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I'm an American who's lived in Paris for 2 years. Here are 6 things every tourist should do and 2 they can skip.

Moriah Costa   

I'm an American who's lived in Paris for 2 years. Here are 6 things every tourist should do and 2 they can skip.
I moved to Paris over two years ago to live with my French husband.Audio und werbung/Shutterstock
  • I've lived in Paris for over two years, so I've learned the best and worst places to take visitors.
  • For first-time tourists, I recommend having a picnic by the Seine and going to the Marché Bastille.

I've lived in Paris for over two years with my French husband and visited the city many times before that.

It's one of the most popular tourist destinations — for good reason. There's a ton of culture, food, and museums.

When my friends or family ask me where to go when visiting Paris, there are a few places that stand out. But there are also some hot spots I tell them to skip, especially if they're coming for the first time,

Have a picnic by the Seine.

Have a picnic by the Seine.
The Seine is a river that runs through Paris.      Moriah Costa

If you want to do what the locals do, have a picnic by the Seine.

Grab your drink of choice, some cheese, and, of course, a baguette (preferably from a real boulangerie).

The activity is best during the spring and summer — when it's not raining. But I still recommend taking in the views from the banks of the Seine no matter what time of year it is.

The banks are pretty easy to get to, and there's room to bike, walk, or even run. Don't forget to check out the famous bouquinistes, who sell books and souvenirs from small wooden stands along the river.

Go to the Marché Bastille.

Go to the Marché Bastille.
There are plenty of quality markets in Paris, but I like the one by the Bastille best.      Moriah Costa

You can't visit Paris without enjoying some good food.

One of my favorite French traditions is going to a market on Sundays — in fact, that's where I do my weekly grocery shopping.

To get a sense of the local food and vibes, I suggest going to the market near the Bastille. It's huge, and there are many different vendors and shops selling everything from fresh produce and meat to flowers and crafts.

I often take my friends who are visiting here to grab street food for lunch and buy some local cheese and artisanal products to take home as souvenirs.

Take a walk in Buttes-Chaumont public park.

Take a walk in Buttes-Chaumont public park.
The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is a charming public park on the northeast side of the city.      Moriah Costa

Paris boasts many beautiful parks, but one of my favorites is Buttes-Chaumont. Every time I walk through it, I feel like I am back in 19th-century Paris — it still looks very similar to when it opened in 1867.

The public park is in the northeast part of Paris. But it's very hilly, so I like to get off at the Botzaris métro stop and walk down the park instead of up.

Buttes-Chaumont has a lot of amenities, including a restaurant, photo booth, and bathrooms. You can even get sparkling water from its main public drinking fountain.

Visit the Hôtel de la Marine for a history lesson.

Visit the Hôtel de la Marine for a history lesson.
The Hôtel de la Marine is a museum, not a hotel.      Moriah Costa

If you want to learn what life was like in Paris before, during, and after the French Revolution, check out the Hôtel de la Marine.

The museum has an interactive audio guide that's top-notch. When I visited with my in-laws, we all felt like we'd been transported to the past.

Plus, the Hôtel de la Marine offers great views of the Place de la Concorde, and you can go for a walk in the nearby Tuileries Garden before or after your visit.

Explore the Le Marais neighborhood.

Explore the Le Marais neighborhood.
I love Le Marais in the fourth arrondissement of Paris.      Moriah Costa

One of my favorite areas to explore when my friends come to visit is Le Marais, located in the city's fourth arrondissement.

The neighborhood has a lot of unique shops, boutiques, and art galleries.

It was once the city's Jewish quarter, and you can still find a lot of great kosher restaurants serving falafel. And, literature fans, it's home to Victor Hugo's apartment, which is free to enter.

Have an apéro on a terrace.

Have an apéro on a terrace.
Apéro is short for apéritif, or a drink before a meal.      Moriah Costa

The apéritif, or apéro, is a sacred time in France.

It's a light drink (usually a glass of wine) and snacks that are served an hour or so before dinner. In Paris, that can be any time between 5 and 8 p.m.

It's also the best time to go to a terrace bar or restaurant to people-watch and admire the latest Paris fashion.

Pro tip: Don't be afraid to ask for the check when you're done with your drink or meal. Unlike in the US, the servers in Paris don't usually bring it unprompted.

On the other hand, I don't think you need to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

On the other hand, I don
Sometimes you can't even go up the tower on hazy days.      Moriah Costa

This might be controversial, but I don't advise my friends and family to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

It's expensive — 29.40 euros, about $32, to get to the top. Even just riding up to the second floor costs 18.80 euros.

Access is often sold out, so you need to book months in advance. Plus, when the weather is bad or it's raining you can't see much.

Instead, I take my friends to a free rooftop near the Paris Opéra that has great views.

The Lourve is wonderful — but not for first-time visitors.

The Lourve is wonderful — but not for first-time visitors.
The famous art museum is usually very crowded.      Moriah Costa

I love the Louvre. But if you're visiting for the first time, I'd skip it.

The famous art museum has an incredible collection, but it's pretty much always crowded.

Plus, it's impossible to see everything in one day. I've been to the Louvre four times in the past year, and I still haven't seen everything.

Instead, I'd visit one of the city's other great (and more manageable) museums, like the Louis Vuitton Foundation, Musée d'Orsay, or Musée Carnavalet.

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