One of the best things about teaching abroad is how cheap it is to travel. I can hop on a train or a plane Friday mornings and make my way anywhere in Europe, and most of the time it’s less than $100 round trip! I had the opportunity to visit Paris for one weekend, which is crazy when I really think about it. Traveling and visiting other countries just as a casual weekend trip is amazing, and being able to do this in a city as beautiful and huge as Paris is truly a dream. What made it even better was I got to see my mom and dad while I was there, which really made for the perfect weekend!
So what should you do on a short weekend trip in Paris? There’s obviously so much to see and do. From visiting the Louvre, taking a boat tour to see the city lights, and eating all the French cuisine, you somehow have to manage to squeeze it all into one weekend. We managed to see a lot in just three days, and here’s what I think is 100% worth seeing if you’re in Paris for just a few days:
1. Père Lachaise Cemetery
Out of all the amazing sites to see in Paris, this cemetery was probably my favorite. It’s a massive cemetery, about 110 acres, and is the largest cemetery in Paris. Everything from the headstones, the pathways, and tombs were so beautiful and intricate, and it was really amazing to see how many plots there were on the property. We visited this cemetery because we read this is where Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde were buried, so I didn’t exactly know what to expect when visiting. I was pleasantly surprised and truly blown away once walking through the property. If I ever go back to Paris, I will definitely be coming back to Père Lachaise, because we definitely could’ve spent hours walking around and seeing everything here.
2. Boat Tour on the Seine River (At Night)
You can see a lot just by walking around the city and exploring, but when we did the boat tour on the Seine River, we saw all the huge landmarks in under an hour. We opted to do the boat tour at night so we could see all of the city lights and yes, it was freezing cold, but it was so worth it. The whole city was lit up and it was so cool to have a different view of the city. We started at the Eiffel Tower, and then they took us past the Louvre and Notre Dame, and under all of the amazing bridges throughout the city. I do think it would have been amazing during the day too, but there’s something about Paris at night that is magical.
3. Tours of the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre
These are very obvious must-sees when visiting Paris. You definitely can’t go to Paris without seeing the three most historical and most visited landmarks in the country! While these are no-brainers for a quick visit, I highly recommend spending more time and taking tours of these three sites.
Walking up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe was not only a great workout, but it had an awesome view of the city. We got to look over the craziest roundabout in Europe, and it was so entertaining watching all of the cars try to squeeze in and get through. Standing at the bottom of the arc was also just as cool. I never realized how big it was until I was standing right under it, and it was amazing seeing all of the details in the statues and writings on the walls.
I thought the same thing about the Eiffel Tower. Of course I’ve seen pictures and videos of it throughout my life, but it was on a whole new level of massive once I was standing directly below it. We bought tickets ahead of time for a tour of the Eiffel Tower (you can either buy tickets halfway to the top, or all the way to the top), and I had heard that the views are better if you only go halfway, so we chose this option. Unfortunately, we went on a day that was cold, rainy, and foggy, so we didn’t get the views I expected, but it was still incredible nonetheless.
Whether you’re an art fanatic, or hardly know anything about art (like me), the Louvre is definitely something you need to see when visiting Paris. You could literally spend days walking through the Louvre, and you probably still wouldn’t see everything. The museum is incomprehensibly massive, and yes, I’ve been told how big it was, but it was 10x bigger than I expected. Not only is the inside beautiful and filled with thousands of pieces of art, but the outside is just as incredible. Standing outside of the Louvre just makes you see how big it truly is. The architecture of the building in and of itself is amazing.
Obviously there’s a lot more to see in Paris beyond this list. But if you’re visiting just for the weekend, like we did, then I definitely suggest making time to visit these sites. Just be prepared for a lot of walking and possibly rain (if you plan to visit during the fall/winter months).