I used AirBnB, a popular online home/apartment rental website, again for this trip and had another great experience. In Paris, location is everything. Try to stay in a central location so that you can walk everywhere rather than use the metro. Walking allows for you to really see the city and get to know it. I stayed near Saint-Germain-des-Près; it was a perfect place to have our home base.
Almost every corner in Paris has a classic French café with outdoor seating that is perfect for people watching. You really can’t go wrong here, whether you’re looking for the perfect French onion soup or an omelette and espresso to start your day. Go to Les Deux Magots or Café de Flore to dine at two of Paris’ most famous and expensive cafés. One of my personal favorites is Danton near Odéon — order an omelette fromage and café créme. Other can’t miss Parisian foods include: Ladurée macarons, crèpes from any shop and ice cream at the Eiffel Tower — the strawberry and vanilla swirl was seriously the best ice cream I’ve ever had.
Paris has so many iconic monuments that you almost don’t need to research things to do. Aside from all of the obvious choices, here are some of my own favorite highlights from my trip:
- The Eiffel Tower — Go at night (the tower ‘sparkles’ every hour) and during the day.
- The Louvre — Walk through Jardin des Tuileries to Musée de L’Organgerie to see the breathtaking panoramic Monet paintings.
- Notre-Dame and Sainte-Chappelle — Make sure to go inside.
- Shakespeare and Company — Browse through this famous book shop and get a latté at the Shakespeare and Co. Café next door.
- Palace of Versailles — A full day trip, but definitely worth it. Make sure to take time wandering through the incredible gardens.
- Jardin du Luxembourg — The perfect spot to relax and people watch while eating a croissant or two.
There is so much to see in Paris that you’ll want to cram in as much as possible. My biggest piece of advice — don’t. The magic and beauty of Paris is within getting to know the city itself. Take time to linger at a café, walk along the Seine and relax in a park. You can’t see everything in one weekend, so don’t drive yourself mad by trying to. Take it in and just be — that’s how to truly discover Paris. La vie est vraiment belle.