Hell again everybody! Here is a quick insight into my short trip to Paris – the city of lovers ❤
As you know I like to pack my trip with plenty of things to do which is exactly what I did. Loads of research and planning into this trip. I went for 4 days. With much consideration, I spent for the 3-day Paris Pass and after the end of the trip – I should say it was definitely worth it.
I took the Eurostar and arrived at Gare du Nord. I was hijacked by family there and that sort of threw off my plans, but hey – it’s family. We made a trek from one end of the city to the other end and back. My initial plan was to go straight to the hostel – I usually stay at YHA hostels as they are safe and reliable, then go pick up my Paris Pass and venture out to the Eiffel Tower. That didn’t happen. However, we did end of finally getting to the hostel, leaving my bag there and jetting off towards the Eiffel Tower.
I was lucky, the queue was not 5 hours long. After all the cathedral climbing in Germany, I wasn’t too keen to climb up to the top of the Eiffel. So I took the lift up. The view is breath-taking. The ticket isn’t the most expensive thing in the world. However, I don’t recommend it – maybe taking the stairs to the 2nd floor just to appreciate the beauty of the built is generally sufficient. Have a drink. Leave.
The next day morning, I took a short walk through town to go collect my Paris Pass. Then I walked towards the Big Bus stop cutting through Place Vendome – quite a posh part of Paris, where all the designer outlets are. Definitely worth a walk around peering into store windows. Now when you get to the main Big Bus stand – please note that there is a blue line and a red line. I got on the blue line which took me to parts of town that I had already gone to the previous day and that was a real waste of my time. When I finally got onto the red line my whole morning was gone. I got off at Notre Dame, and it looks just like the disney cartoon. No surprise. It is free to go in, so that’s a plus, they also have tours every hour in different languages which are also free, so I advice making use of that. I was hungry and had some time to kill before the tour, so I walked across the bridge towards St Severin Church and there are loads of choices for food, even the local delicacies that you should try – French Onion Soup, Bouillabaisse, Citron Tarte, etc. Or if you aren’t that hungry, there are several crepe stalls just on the opposite side of the Notre Dame. With your Paris Pass you can go to the top of the Notre Dame and have a heart to heart with the gargoyles, but be prepared to queue for at least an hour. They are quite popular.
After the tour, I headed off to Sainte Chapelle – it is one of Paris’ biggest secrets. It is a small church not too far away from Notre Dame, but it is breath-taking, jaw-dropping, heat-pounding. It is majestic. It is also expensive to get in. The Paris Pass allows you free entrance and all you need is 15 minutes in there. Please, I’m begging you to make time for this place. If I could married in there, I would.
I then moved on to the Louvre – it is open late on Wednesdays and Fridays, till 10pm, and those are the best times to go as it’s not well known, if you want to pace yourself without being mobbed. I just wandered around, there are lots of interesting things to see. As always I suggest that you download Rick Steves audio guide, I didn’t and walked past many paintings and sculptures that I should have recognized. The Mona Lisa always has a healthy audience, be warned.
It was nightfall when I exited the Lourve and my legs were tired (my mistake – I wore sandals instead of sneakers). It is a good idea to lounge outside the Lourve for a while – you get a good view of the Eiffel Tower from there and every hour on the hour – the Tower is a joy of shimmer as it sparkles away. It is beautiful. Don’t miss it. From there I hopped on a bus down the Champs Elysee – again because my legs were killing me and I wasn’t ready to just give up and go home just yet. It’s quaint. I got off at L’Arc De Troimphe, with your Paris Pass again you can get up there. I didn’t, I imagine it is an amazing view to see 9 open roads without any traffic lights joining up.
The next morning I was out early to get myself to Versailles – you do need to pay extra for that train ticket. The transport you get with the Paris Pass doesn’t cover that region, but it’s free entrance to the Palace. The Palace is worth the visit. The queue is long, but it moves quick enough. I was unlucky again, the gardens which is also a massive highlight and usually free to the public was ticket entry only due to fountain shows. If you don’t have the whole day, get on a tram to take you around. It’s a humongous area of land to cover. Go see the pink marble palace of Marie Antoinette, it is a mini wonder. I had a cup of hot chocolate at Angelina – one of the best places to have hot chocolate – melted anadultered chocolate in a cup.
Back to Paris I went then and straight to the Museum D’Orsay. This time I did download Rick Steves Audiobook in advance and had a much better museum self-tour. I had some time to kill before I was to get on the Bateaux Parisienne so I ventured towards Jardin Du Luxembourg to just sit and people watch for a while and ended up at the Pantheon instead. An incredible structure, lots different than the one in Rome. It was closed so I’m not sure what it houses. I strolled down towards the park, passing the University of Paris, overwhelming building. I went through the park, it is the home of the original Lady Liberty which is still there and walked towards Saint Sulpice Church. There was just something about it that caught my eye, so I sat there instead.
You can catch a bus from there directly to the dock of the Bateaux Parisenne. I had every intention to go on the river cruise at sunset and my timing was impeccable. I must admit, Paris is gorgeous at night. There is life along the Seine with young and old, sitting and picnicking, drinking, dancing and catching up. People waving at you from every bridge you pass.
I took the tube from there to Tour Montparnasse. The Paris Pass gets you access to the 56th floor and the rooftop where you can get wonderful views of Paris including high tech telescopes to look at the stars. They close at 11pm. Last entry was at 10 30pm and I made it by 10 25, nick of time. Now that was worth. You can always come earlier and spend sunset there, there is no time period for how long you can stay.
My last and final day, I headed back into the heart of Paris. Starting at Museum De L’Orangerie (all museums are free the first Sunday of every month). I do recommend it if you are a fan of impressionist and post-impressionist art. It is the smallest of the 3 main art museums in the capital. From there, I jetted off towards the Palais Garnier. I highly recommend going there. The beauty and elegance of this place is absolutely out of this world considering the period it was built in. It is also the home of the phantom of the opera. The entrance and tour is included in your Paris Pass.
Across the road is Fragonard, the Perfume Museum. They do have a lovely collection, and I probably spent far too much money there.
From there it was off to Sacre Coeur. Because it was Sunday there was a lovely service going on and oh my god the nuns were singing and I could have just cried. It is very simple in comparison to Notre Dame, but there is life and soul in there. You do get a lovely view of the city from up there, and again your Paris Pass allows you access to the top of the Cathedral but I didn’t have the time for it. A short walk from there is a dedicated Dali Museum – if you’ve got 15 minutes for a quick browse, by all means go. There are also loads of places to eat there in a lively outdoor environment.
Tips: Be very careful of your belongings. There were so many thefts in the subway. The police are everywhere and are quite vigilant. And you don’t have to go to posh place to get good quality macarons, there are equally good ones at Maison Georges Larnicol. Or you could do the macaron tour and hit up Laudrees and Pierre Herme and Carette. Enjoy the french food. People watch. If time is on your side – go watch a show at the Moulin Rouge!