What to do in Paris
Paris is one of my favourite cities in the whole world. I feel that my heart has a piece left in the streets of Paris. In the words of Audrey Hepburn "Paris is always a good idea".
Paris has had a long history from the Celts living on the Island in the middle of the River (Ile de la Cite), Romans, the Plague, to the Aristocrats, the French Revolution and surviving 2 World Wars. Paris offer a diverse culture, but united as they live their lives as Parisian's.
In Paris there is so much to see and do, there is a pick of everything for everyone. A large selection of Restaurants and Cafes to relax in as the world walks past, Mouments that are iconic landmarks in Paris paying homage to different point of history and Museums with the most wonderful artwork. Paris is a city of Art from the historical buildings from La Louvre, to the multiple World Fair's leaving their iconic mark and to the Painters and Sculptors that made Paris their home.
Paris is perfect in every season making visiting possible anytime of the year. I hope my travels inspire you to get a taster of what Paris has to offer, 1 trip there and you'll want to come back again and again.
The Eiffel Tower was built for the 1889 World Fair. It was meant to be a temporary exhibit but is slowly grew to be loved and became one of Paris' most iconic monuments. The Eiffel Tower is best seen at the Trocadero which offers the best view. Once seeing the Eiffel Tower at its best angle walking down and across to the Eiffel Tower to jump in the line to head up to the top. You can reach the top of the Eiffel Tower via lift or stairs to reach either the 1st or 2nd landing. Tickets are best bought before hand online. The Eiffel Tower becomes the Sparkling Diamond of Paris at night offering Glittering lights shows every hour. It is a wonderful view no matter where you are in Paris.
Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe was built for Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte on his victory in Austerlitz. It now honors all those who fought and died for France in the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, World War I & II. It is located at the top of the Champ-Elysees and now in the middle of a shining Etoile (Star) Roundabout forming the 12 avenues that lead off to the rest of Paris. The Arc de Triomphe has one of the best views in Paris and it worth the visit up.
Pont Alexandre III
Pont Alexandre III is a gilded Gold Art Nouveau gem, it was built in between 1896 -1900 to concluded the Franco-Russian Alliance with designs from St Petersbourg and Paris weaved throughout the Bridge. It is the most beautiful bridge in Paris.
Place de Concorde
The Place de Concorde is the most important square in Paris. It was used for the executions during the French Revolution. In the centre of the Place is a Egyptian Obelisk from the reign of Ramesses II, it once marked the entrance of the Luxor Temple. The Place has statues on each corner playing homage to cities of France; Brest & Rouen, Lyon & Marseille, Bordeaux & Nantes and Lille & Strasbourg, with this statue was often draped in Black Mourning Crepe due to the Franco-Prussian War taking Alsace away from France.
The Place de Concorde now host a Ferris Wheel during the Winter season which is a wonderful view to behold when looking from the Champ Elysees or Jardin des Tuileries.
The Opera Garnier is the inspiration behind The Phantom of the Opera and you can tell why it was such a huge inspiration. This is my favourite Theatre in the world. Every where you look is a delightful feast for the Eyes, with lavish gold, marbled stairs, statue lights, ballrooms and chandelier. I don't want to spoil it for you but it is a must see in Paris. The Opera Garnier offers many different Ballet, Opera and Theatre productions. The Opera Garnier also opens its door to visits and guided tours, open every day except for Matinees. Tickets can be bought on the door or online.
Galerie Lafayette is one of the most famous department stores in Paris and the most beautiful. It offers charming windows displays which are great works of art, but the main sight to see is inside with the Glass Dome Ceiling and archways. You can see more details on each floor as you travel upwards, once you reach the top Galerie Lafayette it has a wonderful Rooftop Bar known as La Terrasse with wonderful views across Paris. If you are a shopaholic Galerie Lafayette is the perfect place with designers all over Paris and the World.
Jardin des Tuileries
The Jardin des Tuileries was once a tile factory where it owes its name to, it was first planted in 1564 and in 1664 the Gardens became the French Garden that we know today. The Gardens are what separates La Louvre from the Champ Elysees. It has idealtic walks that even Parisians use to escape life and you will often find them relaxing on one of the deck chairs dotted throughout the gardens. Inside the Garden is the Musee de l'Orangerie (Closed on Tuesdays) where is has Monet's Iconic Waterlilies, Goat's nibbling on the grass being wonderful Lawnmowers and the Place du Carrousel which features the Arc de Triomphe de Carrousel built to celebrate another victory of Napolean. What is wonderful from looking through the Arc de Triomphe de Carrousel you will see straight down the Jardin des Tuileries, Place de Concorde, Champs Elysees right through to the Arc de Triomphe all perfectly lined up.
