Interactive Travel Guide – What to do in Paris

Sacre Coeur Basilica

I believe that we are bearing witness to a huge paradigm shift in travel planning and preparation. As social networks continue to grow and mature, they will replace many traditional information sources. In the spirit of this revolution, I want to introduce a new series on LandLopers – the Interactive Travel Guide. Every week I will pick one destination and highlight one activity, restaurant or experience in that travel spot. This is where you come in. I want you all to add your own favorite travel experience in the highlighted city so that hopefully we will have created a virtual travel guide based on the best recommendations from the web.

To kick off this social experiment, I want to start with my favorite city in the world, Paris.

There are many things I love to see and do in Paris, but my favorite is strolling around Montmartre.

Montmartre is a top tourist spot not only for its amazing and free (I’m looking at you Eiffel Tower) views of the city, but also for the spectacular Sacré-Coeur Basilica. To get up to the top of this neighborhood you can elect to walk the seemingly endless set of stairs or take the funicular. The funicular is actually part of the metro system, so if you have a day pass you can ride for free.

View of the Pantheon from Montmartre

Once at the top, head immediately for Sacré-Coeur, the alabaster white basilica atop this mighty hill. Directly in front of the church there are many great spots from which to gaze out on the city. After taking in the City of Lights in all its glory, head inside to tour the basilica.

There are a wide variety of food and snack options around Montmartre, but avoid the super touristy ones if you can. Instead, seek out a quiet café tucked down a side street as a place to enjoy a café and pastry. Montmartre is an eclectic place and has a long history of supporting artists and the somewhat less-than-savory elements of society. You can still find a vast array of promising artists displaying their wares in the neighborhood square, adjacent to many of the bars and cabarets that have called Montmartre home for much of its history.

Montmartre is a great place to spend an hour or two, or while away an entire afternoon. No matter how much time I have in Paris, I always visit this favorite neighborhood at least once.

NOW it’s your turn. Please comment and tell us your favorite thing to do, see or eat in Paris. If you haven’t been yet, please let us know what you would most like to do.

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and

14 Responses

  1. Spencer Spellman

    *Slow clap* Great idea Mr. Long. Travelers should do more of this. I’m finding more and more that I depend on other travelers recommendations more than guide books. I don’t depend solely, but it’s a good compliment. For example, I went to a burger place in Costa Rica the other night that Lonely Planet recommended and it was probably the worst burger I’ve ever had. I’m not even sure it was cow, but whatever.

    Anyways, I recommend doing an evening boat ride on the River Seine. It’s not too long, narrated and offers some great views, such as the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, that you wind get elsewhere. Similarly, Pont Neuf is really cool. It’s the oldest standing bridge on the river and has been in a ton of movies, like Bourne Identity.

    Also, I would consider a short jaunt to Versailles. It’s a short train ride and is just cool. The palace is just huge and is where the famous WW 2 Hall of Mirrors is.

    Reply
    • Cailin

      Spencer “I’m not even sure it was cow, but whatever” hahahaha

      I agree with Pont Neuf!! grab a cheap bottle of wine and a lovely bagget and at night time head to Pont Neuf for a picnic/drink under the stars! So many people fill that bridge and the area around Notre Dame at night time just to hang out, its a favorite thing of mine to do there.

      Reply
  2. Gray

    Yes, yes! I loved Montmartre! My contribution: Just walking along the Seine has to be one of the most pleasant ways to see Paris. You’ll see boats on the water, and bridges, and museums and monuments along the way. Very nice, especially if you enjoy walking.
    Spencer – Would you believe I just finished a blog post on Versailles I’m publishing on Friday? :-)

    Reply
  3. Cailin

    Aside from Pont Neuf I would also recommend going on a tour of the Catacombs in Paris! Under the streets of Paris are various tunnels created from the mining of stone used to build the buildings in the city, in the 1800′s Paris’s cemeteries were having massive over crowding issues so they began to fill the tunnels up with the bones of the dead and you can now tour these tunnels! Sounds somewhat grotesque but is pretty cool :) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catacombs_of_Paris

    Oh and aside from the Louvre definitely visit the George Pompidou Center which holds a large public library but more exciting is the National Museum of Art! That is where I saw my favorite photographers work for the first time in real life, it was very exciting :)

    Reply
    • Kayling05

      ah, I didn’t see your post! I also recommended the catacombs in my comment. Guess the people whose names are pronounced the same also think alike! ;)

      Reply
  4. Spencer Spellman

    I definitely agree about the Catacombs!!! But don’t try to take any bones out with you. It’s been tried before and you’ll get TSA’d.

