Style, elegance, charm and culture, Paris has it all.
I can imagine it now, I’m gazing out of the window of a bustling street-side café, savouring a smooth glass of Burgundy. Almost lost in my thoughts that drift across the tiny wooden circular tables, with the enchanting tones of soothing French accents all around.
The Metro station of Cité, on the Île de la Cité
Yes, it has to be the alluring boulevards of Paris. Without a shadow of a doubt, this captivating city and the stylish Parisian ethos is one I will never tire of.
The history, the architecture, the culture, the cuisine and of course the wine. I fell in love with Paris the first time we visited, nearly 20 years ago.
The side view of the Opera
Like all cities, it has its good and its bad. However, I think I will always struggle to find anything that would deter me from returning. Here are a few reasons why I love the city sooo much.
Montmartre is a fascinating district of Paris to stroll around, full of character day and night. Although the main reason to visit here is the incredible Sacré-Cœur Basilica.
Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Monmartre
The Sacré-Cœur is so synonymous with Paris’s skyline and can be seen from miles around. It’s a beautiful sight and sits elegantly at the highest point of the city. The views from here are stunning, you can see all across the rooftops of the city stretched out below.
Prior to heading back down, you must take a stroll through all the little lanes by the Sacré-Cœur. The bustling cobbled streets are full of cafés, boutiques and street artists.
The Moulin Rouge
Not to be defeated the music hall was rebuilt and reopened in 1921.
It has been frequented over many years by the rich, famous and infamous.
For a great evening’s entertainment full of feathers and fun why not grab yourself a seat at the "Féerie" show?
Catch a show?
Good to know
The Sacré-Cœur is open every day and is free to visit, the nearby metro to the Basilica is Pigalle. The closest metro to the Moulin Rouge is Blanche.
Or the Tour Eiffel as it is known locally.
Now when we talk of icons, the Eiffel Tower just shouts Paris as no other monument can.
The magnificent structure was built in 1889 for the World’s Fair and stands 324 metres (1,063 ft) high.
The Eiffel Tower
I appreciate that the queues can be long; however, you really should head to the top, you won’t be disappointed. Since its opening, over 250 million people have visited this national treasure, and the views are staggering.
With this ticket not only will you gain priority access to the 1st and 2nd levels, you’ll be able to reach the summit.
Make it easy
I knew it wouldn’t be long before I slipped in a boat trip. Although this one is slightly different, as we are cruising the Canal Saint-Martin, passing through locks and swing bridges.
I must admit I didn’t realise until our last visit that you could take a canal boat trip in the heart of Paris.
So, when we met up with my parents in the city of love, we headed to Port de l'Arsenal for a delightful 2 ½ hour trip with Canauxrama.
The canal winds its way through quieter parts of Paris, ones that you may never have discovered.
Passing under elegant wrought-iron footbridges, all the while learning about the history of the canal and the surrounding districts.
The Canal Saint Martin
The choice is yours
We picked up the canal trip from Port de l'Arsenal and were dropped off at Bassin de la Villette. However, you can embark on the journey in reverse if you wish.
Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe stands elegantly proud at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. Inaugurated in 1836 this impressive monument is dedicated to those who fought and died for France. Beneath the Arc lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, with the eternal flame burning in memory of those who died during the two World Wars who were never identified.
The Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is located in the middle of one of the maddest roundabouts on the planet, where twelve avenues converge.
Luckily there is an underpass to reach the monument, at the end of the Champs-Élysées and Avenue de la Grande Armée.
If you fancy skipping the queues before heading to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, then buy your ticket here.
Skip the queues
A little knowledge
The monument is free to visit on the 1st Sunday of the month, from 1st January to 31st March and from 1st November to 31st December.
Just a short hop from the Arc de Triomphe and we’re along the stylish tree-lined Champs-Élysées.
I adore it along here; I remember during our first visit to Paris we stopped at a street-side café and I was bowled over by the most delicious profiteroles I have ever had.
Promenading the Champs-Élysées is a must for every visitor.
Now every year when I watch the final stage of the Tour de France, it evokes wonderful memories.
The view along the Champs-Élysées
Place de la Concorde
Place de la Concorde is at the eastern end of the Champs-Élysées. If you stand in the centre of this bustling Parisian square and look west, you’ll catch a breath-taking view of the tree-lined Champs-Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe.
Place de la Concorde
Place de la Concorde is the largest square in Paris and was constructed in 1772. Although it’s a pleasant place to be now, it does have a bit of a sordid past. As it is here during the French Revolution that a guillotine was erected, and the executions of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were performed.
If you've yet to discover the beautiful architecture in Paris, and the pleasure of strolling along the River Seine at sunset, then you're in for a treat.
