Thursday, March 10, 2011

Top 5 Tourist Moments in Paris

I have yet to do my guide to sightseeing Paris fully. I have talked about the museums, my trip to Versailles, my eating; but I have yet to do the tourist guide to Paris. I have wondered why for a very long time. I loved my trip to Paris, I should want to talk about it. Then, it hit me that it is difficult to write about sightseeing in Paris because it's not a very touristy town. My trip to Paris was about experiences and not so much about making sure to get my picture in front of the Eiffel Tower. My camera even died the last day of the trip so I am missing pictures of some key Paris landmarks such as Coco Chanel's staircase to her apartment and my trip to the Catacombs of Paris. So, I'm going to try and do my sightseeing guide to Paris.

I will be ranking these according to "must see" sights of the city, convenience, enjoyment of the whole family and popularity. The Louvre for example I would think is a must see for Paris but will not be on this list because it's a museum not a sight seeing destination.

One of the last pictures I got before my camera died! Merde!

1) Eiffel Tower
La Tour Eiffel, it's prettier at night but you can study it more during the day...
Known as the metal asparagus by the Parisians "La Tour Eiffel" was built for the World's Fair in Paris. It was so successful is drawing a crowd and they spent so much money building it they decided to keep it up. Little would they know it would become the symbol of their fair city. Avoid the buskers in this area as they tend to poke you to get you to buy their wares but the view of the tower is something that is very quintessential Paris. You'll meet people from all over the world here, which frankly I felt was the best part about my visit to the tower. I met a lovely couple from Georgia on their 50th anniversary at the tower. So cute! It was nice to see someone from home when I was so far away from it.

However, I did not stand in that GIANT line to go to the top of the tower. I had taken a Paris city view from the top of the Pompidou so I felt no need to stand in a line for 2 hours. The tower is also much more pretty at night I feel. They do a light show at sunset around 6 in the winter and I thought it was pretty. However, I found out from a local that they all hate it because they think it's tacky. Why would sparkles ever be considered tacky??? Oh, yeah... This is Paris where my glittered cat shirts from Hong Kong are looked at with disdain rather than seen as humorous.

2) Notre Dame Cathedral
My favorite stop of the whole trip and I saw a lot of churches!
My favorite stop of my whole European excursion was Notre Dame Cathedral. It was truly awe inspiring! I can see why artists and authors were drawn to it. It is truly breath taking and I feel the most beautiful church in Benelux. The arches on the inside are beautiful and despite the fact it was 2 degrees outside the church had this amazing ability to seem warm and inviting. With your Paris Musee Pass you are able to take the Notre Dame tour for free and climb up the tower. You however can no longer enter the basement of the cathedral that was made famous by "The Hunchback of Notre Dame". I guess they think it's dangerous or something but I was a little bummed by it. I wanted to see the vaults!

When visiting Notre Dame it is very easy to walk to the remains of the Bastille, the Pompidou and the Musee Picasso. Also across the street from Notre Dame is the BEST book store, Shakespeare and Co. which has an unbelievable collection and used to be visited by famous authors such as Oscar Wilde, Earnest Hemingway and Victor Hugo.

3) Arc de Triumphe
A symbol of Napoleon's victories.

Right by one of Paris' most chic areas is the Arc de Triumphe, a symbol of Napolean's vicotries. There is also a twin of it over by the Louvre that has a chariot on top of it. You can climb to the top of the Arc which is something I didn't know until the Arc was featured on the Amazing Race. I think the most fascinating thing about the arc is the traffic around it. It's really fun to just watch the cars drive around it! Afterward you can walk down the the Champs Elysees to see the most ritzy of Paris shopping, have a tea at the famous tea house Marriage Freres and watch the world pass you by. You will pay more for everything on the Champs Elysees, so be aware if you are on a tight travel budget. Walking down the Avenue is a must do for your Paris Bucket list but you don't have to buy anything.

4) The Seine
I first heard about the Seine River in an Abba song. "Walks along the Seine, laughing in the Rain." It's still one of my favorite songs because I think it's really sad and beautiful at the same time. I was determined to walk down the Seine and laugh in the rain when I was in Paris. I'll have you know I was able to do both, if you count sleet as rain.

The Seine is really pretty to walk down and it is different in all parts of the city. I walked down it around the Louvre, The Orsee, and down by the Bastille. You can walk down the entire course of the river if you're in the mood for a walk. Paris is BY FAR the best city to walk in. Even in the winter weather I loved walking in Paris, it was really beautiful and everything was really interesting to look at. If you want to see a lot of the city and are really tired, have someone in your party with a disability or a small child I highly recommend the river tours. They even run in the winter and you can see the whole city from the River Boats. You'll have a great opportunity to take photos, meet new friends and relax while enjoying the sights of Paris. And as a bonus: they are not that expensive!

5) Sacre Coeur Basilica

Sacre Coeur is a really excellent example of Neo Romanesque architecture. Beautiful during the day and night time it is really beautiful and a definate tourist attraction. Although I don't really understand how the red light district of Paris ended up being built around this beautiful religous landmark. Moulin Rouge is about a 10 minute walk from here. It was built in 1875 but was one of those properties that was fought a lot about and the original architect died before she was completed.

The Basilica cost an estimated 7 million francs and holds the largest mosaic in the world. The Christ in Majesty is an interesting Mosaic not only because of it's size but  due to it's golden nature and the fact it's built into the dome ceiling. Sacre Coeur has become a symbol of Paris due to the fact people in the summer relax on it's giant staircase to study, read or draw and children enjoy it's beautiful antique carousel in front it. In the winter it is not so bustling with locals but instead is full of people wanting to take in it's beauty and sit upon it's famous stairs that famous authors read upon (Such as Oscar Wilde) and movies were shot on, such as Amelie. Sacre Coeur can also be seen outside of Audrey Hepburn's window in the movie, Sabrina letting us know that she was living in the red light district during her cooking school days.

The Christ in Majesty mosaic inside the Basilica.
Neo Romanesque Architecture makes Sacre Coeur stand out in Montmarte's red light district


  1. Great pictures, thanks for sharing. I'm going in the spring and I was wondering if you would recommend the Paris Visite?

    1. Yes I would recommend it if you're going to be there more than two or three days. If you're only there a few days then do individual tickets. You need coins to operate the ticket machines in Paris. Make sure you have change!