The city of love, Paris! One of my favorite cities to visit. The history, the art, passion of it’s people and the delicious food that goes with it! Paris is a top destination for anyone going to Europe and is known as one of the three most important cities to visit. You’ll learn why Paris is the city of love and the abundance of things to do when you get here.
Top 5 Things To Do
- Palace of Versailles – Versailles is a day trip from Paris by train. An amazing palace and mouth dropping gardens make this a must see in the area. Start your day out early and plan to spend some time here.
- Notre dame cathedral – There will be a line no doubt but worth it. If you get a chance to take the stairs to the top of the cathedral and see the bell, it’s a must. A beautiful cathedral that is one of the most well known churches in the world.
- Eiffel Tower – If you’re going to Paris, you’re going to see the Eiffel Tower. This is a bucket list item for most, and for good reason. An amazing man made marvel. If you get the chance, take a dinner cruise and watch it from the river as it’s lit up in all its splendor.
- Arc de Triomphe – Watching the traffic around this is a view in its own right, but to get to the top and look down at the busy streets of Paris from above is quite a sight to see.
- Sacre Coeur de Montmartre – On a beautiful day, there are crowds of people taking their lunch in front of this amazing site. Take the stairs to the top and get the best view of Paris in my opinion.
- Arc de Triomphe
- Pont Alexandre III
- Musee d’Orsay
- Dinner Boat Cruise
Flight: The flight from London to Paris was a simple up and down flight. Paris CDG is right outside of Paris and it was fairly easy going through customs. Once outside of customs, you then have to choose your mode of transportation. We chose to take the train, as it was fairly easy to figure out their rail system in the city. We used it most of the time to navigate through Paris. Once we got into the city from the main airport, that’s when we decided to take an uber. The uber driver was very free wielding and drove a bit crazy from our standards. It felt like everyone was constantly honking at each other as they through care to the wind!
We made our way to our Airbnb and got situated before heading out for the day. We chose an Airbnb that was actually walking distance from the Eiffel tower and looking back on this, it was a great decision. Staying close to the Eiffel tower gives you close proximity to everything within the area and also there are some great restaurants around the area. Plus personally, I was able to scratch the coffee in front of the Eiffel tower off of my bucket list.
The apartments here are a bit different. The main thing we noticed as we traveled across Europe was the size of the bathrooms. The shower is extremely small and you can barely fit a person in it so I would go in with these expectations. Think cozy, and you should be fine!
Another thing to note is that we stopped and got the museum pass for the city. What we’ve found is that this is usually the best way to go if you will be seeing several museums and attractions on your stay. For the price and the reduced time waiting in lines, it’s worth it. Look up your options Ana number of days for a museum pass while in the city, it’s probably worth it.
Arc de Triomphe: If there is a top sight (besides the Eiffel Tower) that people think of when they think of Paris, it’s the Arc de Triomphe. It stands for those who fought and died in the french revolution and Napoleonic wars. The Arc stands at the end of Champs-Elysees and is a sight to behold. The traffic on the other hand, is a bit scary when you first experience the area. Traffic is constantly moving in a circle around the Arc and from our experience, the drivers in France can be a little aggressive to say the least. To get to the Arc, you have to actually go under the streets and up. It will then take you up several areas and a neat staircase, until you finally make your way up to the top. The view is great and you can see the different blocks in perfect patterns when you get there. Also, if this is your first stop on your trip, you get the first view of the iconic Eiffel Tower from here.
Champs-Elysees: We moved over to the main shopping area of Paris. I guess coming from the US, it would be considered the Rodeo drive of Paris. We walked through and honestly didn’t spend as much time as we probably could have here. We honestly decided as we went through a couple of shops, we weren’t in the mood for shopping. There is a lot to do in Paris and we can always shop at home. It’s nice to go through the area and I would probably use it more as a stroll through and window shop on your way from the Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde.
Pont Alexandre III: As we strolled through and made our way further from the Arc, we experienced the beauty of Paris in the fall. The changing of leaves around the area fits perfectly into a fall romance. We made our way over to Pont Alexandre III. An iconic bridge connecting the two areas of Paris across the Seine River. It’s a lovey stroll across and it was a perfect “bridge” to get us to the opposite side where we had our next attraction to visit. Sorry I had to throw a dad joke in there!
