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Paris is known all over the world for being the ‘City of Light’- a place where love blossoms, where the air is full of magic and there is something romantic everywhere you look. It also has that “je ne sais quoi” factor which basically means ‘that special something which cannot be defined’.

It has always been a lifelong dream of mine to visit this beautiful city with its incredible architecture, innumerable historic monuments, attractive sidewalk cafes, bustling boutiques and its plentiful old-world charm. When I first visited Paris, I was ecstatic to find that many of the sights I dreamed about were exactly like what I had expected. But what no travel guide or documentary had prepared me for were the tourist death-traps that unsuspecting first time visitors should definitely be told to stay away from.

Here are 5 things I did on my visit which were absolutely not worth it:

Do not climb the Eiffel Tower

First on my list is- that quintessential spot that every traveler to Paris feels a burning desire to visit- Gustave Eiffel’s stunning creation, the Eiffel Tower. Of course, you should visit it! But don’t bother climbing it. I stood in line for practically 4 hours before I reached the entrance. Need I say more?

Do not attempt to see every exhibit at the Louvre in a day

This is impossible! Also, it will eat up much of your precious vacation time. Unless you’re extremely passionate about art, I’d suggest that you just visit the exhibits you are interested in. The most crowded spot in the Louvre is the place where the Mona Lisa is kept- so visit that at your own risk.

Stay away from the Da Vinci Code tour

Not only is this one of the most expensive tours available, but I found that it also leaves out some of the most interesting sights in Paris. Opt for a tour that will really show you Paris at its best like the Montmartre, Paris Food Crawl or the Rive Gauche Tour.

Don’t only visit a famous café

Paris has really famous cafes like the Café des Deux Moulins which was featured in the French film Amélie. Instead, just pop into any of the innumerable sidewalk cafes and you’ll get just as good a meal for about half the price.

Do not shop only on the Champs Elysées

This is Paris’ famed fashion street. But the crowds are terrible and it took me an unreasonable amount of time to even get into a tiny little boutique that happened to catch my eye.

Here are some things which you absolutely must do! They made my trip to Paris really memorable.

Do visit the Arc de Triomphe

This victory monument was built because of Napoleon Bonaparte’s desire to honor the successes of his army. Even though traffic is absolutely crazy around the Arc and it is pretty much always crowded, you simply cannot miss this experience. This beautiful historic monument has an excellent viewing terrace from which you can see the most exquisite views of Paris.

Do spend some time at the Centre Pompidou

This is Paris’ modern art hub and is rich with Parisian culture. I was enthralled by the many fascinating street performers and the extensive collection of contemporary art.

The Palace of Versailles is a must-see

It is an opulent testament to beautiful Parisian architecture. As you walk the halls, it is all too easy to imagine how King Louis XIV and Queen Marie Antoinette must have lived. A visit to this palace made the book ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’ come alive for me! This fictional novel was based on the French Revolution and how the aristocrats had to flee to Britain to save their lives.

Experience the Opera de Paris

Even though I am not very familiar with opera, I decided to experience one of the more popular ones. The music practically comes alive and you start to feel what the actors/singers are feeling. It was definitely an experience I will never forget.

Stroll through the Luxembourg Gardens

These breathtaking gardens were originally only open to the aristocrats of France until the French Revolution took place. I enjoyed a nice picturesque and relaxing stroll through these gardens and the change of pace was really enjoyable. These gardens are perfect for a nice romantic walk, they are absolutely amazing.

Pop into the Shakespeare and Company bookstore

If you’re a dedicated bookworm like I am then you’ll definitely want to visit this historic bookstore. It has an extensive collection of second hand books as well. When it was first opened by Sylvia Beach, it functioned as a library, publishing house as well as a boarding for aspiring writers. It was closed during the World War II, but was reincarnated later.

You have to visit the Cathedral of Notre Dame before you leave Paris

The Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris or the ‘Our Lady of Paris’ Cathedral is a stunning example of French Gothic architecture. It is built on what used to be the site of the first Christian church in Paris- the Saint Etienne Basilica and before that, it used to be a Roman temple to Jupiter. This Cathedral was made doubly famous because of Victor Hugo’s world famous gothic romantic novel ‘The Hunchback of Notre-Dame’.

I learnt that Paris is full of so many beautiful places to visit and sights to see.

But, the best things are often not the ones which we hear so much about. The perfect example of this is ‘Point Zero des routes de Paris’ which is the zero kilometre marker of Paris. It is the point from which all distances in France are measured and it is located just 10 steps in front of the Notre Dame. Legend has it that if you stand on the marker and make a wish- it will come true! Another popular superstition is that if you stand on the marker for a moment, you will return to Paris someday.

Written by Luke Duggan — February 17, 2015

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