City Guide: Paris

June 16, 2017

 

 Very few cities can compare with Paris. It's a world-class destination and there is so much to do that in some ways it can be overwhelming. I've compiled my suggestions of things to do in the City of Light which can be achieved over a relatively short period of time.   The thing about Paris is there is always something new to see and do, I've been to this wonderful city maybe 4-5 times and every time I see and experience something different.

 

Of course the typical sights of the Eiffel Tower, Arc De Triomphe and Notre Dame need to be experienced and enjoyed, however there is so much more to Paris. In  essence this city is an open air museum. 

 

 
The River Seine 

 

The seine flows through the heart of Paris, with an impressive 37 bridges crossing the river. There are various river boat cruises which glide down the river, (Links below) I feel that this is a good way to learn about the long history of the banks of the river. It's especially a good idea if it's raining outside. However, if boating isn't your thing, even just walking along the banks of the river is still impressive. Plan your riverside 

walk to past the beautiful Notre Dame cathedral and the romantic "love-lock" bridge, which is ever changing. (Go quick)

During the early evening there is frequently buskers playing music and performers along the canal side. 

 

 Image by Siusan Winchester @siusan88 

 

 The many locks on the "Love Lock" bridge 

 

The Museums 
 

 

Paris has an impressive collection of cultural institutions. One of them is the world's largest museum: The Louvre. Home to thousands of pieces of classic art, including the world famous Mona Lisa. The entrance courtyard contains the famous geometric glass pyramid  The building itself is a masterpiece. 

The Louvre is open daily except for Tuesdays. Entrance fee is £13.50 (15 Euro's) 

 

 Can you tell I liked the glass pyramid? 

 

 

Musee D'Orsay 

 

Situated on the banks of the river, this Museum has had a rich history. Prior to opening as a gallery, Musee D' Orsay was a railway station. You can get a sense of this inside with the high open ceilings and the remaining central station clock. 

The museum boasts collections from great artists from Cezanne, Monet, Gauguin and Van Gogh. One of the highlights is Monet's Garden at Giverny and Van Gogh's Bedroom in Arles. 

The museum also houses an extensive photography and sculpture collection. 

Admission to the gallery is £10.50 (12 Euros) or if  you're between 18-25 and a member of the EU then entrance is free. (For young Brits reading this, go there fast!)

 Musee D'Orsay - Photograph by @siusan88 

 

 

 

Opera De Paris

 

I felt that it was needed to include a museum that didn't just contain art and sculpture, I'm an art lover and I guess not everyone is so if you're looking for something a bit different visit the Opera House. A guided tour of this building will include a lesson in the history, architecture and their up and coming performances.

You'll also see the Grand Staircase made of marble, the foyer and the stage and theatres. You can also marvel at the bronze and crystal seven tonne chandelier that hangs over the fourth floor. 

 There are two English guided tours per day. (11am & 2:30pm) Admission for a guided tour will set you back around £9.50 (11 Euros)

 


The Food

 

When in France you need to experience the traditional cuisine. Carrying on from the last destination (The Opera house) try and locate a piece on the legendary Opera Cake - a rich layered almond sponge soaked in a coffee syrup and covered in a decadent chocolate glaze! 

It must be said that no visit to Paris is complete without stepping inside a bakery or patisserie. Seek out all of the good stuff, from the eclairs, macarons, gateaux's and madelines. Grab one of these creations on the go and pause at the many seats along the river Seine. 

Another good foodie find is of course the bread. The French Baguette! I've done some research about this and will put a link below to the current winners of the yearly baguette competition. - Also known as "Grand Prix de la Baguette de Traditional Francaise de la Ville De Paris". I mean that's some real bread enthusiasm right there!

I will also suggest to try Paris' crepes, whether it's savoury or sweet these can be relatively inexpensive and we all know Paris can have some designer prices!

 

 Creme Brulee in one of the side street cafes .

 

 
 
Viewpoints

 

 

Paris has one of the most famous skylines around, it's iconic  at any time of the day and if you can locate a high up view point then you'll get an even better photograph opportunity!

 

Sacre Coer 

 

This Parisian monument situated at the top of the Butte Montmatre offers a panoramic view across the city. If you want to venture inside the church you can climb the 300 steps to have an even higher viewpoint. Be sure to look out for the Pantheon and Montparnasse tower. Prior to your visit here there is a free audio tour, accessed via a downloaded app.  

 

Montparnasse Tower

 

I have to say that visually this tower sticks out like a giant lego brick, however get past that and take the elevator up to the 56th floor. The observation deck on the 56th floor is indoor and fully surrounded by windows for panoramic views. If you want to venture the further 3 floors (On foot only) then you will have access to the viewing platform. In my opinion this is the best place to view the skyline and the Eiffel Tower. If your time allows, plan your visit around sundown and the views and sunset will be unforgettable.  There is a small opening in the glass safety deck which is enough for a camera to fit through.

 

Entrance to the observation deck is £15.50 (17 Euros) for a standard ticket. If you're an avid photographer, you may want to spend (23 Euro's) for 2 visits within 48 hours. 

 

 Sunset glow at the top of Montparnasse tower 

 

 

 

Street Markets

 

Parisians are lucky to have such varied street markets, from fine French cuisine, flower stalls,  to second hand vintage wonders. Keep your eyes peeled for the Bouquiniste's  who sell books and artwork along the banks of the Seine, they are usually in green distinctive boxes full of goodies. 

One well established market is the Marche aux puces de Montreuil. This is the ultimate flea market to pick up bric and brac or in my case - vintage postcards. (A great souvenir) 

 

 One of my finds - from 1932

 

 

The Classic sites 

 

Eiffel Tower 

 

When you think of Paris, you automatically think of the Eiffel Tower, the joy of the Eiffel tower is you can go right up to it and see underneath the structure for free. Of course if you wish to climb up the structure then an admission fee is applied. I'd recommend pre- booking your tickets online to avoid the long queues.  However, the gardens -  Jardins du Trocadéro are an excellent picnic stop and place to read a book whilst soaking up this iconic site. 

 

 

 

Arc De Triomphe 

 

The most monumental of all arches, placed at the western end of the Champs Elysee and surrounded by an unlimited supply of fast moving cars, the Arc De Triomphe in my opinion is a must visit. If you're in Paris for less than 24 hours then come here. Once you have gone via the underground pass, you will see the memorial flame to the unknown soldier, and the sculptures carved on each of the four pillars. 

The viewing platform at the top has an entrance fee, however once  you are upon the structure you will really appreciate the city builders of Paris. The view allows you to see the perfectly positioned avenues of the city and of course you'll be able to catch the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur and the classic Parisian architecture. 

 
Paris Pass 

 

If you're on a relatively tight budget, then I'd recommend getting the Paris Pass, the concept is it is a pre paid card with a lot of attractions and activities on it. The entrance fee and queue jump system is great to avoid long queues and hefty entrance fees. If you tally up all of these attractions you will save a lot of money with this pass. (More money for macarons) 

 

 

 

Paris Pass: https://www.parispass.com/

River cruises: https://www.seine-cruises.com/

Paris pass: https://www.parispass.com/

Baguettes in Paris:  http://parisjourney.com/the-best-baguette-in-paris-competition

 

Sacre Coeur audio guide:http://www.sacre-coeur-montmartre.com/english/visit-and-audio-guide/article/sacre-coeur-free-audio-guide

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