• Sorry London, I’ll take Paris any day

    Dirty. Smelly. Unfriendly. People painted an unflattering picture for Paris for us, and given its popularity as a tourist destination, I went in with low, low expectations. But as with Venice, I wound up falling in love with the place.

    Dirty? Ain’t got nothing on Naples. Smelly? Only down the occasional alleyway. Unfriendly? Not at all.

    Our week in Paris flew by in a blur of baguettes and cheese, flan (I lost count of how many pieces of flan T consumed), crepes, pastries, cakes, tarts, and yes, a couple of macarons (it’s official: they just aren’t my thing).

    Paris - night boat cruise down the river seine

    Paris - Arc de Triomphe

    Paris - river by night

    Saint Jacques tower - Paris at night

    Paris Louvre glass pyramid at night

    Paris Louvre at night

    Paris by night - street corner cafe scene

    Paris bridge at night

    A slightly drizzly night walk with some other Couchsurfers made us feel all Midnight in Paris.

    Paris night concert

    Paris night concert

    Confetti at night blur

    Montparnasse tower at night 40th birthday

    Along with one of our Airbnb hosts, I headed out to a free concert in Montparnasse one night

    Paris street performer soccer ball montmartre

    An out-of-this-world street performer with mad talent in Montmartre

    We managed to stay pretty close to budget, which I’m stoked about – and not pay for any sightseeing at all. That’s right, not even at the Louvre.

    How to visit the Louvre for free

    If you’re under 26 and heading to Paris, weekends can be a great time to go. Why? Because unlimited one-day metro passes (ticket jeunes) are half the regular price … AND you can get into the Louvre for free on Friday evening.

    EU citizens under 26 can visit the Louvre free of charge at any time, but should you hail from somewhere else, you have a small window of opportunity to do the same – after 6pm on Fridays. Just head on up to the entrance (you can bypass the ticket booth) and show your ID to the staff member.

    Museums are also free on the first Sunday of every month, and during Heritage Days. The queues are outrageous, though, so you may have to make a hard choice about what’s worth more to you: time or money? We missed the first Sunday but were there for Heritage Days, and can testify that the lines are rather daunting. Fortunately, we’re just as happy walking around soaking up the vibe in the city’s various charming districts as we are inside cultural attractions – actually, more so, in fact.

    How to skip the lines at the Louvre

    Don’t be lured by the shiny glass pyramids. Head downstairs to Le Carrousel du Louvre, and navigate through the mall until you see the small glass pyramid. You’ll need to get in line and go through the security check, then keep going down the passage until you get to the information and ticketing area.