The iconic city of Paris attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The city is not cheap, however, and those looking to see the sights on a shoestring can sometimes be put off from staying too long due to the high price of entry into the museums and galleries and the prohibitive cost of eating out. Nonetheless, with a bit of investigation, the curious traveler will be able to find something suit them no matter their budget. Visiting the City of Lights is likely to become much more straightforward with the introduction of the new ETIAS visa waiver scheme for U.S. citizens in the next few years. Once you have sorted out the necessary paperwork, the following list of things located slightly off the beaten track will help you to make your trip one that lives long in the memory.
1.Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen
Covering seven hectares and home to 14 different covered and open-air markets, the bustling St-Ouen Flea Market is a fascinating glimpse into Parisian life. The market is the largest antique market in the world, attracting anywhere between 120,000 and 180,000 visitors each weekend. For the full experience, it is highly recommendable to visit the market on either Saturday or Sunday if you want to catch the market at its magnificently busy best.
2.Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris
Adorned with squadrons of gargoyles, sculptures and stained glass windows, Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the finest examples of the Gothic style of architecture anywhere in the world. The cathedral is a must for any visitor to Paris. Although the structure came very close to being completely destroyed in a devastating fire in 2019, impressive views of the cathedral can still be obtained from a leisurely walk along the banks of the Seine. The building is currently undergoing significant restoration work, but its charred interior is a haunting reminder of the impermanence of this world.
3.Basilique du Sacré-Coeur
Set at the highest point in the whole of Paris, the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur was built in the nineteenth century by the French government to commemorate the loss of France in the Franco-Prussian war. The dazzling white domes and lush surrounding gardens make a fine day trip perfect for a warm summer’s day. The awe-inspiring complex offers some wonderful views across the city, which is one of the reasons why the basilica is the second most-visited tourist site in Paris.
Paris has long been famed for its cuisine, and there is no better place at which to sample its delectable delights than at this atmospheric covered market. Located in the city’s traditional 12th arrondissement near the Bastille, the market includes sections dedicated to all manner of cheese, herbs, spices and other fresh produce. As you wander around the market’s narrow alleys, your senses will be assaulted by an infinite number of fresh and exotic aromas. The perfect place to find an authentic Parisian café to sit outside and watch the life of the city pass you by.
5.Parc du Champ de Mars
If the elevator ride to the summit of the Eiffel Tower lies outside your budget, there is another way to experience the majesty of Paris’s best-known landmark. Just a stone’s through from the tower is the Parc du Champ de Mars. From this large public green space, you can take some incredible photos of the monument with the park’s perfectly manicured flower beds and lawns in the foreground. There is nothing better to do on a warm day than to pick up a picnic on the way through a market to eat against the backdrop of the tower.
6.Arènes de Lutèce
Dating back to the first century, the amphitheater at Arènes de Lutèce is one of the most important Roman ruins anywhere in France. Incredibly, the structure used to regularly seat 15,000 people who came to watch their favorite gladiators face off against ferocious wild beasts from all over the Roman Empire. Today, the site offers serenity and is perfect for history buffs who want to learn a little about the origins of Paris.
Any trip to France would not be complete without checking out the rich cultural tapestry of Paris. Hopefully, the list of things to do included in this article has given you some ideas that will make your Parisian adventure an unforgettable experience. Do not forget to check out a good ETIAS guide to learn whether you are eligible for a visa waiver.