This post is for all my friends who are travelling to Paris or who are blessed to live in the City of Light.
You have asked me when to go, where to stay, what to see, and what to eat. Before I begin, I would just like to mention that these are personal recommendations and that I have not been endorsed by any particular company.
When to go: Having been born in Singapore, where shopping could be said to be our national sport, I recommend going during the sale periods, of course! The French are legally allowed to have sales twice a year - in the beginning of January and at the end of June - and they usually last for six weeks.
Just a tip for my budget conscious friends, you will get the best deals during the last week of the sales so if you are living there, fight the temptation to even window shop until the last week! When you find something that you like and that is in your size, you will have the joy of knowing that it was a steal! If not, you will know that you kept your pocket book in check! Either way, you win! (For those of you who must have the iconic Longchamps Pliage bag, it is the cheapest at the airport!)
All national museums are free during the first Sunday of the month in Paris so if you would like to save a little money on attractions, try to schedule your trip during this period. Also, for my friends who are younger than 26 years old, do not forget that you can get a cheap day pass (i.e Ticket Jeune) for public transit in Paris during weekends and public holidays.
There are plenty of free events in Paris during the summer. When I used to live in Paris, I definitely made the most out of the complimentary kayaking on the Seine during Paris Plages and concerts during the Fête de la Musique. If you are travelling to Paris during the summer, girls, please dress a little bit more conservatively than you would in North America. This means no short shorts, mini skirts/dresses, tank tops, blouses with plunging necklines, etc… you get the picure. If you do get unwanted attention, just walk fast and do not make eye contact (which is generally good advice to follow in Paris regardless). Please also note that the Parisians, unlike popular belief, are not unfriendly. Some may come across that way only because their English is not great and they are uncomfortable with the way they sound in English. If you know a little bit of French, I am sure they will appreciate your efforts to communicate with them in their beautiful language.
Where to stay:
What to see: I am going to refrain from the famous tourist attractions here - you can find them by doing a quick Google search or just by watching a movie set in Paris. I do prefer the Musée d’Orsay to the Louvre, but you can’t go to Paris without being able to say that you saw the tiny Mona Lisa. I love walking around in the Père Lachaise Cemetery. Yes, it sounds a little morbid, but the architecture of the tombstones is amazing. If it is a nice and sunny day (don’t bother going if it is not) and you have already seen most of the sights, you can go a tombstone hunt for famous people like Jim Morrisson or Oscar Wilde here. Don’t be fooled into buying a map - you can get one free at the information centre or you can just take a picture of one of the signs.
As you can probably tell, I have a particular affinity to the Marais. Not only is there good food here (more below), it is also a fantastic place to shop. Some stores I particularly like are COS (for modern structured designs), Free’P’Star (for vintage clothing), and Satellite (for jewellery). If you have the time, plan to spend at least half a day exploring and soaking in the atmosphere of the Marais. If you like contemporary art, the Centre de Georges Pompidou (or more fondly, ‘Beaubourg’) is in the area too.
If you are in the Saint-Germain-de-Près area (tourist attractions: Café de Flore and Café des Deux Magots - rich in history but highly overpriced; Pierre Hermé macarons - see below), check out the City-Pharma pharmacy. It sells the best priced products in all of Paris (and the world, I imagine) - I have French girlfriends who make a pilgrimage to this pharmacy every so often just to stock up on their beauty supplies/medicine. If you get lost among the shelves of beauty products, my personal recommendations include Avène’s Cicalfate (this is my miracle cream which works on everything from eczema to pimples to blisters), Bioderma’s Créaline (a non-rinse cleanser and makeup remover), and Nuxe’s Huile Prodigieuse (a dry oil that perks up dull skin - note: I have never had problems but I know a friend whose skin did not react well to this).
If you speak French and are craving a little theatre, the Comédie française is free for those under 28 on the first Monday of every month. If operas and ballets are your thing, try to catch a show at the Opéra national de Paris. Since 1% of the French national budget goes to the arts and culture, ticket prices are heavily subsidized in France. I went to see the Nutcracker with a friend one Christmas and it was the most exquisite thing I have ever seen. The costumes and set designs were phenomenal!
For my brothers and sisters in Christ, if you would like to hear God’s Word and to worship Him during your holiday, Hillsong Church Paris is a great church that offers services in English and in French.
What to eat:
Friends, I hope that this post has been useful to you in some way. I can’t wait to hear about your Parisian adventures, and am eager to hear about your own recommendations! Be blessed and bon voyage! ♥