During the year and half James and I lived in Paris we managed to do, I daresay, most of the touristy things. We loved almost everything, but if you only have a few days in the City of Light there are a few sights you should go ahead and cross off your list. (On the other hand, if you are in Paris for a while, by all means, see everything!!!)
1. La Conciergerie
Unless you are a huge French revolution history buff, you’re probably better off spending your time somewhere else. Their biggest claim to fame is the prison cell where Marie Antoinette was held, but what you see is actually just a recreation. Although they do have some interesting special exhibits every so often.
2. Going to the top of the Eiffel Tower
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Eiffel Tower, but there are about a million better ways to see it and the city. You’re going to spend at least an hour waiting in line that you could be spending taking fun pictures on the Champs de Mars or at Trocadéro. To get great views of the Eiffel Tower and the rest of the city take a Seine River cruise instead. Or the escalators to the top of the Centre Pompidou! Or climb the Notre Dame Towers!
I have actually never done this (although I’ve tried twice) because it requires a minimum 3 hour wait and it closes at 4:30. So if you’re not in line by noon, you’re probably not getting in. James has been though, and he said it was sort of interesting. Also, if you’re even the slightest bit claustrophobic, definitely pass on this one.
4. Montparnasse Cemetery
Not to hate on the Left Bank, but the Pere Lachaise cemetery is so much cooler. Go to that one instead.
5. Shopping at the big department stores (grands magasins) – Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, and Bon Marche*
When we lived in Paris, I loved shopping and roaming around the grands magasins, especially during the sale periods and Christmas. But let me tell you, it is madness. Unless you’re intent on doing some major shopping, save yourself the headache. The stores are beautiful, but they wouldn’t be high on my list if I only had a few days in Paris. (Well, unless you’re visiting during the Christmas season, then you must brave the crowds at Galeries Lafayette and Printemps to see the window displays!)
*If you do happen to be in the area, definitely go to the grocery section of Galeries Lafayette or the Bon Marche epicierie (which is just across the street). They have really fun, fancy French grocery products that you could take home as souvenirs/gifts. Think fancy mustard in a million flavors, feur de sel, salted butter caramel, chocolate, cookies, and more!