After 5 weeks of travel… the Pièce de Résistance! Paris!
We’d arrived, and as we drove down the boulevards lined with beautiful architecture, endless cafes and world famous monuments I was struck by just how much I love this city! Having checked many of the city’s biggest tourist attractions off on a previous trip, I decided this visit would be about new experiences. Taking it one step further, we threw guidebooks to the wind, and decided to wing it!
We spent a lot of our time wandering and in doing so found ourselves enjoying the unexpected. I noticed golden details on many of the buildings and wondered if they’d always been there? We marveled at how every street corner is something special. We hunted Pokemon and sailed tiny boats in the Luxembourg gardens and had the best time. Why hadn’t we done that before?! We saw the Water Lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie, marveled at Sainte Chapelle, climbed the bell towers of Notre Dame de Paris, and so much more…
La Madeleine was commissioned by Napoleon and is located on the Rue Royal in the 8th arrondissement. The church is beautiful both inside and out, and provides a fabulous view of the Place de la Concorde. We wandered in just in time to hear a choir singing, and it was simply amazing. Louis XVI was originally buried here before his body was moved in 1815.
Tip: To really get a feel for just how many and how big the columns are, consider walking the colonnade. La Madeline is a popular place for weddings and you just might see a bride!
Have you ever been to a place and were so surprised by its beauty that your mouth literally fell open? This is exactly what happened to me when I visited Sainte Chapelle. I was completely surrounded by jaw dropping beauty. This is a place I firmly believe deserves to be on everyone’s must-see list when visiting Paris. No photo can really do it justice, you’ll just have to go and see for yourself.
Tip: To skip the line at Sainte Chapelle purchase your tickets inside the Palace of Justice, which seemed to be less crowded.
The Palace of Justice
Adjacent to the Sainte Chapelle and beautiful in its own right is the Palace of Justice. Once the Palais Ile de Cite, it was home to French royalty until the 1400s. Later it became a revolutionary prison, at which time Sainte Chapelle became a place of final confession and prayer for those condemned by the tribunal. One such person, was Marie Antoinette and there is a memorial to both her and Louis XVI in the Palace.
Notre Dame de Paris
Notre Dame is one of the few places we visited on this trip that wasn’t new, however we’d never climbed the bell towers, so we made an exception. To say I loved our visit to Notre Dame would be an understatement! Some places just deserve repeat visits, and Notre Dame is on that list.
Tip: The entry to visit the bell towers is located on the OUTSIDE of the Cathedral, on the left side of the West façade. This is separate from the entrance to the Cathedral’s interior.
Musée de l’Orangerie
If you’re short on time, or even if you’re not consider a visit to the Musée de l’Orangerie. Monet’s Water Lilies, given to the museum by Monet himself, as a symbol of peace, are probably the museums most famous pieces, but there are many other wonderful artists on display. The museum’s layout was very efficient and we were able to see everything before our little one lost interest. Afterwards we enjoyed ham sandwiches in the cafe gift shop!
Tip: Go early! If you’re one of the first to enter you’ll have a few moments to enjoy the Water Lilies before the room fills up.
No visit would be complete without time spent in one of the city’s many famous gardens. So much more than just a pretty backdrop, surrounding some other famous place, they offer a welcome respite from the bustle of city life, or if you’re a traveling family a great place to relax and regroup.
Jardin du Luxembourg
The Jardin du Luxembourg, located in the 6th Arrondissement offers something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to relax or something a little more active. We loved sailing the little wooden boats on the pond, but also enjoyed the playground, and the many statues and fountains throughout.
Tip: You’ll find the wooden boats just next to the pond. They are available to rent for €3.50 an hour.
Jardin des Tuileries
Due to its proximity to the Louvre, the Jardin des Tuileries might just be the most famous garden in Paris, so there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself here. If you’re visiting in the summer look out for the Fete des Tuileries which takes place every very summer from June to August. I loved seeing the stark contrast between the carnival rides and the centuries old gardens. Lots of fun photo ops here!
Tip: Entry to the Fête des Tuileries is free, however there is a fee for the rides and attractions.
The City of Light
On our last night in Paris, knowing that it could be many years before I return to the City of Light, I had a sudden desire to see the Eiffel Tower lit up one last time. Having no car, we decided to hire a taxi and asked the driver to take us somewhere we would have a great view. I guess he decided the best view was just under the Tower itself! The Tower was red, white and blue to honor the victims of the Nice terror attacks, which took place earlier in the week. Other monuments we drove by included, Les Invalides, the Arc de Triomphe, and Montparnasse.
Tip: Don’t miss out on one of the best parts of Paris, the city’s lights! Our taxi fare was around €40, which included the time we took to get out for photos at the Eiffel Tower.
Chateau de Versailles
What better place for those “life of royalty” daydreams than the Chateau de Versailles? Even on an overcast day the golden gates of this world famous palace can be seen shinning brightly in the distance. As you wander through the palace you’ll find yourself surrounded by opulence.
Hall of Mirrors
The Kings Bed Chamber
A stroll in the almost 2000 acres of Gardens features among other things a Grand Canal, which is over a mile long, groves, the Orangerie, and at least 50 different fountains.
Tip: Purchase your tickets in advance online. Arrive early! The gates open at 9 am. If you can, be there before they open.
Enjoying the local cuisine is an important part of any city visit! Here are three of our most memorable all located within close proximity to some of the most famous places in Paris.
Minims, the brasserie version of the famous Maxim’s de Paris, is located on the Rue Royal. We enjoyed, not only the food, but the restaurant’s Art Nouveau style. Eating here felt very Parisian!
Tip: Minim’s is located on the same street as La Madeleine.
We enjoyed everything about our meal at Invictus. A cozy restaurant with only a handful of tables, the chef personally took our order! The food was excellent and we had a lovely evening!
Tip: Invictus is just blocks from the Jardin du Luxembourg. A reservation if recommended.
Cave La Bourgogne
Cave La Bourgone, recommended to us by a local friend, is located at the end of the Rue Mouffetard, one of the oldest streets in Paris. We enjoyed this traditional, tasty and reasonably priced brasserie so much , we’ve been twice!
Tip: First wander the Rue Mouffetard, a pedestrian friendly market street, and end at Cave La Bourgogne where you’ll enjoy a quintessential Parisian meal while you gaze out at the lovely square along with all the locals.
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