I find DK Eyewitness travel guides invaluable, they're extremely informative, easy to follow, and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
We used a previous version of this book to plan our Paris adventure, now you can grab the revised copy.
Strolling les jardins
While visiting Paris, you must take time to sit and watch the world go by. What better place to do this than at one of Paris’s many gardens?
Palais du Luxembourg in Le Jardin du Luxembourg
My favourite was Le Jardin du Luxembourg, with a delightful pond in the centre. Children were setting sail to their little boats, guiding them along with a stick. Families and friends out and about passing the time of day and enjoying a picnic.
The other garden I enjoyed resting my weary feet was Jardin des Tuileries, just by Place de la Concorde and the Louvre.
Relishing the Café culture
As I mentioned, relaxing in a street-side café in the heart of Paris, watching the world scurry by in front of you, just shouts Paris to me.
Café culture in Montmartre
A Parisien Cafe
Recently I was chatting to my brother about Paris, and he has similar memories of when he visited with my sister-in-law. His immediate thoughts went to the moment they were sitting outside a Montmartre café, and the two of them sipped on Champagne and got lost in the moment.
This, to me, is what travelling is about, you’ll always have those moments that bring a smile to your face.
Have you seen?
Visiting a museum
I love visiting art galleries; however, the problem that I have is that I spend hours upon hours there. Then if the weather is fine, I don’t want to be inside, so quite often there has to be a compromise.
Although when it comes to The Louvre or the Musée d'Orsay, it’s all or nothing, as I can’t cut corners when visiting them, they are incredible. How can you resist the enigmatic smile of The Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo in The Louvre? Or the crowd filled scenes by Renoir and the stirring pieces by Van Gogh at the Musée d'Orsay. Certainly not me.
Inside the Museum D'Orsay
Strolling along the Seine
If you love exquisite architecture and the bustling sounds of Parisian life, then take a stroll along the banks of the River Seine, you will be in your element. Best of all, it is free to do.
With the elegant skyline stretched out before you, and the enchanting boulevards leading off into the distance, you’ll get wholly immersed in your dreamy thoughts.
The view along the River Seine from Pont Neuf
Dotted along the banks are locals selling all types of works of art, the iconic little green riverside huts with their shutters flung open tempting you with antique novels, and rare editions of comic strips. It’s all such a wonderful experience.
Shakespeare & Company
If you are a bit of a book worm, then have a mooch around the Shakespeare & Company book shop. I remember when I first visited Paris (pre-smartphone glory days), and I bought a tiny old French/English translation book, I still actually have it.
Take to the river
Another way to appreciate Paris’s riverside architecture and at a more sedate pace for your feet is to take to the river and enjoy a Seine River cruise. If it’s been a long day, then there is no better way to enjoy the sights and the waterways of Paris.
A boat trip on the Seine
To be perfectly honest, why not grab a Batobus riverboat shuttle service ticket for a couple of days and you can then hop-on and hop-off where you wish.
Take to the water
Something to make your travels easier?
Sweet and Savoury
You’d find it quite a struggle to discover a nation that produces cakes and bread quite like the French. The stylish patisseries are full of meticulously made delicacies, all laid out in precision formality in the shop windows. Choux pastry is my weakness, who doesn’t love a profiterole?
Artisan Boulanger Patissier
Then there are the boulangeries with the continuously prepared fresh bread. I can see why the locals head out every day, to grab a baguette to accompany their evening meals. The smell of freshly baked bread is irresistible.
The Paris Islands
The Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis are two captivating little islands in the middle of the Seine. They are such a pleasure to stroll around, wandering through the narrow-cobbled lanes, peering in the boutique windows. Then contemplating which flavour crème glacée to indulge in from the next ice cream parlours.
Auberge de la Reine Blanche
The Île de la Cité is also the home to beautiful medieval Notre-Dame. Unfortunately, in April 2019 a devastating fire swept through the cathedral. This striking Lady is now going through an incredible restoration project, which is hoped to be completed by 2024.
Père Lachaise Cemetery
I would not be doing justice to myself if I left Père Lachaise Cemetery off of the list.
J'adore strolling through a cemetery and Père Lachaise is fascinating.
The history, architecture and incredible stories that lie behind the headstones is absorbing.
Père Lachaise Cemetery
It’s not just the famous that have intriguing tales to tell, it is the tiny little graves that you find nestled behind the ramshackle of others.
Hop on this very reasonably priced 2-3 hour guided tour of Père Lachaise. You’ll find out even more than you’d hoped for.
Inspired to visit Paris?
If I could return tomorrow, I would, so, grab your bag and make a weekend of it.
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