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Sometimes it is not possible to travel for health, money, or family reasons. Here in World in Paris, we all love to travel but just because we like to travel it does not mean that we can do it all the time. Unfortunately. . .
We fully believe in seizing the moment while you can (carpe diem!) but even if we are young, full of energy and perhaps we also have the budget to travel, sometimes life isn’t always that simple. Does it sound familiar to you?
What to do when you have to postpone your dreamed trip to Paris or when you just cannot make it yet?
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Below, we give you some ideas on how to travel to Paris virtually, without leaving home.
Read Books Set in Paris
There’s no doubt that good books can make you travel. Depending on the genre, books can give you a glimpse of daily life in another country or city or they can even make you travel back in time!
Months ago we asked some fellow travel bloggers about their favorite books set in Paris and we got a cool list of best books to read about Paris that we like to share without moderation.
We also asked our friends in our Facebook Group, France Bucket List, to help us with this task (#virtualtravel) and we also got some great suggestions of books set in Paris and in France:
- Le jour où j’ai appris à vivre by Laurent Gounelle FR
- Jean de Florette by Marcel Pagnol
- The Accursed Kings (Les Rois Maudits) by Maurice Druon
- Paris to the Past: Traveling through French History by Train by Ina Caro
- Death at the Chateau Bremont (Provencal Mystery Book #1) by M.L Longworth
- Les Parisiennes by Anne Sebbe
- Paris Echo by Sebastian Faulks
- Waking up in Paris by Sonia Choquette
All the books can be bought online on Amazon. You can also look for these books at your local library.
Take a Paris Virtual Tour by a Professional Guide
If you are stuck at home, a Paris virtual tour can be a great way to wander around the City of Lights virtually. During the world’s lockdown of March to May 2020, the travel industry worked hard against the clock to provide great virtual tours by professional guides.
The Paris virtual tours by licensed guides can be done at home, or wherever you are and provide a great insight into a particular place or tourist attraction in Paris. These Paris virtual tours can be done alone or with all the family for the same price and they can be the perfect complement to your future Paris trips.
Join a licensed art historian on a fully interactive virtual tour of the Louvre Museum filled with photos, videos, a wide array of interactive activities, and a live Q&A.
Discover the art inside the Louvre from the comfort of your home on a fully interactive virtual 1-hour webinar led by an expert art historian highlighting masterpieces like The Mona Lisa, Liberty Leading the People, The Winged Victory of Samothrace, and Venus de Milo. Hear the stories behind these masterworks, which you can’t find with a simple google search.
Discover the macabre history of the Catacombs of Paris from home whilst listening to a French historian tell you the secrets of this haunting space.
This tour explores the Catacomb’s network of tunnels and gets access to rooms that are off-limits to the public who do the on-site tours. All without the lines!
Join a 1-hour live webinar with a local guide to learn about the two most iconic landmarks of Paris.
First, you will explore the Eiffel Tower and learn about its history. Your guide will lead you on a virtual climb of the tower, seeing the sweeping vistas from each level, while telling you stories about the “Iron Lady”.
Next is the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the stunning Gothic church badly hit by a terrible fire in 2019 and currently not available for on-site visits. Learn about its new form of architecture that led the way for many grand churches to be built across Europe and throughout the world.
Other Free Virtual Tours on YouTube
For this, the Internet is your best ally and on video-sharing platforms like YouTube, you can find free virtual tours around different places in Paris and beyond. These virtual tours are usually done by travel bloggers or travel websites, rarely by licensed guides. These are our favorites:
- One day in Paris: 360° Virtual Tour with Voice Over
- Paris 360° Experience | Escape Now
- Versailles, from gardens to Trianon Palaces
Some of these virtual tours make us travel back in time! Wondering how Paris looked like in Medieval times? Walk around Cité during the Middle Ages with this virtual tour.
Take a Virtual Museum Tour
Today some of the most important museums in the French capital are willing to go beyond their walls and share their artwork with people that cannot make it to Paris. See the best of the Louvre Museum or Orsay Museum without leaving home!
The Museums of the City of Paris (Carnevalet, Musée Cernuschi, Musée Bourdelle . .) propose 3.000 artworks online and you can find them by museum, author or period here
Visit the Orsay Museum virtually through a selection of artworks commented by art experts.
To get a glimpse of the Louvre Museum head to its Facebook page where every day there’s an artwork commented under the hashtag #UnJourUneOeuvre.
In addition, the Louvre’s website proposes three virtual tours of three different areas: Egyptian Antiquities, Medieval Louvre, and the Apollon Gallery. For these tours, the download of Flash is necessary. Then use the mouse to wander around these three areas and admire all their artworks.
Host a Paris-themed Trivia Night at Home or in Zoom
How well do you know Paris? Get ready to test your knowledge of all things Parisian with this free Paris-themed quiz. You can host a trivia night at home or in zoom with your family or Paris-loving friends. Add a glass of French wine and some French music and you are halfway there.
This free Paris quiz has 4 rounds of 10 questions each. The first questions are very easy, it is the quiz warm-up! Then it gets more difficult and you will need all your Parisian skills to win the quiz.
