It is known as the city of love... but truth be told, Paris offers a highlight of history. We have been to Paris twice and yet, we still recommend visiting for at least 5 nights to really grasp the Parisian culture and lifestyle. However, past the romance, lights and history that Paris has to offer, it will cost you. So be sure to utilize not only your time but your money.
We recommend purchasing the 'Paris Museum Pass'. Beware of purchasing alternative passes that offer "special" deals because most of those passes end up costing you more and seeing less. The Paris Museum Pass allows you the choice of purchasing a 2, 4 or 6 day pass. When we visited for 5 nights, we decided to opt out for the 6 day pass to have the luxury of not worrying about missing something. The pass allows you to visit some of the following:
Arc de Triumph (as many times as you want without waiting in line. Be sure to visit in the daytime and at night!)
The Louvre Museum (without waiting in line)
Versailles Palace (although you will wait in line to get in due to high demands, you will bypass trying to buy a ticket that is more expensive at the sight and will only have to wait in one line to get in).
The Opera House
And so much more....trust us its worth it!! (check out full list on there website)
Arras makes a great day trip from Paris by train. The cost of traveling north for the day will cost you approx. 42 Euros. This charming town shares a mix between French and Belgium architecture. With all the delicious dessert shops, topped off with that perfect cup of coffee makes for a relaxing afternoon. But this small northern town is a special visit for Canadians. Just a short taxi ride away (25km) from the main town lies a WWI memorial known as Vimy Ridge.
The battle of Vimy Ridge is considered a landmark victory for Canadian history but also, a quick reminder of those who lost their lives. Even if you do not carry a Canadian passport, we would recommend to check it out. If you are interested please be aware that there are no public buses that go to this site. You will need to take a taxi that will cost you approx. 25 Euros (this is the fare price, do not pay any more). We recommend going with a group of four to cut down the cost of the taxi.
If you have never heard the saying "Nice is so Nice" then it is time for you to pack your bags and head straight to the French Riviera. Nice, the capital of the French Riviera provides the 'C'est la vie' culture. We enjoyed the vibrant local markets and restaurants. Several European artists come to Nice to showcase their art throughout the streets which makes for a perfect french souvenir.
But whether you head to either Cannes or Nice you will find the beautiful viewpoints of the Mediterranean sea. The beaches of Nice are very unique as small pebbles lie along the coastline. Don't worry though, the pebbles do not hurt and are actually quite comfortable. Trekking along the french countryside you may see yourself finding something farther than your average wine tour. In the Provence region hosts a long-time family business, the Fragonard Perfumery. Be sure to check out the world renowned perfumery (tours available!). The best part is that you can leave France with that perfect scent.
Another great pit-stop in your journey is getting a chance to see Pont-Du-Gard. This ancient roman aqueduct is a sight to see in person. After the roman empire collapsed, this aqueduct stayed intact due to the importance of water. It was also a toll bridge in ancient times. In 1985 it was added to the UNESCO world heritage site because of how important of a role it played in history.
If you have time, be sure to check out the city of Arles. Although we did not spend much time in this historic city, we do have to boast about the amazing baguette sandwiches. Seriously...this city has the best sandwiches ever!!! But the real beauty is the old roman architecture. Ancient Arles was preoccupied by the Romans. No matter where you walk in this city you will see the Roman influence it had once experienced. If you are a history fanatic, make this a two day pit stop.
Let's face it, when it comes to a travelers 'bucket list', the Eiffel Tower is in the top 20 things to see. But are we missing out on more? We realized that several people go straight for famous monumental city of Paris. But what about the rest of the country? France offers a variety of landscapes and adventures from visiting historical cities, to the calm country side and of course visiting the amazing French Riviera! When taking a look at this European country, we discovered a beautiful culture...so be sure to make time and stay a while.
Of course we recommend visiting the Eiffel Tower in all of its glory but be sure to purchase a cheap bottle of wine, grab some French cuisine take-out food and find a perfect spot in the park below the tower for the sparkling light show at night time (starts around 9pm/sunset time). The Tower will sparkle for the first 10 minutes of every hour at night time. While you spend your nights in Paris, we suggest you check out the lights from different areas of the city as it makes for beautiful photos!
Be sure to check out all the amazing churches and museums while in Paris. After all, Paris is known for its "one stop shop" for checking off several traveler landmarks including the Louvre, Arc De Triumph or Notre Dame.
Snails, frog legs anyone? If this doesn't spark your taste buds... you could always just stick to a traditional baguette. While in France be sure to try out some traditional french cuisine. In all seriousness though, try escargot...its delicious! And if you have a hard time getting rid of that garlic after taste just have a glass of some french red wine. Be sure to head to the country side for your pick of the amazing wineries available.
Just a short distance away from Paris lies the palace of Versailles. The royal chateau was home to the famous Marie Antoinette. Her husband French King Louis XVI built this extra large palace to show the wealth of the country. It is not a surprise that every detail inside and outside of the royal home be astonishing. Versailles is the perfect day trip outside of Paris and it should not be missed! Not only is the royal chateau amazing, the property grounds around the palace are just as beautiful. They do charge extra to visit the grounds outside of the palace (8 Euros), however, you can bypass the charge by heading through town to visit the public park areas.
Additionally, be sure to bring a small day bag filled with snacks and sandwiches. Versailles makes for a perfect picnic destination. If you do plan to visit the palace be sure to get there in the early morning, especially during high-season, as the line can take about two hours just to get in. Taking public transit is simple and much cheaper than a tour. Just ask your hostel or hotel how to get there via RER train lines.
There are three things to try in France: Love, History and Wine
We recommend heading to the south east side of France for some country style relaxation. The Beaujolais Region provides anyone with a selection of wine tours and/or winery picnics. This region is best known for its Gamay wine (purple-coloured). If you have the chance to stay in the old countryside town for the weekend, you will leave France as a wine expert.