Pardon my French
What is it about Paris that makes locals and foreigners alike flock to it? Paris has many attractions, but it wasn’t until my recent visit that I began to really feel something for the capital of France. People dream of visiting Paris all the time. When people think of Europe they think of cities like Paris and London. Well, really exploring Paris on my own and just soaking it all in, is probably what made me truly see Paris for all it's beauty. Paris is a city that never lets up. If you returned time and time again there will always be something new to do such as world famous landmarks, museums mixed with chic shopping, cafe life, and floating down the Seine river. Here in Paris, I tried to squeeze in so many things in my 3 day itinerary! I took an evening canal ride down the Seine River, hiked up the Eiffel Tower, climbed the Tower of Notre Dame, toured the Louvre, and took a day trip to the Palace of Versailles.
After getting orientated with the city, we then made our way to a boat tour, where we floated down the Siene River and saw the city at dusk. This river cruise runs every thirty minutes so you don't have to worry about trying to buy a ticket ahead of time. The cruise lasts an hour so it won't take up all your time in Paris either. The cruise, which is only 15 euros, is narrated by a live human in as many languages as are being spoken on that particular trip. Always take that trip after sunset. That was the best part about this experience, we were able to see the city go from being awake in the day, to falling asleep at dusk, and then come back to life at night; the entire city lit up in such a spectacular way that it was even more stunning than in the movies.
I did hike up the Eiffel Tower, but that is a story in itself. Click here to read about how I felt seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time, as well as, my experience hiking 700 stairs to the top!
Next on the list, climbing the tower of Notre Dame. Notre Dame de Paris is a historical medieval Catholic cathedral famous for it’s Gothic design (and of course, my fellow Disney fans, The Hunchback of Notre Dame). Inside the cathedral there are a total of 10 bells and the largest is located in the south tower and weighs about 13 tons. It rings to mark the hours of the day and for various occasions. Between months April through September, Notre Dame is open from 10 am - 6:30 pm; In months October - March Notre Dame is open from 10 am to 5:30 pm. The entry location is outside cathedral on rue du Cloitre Notre-Dame (as you are facing the front of the Cathedral this is on the left side of the church). Here are a couple reasons everyone should climb the Tower of Notre Dame.
- First, once you are in the tower you get a center of city view which includes the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triumph, the Louvre, and Sacre-Coeur. Notre Dame is literally in the center of Paris, it is the official "zero" mile marker of Paris. Second, the price is unbeatable.
- Get to see the gargoyles up close!
- It only cost 10 euros and the line to climb Notre Dame is usually at most 25 minutes long. So why wouldn't you want to go up in Notre Dame and get a center view of Paris?
- Did I mention that when climbing the tower you can see the bells of Notre Dame? How cool is that! Naturally I jammed out to the song "Bells of Notre Dame" from the Disney movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame!
In Paris, naturally I had to tour the Louvre and pay a visit to Mona Lisa! In case anyone isn't sure what the Louvre is, it is the world's best known, biggest, and busiest museum. The idea of touring the Louvre can be very overwhelming in the sense that there is so much to see and cannot be done in one day. The Louvre has 35,000 works of art on display in 300 different rooms. So what is important to see and what isn't? I bought a skip the line ticket that allowed me to see the highlights of the museum with a guide which I highly suggest doing. If you are going to buy a ticket to visit the Louvre, buy either a skip the line ticket or buy your ticket months in advance to avoid waiting hours in line. The one thing I was determined to see was the Mona Lisa. Mona Lisa is much smaller in person and is permanently placed behind her bullet-proof screen. If you are patient, you can shoulder your way through the tide of people until you are up against the barrier which is set a few feet away from the painting. I didn't have time to wait for the masses of people to leave because I was on a guided tour and they weren't waiting for anything or anyone. So I squeezed my scrawny elbows to the very front and managed to get my selfie with her. Even if you aren't big on art, everyone needs to visit the Louvre at least once and see the famous Mona Lisa.
On our last day in Paris, we took a day trip to tour the Palace of Versailles. In 1789, King Louis XIV moved the royal court to Versailles within three months after the French Revolution began. During this time Marie Antoinette married King Louis XVI and they lived in the palace. Antoinette, as you know probably know was a shopaholic and the people hated her for it. Eventually she was beheaded via guillotine right outside the palace for being convicted of high treason. The exterior of the palace is gold – nothing more and nothing less. And the sun reflects off every surface point. The interior can only be described as lavish. Immaculate paintings, gorgeously carved and molded furniture, chandeliers for days, marble on every surface, and art work in every possible medium. In the center of the Palace is the Hall of Mirrors. The Hall of Mirrors has seen emperors proclaimed and empires taken away so it is appropriate that the mirrors themselves reflects the spilled blood and boiling jealousies of the tides of power. Just to give you a visual idea of how enormous this palace is, it contains 2,300 rooms. Despite the gold exterior, the grounds of the palace are the best part. Directly west of the terrace is the Latona Fountain and the Royal Walk extends westward from the palace. On the grounds there are 1,000 trees including orange, lemon, and pomegranate. There is also the Swiss Lake which is an artificial lake. You could spend hours getting lost through the mazes of land. The palace is only a short 20 minute train from the centre of Paris. As you approach the palace, the size of it strikes you. It feels like a city within a city. The mass of tourists also hit you as you stand outside and wait. Even inside it's impossible to escape the mass of people, but don't let this stop you from visiting the Palace. It is a must see world class attraction with loads of history.
Other must do's while in Paris:
- take a cooking class
- If you like vibrant colors and cool photo ops I suggest taking a stroll through the neighborhood, Montmarte. From it's pink pastel buildings you'll feel like a local strolling through this french neighborhood.
- I'm not big on spending a ton of time in museums, however I will stop by world famous museums. If museums are your thing, Paris has so many to visit such as the Pompidou, the Louvre and the d’Orsay.
I could live in Paris for years and still not scratch the surface of all Paris has to offer.
Paris has something for everyone whether it be art museums, seeing historical sights, or even just finding a cute cafe for a crêpe or baguette.
I Louvre you Paris and I will return!