With some people and a few wines involved, this will take around an hour to complete.
A night at the Opéra Garnier
After the initiative of the New York Opera to broadcast its shows for free, the Opéra de Paris has taken the same digital shift. From this Tuesday, March 17, you can discover and rediscover in the Opera website some iconic operas and ballets like the Swan Lake, Carmen or Don Giovanni. The good thing? There’s no dress code to join!
Below, the virtual agenda at the Opéra Garnier:
- From 17 to 22 March : Manon
- From 23 to 29 March : Don Giovanni (2019)
- From 30 March to 05 April : Le Lac des cygnes (2019)
- From 06 to 12 April : Le Barbier de Séville (2014)
- From 13 to 19 April : Soirée Robbins (2018)
- From 20 to 26 April : Les contes d’Hoffmann (2016)
- From 27 April to 03 May : Carmen (2017)
- From 17 April to 03 May : Le cycle des symphonies de Tchaïkovski.
Study the Basics of French
Did you have to postpone your travel plans for Paris? Take this extra time before your trip to study the basics of French so you can exchange some words with the locals once you make it to Paris.
Most communities offer language courses and usually French is one of the main options. You can also learn French at home with an online course or an app.
My favorite online learning platform is Busuu (the name honors an African language almost disappeared). Behind Busuu there is a large community of students ready to review your grammar and pronunciation exercises and they are always very fast! I have always used the paid version (tried with German and Portuguese) but there’s also a free version with fewer options.
Other favorites are Duolingo, Rosetta Stone or Brainscape
Then, you can imagine dialogs in a boulangerie, in a Parisian bistro or at the check-in counter of your Parisian hotel and learn the basic vocabulary for these situations.
Do you have a French friend near you? Then it’s time to stalk him for a little bit of French conversation!
Enjoy a Glass of French Wine
Some people (me included) just need a glass of wine while sitting in his favorite corner to enjoy a bit of Paris or France.
The best French wines will take you to the best French wine regions and in fact some of the best wine regions in the world. Names like Beaucastel, Coche-Dury, Pétrus, Margaux, or Haut-Brion, are amongst the most venerated brands in the world and they are all “made in France”.
If you came back from your last trip to France with a bottle of French wine or two, maybe it’s time to open it and savor it with your favorite music. Click here to learn how to serve the wine at the correct temperature to enhance its taste.
Alternatively, you can buy French wine at your favorite wine store (usually little wine stores give good advice) or online.
With a bit of extra time for yourself, you may want to learn more about the best wine regions in France, wine tasting and how to pair them with your favorite food. These books below always have good ratings on Amazon.
Enlarge your Paris Bucket List by Reading Travel Blogs
Even if you can’t book any trips yet, reading travel blogs is one of the favorite ways to find out about new destinations (dream now, travel later). Spend some time browsing travel blogs to enlarge your Paris Bucket List and learn more about the city, the food, and its cultural events.
Travel bloggers are like small travel businesses, suffering the same consequences when there’s no travel. We are one of them — our blog’s readership and income have dropped by over 80%. It’s heartbreaking to see all that we have worked hard to build in the past 4 years be reduced to nothing. So if you are reading this, please please, help us by reading our articles even if you don’t have immediate travel plans. There’s no need to make any purchase: just reading and scrolling can help us out at times like this!
Here are some of our best travel articles:
Listen to French Songs
Join a free music streaming service such as Pandora or Spotify and tune in to French music stations. The good thing about France is that the French government has mandated that at least 40% of all music played on private radio stations in the country be of French origin so you will be spoilt for choice.
In addition, half of that quota of French music is also required to be less than six months old so you are sure to be up to date with the latest trends in France!
If you prefer the French classics about Paris, here’s a good list of French songs that you can find on YouTube:
Travel with your Stomach
One of the best ways to travel virtually to Paris is to eat a delicious French meal. Large cities and Most small towns have at least one French restaurant where you can savor some typical French dishes.
Alternatively, read about the famous foods to try in Paris and download your favorite recipes to prepare a whole French meal. Some eats like French crêpes or fondue need special material so be sure you have everything you need! Include family and friends and some French music to make it more special.
Watch Movies Set in Paris
Some people prefer watching movies than reading books. After all, some of the best movies are based on great books!
Today, it is possible to rent, buy or look for a movie on the Internet and travel virtually to Paris without leaving your living room. Again, we asked our friends in France Bucket List (#virtualtravel) and we got some great suggestions of movies set in Paris that can keep you busy for a while. There was a big winner though: it seems that everybody loves Midnight in Paris!
- Midnight in Paris
- A good year
- Da Vinci Code
- Mission Impossible Fallout
- The Rebel
- French Kiss
- Les Choristes
If possible watch movies that have subtitles: if you hear native French you can feel like if you were in Paris.
We hope that you found our proposals on how to visit Paris without leaving home entertaining. Although it is definitely not the same as traveling, these can be good ideas to keep your mind busy during the no travel periods or at least imagine what it is like to visit Paris . . . from home.