Parisians, of course, have a reputation for being just a teensy bit boastful about their city, (“how dare you even speak of [insert your hometown here] in the same breath as Paris, you swine! I will spit on your toes.”) But it is hard to argue that their pride is not justified.
But if you insist on knowing my list of top things to do or see in Paris (particularly for travel on a budget), here it is:
- The Louvre was first opened to the public in 1793 after the French Revolution and now houses the most enormous art collection in the world. If you are dead set upon seeing every exhibit, be sure to set aside the most convenient decade of your trip in order to do so.
- The Palace of Versailles, is a fine example of what one man (King Louis XIV) can do with a Home Depot credit and the ability to impose crushing taxes on the French peasants.
- The Eiffel Tower was originally built as an attraction for the 1889 Universal Exhibition. The tower was considered by many Parisians to be an eyesore, but they have since come to terms with it and merely hang sheets over it when visitors come to town. It was the tallest structure in the world until the Empire State Building was completed in 1931. But at least it can claim it has never had a giant ape climb to its top.
- The Seine River. Here is where you can see and do it all without spending a bundle. Spend as much time as you can either walking along its banks or taking boat tours up and down the waterway itself. It is probably the most beguiling river in the world, and you will find almost every building of interest in Paris is on or near the Seine.
- The Parisian cafes. Here again you can take in the sights and experience the essence of romantic Paris without great expense. Particularly visit the cafes in the St. Germain-des-pres district, so you can follow in the steps of Ernest Hemingway, Victor Hugo, Ezra Pound and F. Scott Fitzgerald. You may or may not develop the ability to write as well as these artists, but you be able to brag to your friends when you return home. Assuming of course that your kind of friends know that Hemmingway, Hugo, Pound and Fitgerald were writers and not a law firm.
OK I failed. I have touched only a very few of the highlights of travel to Paris. But when you go, be sure to take your time and stroll through the streets with the eye of a wanderer. Be sure to taste the foods and sample the wines. This is one city that organized walking tours are often worth your time, but you can also take your own walking tour with a guidebook in hand and a heart to behold its beauty.