It felt quite weird to backpack through Europe without going through Paris, so I decided this was a must do for my second trip to Europe. Before my departure, I found everyone telling me how rude the people will be, and also how expensive the city is. I naively believed them, but after arriving to Paris I quickly realized that’s bullshit. I met lots of very sweet Parisians who were delighted to show me directions or have a chat! They loved the effort I put in to speak broken French, and the prices really weren’t horrible and surprised me when most things were much cheaper then back home in Toronto, such as food and alcohol!
What to do:
Paris has a never-ending list of things to do, and you can spend six months living in this city without seeing everything! I would recommend with starting with the Arc du Triophe, and continuing onwards on Champs Elysee, passing The Louvre and a passing whole bunch of other historical and important buildings, public squares, and grand monuments. Cross the Senie River to discover the grand Notre Dame Cathedral, and afterwards walk into the Latin Quarter, which comes alive at night with live music, dancing on the streets, and lights! The view of the river from the bridge is breathtaking as well! A very obvious and hard to miss attraction is of course the Tour du Eiffel (Eifell Tower). While I didn’t go up myself, I did enjoy the nearby parks and squares which offer a breathtaking view of the tower, both during the day and at night! Make sure you visit the tower during the start of the hour at night (i.e. 9:00pm, 10:00pm, 11:00pm…) to see a light show full of sparkling! Don’t get discourage by the belief that Paris is expensive, as here you’ll find plenty of reasonable hostels, cheap food, and cheap amazing wine! I had amazing Steak with a starter and desert in a nice sit-down restaurant for just 10€ in the Latin Quarter, and visited a bar where drinks are just 1€ all night! My favorite night in Paris was one where I and a group of 5 other solo backpackers decided to go out to the Eiffel Tower with a few bottles of wine, and enjoy life in the beautiful city center. This ended up being one of the best nights on my trip, as we did a whole bunch of cool stuff including some not-so-smart things such as running across the Arc du Triumph to a restricted area for a great view and shot (where we were greeted by polite police officers, so we immediately turned the other way), and had a superb time exploring the different streets and cafes and bars. My favorite part of Paris is without a doubt the Montmartre District, especially near the Sacre-Coeur Basilica, and also the bottom of the hill. The whole area is trendy, young, and hip, and always bustling with music and people and life. Lastly, I also enjoyed visiting La Defence, where you’ll find huge malls, tall buildings, and some modern architecture. Although there’s still a lot to see in Paris, doing the above were among my favorite things to do in this grand beautiful world capital.
Where to stay:
I stayed in 2 different hostels in Paris, and liked them both although I did prefer Peace & Love.
Peace & Love – A cute and intimate hostel with a nice social bar which doubles as a common room. Although the area wasn’t the most glamorous and it was quite far from the main attractions, the city centre is a 20 minute subway ride away. Lots of cheap bars and restaurants surround this Hostel, and I met some of the best people on my trip here. I was surprised by the amount of interesting solo backpackers here, but it might be different in the low season.
St. Christopher’s Paris Canal – This hostel is very large, and has over 120 rooms easily guaranteeing you’ll meet tons of people! The bar is very loud, where you’ll find both tourists and locals drinking the night away. Here you’ll find lots of drink and food deals for guests staying here. Also, the location is in a nice and modern part of the city (although far from attractions, around 32 minute subway ride). This hostel lacked an intimate feeling of smaller hostels, but the many organized activities and walking tours made up for it.