We visited Paris for the first time in September 2014. While those four days in the City of Light were incredible (take a look back at the highlights here), they were nowhere near enough. On that trip, we saw all of the major highlights–the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Catacombs, the Notre Dame, Versailles, etc.–but we left knowing there were so many other sights we still hadn’t experienced, and itching to go back as soon as possible.
So this past fall, when we saw that roundtrip flights to Paris from New York were just $500 for the week between Christmas and New Year, we booked our seats immediately.
With seven full days to experience the city this time around, we got the chance to just wander the streets, walking around and enjoying the charms each neighborhood has to offer, and exploring hidden gems along the way.
Of course, there are still so many sights we didn’t get to this year–the Palais Garnier, the Louis Vuitton Foundation, the endless list of restaurants we bookmarked on Yelp–so don’t be surprised if you see another Paris roundup here in 2016.
In the meantime, here are our top five picks for attractions around Paris, 2015 edition…
1. Exploring the Covered Passages:
Paris is famous for their gorgeous covered passages–passages couverts–lined with cute shops and cafes. You never know when you’ll stumble upon these hidden galleries, such as Galerie Vivienne, Passage du Grand Cerf and Passage Jouffroy, so keep your eyes out and take a wander through them to experience the incredible 18th century architecture and beautiful glass ceilings. Perfect for ducking into during a spontaneous Parisian rainstorm.
2. Riding the Ferris Wheel at Place de la Concorde:
The giant ferris wheel at the Place de la Concorde–the Roue de Paris—may seem like just a tourist trap (which it kind of is), but, like the London Eye, it’s still worth a ride. You really can’t get better views of the entire city, from the Eiffel Tower to the Sacre Coeur to the Arc du Triomphe. Plus, it stops so frequently to let passengers on and off that it allows for some incredible panoramic photography. It also allows you to appreciate how much walking you’ve done around the city.
3. Visiting Paris’s World-Class Chocolate & Pastry Shops:
Last year, we went on a pretty thorough tour of Paris’s chocolate and pastry shops, but there were still a dozen other shops on our list to hit. So it bears repeating that hitting up as many of these world-class establishments as possible is a must-do. This time around, we stopped by La Manufacture de Chocolat Alain Ducasse (pictured above) to sample their amazing single-source chocolate bars, truffles and hot chocolate; Boulangerie Julien for their out-of-this-world almond croissants; Sadaharu Aoki for their one-of-a-kind Japanese inspired desserts; and Breizh Cafe for the best crepes you will ever eat.
4. Climbing to the Top of Sacre-Coeur at Sunset:
The Sacre-Coeur is an obvious stop on any Parisian vacation, but we actually didn’t get a chance to tick that off our list during our last trip. This year, we didn’t just visit once, but twice, each time climbing to the top of the basilica just before sunset. And it was well worth the wait–and the 300 steps you need to climb to get there! You can’t beat the gorgeous 360-degree views of the city from the dome, especially with the beautiful glow of the Parisian sunset as a filter.
5. Watching the Eiffel Tower Shine from Trocadero Gardens:
On this trip, we learned that the fountains at Trocadero Gardens offer the best views of the Eiffel Tower (especially for photography). It might not have the charm of the classic Champ de Mars view, but this spot is perfect for capturing the tower in all of its glory and taking in the five-minute light show that comes on every hour.