Visiting The Eiffel Tower, What Do You Mean You Don't Like Jazz? and 5 Great Places in Paris You've Never Heard Of
The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is one of the most famous structures on earth. It’s basically synonymous with Paris. It’s so well known that you may wonder, does it live up to the hype?
It does. Definitely. I mean look at it. It’s spectacular. Even though we saw it several times during our trip, it never got old. It’s crazy to think that so many Parisians objected to it being built in the first place. While other buildings at the time were trying to hide the steel that made them possible, Gustave Eiffel embraced it and Paris is better for having it.
As with most popular things though, it’s the crowds and vendors that ruin it. Because of recent terror attacks and the sheer volume of tourists, the base of the tower is fenced off. It’s not possible to just walk up and enjoy it. To get under the tower you have to go through long security lines and endure massive crowds. Also surrounding the tower are pickpockets and a ridiculous amount of people selling Eiffel Tower statues and other junk that no one wants.
For us the Eiffel Tower was best viewed from a distance. We were able to enjoy the Tower without all the crowds. It was much more relaxing to view it as we walked through the city or from a spot like Pont de Bir-Hakeim. It’s also very large and difficult to take in up close because your head is bent upward at a weird angle the whole time. Despite the crowds, the Eiffel Tower deserves its fame. Whether you're in Paris for 13 hours or 13 days, you have to see it.
Visiting Other Places
There are tons of well known things to see and do in Paris. Some live up to their reputation and some don't. What's really fun though, is putting down the guidebook, wandering around and stumbling upon something amazing. That's what we tried to do. Below are some of our favorite spots that we found with the help of locals, yelp and that amazing thing called the internet.
1. A Coffee Shop
There are a lot of places to get coffee in Paris. Starbucks is even readily available. But you’re in Paris...you don’t want Starbucks. One of our favorite places in Paris was Cafe Aouba. It’s a small cafe in the 12th arrondissement. The owners roast beans onsite everyday. They even have traditional Turkish coffee that involves waiting for all the spiced coffee grounds to settle in your cup before you drink it. It was good but a little gritty at the end before you realize you've finished the coffee and only grounds remain.
It's a very small cafe. It's standing room only with a bar to lean on. As crowded as it got though, it was surprisingly calm and relaxing. That probably has to do with the owners. They were so nice and politely suffered through our horrible French before continuing the conversation in their flawless English. Our only regret was that we couldn't visit more often than we did during our trip.
2. A Restaurant
You can throw a rock a find a good French bistro to eat French food or pick one of the hundreds of bakeries to get amazing bread. But what if your tired of steak frites, onion soup and escargot? It's time to branch out and try some food other than French.
There's more to Parisian cuisine than just traditional French food. Since it's the closest we've ever been to Italy, we figured the Pizza had to be better than any we've ever had. Pizza Chic fit the bill perfectly. We arrived right as they opened to find out that they were already completely booked for lunch. They fit us in at the bar, and during our meal, we watched as they repeatedly turned people away. It was amazing. When you come to Paris, you should try traditional French dishes, but you should also wander around and find a place like Pizza Chic.
3. A Museum
You know about The Louvre and Orsay. They’re awesome and you have to go. We went to The Louvre four times alone last trip. You were going there anyway though. If you like museums and art, where do you go next? We had the Paris Museum Pass, so for 6 days we could visit most of the museums in Paris. After you've seen The Mona Lisa at The Louvre and the impressionists at Orsay, Musee Rodin is where you should go next.
Located at Rodin's workshop, the Musee Rodin is home to some of his most famous sculptures. The Thinker, Gates of Hell and The Kiss are all there to view. The gardens are also supposed to be amazing. However since we were there in March, they were a little underwhelming. It would be great to visit again in spring and see it at full strength.
4. A Bar
We had a so much fun at 38 Riv. It's one of the last "cellar" jazz clubs in Paris. The location was unique and the music was great too. We were there on "jam session" night. Several musicians showed up with their instruments and took turns playing in different groups. We were pretty much the only English speakers there. It was pretty cool being completely surrounded by French...made it hard to eavesdrop though. Plus I got to annoy Charise by quoting La La Land all night.
5. A Nice View
We completely stumbled upon the Promenade Plantée. We were actually lost and heading somewhere else, then we saw an elevated walkway in the distance. Built on an abandoned 5km stretch of elevated railroad, the Promenade Plantée is the original Hi-Line. Filled with local pedestrians, it offers a great spot to take a walk and see Paris from a different perspective.
We were in Paris for 13 days and we barely scratched the surface of the city. There are so many famous landmarks, museums and places to visit. Our favorite thing to do, though, was wonder the streets and find places we've never been. Many famous spots, like the Eiffel Tower, live up to the hype,. In a future post we'll talk about some of the spots that don't.