Musee d’Orsay: Our first museum for the trip, and we felt like we were instantly transported back to another era for a brief time. Passionate street musicians playing lovely music as people sat on the steps of the museum and listened. We sat and listened for a while before entering the building.
As we got into the building, we actually found the layout to be very user friendly. It is a wide open space with corridors throughout to explore. Various time periods are placed nicely in the corridors and the middle of the museum has large sculpture for the most part. We actually found more enjoyment out of this museum vs the Louvre. Mainly for accessibility and less crowds constantly pushing through to see exhibits. Don’t sleep on this museum though, it holds works from Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet and Rodin to name a couple. It gets over 3 million visitors a year so it is still a highly trafficked museum.
Dinner Boat Cruise: We made our way back home for enough time to change and get ready for our dinner cruise. We met at the Seine river, a riverboat was awaiting us when we got there. The tour started down the river and we started with a nice glass of wine as we floated down the river. There are three different options of menus for you to choose from, we went for the middle ground. I got my first experience with pâté, it was alright but this was probably the best experience I had with it over time. As you eat, you float down the Seine as the sun drops on the city. The boat takes you up past the Eiffel tower and the French Statue of Liberty, before taking you back down the river. We loved the food and the sights were amazing. This gave a whole different view of the city that you wouldn’t get on foot. We were also lucky enough to see the Eiffel tower on a celebration night. It was amazing to see the Eiffel tower light up as it reached 300 million visitors. Highly recommend the dinner cruise on your tour of Paris, especially on the first night here. It gives a great overview of the city and you will instantly be enchanted by what this city has to offer.
- Eiffel Tower
- Palace of Versailles
- Street Market
Eiffel Tower: I woke up in the morning and I was excited to knock another thing off my bucket list. I wanted to drink my coffee in front of the Eiffel Tower. I found a local cafe, grabbed a cup of joe and I was off to the front of the tower. I woke up nice and early so that I got there before it got busy. There were very little people around the tower, but as my time went on, I saw more and more people coming to view the site. The Eiffel tower was created by Gustave Eiffel in 1887 and took two years to build. It was created as the entrance to the world fair for 1889 and it is the most visited paid monument in the world. It may not be the tallest building in the world but it’s still the tallest in Paris to date. Regardless, this monument is the icon of the city and you can easily see why. It’s amazing to look up at this and is always the number one attraction for anyone visiting Paris. We didn’t get a chance to go up and have a meal at the top, but it is an option that many people take. Look into it as another view of the city of romance.
*Palace of Versailles: After gazing at the Eiffel tower, it was time to head out of the city and see one of the most amazing palaces that we have ever visited. We got on the train at our closest stop and road over to Versailles. Coming up to the palace, you will see hoards of people. We took the tour and learned a lot about the history of the palace and the royalty from Louis XIV to the French Revolution and Louis XVI. The best part of the palace has to be the gardens though. The gardens are HUGE. They are absolutely gorgeous and it takes a while to get around the entire garden. When you first get outside you see an amazing water fountain as somewhat of a gateway to the gardens, from there it expands. It’s easily half a day trip to see the gardens and if you want to tour even more, you can rent a golf cart at the edge and take it even further.
Street Market: As we made our way back on the train for the evening, we decided to eat like Parisians do for the night. We found a street market that was on the way to our Airbnb. As we walked down the street, we fell in love with how it must feel to grocery shop here. So many amazing choices for meats, breads and cheeses. You could spend a lot of time just strolling through and tasting the different types of foods they have. Each shop had the freshest of ingredients and people had so much passion for their product. We picked up all we needed to make a beautiful charcuterie board and headed home. I would say to take some time and just get lost in this beautiful city. Buy local food and make something instead of eating out every night. We loved the experience.
- Louvre Museum
- Jardin des Tuileries
- Place de la Concorde
- Basilique du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre
- How to Become a Parisian in One Hour
*Louvre Museum: Waking up early on day 3 in Paris, we went to the most visited site in Paris. We used our museum passes today, which I would recommend getting for your stay. The Louvre itself is ridiculously large and can overwhelm you as you walk through. Even after creating a map of main attractions that we wanted to see and just sticking to these, we still found it to be a bit much. Watching people run to the Mona Lisa and try and get the best selfie was like watching a pride of lions attack a gazelle! We visited the main attractions like the Mona Lisa, the Great Sphinx and the Venus statue. If you wanted to tour the entire museum, you might honestly be looking at two days, it’s that big! After our top sights, we headed out of the craziness and took a stroll through Jardin des Tuileries, which is straight out from the museum. It gave us a much needed reprieve from the chaos of the Louvre.
