The Eiffel Tower: Half an hour or 2 hours, depending on the queues
It’s the most iconic symbol in the French capital and certainly the one all the tourists want to see. Accessible from the Bir Hakeim metro station, the Eiffel tower is a fantastic example of engineering and offers some excellent views over the city. If it is a cloudy or rainy day it is probably not worth the queues to the top, so enjoy the might of the tower from below (it’s free!). Remember there are plenty of other places to get some excellent views over the city, so you don’t necessarily need to go to the top of the Eiffel tower. If you’re dead set on it however, you have 2 options – walk up (which is cheaper, less crowded but quite a hike) or take the lift. Make sure you’re doing this on a clear day to get the best of the views.
The Louvre: Half a Day (internal) or half an hour (external)
The Louvre not only houses the best art in one of the world’s biggest museums, the former fortress palace is a masterpiece in itself. The most visited art gallery on earth is housed here, and it is an excellent place for art buffs and those who only want to get a glimpse of the Mona Lisa and other famous pieces, as well as Egyptian art. If, like me, you aren’t that interested in art but want to take in the fantastic network of buildings that are the Louvre Palace without forking out for a ticket then simply take half an hour to walk around the buildings and marvel at the scale of the former fortress.
Notre Dame Cathedral - up to an hour
The beautiful Gothic era Notre Dame Cathedral is situated on the banks of the Seine on the edge of theLatin Quarterand offers a fantastic example of French gothic architecture. Entry is free and you can pay a little extra for a guided tour. Beautiful.
Sacre Coeur, Montmartre - up to an hour or a whole evening
Climbing the steps of the gorgeous Montmartre area can be a bit of a workout, but it is certainly worth it once you reach the top. The gorgeous Sacre Coeur basilica is in itself a major tourist attraction which should be explored in about half an hour, with free entry. Remember to take in the massive organ, the frescoes and the architecture of the building. But perhaps the best part of the Sacre Coeur is the fabulous view offered over the city from the highest point inParis, just outside the Basilica. If you’re coming for the evening, bring some food and a bottle of wine and watch the sun set amongst the crowds, some of whom will bring guitars and music and start a party on the steps.
Montmartre – one evening to hangout
Head up to Montmartre for the evening and enjoy the atmosphere, quaint shops and great architecture on the quaint cobbled streets of this historic neighborhood. If you are coming here to eat, stay away from the overpriced restaurants on the Place du Tertre and head down the hill to the main streets along Rue Lepic and around – here are plenty of little bistros which are favored by locals, gorgeous boutiques, flower shops and bakeries.
Montmartreis a great place to head for some chilled out nightlife, a meal amongst friends and a few glasses of wine in a bistro. For something a little edgier head down hill to Pigalle, home to the famous Moulin Rouge and a great place to take in a cabaret show with dinner. For some lively bar entertainment you should head to Rue Oberkampf where bar hopping is all the rage, whereas the Latin Quarter offer laid back nightlife amongst the students.
Famous for its designer boutiques, Paris does not lack plenty of shopping areas. Head to Rue de Faubourg St Honoré for the top designer stores and a shopping experience amongst Europe’s rich and famous. Boulevard Haussmann offers the great Galeries Lafayette (which also boasts some excellent views over the city from the top) and of course the Champs Elysées is full of designer and high street stores. The city also has some great markets, such as the Saint Ouen Flea market.