top of page

A Monument-ally Good Time! My Paris travel tips!

For two weeks in June, I embarked on a ‘speed-dating’ tour of Europe, as my mum so affectionately called it. In only 14 days, we visited 2 countries, 5 cities, and so many places of interest it’s crazy – hence the ‘speed-dating’ aspect. We walked over 150kms, took 240,000 steps, and went up and down too many flights of stairs to count.

The first stop on our whirlwind European summer was the City of Light, Paris.


So where did we lay our heads at night? We spent 3 nights at the Grand Hotel des Balcons in the Latin Quarter, a stone’s throw from the Odeon Theatre and easy walking distance to restaurants, shopping, and attractions. The lobby was clean and inviting, and the reception staff were so lovely, making the check-in process seamless. In Europe, they have an additional city tax that is not payable at the time of booking but needs to be paid directly to the hotel, it’s generally only a few Euros per person, per night. We only needed to supply a card swipe for guarantee.

Our Classic Twin Room was surprisingly spacious, with two single beds, a good-sized bathroom, a desk, TV, hair dryer, and a kettle. There was no fridge, but we were prepared for that, so we had some small, long life milk cartons with us. A small amount of tea and coffee was provided in the room too, which was a happy surprise. There was a little decanter (like a vase) that you can take down to the lobby and fill it with milk from the breakfast buffet as well. Also provided were an ample number of towels, and toiletries. The beds were on the firmer side but still quite comfortable and easy to sleep on. Each room has a large French-door window that opens onto a small ‘balcony’ – you can’t really go out onto the balcony but it’s a cute addition and it lets in a beautiful breeze.

We didn’t have breakfast included in our room rate, but the hotel does provide a full buffet breakfast for an additional fee – 12 euros per person at the time of our holiday. Breakfast was a small buffet that of course included pastries, like croissants, fruit, and yoghurt, as well as some hot items – eggs, bacon, and sausages.


If walking proved difficult, or if the attractions were too far away, we utilised one of the many hop-on hop-off bus companies that travel around the city. The company we used was Toot Bus and they were great! They have the same route and tour options as the other big companies at a fraction of the price. We purchased a 3-day pass and used it to get everywhere! We only used a taxi a couple of times – from the airport, and from the Eiffel Tower (because it was late and the bus had stopped by then) – and I will admit, I feared for my life. Driving in Paris is absolute madness – making it difficult to even cross the road sometimes – so any time we didn’t absolutely have to catch a taxi, we walked or caught the Toot Bus.

Food and Attractions

A European holiday is truly a holiday for the eyes, there’s so much to see and experience that your head needs to be on a swivel – and you need your phone or camera completely charged! We were only in town for a few days, but I feel like we saw so much! And of course, the food – Ooh la la! The food in France is of course world-renowned and I could definitely see why!

Eiffel Tower

This historic and iconic monument was breath-taking. It is crazy to find out just how big it is! Of course, the size is not hidden in photos and videos, but it is still misleading. Seeing it from the airplane, rising from what looks like a flat plain, dwarfing all the buildings around it, and being able to see it from basically everywhere you go in Paris, it’s gigantic. While I wouldn’t say it is 100% essential to go up the tower, you must be around the base to get the full force of its scale. And a tip is to see it at night – at sundown, the tower is lit up, turning it gold and glittery. We were incredibly lucky and managed to score last minute tickets to the summit – 276m (906ft) in the sky with an incredible view of Paris. At night, you can truly see why Paris is called the City of Lights!

Notre Dame

I am so thankful that the fire that ripped through this incredible building did not take the entire structure. Seeing it, even in its current state, was a wonderful experience. As it is still under extensive restorations, you’re unable to go inside, however, I was made aware of a very cool extra attraction related to the cathedral. The Crypte Archéologique de l'İle de la Cité or The Archaeological Crypt of the Ile de la Cité, located under the square in front of the Cathedral, is a step back into the ancient history of the island on which Notre Dame now sits. The Crypt holds more than 2000 years of history within its walls, chronicling the beginnings of usage of the island – from the Gallo-Roman military town of Lutetia, developed in the first quarter of the first century AD, through the Middle Ages, and onto the present day. It’s not to be missed and entrance was only 9 euro!

