Paris is Magnifique
Paris Travel Blog› entry 1 of 2 › view all entries
I visited Paris in early March, 2009 (and March, 2010) and it is one of the most stunning cities I've seen. There are many sides to Paris, with something appealing to everyone. Whether it be famous landmarks, art museums, architecture, historic churches, a walk along the Seine, shopping or eating fantastic food, the city will entice you.
The City is very compact and with a fantastic and easy-to-use metro system, everything is readily accessible. I stayed in the Latin Quarter just four blocks from Notre Dame Cathedral. The Latin Quarter is filled with restaurants and bars, and being near the Sorbonne university, there is always something going on.
Some of my favorite spots in Paris include the following:
(1) I would start on the Left Bank with the Musee D' Orsay, which is an extensive art museum in a restored train station. The French Impressionist artwork is amazing. If you are lucky enough to be in Paris the first Sunday of the month, the museum is also free.
(2) Walking along the Left Bank, the Eiffel Tower is not to be missed. If you are lucky enough to go at night, the Eiffel Tower lit up is truly beautiful. You will find yourself walking around Paris trying to catch a glance of the Eiffel Tower from different angles--both during the day and at night. The pictures in movies do not do it justice.
(3) While I thought it would be too touristy at first, a boat trip on the Seine is a lot of fun.
(4) In the center part of the City, not many tourists seem to go there, but one of my favorite spots is Ile St. Louis, the island directly behind Notre Dame Cathedral. The Ile St. Louis is famous for ice cream and I lost track of how many scoops I ate. The Ile St. Louis is a nice escape from all the tourists around Notre Dame. The crowds seem to melt away as soon as you cross the bridge into Ile St. Louis.
(5) Sainte Chapelle Cathedral is truly beautiful. If you are lucky enough to be there at night, a concert is not to be missed.
(6) Speaking of concerts, when I returned to Paris in March, 2010, I happened to pick a classical concert off the internet at the Church of St. Ephrem in the Latin Quarter. Without a doubt, this is one of the best things I've ever done. The concert was Chopin and the pianist was very in touch with his music. The concert was an hour and a half and I was transported away. The church was lit with candles and most of the audience were French, which is a good sign. I don't know who the pianist was (perhaps a music student at the nearby Sorbonne?) but this concert was moving and beautiful. Sitting in an candlelit, historic church in Paris with the sounds of a piano was incredible. Tickets for these concerts are available at http://www.
(7) A visit to Opera Garnier needs to be a part of any visit to Paris. You can almost imagine what seeing an opera show would be like, between all the historic walls of the opera with the incredible Chagall painting on the ceiling. I took a few pictures of the Chagall ceiling but photos do not do it justice.
(8) Arc De Triomphe is interesting to get to. The Arc sits in a very scary traffic circle in the middle of twelve boulevards. The only way to get there without getting hit (unless you can run really fast) is to take an underground tunnel, which is fairly well marked.
(9) Walking, walking, walking. Paris is a walking city and to go easy on the budget, there are fantastic cheese shops, bread shops, wine shops, fruit and vegetable shops and pastry shops.
One of my favorite districts to walk through is the Marais district. This area seems less touristy but the architecture and narrow streets are unique. This area is also the best district to window shop with all sorts of creative boutiques.
(10) Galeries Lafayette Department Store--There is a beautiful glass ceiling (which is in the photos) and a nice bar to splurge on a glass of champagne. Hidden in the basement for foodies is an unbelievable food hall with everything from mounds and mounds of spices to an olive bar to a cheese stand to a butcher.
(11) As a side trip, a visit to Versailles Palace is not to be missed. Easily accessible by train on the RER C line, this is about a 30 minute journey from central Paris. The interior of the Palace is awe inspiring and you can almost imagine how the kings and queens lived (and why the people rose up against such wealth). My favorite room is the hall of mirrors which is elegant and ornate.
The gardens in Versailles can also take hours. I'm sorry I didn't spend more time here as the grounds were incredibly stunning. When walking the grounds, keep an eye out for a food stand called La Parmentier de Versailles who make the best baked potatoes I've ever had.
(12) Promenade Plantee is a little out of the way in the 12th arrondissement, but highly worth a visit. In the sky above Paris, a former railway viaduct has been transformed into the world's first overhead park. The trail is roughly a three miles walk and the view of Paris is different from four floors up. I loved all the Art Deco buildings in the area and wished I had seen this park in the spring when everything was in bloom.
(13) The Rodin Museum should be on any visitor's list. Hidden in an historic chateau in central Paris, the scupltures and grounds are beautiful. I am usually more of a painting fan but I loved the entire atmosphere of the Rodin. Even though you are in central Paris, you feel like you are on a country estate.
There is so much to see in Paris that no one will be disappointed.
If you are thinking about a trip to Paris, this traveler highly recommends it. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. One visit is not enough and you will want to go back for more. C'est magnifique!