You are currently viewing An Insider’s Handbook To The Most Legendary Sites In Paris
Finding the coolest, off-the-beaten-path venues in a new city is always a blast. Still, we also like taking the role of the curious visitor. The awe you receive the first time you visit a location is unparalleled. We might argue that no city in the world provokes that degree of enthusiasm more than Paris. The City of Light has been enchanting visitors for years due to its abundance of famous landmarks, most of which are, regrettably, also visited by hordes of other tourists. With that in mind, here’s how to tackle everything on your list.

1. The Louvre

The Louvre, Paris, France

Having patience and wits about you is necessary while checking out the world’s busiest museum. If you want to be as prepared as possible, you should definitely shell out the extra two euros for timed tickets in advance.

Step two: bypass the glass pyramid entry (and its vast lines of non-ticket holders) for the Ports de Lions or Carrousel du Louvre entrances, where security waits are almost non-existent. We recommend going on a Wednesday or Friday night between 6 and 9:45 p.m. if you’re okay with viewing just a fraction of the museum (you couldn’t see it all in one day if you tried). The crowds will be substantially lower in the evenings. If you’re under 26, you may visit the Louvre for free on Fridays after 6. If you want to do it like Beyoncé and Jay Z and have the house to yourself, you can book a private tour with the Parisian business Family Twist for 90 minutes. The price tag is relatively low at about $34,000.

2. Champs-Elysees

Champs-Elysees, Paris, France

Ah, the world’s most beautiful avenue. In addition to being the location of famed French fashion houses like Longchamp and the Louis Vuitton flagship store, the tree-lined Avenue des Champs-Élysées (known as “Les Champs” by Parisians) is a popular meeting spot for national celebrations and holiday festivities. Tourists often associate Les Champs with shopping, but this area offers much more. In fact, the section between the Rond-Point and the Place de la Concorde contains no stores at all—just lush gardens, chestnut trees, and a few pavilions.

Some of the cinemas on the avenue, such as the UGC Normandie, UGC George V, and Gaumont Champs-Élysées, date back to the 1930s and are worth seeing for any cinephile. There are also numerous Michelin-starred restaurants, including Ledoyen, Le Laurent, and the famed brasserie Fouquet’s. Lido puts up a glitzy cabaret act for those who can’t make it to the real Moulin Rouge. For a unique keepsake, visit the Marché aux Timbres, a vintage stamps and postcard market outside the Théâtre de Marigny every Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.

3. The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Paris’s most popular tourist site is as renowned for its epic admission lineups as it is for its spectacular vistas. Booking tickets up to two months in advance on the official Eiffel Tower website is recommended for first-timers who want to take pictures from the top of the landmark. The only spot to glimpse Gustave Eiffel’s hidden residence is from the tower’s top. Tickets sell out rapidly, but if you check dates periodically, you may be able to snag a spot that opens at the last minute. You may also avoid the wait by making a reservation at one of the tower’s two restaurants (but you won’t be able to reach the observation deck from there). The ground floor’s 58 Tour Eiffel is a casual brasserie offering sophisticated picnic lunches and a more formal evening service. In contrast, the upper floor’s Le Jules Verne is the pricier alternative with a corresponding dress requirement.

4. Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge, Paris, France

French cabaret? Yes, please. The legendary Moulin Rouge provides two performance seatings (9 p.m. and 11 p.m.) with the opportunity to have supper before 7 p.m., which frequently needs reservations in advance.

However, others comment that the dinner might leave much to be desired. Instead, we suggest bypassing eating supper on the grounds and booking an early appointment at Le Potager du Père Thierry, a hole-in-the-wall treasure within a 10-minute walk from the theater. Small, it may be, but the cuisine is outstanding; standouts include the foie gras with egg cocotte and duck breast with raspberry sauce. Be sure to hurry back to the theater at least half an hour before showtime to obtain a decent seat. It’s first come, first served, and if you remember one thing, let it be this: do not chance to snap a picture or video during the show. Not only will employees escort you out, but they’ll remove your images too. Planning your trip to coincide with the Moulin Rouge’s birthday celebration in October might make for a memorable experience.

5. Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur Basilica, Paris, France

Most people who intend to visit Sacré-Coeur have in mind a leisurely lunch on the verdant (and frequently busy) grounds leading up to the Montmartre hilltop. However, if you’re prepared to be flexible and rise early, there is a better way to spend your time there. Every day at 6 a.m., the doors of the Basilica open, making it possible, depending on the season, to take breathtaking photographs of the sun rising over Paris.

Just be sure (and yes, this has to be stated) to enter the church. Despite the ban on photography, entering the holy site is an experience not to be missed. For a nominal cost (entry is outside the Basilica), visitors may reach the dome and enjoy even more picture opportunities. Visit the Basilica via the twisting lanes of Montmartre rather than the main stairs in the afternoon to escape the throng. To get to the rear of the Basilica from the Lamark-Caulaincourt metro stop, you need to cross Rue Caulaincourt, follow Rue Saint Vincent via the Montmartre vineyard, and then ascend the majestic steps of Rue du Mont Cenis.

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