Musée du Louvre

If you’re heading to the Louvre, I recommend carving out an entire day. We spent 5 hours there and didn’t get to it all. We couldn’t physically spend more time as we were both tired and maybe a little dehydrated, and some things were starting to close. I’m not sure how to explain the incredible artifacts, and the ancient Louvre, and just all the history inside this incredible building, just that it’s unlike any other place I’ve been. If you’re keen on seeing the Mona Lisa, make sure to allocate some time, as there is a very large line to view the famous painting – which is surprisingly small – but you will get quite close and may get lucky to get ‘people-free’ photos. While in the Mona Lisa room, make sure to turn around to view the massive masterpiece on the opposite wall. The Last Supper is truly a colossal work of art, and very underappreciated in my opinion, so make sure to turn around and bask in the massiveness of this artistic undertaking. A few favourites were, of course, the Mona Lisa and Last Supper, the Medieval Louvre, the French Crown Jewels, Greek antiquities including the Venus de Milo, and so many amazing Egyptian artifacts that I could have stayed there for days. Honestly, too many amazing things to name!


These two monuments are located on the l'İle de la Cité, along with the Notre Dame. Sainte-Chapelle is a gorgeous gothic chapel, built in the 13th century to house the Crown of Thorns and a fragment of the True Cross by Louis IX. It is separated into two main areas, the Lower Chapel, where the palace staff were permitted to worship, is beautiful in its own right, with it’s vaulted ceilings and ornate altar; and the Upper Chapel, where the King and his closest friends and family worshiped and the relics were displayed, is truly magnificent, with its 1,113 stained glass windows depicting stories from the Bible from Genesis to Christ’s resurrection.

The Conciergerie

Now primarily a museum based around the development of the French cuisine, this former royal residence was built in the 14th century as an add on to the existing Palace and Sainte-Chapelle, extending and establishing what is now the Palace of Justice. During the French Revolution, the Conciergerie became a major prison for those being brought before the Revolutionary Tribunal. The most famous prisoner to be held there was none-other than Marie-Antionette. Her cell, located just off the main chapel where she spent her final years, was converted in 1815 to become the expiatory chapel of Marie-Antoinette.

The Pantheon

This incredible structure is honestly a masterpiece. When you enter you are guided into the crypt, where it is very easy to get lost and walk in circles (believe me, it happened to us). Here you’ll see the final resting places of some incredible people throughout the centuries, including great writers like Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas, Nobel Prize winners like Marie and Pierre Curie, along with many French dignitaries and figures in the fights for human rights and philosophers like Voltaire and Rousseau. When you manage to make your way out of the crypt, you are faced with the incredible basilica, lined with frescos and statues that you must see to truly take in their beauty.

Top tips

Take a river cruise

On our first night, we had dinner aboard a river cruise boat that took us along the Seine, where we got a taster of the incredible monuments of Paris, while we dined on some beautiful food and wine! A great way to get the lay of the land, so to speak, and a great introduction to the city! Recommendation: Our cruise was operated by Paris en Scène – the food was amazing, and the service was wonderful!


France is known for its delectable cuisine. Don’t miss out on sampling all you can! You’re likely going to be walking a lot while you’re in Paris, so make sure to keep your energy up by sampling some incredible food! Recommendation: Check out Chez Julien, a beautiful restaurant located not far from Notre Dame where you can get delicious cocktails, food and desserts – if you love truffles, you can have them in almost everything! Try the Chef’s Cocktail, Croque monsieur with truffle and the Homemade truffle ice cream, “Valhrona” chocolate diamond. I also recommend the Bourbon Vanilla Crème Brûlée, which was honestly the most incredible Crème Brûlée I’ve ever had in my life!

Make a plan

While not an overly huge place, Paris is stacked with attractions and experiences. Looking at a list of monuments can get quite overwhelming – there’s are thousands in Paris itself, let alone the surrounding areas and rest of France. Making a plan for monuments you want to see is the best way to utilise your time as effectively as possible.

Use a hop-on hop-off bus!

Hop-on hop-off buses are a great way to get around a city. They tend to pass all the major attractions, with stops convenient for access to all the tourist spots. They can generally be an economical way of getting around as well. Recommendation: We purchased a 3-day Toot Bus pass that gave us unlimited rides on the Toot Bus blue line for 72 hours. It was our main mode of transport (except for walking of course).

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page