When you only have a few days in a city it’s important to know the best things to see and do to make sure you have a great time. My boyfriend and I drove to Paris for a short two-day mini-break and here are my absolute must do’s for a weekend in Paris.
Centre Georges Pompidou
The Pompidou is infamous for its architecture with hamster-like tunnels on its exterior but inside the well-known architecture, is a wonderful modern art gallery. It was beginning to rain whilst we were in Paris, so we decided to end our sightseeing early and seek an indoor activity. As were staying ten minutes away from the Pompidou Centre we decided to pay it a visit, not really expecting anything amazing. On arrival we thought the tickets cost, but to our surprise it was free for young people under the age of 25 which made for a bonus (there was an option to pay extra to see the visiting exhibitions). The art gallery itself exceeded my expectations with its displays of many of the modern classics, Picasso, Matisse and Ernst, just to name a few. Art galleries can often become a bit wearing, but I found this gallery perfect in size and the art colourful, fun and breath-taking.
The Caveau de la Huchette
Paris is famous for its history with jazz and swing music and I was desperate to experience authentic jazz in the city. After searching on TripAdvisor, I found the underground venue Caveau de la Huchette which people had claimed to be a great local spot for jazz. It was also one of the few jazz bars that didn’t have concerts on a Friday or Saturday night as we didn’t want to spend a lot, the entrance to the Caveau being only 10€ each for students, we decided to check it out. The music was absolutely incredible and the atmosphere even more so. Locals swing dancing started the night but quickly they pulled people who were watching from the edges to join their dances even with no experience. There wasn’t anyone in the room who looked bored and it was really nice to see people of all different ages and walks of life to come together. Everything was so authentic I felt as though I’d been transported back in time to the fifties. I’d recommend this place to anyone going to Paris even if you don’t like jazz, just to experience it.
“Make sure you go further afield to visit Sacre Coeur”
You don’t even have to do anything in Paris, walking around the beautiful architecture is enough. Whilst there’s the obvious ones to see such as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc De Triomphe, make sure you go further afield to visit Sacre Coeur for the beautiful church and view over the whole of Paris. We also stumbled upon the Pantheon area which was incredibly beautiful and wasn’t something we knew was an attraction, but I’d say was worth seeing. If you don’t want to walk a long way the Metro is incredibly useful, cheap and easy to use! If you’re used to the London tubes anyway then it’s a relatively simple process with Google Maps being able to tell you which lines you need to see different attractions.
Another hidden gem in Paris is the Tour Montparnasse, one of the tallest buildings with a viewing deck on the top. I wouldn’t have known about this if I hadn’t had met an Erasmus student from Paris who recommended it to me. It costs 15€ for students to go up to the viewing deck which is 210 meters in the air giving you a breath-taking view of Paris and the Eiffel Tower. The view is worth the money, although we had wanted to go at sunset for the best sight but as it was cloudy we decided to go once it was dark, so we could see the city lit up. Note: Make sure you time your trip at night so you’re at the top on the hour to see the Eiffel tower sparkle! You can buy tickets in advance but as we didn’t know what time we would be finished sightseeing we just turned up and paid on the door, we managed to get lucky and there was no queue but we also visited at a pretty off-peak time. If you know the time I’d say book in advance just in case.
“The atmosphere on the boat was lovely with candle-lit tables”
Calife Dinner Boat Cruise
There’s no better way to experience Paris than by night, and even better is by boat. We decided to board a restaurant boat, the Calife, for a romantic evening meal whilst cruising down the River Seine, and it was truly magical. The atmosphere on the boat was lovely with candle-lit tables and lanterns lighting the exterior. It wasn’t a cheap meal, but it was for an occasion and I’d recommend it for anyone wanting to celebrate anything special. The package we chose was a three-course meal including a glass of champagne for 67€, which including the cruise itself was actually very reasonable. The food itself, considering it was made fresh on board the boat, was really tasty.
All in all, it was a fantastic two days, the only thing I wish we could have seen were the famous Catacombs of Paris. We did try to visit but the queue was far too long, and we decided instead to do something else, but this resulted in our going to the Pompidou, so it worked out just fine. I could have probably stayed another day, but we managed to see almost everything and with Paris being so close, it’s a city I will definitely return to.
Images courtesy of Miriam Thompson