In the words of Audrey Hepburn, Paris is Always A Good Idea. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Paris is the perfect destination to experience the whirlwind of culture, history, fashion, food, and the good city life that Paris has to offer.
We had a trip planned to London, and I couldn’t not go to Paris if I was going to be practically within arms length! We were only able to spend 2 days in Paris (which wasn’t nearly long enough) but I felt we did a fairly good job at seeing all the “must-sees” in such a short period of time. I wanted to cram as much as I could into the trip!
- Buy day passes for the subway
- Pick up maps from the information desk
- Try to pick up a little bit of french before you go… at least “How do I get to ______?” and “I’ll have a glass of wine”. There are lots of Apps for your iPhone that will teach you some phrases.
We started out our day by finding a cafe by our hotel. Be sure to enjoy the delicious coffee that Parisans drink. If you are used to having milk in your coffee as most Americans do, make sure you ask for “cafe avec au lait” (Coffee with milk) or else you won’t get milk. Oh, also, milk will cost an extra 50 cents.
We hopped on the subway and made our way to Ile De St. Louis walking along Rue de St. Louis. Then we crossed over the pont St. Louis to get to Notre Dame.
Notre Dame de Paris means “Our Lady of Paris” in French. It is a catholic cathedral that is considered to be an iconic building in Paris. The French Gothic architecture is stunning… probably one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have ever seen on my travels. It is also among one of the largest and most known churches in the world! It is free to enter, but quite crowded (even though we were there in low season and it was pouring rain, it was busy inside), so be prepared for crowds! Notre Dame is an absolute must-see and is worth braving the crowds to witness the beautiful structure that has been there since the year 1163 (when construction began).
After you’ve seen Notre Dame, (hopefully you’re not “chapel-ed’ out), the Sainte-Chapelle is about a 15-minute walk and is another gorgeous chapel. Sainte-Chapelle is another really old medieval gothic cathedral. You do have to pay 8.50 Euros/per adult though so be prepared for that, and there was a line-up when we went to (you have to wait in a security line). After checking out Sainte-Chapelle, you are probably starved, there are a ton of cafes in the area so just look for anything nearby. Paris is full of cafes, restaurants, delis and bakeries left right and center.
After lunch, we hopped on the Metro and headed to the Arc de Trimophe. Arc de Trimophe is only one of the most famous of all triumphal arches. The best thing about the Arc de Trimophe? It’s at the western end of Champs-Élysées. Champs-Elyeese is known for its luxury shops, cafes and theaters. Think Louis Vuitton, Swarovski Crystals, Laurdee. At night-time, the street lights up and sparkles with lights, it is such a vibrant, fun place to be. We had dinner here at an Italian place that had large windows overlooking the street (perfect for people-watching).
On Day 2, everyone we were with, was like “When are we going to see the Eiffel Tower?” They couldn’t believe that I had planned our itinerary to not see the Eiffel Tower right away… the truth is as much as I think the Eiffel Tower is such an icon, I also feel Paris has more to offer than just the Eiffel Tower. Plus, I knew we would get there eventually! On Day 2, we started our day by going to the Lourve. I think the Lourve is almostttt just as iconic as the Eiffel Tower. And, practically every single piece of famous art is housed here. Like the Mona Lisa, for one – which by the way, is pretty overrated. I mean it’s practically the size of letter sized paper. Anyway, if you are a history lover, art lover, culture lover, you’ll really enjoy the Lourve. Make sure you set aside a few hours for this, you could easily spend 24-48 hours here. You have to choose what exhibits you most want to see and explore those. You can always return another year and see the rest!
After lunch, we headed to the Pantheon, which is a building in the Latin Quarter originally built as a church but now is a famous burial site for several important writers, philosophists, poets, and scientists. The Pantheon is a pretty famous building in Paris, however, seems to be a building that tourists aren’t quite as drawn to (as opposed to say, the Eiffel Tower). So I would say it’s slightly off the beaten path (but not really). You do have to pay a small fee to get in (but no line-ups!).
OK. Now is the time you’ve been waiting for… yes… finally the Eiffel Tower. After the Pantheon, we jumped on the train and headed to the coveted site of the day: the Eiffel Tower. And honestly, I don’t have too much to say about the Eiffel Tower other than: 1) Yes the view at the top is really incredible, 2) the line-up to get in was really long 3) it’s expensive (but you feel like you have to see it, therefore, you have to pay.) 4) It was really cold and all I wanted was a hot chocolate at the top.
But… it’s something you can’t possibly not see, so I’m not saying you shouldn’t go! Also, I’d like to remind everyone that it was November, cold and raining and I can see that the Eiffel Tower would be amazing in the summer with the sun shining and all the green space sparkling.
We timed the Eiffel Tower so that we would get there when it was still light but it was getting dark as we left – so we saw it in the daylight and nighttime.
After the Eiffel Tower, we were pretty exhausted from all the walking, but most of all, I was super sad because it meant our trip was over… Now I’m dreaming (and planning for) about my next trip to Paris.