What You Don’t Need To See In Paris (and what you can do instead)

There’s a reason that Paris is consistently ranked among the top two or three visited cities in the world year-after year. Bringing in 19 million visitors during 2021, when we were still traveling in the shadows of COVID, the city of lights has a ton to offer in terms of things to do and see.

With that many people, surely the same must-see attractions can’t apply to every single tourist. And they don’t.

Sure, first-time visitors feel like they have to check out the Louvre and Eiffel Tower, but don’t feel bad about suggesting an alternative or venturing out to see what the city’s 20 arrondissements have to offer.

Here’s my personal suggestions of what you can do instead of some of the major sights:

Skip The Louvre

Alternatively, Visit A Smaller Museum

The Louvre is the most famous museum in the world. Home to some of the most well-known masterpieces ever created like the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. It’s also home to a seemingly endless series of halls of religious art that starts to blend together to the lay person. Sure, if you are big fan of this period of art, this can inspire you, but for those of you who are just in it for the big names, you’ll find most of your time spent making your way through dense crowds to see a few specific pieces wondering if you’ve seen the whole complex yet.

We had more fun exploring a few smaller museums that actually appealed to us. The Salvador Dali museum in Montmartre had only a few other visitors and we were able to see art that interested us and read fascinating stories about the man who made it.

Pass Up The Seine

Have A Picnic By Canal Saint-Martin Instead

There are tons of images of couples and friends sitting on the side of the River Seine that stir romantic notions in people that want to recreate those moments. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it’s not your only option.

The riverside can get busy during the warmer months with people doing the same thing and you’re likely going to be in the area if you’re visiting other landmarks like Notre-Dame or the ol’ Louvre.

That doesn’t mean it’s the only option, however. If you’re in the Marais district, make your way north from the river and perch on the side of Canal Saint-Martin. Requested by Napoleon to help import goods to the city from Germany, this canal has plenty of places to grab a quick bite or coffee and enjoy the view of boats being raised and lowered in the locks.

We grabbed some raspberries, strawberries, olives, and a pastry from Marché Saint-Martin and sat by the canal for an easy lunch, perfectly content.

Missed The Eiffel Tower Lights?

Catch A Cabaret Show

After dusk, the Eiffel Tower lights up every hour with a dazzling sparkle of lights that cover its entire surface. If you don’t want to make the trip to the area just for this, there are other options for late night fun.

We really enjoyed our trip to Paradis Latin, a cabaret show that goes on in the Latin Quarter. From when it started at 9:00pm until it ended near 11:30, it was a nonstop party of songs, dance, and great performances from the cast. It was super fun and afterwards, a nearby metro stop is still running to make the return to our accommodation painless.

Paris is an incredible city with tons to do. The subway system is efficient and once you get accustomed to the map, can be an easy way to bounce between sites. If you’re not feeling the touristy must-dos, fret not, there are other options to enjoy your stay in the French capital.

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