There are so many incredible places you can go in Paris, but here are my personal favorite top five from my time there as a CEA and Sorbonne student!
A trip to Montmartre any time of the day gives you a breathtaking view of the city. The quaint, quiet streets have a nostalgic feel, letting you experience old Paris. The cobblestone streets are lined with shops and restaurants, leading to the main plaza where artists paint Parisian scenes and portraits. Be sure to pay attention to the street art, and try to catch glimpses of the Eiffel Tower as you walk through the streets!
2. The Seine and Île de la Cité
One of my favorite things to do was walk by the Seine, especially as it was located directly in the center of the CEA Paris Study Center, and the Sorbonne, which I attended. Walking by and chatting with the vendors of Parisian posters and souvenirs while looking out on the tour boats during the day or eating crepes by the water is always a great way to spend your time. And during the night, the scene changes completely, with dancing, music, and groups of friends enjoying a bottle of wine by the water as it sparkles with reflections of The City of Lights.
3. Parisian Cafes
Paris is home to endless cafes, and one of the things I learned was how to sit with a cup of coffee and take everything in: the surroundings, the architecture, the people. Slowing down isn’t something we do a lot in the U.S., but Parisians just have it figured out! My favorite thing to order at any cafe was a Café Gourmand -- an espresso shot that comes with 3-4 mini desserts so you get a chance to try a little bit of everything! Rue Rambuteau and the Pompidou area near the CEA Center have plenty of cute cafes where you can enjoy a cup of coffee or hot chocolate between classes. La station Rambuteau, directly across from the exit of Metro Line 11, is my personal favorite!
4. Opéra and Rue de la Paix
If you really want a feel of classical Paris, Avenue de l’Opéra (which leads you from the Jardin des Tuileries to the Opéra Garnier) is the way to go. You can start off with a cup of hot chocolate or a pastry from Angelina Paris, a fancy tea house with a beautiful interior. Then make your way up Rue de la Paix, passing by the Ritz Paris, where Audrey Hepburn’s character stayed in “How to Steal a Million”, and where you can see Napoleon’s Colonne Vendôme featuring scenes from major battles. As you make your way up Rue de la Paix, you’re surrounded by classical Haussman buildings that all light up when it gets dark, their storefronts filled with glamourous items, from diamonds to pointe shoes. This will lead you directly to the incredible building of Palais Garnier, which you can tour during the day, or visit at night for a performance.
5. Jardin du Luxembourg
The Jardin du Luxembourg is a great place to go if you’re looking for some calm and nature in the middle of the busy city. Especially during the warmer seasons, it’s a great place to sit on a bench during a lunch break, people-watch, and admire the flowers around you. Sometimes you’ll even see people racing or just enjoying sailing miniature sailboats around the main pond of the park. The Jardin des Grands-Explorateurs right next to the Jardin du Luxembourg features beautiful green alleyways as well as statues throughout the park.
Tali Pilip is the Fall 2018 Alumni Ambassador in Paris, France, and is currently studying at California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo.