The 20 Years of Travel series continues by featuring the City of Love: Paris, France. I grew up watching old movies that were set in Paris: An American in Paris, Funny Face, Gigi, and many more. I dreamed of seeing this amazing city. I went for the first time in 2006. I was a bit disappointed with Paris at that time. I can now say that my disappointment was almost completely due to lack of planning on my part. I was traveling to Paris with a classmate of mine after we finished a graduate course in Geneva, Switzerland. As students, we had a tight travel budget. I was able to get a discount on a hotel in Paris through my job at home, but that unfortunately was located on the outskirts of the city. It ended up costing a lot of money and time to travel into the city center. We also were visiting in the middle of the summer tourist season and 100 degree heat. We waited in the heat for hours to get into Notre Dame (pictured above), which was worth it, but unpleasant. My most amateur mistake was waiting until our final day in Paris to go to the Louvre, which was a Tuesday, the day that the Louvre is closed. We decided to go visit Versailles instead, which was impressive but was under renovation and none of the fountains were turned on.
Luckily, almost ten years later, I decided to give Paris another try. I had a much better experience. We stayed in the city center, smallest hotel room ever, but worth it for the location. We also went in the middle of December which in my opinion is the best time to see Paris. There are minimal tourists and beautiful Christmas markets everywhere. I believe there is also a lot to be said about experiencing the same city at different points in one’s life as well.
Things to do and see:
The Champs Elysees is one of the most famous avenues in the world, leading to the Arc de Triomphe.
Roue de Paris
This is a large ferris wheel off of the Champs Elysees, where you can experience amazing views of Paris.
There are walkways along the Seine, where you can take romantic strolls with views of the Eiffel Tower.
The Eiffel Tower
Of course you have to explore the Eiffel Tower. My friends and I went up to the top at sunset for the amazing views and then decided to walk down, which wasn’t as strenuous as I thought it would be. I only had a problem with my little fear of heights and the fact that you could feel the tower sway a bit.
Notre Dame Cathedral
This is the famous gothic-style cathedral in Paris. If you have an opportunity, do the gargoyle tour as well as exploring the inside of the cathedral.
If you are a booklover like me, Shakespeare and Company Bookstore is a must!
This amazing art museum did not allude me on my second visit to Paris. December is a much better time to visit this museum anyway. I was there at opening time and got to stand alone in front of the Mona Lisa for twenty minutes.
This is my favorite art museum in Paris as I love all things Degas, Renoir and Monet. The above picture shows just a few of my favorites.
If you find yourself in Paris around Christmastime, you can experience a plethora of amazing Christmas markets that are set up all over the city.
Sights I Still Want to See
Two trips to Paris were not enough to see everything I wanted to. I still have not gone to Sacre Couer and the catacombs. Hence, why they are not featured here. Those will just have to wait until my next visit.
Less than a hour train ride from Paris is the Palace of Versailles. Not only is Versailles featured prominently in history, but it contains beautiful art and expansive gardens. Many of my husband’s pictures are featured above as he recently got to see Versailles with minimal renovations and working fountains, unlike my original visit to Versailles.
Less than a two-hour train ride from Paris, Rouen is an idyllic French town. We visited because of our interest in Joan of Arc, but there was so much more to this town. Definitely one of my favorite places.
Excursion I Still Want to Make
As mentioned before, I really love Monet paintings. Monet’s home and where he found some of his inspiration is located less than an hour from Paris in the town of Giverny.
If you are looking for more excursions into Normandy from Paris, see my Normandy link below.
Normandy, France – October 2014
I am sure Paris and I will meet again soon!