TRAVEL GUIDE: PARIS, FRANCE
A few weeks ago we decided to do a weekend trip to Paris, France. Although we live in Frankfurt, which is not that far away, we’d never visited the city of love together before, so it was definitely time! We were in Paris from Saturday afternoon until Monday evening, so we didn’t have that much time to see everything we wanted to see, but we devised a plan for Sunday and Monday morning which turned out to be perfect, so we thought we’d share it with you.
Our hotel was located very near to Gare de Saint Lazare in the 8th, which is a very well connected location both for public transport, and for travelling on foot. We got up at 8am on Sunday and after the short breakfast, we walked along Boulevard Haussmann toward the Arc de Triomphe which was to be our starting point for the day. The Arc is located at Place Charles de Gaulle on the Champs-Elysees, probably the most well know location in Paris. The Champs-Elysees is a very wide road which runs up to the Arc de Triomphe and you have a spectacular view ahead of you as you walk towards it. The Arc is a ginormous construction and as you stand below, you look up at it in pure wonder. The Arc was built to honour to those of fought in the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.
From here, we headed towards the Palais de Chaillot, from which you have a fantastic view looking across the Senne towards the Eifel tower. It takes approximately 20 minutes to walk from the Arc and it’s the next natural stop on the journey. The view from up there was absolutely breath taking, and certainly worth it. We actually thought the view from here was more spectacular than actually being at the foot of the Eifel Tower. You can also take some fantastic pictures up there, with the Eifel Tower and Paris in the background.
From here we walked down through the wonderful garden towards the bridge that brings you over to the Eifel Tower. As you cross the bridge the Tower is directly in front of you and it is from here that you get your first proper look at the tower. You then walk directly underneath the tower and out on the other side into the gardens. We hate to say it, but actually, we didn’t find the Eifel Tower as spectacular as we thought we might, and it is probably because we, like everyone else, have seen it in so many pictures and films. That aside, it is a must see location and still worth the effort.
We walked away from the Eifel Tower towards the Champ de Mars and IRSEM - École Militaire, from there we made our way towards Hôtel National des Invalides. This is such a beautiful place and was one of the highlights of our tour. The original purpose of the site was as a hospital for injured or unwell solders. We didn’t go inside the museums as we were on a tight schedule, however if you have more time it’s an option. The Eifel tower and these locations were all in short walking distance of each other.
The next stop on our tour was Pont Alexandre III which is considered to be the most extravagant and ornate bridge in the city, and is a protected site. It really is an extremely beautiful location and the architecture is fascinating. From the bridge you have a wonderful view in all directions and can see a lot of historical monuments of Paris. As we walked across the bridge to the other side, we reached the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais. These are both historic sites with museums and again feature extremely detailed and extravagant architecture.
We were back on the other side of the Senne and from the Grand Palais we walked along the river in the direction of the Louvre. We walked across Place de la Concorde, and wandered into a very expensive area of the city. Here we found a Creperie and decided to stop for lunch. After we refueled, we walked the short distance to the Louvre. The Louvre is another landmark of the city and one of the most famous museums in the world. Again, we didn’t go inside the museum due to time, but you can see the famous pyramids located on the square. We have to say, we weren’t that impressed with the location itself, and we quickly moved on from here to the next stop Colonnes de Buren.
Colonnes de Buren is a highly controversial, but wonderful, art installation created by the French artist Daniel Buren. The site features sticks which look like seaside rocks poking up out of the ground and arranged into a grid. The ‘sticks’ actually have a far more practical purpose, which is to conceal ventilation shafts going into the ground. This was certainly a beautiful location and we can recommend stopping by.
We made our way from here to the Opéra Garnier and then did a U-turn and headed towards the world famous Notre-Dame which is located on Île de la Cité, one of the small islands in the Senne. The island itself has its own atmosphere and culture including a very big pet market located on the middle of the island. It only takes a few minutes to walk around the island, and very quickly you find yourself at the Notre-Dame Cathedral. This time we decided to go inside which was a very interesting experience, but it was a bit spooky inside, so we didn’t stay too long before deciding to move on. There are other locations on the island like Sainte-Chapelle which are also worth seeing whilst your there.
We left the island on the other side and made our way to our final location for the day, Quartier Latin located on the south side of the Senne and is known for its student life, lively atmosphere and good food. It’s a very charming place with small winding streets, full of life and conversation. We decided to stop here at a traditional French bistro for dinner, and boy was it good! By the time we finished dinner it was 8pm and we were ready to head back to the hotel after 9 hours on our feet and a very productive and exciting day behind us!
It’s Monday morning, our legs are sore from the previous day’s activities but we are excited and eager to finish our tour of Paris. We left the whole of Monday morning to go and visit Basilika Sacré-Cœur which is located at the summit of butte Montmartre, high above the city of Paris. From our hotel, we took the Metro to Abbesses which is located in the 18th to the north of the city. When you arrive there and exit the Metro, you could think that you were in a small village somewhere outside of Paris in rural France, however you are only a few kilometers away from Notre Dame. The area really is beautiful, with small cafes and shops and the sound of children playing in the school yard. A few steps later and you are approaching the Basilica itself, which features a roman catholic church. The building is absolutely stunning and probably the most beautiful location we visited in Paris. The architecture is slightly unusual and has a medieval charm about it. As you reach the top of the steps with the Basilica before you and turn around, you are met with an absolutely breathtaking view of the city and if you’re lucky, you will be able to listen to a street performer playing classical music on his harp, which makes the experience even more magical. Behind the basilica there is a square where artists are selling their works on the street and you’ll find plenty of places to stop for a coffee or a bite to eat.
We finished our tour with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment and we felt that we’d seen everything we needed to in our short time in Paris. If you’d like a copy of our list of places to visit, which are organized by location, please contact us and we’ll send it to you.