Updated: Apr 30, 2022
So, what more can we say about Paris that hasn't already been said. Like Rick Steves - his Paris videos are some of the best out there and we encourage people to check out his videos and site here. However, when you are travelling with a bit of a budget and haven't yet gotten to being a travel writer who can get compt'd tickets to the Louvre and the like, this blog might be for you. Like most people Paris conjures up images of romantic scenes from movies one might have seen like 'An American in Paris' with Gene Kelly, 'Funny Face' with Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn, or more recent fare like 'Amelie' and 'Mission Impossible: Fallout' (it really has great Paris scenery among the flying bullets). We knew that missing museums like the Louvre or Musée d'Orsay would be somewhat unforgivable, and unfortunately we didn't make it in to either for two reasons. One, you really do have to book ahead if you don't want to wait 4 hours in a lineup (not exaggerating). And two - well, really it was just poor planning. The Musee d'Orsay is 16,00 Euro per person, which is really reasonable, and the Louvre is 17,00 Euro per person. Really, the price is cheap considering it can literally take days to cover the Louvre on a superficial level, and the Musee d'Orsay would be a full day or two to see it properly. So, the price is not steep given what you get. That said, we didn't get in to either. However, a nice surprise is that the city of Paris itself is a museum. That's right - the whole city is a museum with cathedrals like Notre Dame that is 1000 years old at this point; The Ve arrondissement is the oldest neighbourhood in Paris dating back to the 1st century - built by the Romans. Many of the original structures are no longer here, but you can see where some of the original stonework remains. The Marais neighbourhood is another such area with centuries of history as well as the Centre Pompidou - a modern art gallery that doesn't quite fit in, though their collection is amazing and eclectic.
Here is a twist you may not have heard about Paris - if you are on a budget, it is actually an affordable city to visit if you treat the city itself as the museum it is. Once you are there and have a place to stay it doesn't cost a thing to see all the attractions because they are all around you. The Eiffel Tower was another situation where we really needed to purchase tickets ahead of time as the lineup was quoted to be 4 hours long. But, it is so cool standing underneath the Eiffel Tower and looking up at the latticework of iron. Going up top would have been super cool - don't get me wrong, but barring that it is amazing just being at the Eiffel Tower. Also amazing walking around, and inside Notre Dame. You do have to purchase a ticket, but it was quite reasonable - around 0.00 euro - that's right; no cost to enter the Cathedral. There is a place for donations and we did just that, but it is not required. Just be courteous as it is a working church. Also, the fire that took out the central steeple in 2018 may make the experience a little different for a few more years. Our video of Paris is available to check out here . Part 2 is here.
Charles De Gaulle Airport is really cool - right out of the 'Jetsons' cartoon from the 1960s. It is a little confusing though and we had a difficult time getting out of the building. It isn't readily apparent how to exit the place. But, really neat.
Charles De Gaulle Airport - moving walkways through the glass tubes.
Our first night out and we see this - iconic. And free to see.
There are two 'La Scala' restaurants - one is really expensive and the other one isn't. This is the other one, and it was really good.
The Batobus is a great way to travel around Paris - like a 'hop-on-hop-off' bus, but on the water. Wear a hat - in the summer it is really hot. We were here in August and it was easily 40 Celsius.
Paris neighbourhoods from the Batobus - you get to tour the museum from the River Seine.
The Musee d'Orsay - it takes up a whole city block; maybe two. Massive buildings from a time when they could make massive buildings like this. The Louvre is even bigger.
Checking out the Eiffel Tower - we didn't book ahead, so we didn't get to go up, but the tower itself is amazing, even from the ground looking up.
The French really do know how to make pastries. Not too sweet, and fresh ingredients. I really wish North America could take a page (or twelve) from Europe.
Notre Dame Cathedral - cost to go in.....0,00 Euro.
Inside Notre Dame Cathedral - it is a working church and there is a mass happening when we were there. Take your hat off, and be quiet - it is still a place of worship and meditation for some people.
Gotta' love the depictions from 1000 years ago. I guess this is what those idiots who get elected want to return to when talking about "Make (put country's name here) great again".
Nothing like Steampunk to brighten a day. Reminds me of the movie, "Hugo" that was filmed here by Martin Scorsese and had a Steampunk vibe.
Paris' metro system is one of the best in the world. It is massive and you can literally get anywhere on the metro. One of the stops even had chandelier type lighting. So cool.
Now, Paris is a place we went with friends, and they booked our accommodation, which did turn out to be pretty cool. It was an apartment in a 17th century walk-up with winding staircases and very old, very narrow, doorways. The downside of this was it was an Air BnB, which we don't endorse and don't stay at as something we book ourselves. There was nothing wrong with the apartment, and in fact it was really unique and contributed to the experience. Air BnB is responsible for rents being unaffordable in major cities around the world - pricing local people who make lower wages out of the cities they were born and raised in. There is a good report from the BBC here, and a couple of news reports worth checking out here, here, and here. While the apartment was great, we don't want to contribute to the housing affordability crisis for local people in the cities we visit. So, we stay at hostels, which we vastly prefer anyway. Check out our Hostel blog for more on that.
View from the Centre Pompidou
Rick Steves recommends 'Cafe Du Marche' in his Paris travel book, and for good reason. This was one of our favourite meals in Paris, and one of the most affordable. Staff here are really friendly and very efficient. Also, pretty good vegetarian options available here.