How to see the sights in just two days…
My weekend in Paris started in the early afternoon after spending a few hours on the Eurostar.
Upon checking into our hotel, the Shangri-La, we asked the concierge where to go for a late lunch. A few minutes walk away we found some cafés where we indulged in some French cuisine. My mother and younger sister went for a classic quiche while I, the vegetarian of the family settled down for a big bowl of french onion soup with some fresh bread.
That night we strolled around the surrounding areas of the Eiffel Tower, had an early dinner, and spent an evening in our hotel watching ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame”.
> Our morning started off at the Shangri-La for breakfast.
> Then our Paris exploration began at the Catacombs of Paris (early so that we could beat the queues).
“The origin of the Paris Catacombs, which it would be better to call “Municipal Ossuary”, goes back to the end of the 18th century”. The Catacombs of Paris are underground tombs in Paris, France.
I would recommend doing this early on as the lines form really quickly. The entrance to the Catacombs surprised me, in fact it just looked like a little green shed. A line began to form before it had even opened, and while my mother waited in the queue, my sister and I scoured the surrounding areas for a hot cup of java.
Once we were inside we were able to get some audio tour guides (available in different languages) and after lots of steps downstairs we reached an area that was filled with information about the Catacombs. Guided tours were also available, but we decided to explore at our own pace.
> A trip on the train to Musée De Louvre
The Louvre is one of the world’s largest and most visited museums. Despite this, it’s often said that you shouldn’t spend an entire day there or not to even bother at all, as there are so many more exciting things to see while in Paris. But I knew I couldn’t leave Paris without seeing the Mona Lisa.
Most hotels are able to book your entry tickets at the concierge desk, this way you are able to avoid the lines.
I had been told that the Mona Lisa was smaller than I might think, and it was – yet the Louvre continued to surprise me. The Louvre is home to incredible exhibits, including remnants of the Phillip II 12th century fortress still visible in the crypt. Things to spot:
- Louvre Pyramid – one of the must-sees
- Mona Lisa
- Venus de Milo
- Liberty Leading the People
- Winged Victory of Samothrace
- Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss
- Horses restrained by grooms
> And the best for last. Experience the late afternoon and sunset upon the Eiffel Tower.
One of the most romantic destinations in the world, the Eiffel Tower was originally intended as a temporary installation. Although the Eiffel Tower is one of those places that you’d expect to be over-sold, it isn’t. It is considered an architectural wonder and attracts more visitors than any paid tourist attraction in the world.
The best way to experience the Eiffel Tower is by joining a tour group – this way you are able to avoid lines and also get to know a bit about its history. With City Wonders you are allowed Special Access: Eiffel Tower Tour with Top Level Summit Access. Features:
- Duration 2 hours
- Meeting place away from bustling tourists and queues
- Access to the top-level summit of the Eiffel Tower
- Expert, English-speaking guide
- Audio headsets when appropriate so you can always hear your guide
- Groups of only 20 people or fewer
- Save hours wasted in line
- Once the tour ends, the guides leave you free to roam the top deck at your own pace, you can decide on your own route down – the elevator, or the stairs which offer more unique views.
Fun fact: One man, Victor Lustig led two cons and sold the Eiffel Tower, twice.
> Take in a lunch of French Cuisine and stroll through the markets on route to Sacré-Coeur.
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, is a roman catholic church and is a popular landmark located at the summit of the butte Montmarte, the highest part in the city.
> Spend the afternoon upon Notre Dame Cathedral after a casual stroll through the inside.
I visited the Notre Dame Cathedral multiple times because I was DETERMINED to stand on top of those towers and see some gargoyles. To take a look at the amazing view from the top of Notre Dame’s rooftop, you must be ready for the 387 steps as there are no elevators. Entry costs a little extra, but if you’ve seen “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” how could you pass up an opportunity to see some gargoyles alongside the beautiful Paris?
“Our Lady of Paris” is a historic catholic cathedral that is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of gothic architecture. Entering the Cathedral is free of charge and you are able to walk around and admire the architecture and beautiful stained glass windows.
> Bring on the night with the lights of Moulin Rouge
Whether you’re going for a show or just to see the iconic red windmill, the Moulin Rouge is a must-see for anyone who’s watched the movie starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman. Seeing a show at the Moulin Rouge is one of the more expensive of Paris’ attractions, but where better to have an experience like this? To see a show, pre-paid booking is mandatory – and there are various rules for attendance including correct clothing required and restrictions on taking pictures or filming.
While visiting Paris I had been warned that if I were to visit the Moulin Rouge, that the area is not one of the safest, so we only stayed long enough to take a few pictures.
> Lets pass by the Arc de Triomphe on the way home…
It was a night out in the town, and we weren’t done yet. Our last night in Paris and we figured – Arc De Triomphe was next. I was happy just taking the train over and passing by – but at this point I didn’t know that you were able to climb to the top. The top can only be reached by climbing up its 40 steps, but before that you have to try getting to the monument itself – which is harder than expected. The Arc de Triomphe is located on one of Paris’s most famous avenues, the Champ Elysees – do NOT try crossing the traffic circle.
Getting around; Paris’ metro system is incredibly easy to use, and the workers behind the ticket desk (in my experience) are more than happy to help tourists out – generally the easiest way to get around, is to get a bunch of the single ride tickets and just use them for wherever you want to go. This website has a useful Paris by Train guide.
So what do you think – what would you add?