“When good Americans die, they go to Paris.” –Oscar Wilde
You cannot leave Europe without spending at least a day in Paris! Discount airline Ryanair flies from all over the continent to Paris Beauvais airport, which is about an hour and fifteen minutes from the city center. Tickets should be about €40 round-trip, though prices do vary depending on the days you choose to travel and which country you’re flying from. The Official Beauvais Airport Shuttle takes you to the city center for €15, from which point you can take the metro to get you to your hostel.
*If you’re coming from Florence, Italy, it’s best to fly out of Pisa. Buses to Galileo Galilei airport can be booked through the Terravision Bus Company, which picks up and drops of from Florence’s Santa Maria Novella Train station and charges €5 each way.*
Bus2alps student travel agency has 3-night, Thursday-Sunday, Paris weekend trips starting at €169, including: hostel, breakfast, private walking tour, discounted pub-crawl, discounts on future Bus2alps tours, and trip leader. This does not include flight/transportation costs, however if you prefer your trips well organized and hate planning, this is probably the easiest way to see all of Paris.
I tend to avoid travel agencies; I opted to explore Paris on a self-organized trip with friends, not only because I like having the option of doing things spontaneously, but also because we wanted to go to Disneyland Paris, which Bus2alps doesn’t do. If you choose to do your trip independent of an agency, I highly recommend purchasing a multi-day metro pass because the metro is the absolute EASIEST way to get around Paris. It stops at all the major tourist spots, and along with being simple to navigate, it is also the quickest way around Paris.
My Paris Top Ten are as Follows:
- The Eiffel Tower-This hardly needs mentioning since it’s the most popular site in Paris, just remember to book the tower in advance so you wont have to wait in line. Tickets can cost anywhere from €4-€14 depending on your age and which level you’d like to go to. Also, while most people want to climb the tower at night, try to visit the tower during the day as well. There’s a huge park in front of the tower and it’s a great place to relax and just hang out for a bit.
- The Louvre-You can spend days in here and still not see everything! Remember that there’s more to this museum than just the Mona Lisa. So try and spend some time exploring the rest of the building. I got there at 9:30 am, and there was almost no one in the museum and very few people near the Mona Lisa. But by 10 am the museum was packed. Get there early! Also, bring your student visa – European students get free entrance!
- The Champs-Elysees & Arc Du Triumph – This latter was originally commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 wasn’t completed until 1836. The arch is located at the end of the Champs-Elysees, which is considered one of the most famous streets in the world. Spend some time exploring it; the road has everything from cafes to cinemas to luxury stores!
- Notre Dame-This is arguably the most well known cathedral in the world. There isn’t an admission cost, and you’re free to wander around inside the cathedral or join a tour group to learn more about the building.
- French Food! You need to try crepes in France – they are delicious! There are dozens of different kinds so be sure to try a few (like the one with Nutella). Along with crepes, French cheese is a must, as are baguettes, and French onion soup – best enjoyed on a picnic at the park in front of the eiffel tower, of course!
- Euro Disney – Because when else will you have a chance to go? It’s ridiculously fun. Get there early to miss the crowds and buy your tickets in advance! There’s a metro that runs there several times a day, so it’s really easy to get to. Euro Disney is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary so there are ton of promotions going on, making now the best time to go!
- The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Paris (Sacré-Coeur Basilica) -This is one of the highest points in the city and gives you a stunning view of Paris. Located on the hill of Montmartre, this Basilica is visible from all over Paris.
- Do a Pub Crawl! Most hostels offer discounted pub-crawls, which you should definitely take advantage of in order to see the nightlife Paris offers.
- Moulin Rouge– There isn’t much to do other than see the front of the building, unless you want to see a show inside – tickets start at €100. It’s an interesting district to walk around in, so save some time to explore the area. It’s conveniently located just a short walk from the Sacré-Coeur Basilica.
- The Palace of Versailles – You can see everything from the Estate of Marie Antoinette to the Hall of Mirrors. Adult tickets, which include train travel, start at €13.50 and go up depending on what you’d like to see and when you’d like to see it.
-Arnub (Travel, Arts & Culture Intern)
What’s *your* choice for student travel? An agency or on your own?