    Reply
  5. Matt Long

    Great suggestions so far, thank you! I especially love the Catacombs idea, haven’t done that yet!

    Reply
  6. Andrew

    It’s not directly in Paris, but I really recommend the Cathedral of Chartres. The place was fantastic and there was an English (as in British, so English speaking from native speaker) tour guide that was hilarious to listen to. I usually don’t take such tours, but I did that one and am so happy I did.

    Reply
    • Cailin

      I’ve been to Chartres and I just loved it! :)

      Reply
  7. Kayling05

    One of my absolutely favorite places in Paris is the Jardin du Luxembourg. I don’t hear much about it in travel guides or from other travelers but I love it. This park houses a palace and some lovely gardens. (history buffs: Thomas Paine, one of the American founding fathers, was imprisoned in the palace once)
    I spent a good portion of Bastille Day with hundreds of other people relaxing in the park in the nice weather of July, eating ice cream and soaking up some rays.

    It’s near the border between arrondissements 5 (Latin Quarter) and 6, and a quick walk from the Pantheon.

    Another place I really enjoyed in Paris was the Catacombes. Housed in a disused quarry, thousands of skeletons from cemeteries around Paris were placed here in the 18th century to make room in the cemeteries for newer burials. Some people are weirded out, but as an anthropology student, I was fascinated by all the skeletons. It’s nearly a mile long, and quite a long distance below ground (130 steps down, 83 steps up according to the website), so it’s not for the light at heart or someone who will freak out in the middle of the journey due to claustrophobia, as you’re not allowed to go back the way you came. Tip: It’s chilly and damp all the time, so wear a jacket and non-slip shoes.

    Reply
  8. Robin @ My Melange

    Oh la la! Great idea – and right up my alley :)

    I’m with you Matt, Paris is one of my favorite places on earth. But I can’t pick just one favorite!

    A few great things have already been mentioned, but I’d like to add:

    1. Visiting the Place Dauphine and the wine bar Taverne Henri IV
    2. Musée Rodin
    3. Spending a day in the Marais, shopping, hitting the Place des Vosges, Place St. Catherine (and the little absinthe shop right off the square) and Paris’s history museum the Musée Carnavalet.
    4. Père LaChaise cemetery
    5. Picking up provisions at an outdoor food market (there’s one in every neighborhood) and having a picnic. Anywhere really.
    6. Eating famous Berthillon ice cream – my favs are Cassis and Salted Butter Caramel. Mmmmm.

    And I’d like to share a money-saving tip with your readers – if you’re considering a Seine boat ride, I prefer the Vedettes du Pont Neuf. They are smaller, depart from the city center and offer a discount on tickets if you book on-line. http://www.vedettesdupontneuf.com/

    You can find tons of other Paris info and recos here http://mymelange.net/mymelange/category/paris

    Hope that helps! :)

    Reply
  9. Globetrooper Lauren

    I have fond memories of devouring more than 1 dessert at L’adurée in Saint Germain… yummm!

    Reply
  10. TravelDesigned

    If you are taking the metro to the funicular up to Montmarte… and you see an elevator… TAKE IT… there were lots of people waiting to take the elevator so we took the stairs-BIG MISTAKE-BIG-HUGE!! LOL

    I can laugh about it now but I #@$% near died going up those steps, if it had not been for @CruiseBuzz I would still be there!

    Reply
  11. Cailin

    its true they will “tsa you!” they check your bag when you come out to make sure you didnt take any and they also have people down in the tunnels watching you. How creepy would it be to have that job!?!? I wonder if it pays well…. hmmmm haha

    Reply

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