Across the River from the Jardin des Tuileries is the Musee d'Orsay. The Musee d'Orsay was once a railway station and in 1986 it became a Museum. The Musee is home to Art from the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist era, which makes it my favourite museum in Paris. There are wonderful paintings from Monet, Renoir, Toulouse Lactrec and Van Gogh as well as sculptures from Rodin and Furniture from the Art Nouveau movement. The Musee d'Orsay is open every day apart from Monday. Tickets can be bought online or at the door or using a Paris Museum Pass.
Musee du Louvre
La Louvre is the largest Museum in the World with 17 Kilometres of corridors of Art to see, even if you went every day for a week you still wouldn't see everything the Louvre has to offer. The Louvre was originally a Palace for the French Court until King Louis XIV moved his court in 1682 to Versailles. In the ground floor of the Louvre you are able to see the last remains of the First Fortress. The Museum first opened in 1793 with the collection increasing during the Reign of Napoleon. In the Louvre there are large collections from all over the world from Egyptian to Europe. There are lots of moments where you will be gobsmacked having known some Artworks all your life, such as Venus de Milo, the painting of Anne of Cleves for Henry VIII, Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix and the famous Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci (best seen early and calmly as people do get aggressive wanting a selfie with her). The best way to see the Louvre is by having a game plan on your favourite things to see, you can get a map either online or at the Museum on the day as I get exhausted if I see too much beautiful art. My favourite viewing is French Paintings in the Richelieu and Sully Wing, they are so huge and iconic.
Tickets can either be bought online or at the ticket office or using the Paris Museum Pass. The Louvre is open daily except for Tuesdays.
One of my favourite things to do in the Evening in Paris is walk around the courtyard with the Glass Pyramid, it is only with locals there and the world is calm and beautiful. While walking around have a look out for the Arago Markers doted on the ground.
Pont des Arts
I don't know if I should share this, but this is my favourite place in the whole world. It is beautiful in every light and every season, it gives great views from each side of the River from Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. At night there are often many musicians performing making moments in Paris perfect.
Bouquinistes are one of my favourite things to do in Paris. These are little huts located along the Seine River selling souvenirs, second hand books, vintage posters, illustrations and paintings from local artist. I have bought so many treasures over the years from there that my house is covered in Artwork from Paris.
Pont Neuf mean the New Bridge, but it is the oldest bridge in Paris being over 400 years old. It has wonderful stories attached to the bridge from the gargoyles decorated across the bridge and its history of linking Paris together. The Bridge is perfect for viewing the changing colour of the city at sunset. Pont Neuf is also a gate way to the Square du Vert-Galant, this square is the perfect place to take in the city. You will often find many locals resting on the edge of the banks with picnic's enjoying the evening.
Next to the Square is a Bateau Mouche, Paris has many different Bateau Mouche experiences including Dinner Cruises but by fair this is my favourite known as the Vedettes du Pont Neuf this has to be a must visit of Paris. The boat trips last 1 hour taking you all the way to the Eiffel Tower and back. It is best viewed at night for the most amazing views Paris has to offer, you can either buy tickets online or at the ticket office.
Conceirgerie is famous for being the prison of Marie Antionette in her last few months of her life. It has been a Gothic Palace, a Royal Palace, a Palais de Justice and finally a French Revolution Prison. It is a great to understand the French Revolution and the finally moments of the Royal Family as well to see stunning the Gothic Arches. The Conciergerie is open every day and share's tickets with Sainte Chappelle or using the Paris Museum Pass.
Sainte Chapelle is one of the most beautiful chapels in the world as well as being one of the best Gothic Architectural wonders. The Chapel has 2 levels, the top floor is Gob-smacking experience is found by following a spiral staircase and once you walk through the door you will be is awe of the huge amount of stained glass windows, its high ceilings and rich colours that makes you feel like you have stepped back in time. Saint Chapelle is open every day and share's tickets with the Concergerie or using the Paris Museum Pass. When writing this blog I discovered that Sainte Chapelle host Music Concerts in the evening, most certainly be trying that out next time I go to Paris.
Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris
The Cathedrale de Notre Dame could be the most famous Cathedral in the world, finding fame in my Generation for the Cartoon Movie "The Hutchback of Notre Dame". Notre Dame is over 850 years old and it a beautiful wonder of Gothic Architecture, it is unique as it was the first time that many shapes we know of Gothic Architecture where first used to build Gothic Churches, Each part of the Cathedral if covered in wonderful carved stone and stained glass, making the Rose Window one of the best in Europe.
