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Experience Paris – Top 10 Things To Do

A street musician plays besides the Stravinsky fountain, Paris
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  A street musician plays besides the Stravinsky fountain, Paris

Even an entire year would probably not be enough to get to know Paris. That’s why we offer you 10 interesting activities, which will at least help you feel its spirit. These are especially useful for those who are about to visit this city for the first time. It’s impossible to see and experience everything on the very first visit, but by the time you tick off most of our recommended activities, you will certainly have formed your own opinion of this city.

1. Coffee and Croissants

The Le Consulat Restaurant in Montmartre, Paris
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  The Le Consulat Restaurant in Montmartre, Paris

Make a pledge and wake up extra early on at least one of the days of your visit, then go outside where the streets are still messy from the previous night’s celebration. Turn towards the oldest square in the city – the Place des Vosges. There you’ll find the small Hugo Café. Order some coffee and croissants, and observe the locals passing by. Eat breakfast or brunch in different parts of the city every day, for it’s the smell of coffee and croissants that will make you feel that you’re really in France.

2. Canal Saint-Martin

A pedestrian bridge over the Canal Saint-Martin, Paris
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  A pedestrian bridge over the Canal Saint-Martin, Paris

It’s a tiny canal near the Gard du Nord, especially beautiful in the autumn. Tasty wine, a bit of cheese and good company – the perfect combination to properly enjoy this rarely visited corner of Paris. It’s a favourite among young people, street musicians and poets. This place is simply perfect for eating brunch and quietly reading a book on the quay.

3. Museums

You may promise yourself that you’ll avoid museums on your first visit to Paris, but the Louvre is simply unavoidable. Designate one of your days as a ‘museum day’ and plunge into an adventure at the heart of Louvre’s art labyrinths. Paris is also home to less traditional museums, so finish your day in the slightly more playful advertising, erotica and fashion museums.

Well worth trying, for example, is the Museum of Magic (Musée de la magie). It is difficult to find a stranger place in the whole of France. From its very doorstep it transports its visitors to the magnificent world of mirrors, optical illusions and miraculous reincarnations. The museum is full of real miracle workers and 17th century magician attributes.

If you’re aged 18 to 25, you can visit most museums and other famous places of the city either for free or at a significant discount. Regular prices are usually between 7 and 12 Euros.

4. Unexpected Places

When in Paris, make sure to take plenty of walks. But instead of the tired old routes, choose lesser-known neighbourhoods – a local favourite is along the banks of the River Seine. Instead of going along the streets, cross them vertically and go through the passageways until you reach the garden gates of the little known Royal Palace (Palais Royal). After entering through the gates you’ll reach the gardens not as a tourist, but like a close friend of the Orlean family.

A restaurant waiter invites guests into the restaurant in Montmartre, Paris
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  A restaurant waiter invites guests into the restaurant in Montmartre, Paris

Make sure to visit the Montmartre neighbourhood. Every year it produces not just myriads of works of art, but also around a thousand bottles of wine. Although the mini plantation is not open to the public, it can be seen through the fence.

5. Moulin Rouge

The Cabaret Moulin Rouge, Paris
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  The Cabaret Moulin Rouge, Paris

No evening program is complete without a visit to one of the cabarets – Lido, the Crazy Horse or the Moulin Rouge. Regardless of which one you choose, rest assured you’re bound for an impressive and colourful show of music and dance. But don’t forget that most of the city’s cabarets are tourist-oriented, which drives up the prices and makes for an environment which is more international than French. So, if you want to have fun with real Parisians, we recommend you visit small bars and clubs, hidden just outside the tourist centre.

6. Dinner in Complete Darkness

In 2004, an unusual restaurant called Dans le Noir opened its doors in Paris. All of the staff members are blind. Restaurant guests dine in total darkness without knowing the menu in advance. On the one hand, that puts one in the shoes of the blind, and, on the other hand, lets you enjoy food solely through its taste and smell. Since it became immensely popular, many entrepreneurs began to imitate the idea in other countries, however Dans le Noir is the first restaurant of its kind

7. Museum of Modern Art - Pompidou

The Stravinsky Fountain, located near the Pompidou Centre in Paris
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  The Stravinsky Fountain, located near the Pompidou Centre in Paris

Take the glass elevator to the very top of the Museum of Modern Art (Centre Georges Pompidou) and marvel at the magnificent city panorama from its 6th floor viewpoint. Then slowly walk down examining the exhibitions. Stop at the dance floor and become part of the amazed crowd watching a performance of sword swallowers. Rest up by the Stravinsky Fountain and visit another wonderful example of modern art in itself – the Beaubourg Café.

People hold The Centre Georges Pompidou, situated in the Beaubourg neighbourhood, to be the centre of Paris’s cultural life.. It was designed by architects Ricardo Rogers and Renzo Piano and built in 1977. It’s also home to a public library and the Institute for Acoustic Research.

8. The Père Lachaise cemetery

The Pere-Lachaise cemetery, Paris
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  The Pere-Lachaise cemetery, Paris

Even if you’re not particularly enthusiastic about cemeteries, you should come to the, as they say in French, Cimetière du Père-Lachaise and visit the final resting places of many both French and world-famous people. Here you can pay your respects to Jim Morrison, Maria Callas, Oscar Wilde, Édith Piaf, Frédéric Chopin and many more. Just don’t forget to buy a map – you will certainly need it.

The cemetery, officially opened in 1804, is located on one of the seven hills of Paris – the Champ-l'Evêque hill, which is nicknamed the Mountain of Grapes. At first, due to being too far from the city limits, it was relatively empty; today more than one million people are buried here.

9. The Flower Market (Marché aux Fleurs)

The Flower Market has been sitting near the Gothic cathedral of Sainte-Chapelle (Île de la Cité) since the year 1808. Its metal pavilions are full of decorative bushes, trees in pots, flowers, cacti, Paris postcards, luxurious lavender soap, and flower gardening accessories like duck-shaped watering cans and other animal statuettes.

Walking in this market you are sure to meet elegant local people picking bouquets for their beloved, vivacious old ladies selling live hens and roosters, and extravagant young artists, making their paintings and postcards on the spot. If you’re looking for original presents, look no further.

10. The Museum of Science and Industry (Cite des Sciences et de L’lndustrie)

Cite des Sciences et de L’lndustrie is often titled the best science museum in the world. Due to its many interactive displays and scientific experiments, this museum is especially loved by children, but it is no less enjoyable for adults. You will find it near the Parc de la Villette.

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