October is an ideal time to visit Paris; the city is still warm enough to chill outside the countless cafes, inhaling the smell of a fresh pain au chocolat, or for a picnic on the grass of the Jardin du Luxembourg, one of the most popular parks in Paris. The ‘City of Lights’ has much to offer beyond its landmarks, but be prepared, it’s expensive.
Beneath the hectic city, just 65 feet down, lies a dark world where the remains of 6 million former Parisians remain. The Paris Catacombs are underground ossuaries created to reduce the cities’ overflowing cemeteries which were causing health problems. Despite the gruesome undertone, the walking tour is a must for any tourist. English-speaking guides are available to take you through the eerie tunnels. A point that can’t be stressed enough, book online and pay extra to skip the queue. This will save you around two or three hours of your time and cost you €30. Even in October, popular attractions are still very busy and nobody likes standing in line for what feels like an eternity.
The Louvre Museum
The world’s largest art museum, the Louvre, is home to thousands of modern and classic masterpieces. Visitors to the museum can discover varies collections such as Egyptian Antiquities and Islamic Art. Hundreds, even thousands of tourists throng the museum everyday, so planning prior to entering the Louvre is recommended. Know what exhibits you want to see and make sure to grab a map. There are audio guides available but they’re not particularly necessary and the battery goes quite quickly on the devices. There is free admission for those aged 18-25 who are residents of the European Economic Area. If you’re not notably interested in art, it’s still worth a visit as the grounds and the building itself are impressive.
Given its status, it’s hard to believe that Parisians detested the 324 metre structure when it was constructed. Now, locals cannot imagine the city without it. It can’t be stressed enough how crucial it is to buy tickets online to avoid long queues. Sunset occurs around 7pm in October and many aim to reach the ascent to the top before dusk falls. This results in long queues so avoid this time if you haven’t pre-booked tickets. Another misconception is that going early ensures you avoid the lines. The tower is open from 9.30am-11pm and you can be sure that if you arrive early, dozens of people will be queuing already. From experience, the later you enter, the shorter the wait. The base of the tower is free to visit after going through security. If you want to burn off those crepes you’ve been devouring, you can climb to the second floor via the 704 steps. If that doesn’t sound appealing, lifts ascend to the three floors but you must change lifts at the second floor to access the top. There’s a champagne bar at the top but it’s expensive. Get a pizza and a bottle of prosecco from one of the many street vendors (you can haggle for a better price) and sit in the park across from the tower and wait for the tower to twinkle. Come evening time, the tower is adorned with sparkles for 5 minutes every hour on the hour, very romantic.
Cruise on the Seine River
No trip to Paris is complete without a cruise on the Seine River. The cruise allows you to take in many of the highlights of the city such as the Lourve, Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. The commentary is short but effective and gives you important information about the structures dotted along the river. Bateaux Mouches is the oldest company offering cruises on the river and charge €13.50 for a ticket. Their boats are very big so it’s not necessary to make a reservation. However, because of this, it is popular among large tourists groups which may be off putting. Go in the evening to watch the sun set behind the Eiffel Tower.
Once you’ve ticked off all the famous landmarks on your to-do list, get your picnic blanket and make your way to one of the French capital’s stunning parks. The Jardin du Luxembourg is located in the 6th arrondissement and is home to six tennis courts, a playground, a vintage carousel and magnificent sculptures. The gardens, which cover over 60 acres, are split into French and English gardens. Dividing the two lies a large pond where children often sail their model boats. It’s a great place to mingle with the locals and is famed for its calm atmosphere. With free musical performances and cafes nearby, you’ll spend hours there bathing in the October sunshine.
Image credit: Shauna Coen