Paris

Paris - Eiffel Tower

The City of Light is world renowned as a must-see on any travelers’ trip to Europe.  With the magical Seine running through the heart of the city and iconic sites such as the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Arc de Triomphe, it is easy to see why so many people fall in love with Paris.  There is just something about this city that speaks of romance, whether you are having a picnic in one of its parks or enjoying an espresso at one of its many cafés.

Things you MUST see/do: 

Eiffel Tower – A visit to Paris is not complete without a stop at the Eiffel Tower.  This monument, synonymous with Paris, was erected for the 1889 World’s Fair and was used as the entrance arch.  At 320 metres (1,050 ft.), it towers above the city and is the tallest structure in Paris.  With the beautiful Parc du Champ de Mars stretching from the tower on one side and the Seine on the other, the whole area around the Eiffel Tower is amazing. 

Notre Dame Cathedral – On the Ile de la Cité, in the middle of the Seine, is the grand Notre Dame Cathedral.  Construction began in 1163 and was not completed until the 1240’s.  Built in the gothic style, it is considered to the best example of French gothic architecture.  It has beautiful stained glass windows; the largest was removed during WWII and buried deep in the ground to protect it from damage during bombings.  Be sure to enter the cathedral to see the light streaming in through the colourful panes in the windows.  It is possible to climb the tower to get sweeping views of the top of the cathedral and city.  Take a walk around the outside of the cathedral to see the flying buttresses and the many gargoyles.

Arc de Triomphe – This imposing structure was built for Napoleon and construction began in 1806.  It is located at the west end of the Champs-d’Élysées, which is the opposite end from the Louvre.  At the base of the Arc de Triomphe there is tomb dedicated to Unknown Soldier of World War I.  Do not try to cross the street to get to the Arc de Triomphe, but use the underground walkways located at each street corner.  It is possible to climb up the Arc for those who really like city views, but we would recommend climbing the Notre Dame tower and the Eiffel Tower instead.

Champs-Élysées– This famous street stretching from the Arc de Triomphe (Place Charles de Gaulle) to the Place de la Concorde, is a continual hub of activity.  Many high end shops and restaurants line this bustling street.  Many important events occur along the Champs-d’Élysées such as the Bastille Day parade and the Tour de France.

The Louvre – The museum of the Louvre, opened in 1793, is a must-see while visiting Paris.  Housed in the former palace of French royalty, including Louis XIV, it is one of the largest museums in the world.  It contains important pieces of art such as the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.  For those who are true museum goers, more than a day will be needed to see all of the exhibits.  However, the highlights can be easily done in a day.  The line-ups at the pyramid entrance can become very long during peak season; however, there are other less busy entrances located on the sides wings of the palace.

Musée d’Orsay – Located in an old train station, the Musée d’Orsay houses many impressionist artists’ works.  The building itself, which was completed in 1900 is impressive to look at as well as the art work.  Famous artists to see inside the museum include Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Degas and Gauguin.  Get there early to avoid large entrance line-ups.

Sacre Coeur – Built in the Romano-Byzantine style, the Sacre Coeur is located at the top of the hill of Montmartre.  Building began in 1875 and was not completed a whopping 44 years later in 1919.  From the entrance to the basilica, a staggering view of the entire city of Paris awaits.

Versailles – Built to be the royal home of Louis XIV, as he thought the Louvre was not large enough.  The Palace de Versailles is located just outside of Paris and easily accessed by metro/train.  A full day is best to explore the massive palace and grounds.  Don’t miss the golden gate at the entrance and the fountain shows in the gardens.  If there is a long line for tickets at the palace, go to the Tourist Information building located across from the front entrance and purchase tickets there.

Travels4Couples highly recommended EXPERIENCES:

Go up the Eiffel Tower – To truly appreciate the size and height of the tower, go up the elevator or climb the 300 stairs for those who are more energetic to the first observation level.  There are 3 observation decks, the highest being at 276.1 metres.  Compared to many other city views around the world, the views of Paris are particularly stunning due to all of the parks and green spaces in the city.

Cruise along the Seine – There are many options for cruises along the Seine including sightseeing and dinner cruises.  As Paris is known as the City of Light, we would recommend a nighttime cruise where the city will be in all its glory.

Grab a coffee at a café – Parisian’s love their café and spending time on the patio people watching.  In order to maximize the people watching, all chairs will be arranged facing the street.  So, find a busy street, pick a café, grab a French patisserie and enjoy!

Have a picnic – Paris has more green space within its downtown area than most other bustling cities of the world.  For this reason, it is a great place to have a picnic and take a break from the busy sightseeing to enjoy one of the Parisian’s favourite pastimes.  Check out the blog post here, for some recommended spots.

Shop along the Seine – Lining the Seine from the Eiffel Tower to the Notre Dame Cathedral is many outdoor shops selling a variety of items.  These are not the typical shops though, they are large green boxes mounted to the sides of the walkway that have traditionally sold used books.  It is a great way to spend the afternoon, perusing the old collections of books and other interesting goods found in the different stalls.

Eiffel Tower at night – Each night the Eiffel Tower is lit up by 20,000 bulbs to glitter in the night sky.  On the hour every hour from nightfall until 1am, the lights twinkle and dazzle visitors for 10 minutes.  Two of the best viewing spots are on the bridge, Pont d’Iléna, that crosses the Seine or from the Esplanade du Trocadéro

Travels4Couples #1 ROMANTIC thing to do in Paris:

Moulin Rouge – The famous Paris show in which a motion picture was based upon, the Moulin Rouge is a cabaret-style show in true French fashion.  It is the birthplace of the cabaret show and the world famous can-can dance.  The theatre is located just outside Montmartre and can be easily recognized by the red windmill on the roof.  This classy dinner show features musical dance entertainment including topless dancing girls.  It can be a little crowded but see if you can request a table for 2 or 4 as opposed to one that sits 8 for a more romantic experience.  Get dressed up, enjoy dinner and then sit back and take in the show with a bottle of champagne.

 

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