The Cathedral is open every day, but during Mass please be respectful of the congregation. It is also free entry, but now due to what has been happening in the world lines to get into the Cathedral are long as there are bag searches, so try going early to avoid the large crowds and long queues. The only ticketed area in Notre Dame is the climb up the stairs to the top of the Cathedrale, the Towers of Notre Dame are open daily with Tickets bought online or at Notre Dame or using Paris Museum Pass.
Marché aux Fleurs
Marche aux Fleurs is a lovely pit stop in your visit in Paris. It has been a Flower and Bird Market since the 1830's, but now it sells little birds on Sundays at its makret and has a large selection of seasonal & exotic flowers making it a sweet smelling and brightly colour corner of Paris
Saint Germain-des-Pres is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Paris, It is full of Art, Books, Restuarants and Cafes. It has some of the best places to eat in Paris like Café de Flore, Les Deux Magots and Vesuvio Pizzeria to name a few on the large selection that is there. You can never go wrong with a stroll and evening in St Germain-des-Pres.
The Eligse St-Suplice is such a unique Church compared to the large variety in Paris, but it is one of the most beautiful. It is a Baroque Church full of marble and decorative edging. What makes this Church even more unique is the Paris Meridian goes through the centre of the Church. The church is open everyday and free to enter.
Jardin du Luxembourg
The Jardin du Luxembourg is a mixture of French and Italian Gardens. It is popular with locals from the Latin Quarter who often are resting in the park enjoying the sun and company. The Gardens have a bit of everything from Greenhouses with Orchids, Rose Gardens, the famous Medici Fountain, places to play chess and boating on the ponds. There is something always happen and it is a wonderful place to rest in Paris.
The Catacombes hold the remains of over 6 million people. The Catacombs were made in 1810 when the cemeteries in Paris run out of space in the city, they made the Ossuaries to take the remains from the cemeteries into there new homes. During the Nazi Occupation of Paris, the French Resistance used the Catacombs as a hiding places to meet and plot against the Nazis. Visitors have been coming to The Catacombs since 1815, now days the Catacombs are open every day except Mondays, taking around 45 minutes to see all the tunnels. There are no bathrooms or cloak rooms inside the Catacombs and do not take large bags into the tunnels as they will destroy the walls if they touch the edges.
Montmartre is known for its Artistic life where Bohemians and Painters lived their lives on the hills of La Butte. Now Montmartre is a neighbourhood that is full of alleys, cobbled streets and cafes. Nothing beats walking around Montmartre seeing all the street art on the walls, watching painters in the Place du Terre, walking up and down the stairs of that hilly neighbourhood, going to La Sacre Coeur and buying so much food in stalls and cafes. For a full guide to Montmartre please refer to my blog.
Basilique du Sacre Coeur
The Basilique du Sacre Coeur perches on top of La Butte Hill overlooking Paris. Construction began in 1875 with completion in 1914. It is made with stunning white stone that shines in the city, especially in the rain. The interior has unique almost Art Nouveau stain glass windows, with delicate mosaic icons especially at the altar which is almost Byzantine in its style, it is one of the best Altar Ceilings I have behold in my life. Sacre Coeur is a must visit in Paris, it is open every day and free to enter, for visiting the Crypt or Dome there is a fee to pay but be mindful during Mass of the congregation. It does take awhile to get into the Church now due to the new security measures in France, to avoid the queues arrive early.
Take in a Show
Taking in a show in Paris either at the Moulin Rouge, Folies Bergere or Crazy Horse, it is a incredible experience. I have been lucky enough to go to the Moulin Rouge and what a sight to see, just like I always imagined. The Moulin Rouge offers deals with the Performance where you can have dinner or drinks with the show. The Crazy Horse it so different to the Moulin Rouge, it is more close up and intimate I was lucky to go when Dita Von Teese was performing with the girls in 2016. The Crazy Horse also offers a similar style like the Moulin Rouge with deals including dinner or champagne. I have not been to the Folies Bergere yet but I will be in October 2018 to see the Jean Paul Gaultier Fashion Freak Show, I can't wait.
The Secret Weapon you need to visit Paris is using the Paris Museum Pass, it includes majority of Paris monuments what is not included is the Eiffel Tower and The Catacombs, but tickets can be booked online before your visit. The Paris Museum Pass is offered in 2, 4 & 6 Days which is easy to buy via their website and have it send to your Hotel.
This is shockingly just the tip of the Iceberg, it is best to spend a few days in Paris to submerse yourself into the culture and get on Paris time. I hope you will be inspired to fall in love with Paris as much as I do and I look forward to sharing all my secrets about Paris with you. Bisous Bisous xx