I’m off to Paris before month’s end. This trip is a special graduation gift for my stepdaughter, Tori.
When she was in middle school, she chose to take French. Her dad and I wanted to encourage her to stick with learning a second language – I sure wish I would have – so we made a deal with her:
If she continued studying French throughout high school, we would take her to Paris her senior year.
Tori never forgot our agreement and took French every year and now, after five years, has quite a good grasp of the language.
She has been asking lots of questions about what we will do on our trip. Since this will be our fourth time to Paris in five years, my husband and I have accumulated a long list of our favorite things to see, eat, drink and do that don’t leave us broke. We are thrilled to experience them with Tori.
This list is partly for her, but also to share with readers who may be heading to The City of Light in the future.
Here are the top “15 Fun Things to Do in Paris” that just happen to be on a budget at about 20 € or less:
1) Buy Mailles mustard crocks at their shop on the Rue de Madeline. Have them filled with your favorite mustard on tap, then bring the crocks back for refills each time you visit Paris!
2) Visit Versailles for the day. It’s easy to get to by RER train – about an hour with no transfers. Bring your camera, some great walking shoes and enjoy the grounds. We liked seeing the interior of the buildings but spent most of our time outdoors. Do not miss Hameau de la Reine, the Queen’s Hamlet. It’s adorable. I would happily live there as a cow milker or mill worker if that were an option.
3) Take a ride on a Bateaux Mouche. Get a different perspective of landmarks and a better lay of the land on a river boat as well as some great photos. Rides are only about €10.
4) Stroll through an outdoor food market. You won’t believe how beautiful and fresh the food is.
5) Go to the top of Arc de Triomphe. The staircase is winding and small but it’s worth the climb to the top to see the excellent view of Paris.
6) Get a shwarma at L’As Du Fallafel, enjoy as much chocolate mousse as you like at Chez Janou (both located in the Marais), or have a Croque Monsieur outdoors at one of the cafes in the Tuileries.
7) Stop into a high end shop on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and browse. This flagship Louis Vuitton store is enormous. Visit the top floor to see the €30,000+ bags on display under glass. They make the €1800 bags on the first floor seem like a bargain…for a brief moment!
8) Stand under the Tour de Eiffel at night, look up and snap a photo.
9) Visit Père Lachaise Cemetery. It’s not creepy – at least not to me – and rather very beautiful and historic.
10) Enjoy a banana and Nutella crepe for a snack or dessert. If you like a little something extra with your crepe, ask for a couple sloshes of Grand Marnier.
11) Wander through the magical Jardin du Luxembourg while snacking on freshly roasted chestnuts you bought from a street vendor.
13) Try some Parisian sweets. Although I love gazing at all the colorful macarons, they are too sweet for my palate. I prefer a tarte au citron…or two.
14) While it’s a must to see the Musée du Louvre, Notre Dame, and Musée d’Orsay while you’re in Paris, it’s also fun to see smaller, less crowded sites. Spend some time at Musée Rodin, Carnavalet, Sainte-Chapelle, and Conciergerie, just to name a few. Buy a Paris Museum Pass before you see the sights to save lots of money on entrance fees.
15) Have a picnic on the banks of the Seine. We like to buy a bottle of French wine, a baguette, an apple, some salami and brie and sit on the wall at the end of the Île de la Cité. Be sure to pack a couple of plastic wine glasses, an opener and a Swiss Army knife in your luggage so you can be well prepared for your romantic picnic.