*Jardin des Tuileries: The gardens were originally established in 1564 and have been open to the public since the French Revolution. It’s a beautiful place to have a picnic or just take a stroll through. We walked through the gardens and just took a moment to relax with the perfect fall weather. It’s a great people watching place so take your time and enjoy the day.
Place de la Concorde: The site of the execution of King Louis XVI during the French revolution, this is one of the busier squares in Paris. A statue separating Champs-Elysees and the gardens. It also gives you a beautiful view of the Arc in the distance down the street. It’s a monument that you won’t spend a lot of time at, but a nice stop on your way out of the gardens.
*Basilique du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre: We made our way to the train station again, this time to the highest point of Paris. The roman church is amazing to see in person and is also, one of the most visited monuments in the city. The area the basilica is full of life and people everywhere. On a perfect day, you will see lots of locals eating their lunches on the steps leading up to the basilica.
The basilica is gorgeous inside and the architecture is unreal to view. My favorite part about visiting the basilica was easily taking the stairs to the top. It’s a little bit of a trek but when you get to the top, you get an amazing view of the city of Paris. You even get a view of the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
On a side note, there are street performers around the area and also scam artists. Be careful that you don’t fall for a famous “guess which cup the ball is in”. They have local people around it, acting like they are winning money, but these people are also in on the scam. If you think it’s easy money, it won’t be.
How to Become a Parisian in One Hour: We made our way back to the area close to Moulin Rouge where we decided to see a show that evening. We needed some comedy in our lives and a night of relaxation after a heavy couple of days touring the city. We were not disappointed. This show is performed by Olivier Giraud and he will have you laughing from the beginning. He plays on many stereotypes of Parisian people. It’s around a 70 minute show so it won’t take too much of your time, but it was a perfect show to end our evening.
- Les Invalides
- Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris
Pantheon: Modeled on the Pantheon in Rome, it’s a building that was transformed after the French Revolution. There are some of the most notable people of France buried here, Voltaire, Victor Hugo and more. The building is pretty massive when you first come up to it and you can take a great audio guided tour while inside. Also make sure to take the stairs down to the crypt where you will see these notable figures buried.
Les Invalides: The main attraction at this residence is the Napoleon tomb. There are several other things to look at, including the military museum. We toured the area and there are some neat things to look at, but honestly this wouldn’t be ranked as a must see location in the city for us.
Sainte-Chapelle: We walked across the bridge and made our way to Sainte-Chapelle. Holy stained glass! The chapel is gothic style and has always been part of royalty. It was originally built to house Louis IX relics and included the thorns of Christ. The best part of this chapel is the level of detail in the Stained glass. As you look up, and up, and up at these windows, you see the entire Old and New Testaments. It is so intricate and the pictures don’t do it justice. Take your time and look through the chapel and be amazed by the art before you. As we left the chapel, we had one more stop to make on the day, the Notre-Dame cathedral.
Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris: Obviously one of the most famous cathedrals in the entire world. This is breathtaking to view. This was the sight of the coronation of Napoleon I and also was written about by Victor Hugo in his classic, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. While waiting in line, we actually didn’t realize that we were in line to go to the top of the cathedral as opposed to going inside. I’m so glad that we made this mistake and I hope you also make it. The steps are small on the way up and they go for a ways, but well worth it. When you get to the top, you are surrounded by gargoyles overlooking the city of Paris. These were added to the cathedral as a threat of what could happen if you stray from the church. They are amazing to see up close. What we loved even more was as we continued our way up, we made it to the bell tower. We got some great pictures of us in front of the bell tower. We made our way down and decided to not go into the cathedral as it was getting late. If you go, take the tour inside the cathedral as there is still a lot to see, but take the stairs to the top.
The city of Paris is iconic and we fell in love with the city and actually how it made you feel. We went to several restaurants on our stay and had some wonderful Parisian food. The escargot is a must if you are in city and they do it beautifully. As we made our way to our next destination in Belgium, Paris didn’t leave my mind. It’s a city of wonder that captivates you with its history and passion. You can easily see why this city is at the top of everyones list of places to visit in Europe.
*Top people watching spot