France- Paris

Before visiting Paris I always had an image of the place. Now after seeing it with my very own eyes I totally could relate to everything said about Paris. 

Yes it is a city of love- sit by the Eiffel and enjoy an evening here with a picnic basket and you will totally feel the romance in the air.

Walk along the street at night and the whole place is lit up or see the light show of the Eiffel Tower. The place is also referred to as city of lights. 

Paris is known for its arts and monuments be it the Louvre, Musee D’Orsay or the Eiffel Tower. Something about the place makes you fall in love with art also.

Walking along the streets of Paris and the aroma of the breads or croissant along the way makes your mind confused, should you continue seeing the place or just sit in a cafe and enjoy a meal. If that was not enough for a person who has a sweet tooth the sight of macaroons makes you want to skip every meal and just indulge in desserts. 

If you really want to see Paris then explore it on foot. This is also true, each and every street has something to show its visitors. In the end of the day you don’t have a sore feet but end up making beautiful memories.

You can never really go wrong in Paris!

TIME TO VISIT PARIS

The best time to visit Paris really depends on your preference of the weather. April to May is spring time, June to August is summer and September to October is fall. All of this is considered to be the best time to visit. 

Keep in mind June to July is said to be the tourist season. Bookings for hotels and travel will have to be planned well in advance and also expect crowds. January is the cheapest month to travel as flights are cheaper. May is said to also experience rainfall.  Lots of things to consider so choose according to your preference. 

We decided to visit in September and were thrilled with our decision. It was the perfect weather and we didn’t experience much crowd as well. 

TRAVELING AROUND PARIS 

To reach Paris we had used the flight option from our home. Within Paris we choose a combination of public transport and walking.

Our main mode of transport when not walking was the metro. A large yellow M sign was what we always looked for. Each line has different colors which helped plan which trains to catch. Metro tickets were valid for zone 1 & zone 2. We had chosen the three consecutive days tickets for our travel. 

Most of the time we preferred to walk, hence with a combination of Google map and tourist maps we ventured onto seeing the town. 

From Paris we were traveling to Brussels so we had also booked the Thalys train. We had done our bookings online and went to the office on the first day to confirm our train timings. The website is user friendly and helps you plan your travel according to your preferred time. Everything was easy to follow and we didn’t have any issues.

WHERE WE STAYED IN PARIS

We stayed at Ibis Paris Gare Du Nord Chateau Landon 10eme for 3 nights with rooms only option. Our main reason for choosing this hotel was because it was close to Gare Du Nord Station. We always like to pick hotels near the public transport and this hotel worked out best. The hotel is 10 mins walks to the station and we didn’t have any bad experience. We had one late night when the road felt scary but didn’t have any issues.

We have stayed in Ibis hotels before so we weren’t disappointed with the room size. We were out most of the days and would only come in the room at night. It was a typical Ibis style rooms and we were happy with the cleanliness provided. The front desk were also very friendly who were happy to welcome and answer all our question.

The hotel is also close to some shops and cafes nearby hence it really is a win win place. I would recommend staying here. 

Paris hotels can be expensive and staying near the tourist spots can be pricey, choose as per your budget and preference.

THINGS TO DO IN PARIS

MUSEE D’ORSAY

A museum found along the Banks of Siene which was also a railway station built between 1898 and 1900. Since the short platform was unsuitable for long trains in 1939 it was used for a short time as a mailing centre. In 1970 it was changed to be a hotel but then around 1978 the place was turned into a museum.

A very interesting building when looked upon closely. The astonishing 19th century architecture is one of its kind. Don’t miss out the Victor Laloux’s Musee D’Orsay clock in the main hall. . When you go to the top you can also get a great view of the river, Louvre Museum and Montmartre.  

The museum has paintings, furniture, sculptures and photography some dating back to 1848. Some of the renowned artist’s paintings are seen inside the museum. 

LOUVRE MUSEUM

World’s largest art museum and a historic monument found in the right bank of the Siene in Paris. It is the most visited museum in the world. The place was initially a castle in the 12th to 13th century.

In the 21st century the museum is said to have over 380,000 object and displayed 35,000 art works. The Louvre has various sculptures, paintings, drawings and archaeological finds. There are various Egyptian antiquities, Eastern antiquities, Greek, Etruscan,  Roman and Islamic art. As you walk along you will also see decorative arts.

I absolutely loved the pyramid, it brings air and light into the atrium of the museum and created a welcoming entrance. I also loved the architectural design of the  building from outside. 

Overall the place can get crowded and you will have to wait in line but personally we didn’t struggle so much.  

PLACE DE LA CONCORADE

This is the largest square in Paris where many of the notable public executions took place during the French Revolution.

The two fountains are famous and built during Louis-Philippe time. They were built with the rivers and seas concept because it is close to the Ministry of Navy and to the Seine. Both have the same concept of stone basin, six figures holding fish spouting water, six seated figures sitting on the ships and four statues holding the upper Vasquue.

There is also the Obelisk which was given by the Egyptian in the 19th century. It rises 75ft high with a base and weighs of over 250 tonnes. It is placed in the Center of Place De La Concorde  on both sides by fountains when the place was erected. Transporting it was not easy and there is another one which is with the Egyptians. 

It’s a lovely place to wonder around but the only issue is it’s always packed with tourists and traffics. 

EIFFEL TOWER

The Eiffel Tower actually doesn’t need an introduction. When anyone mentions Paris this is usually the first thing which comes in everyone’s mind. It was named after the engineer Gustavo Eiffel and was constructed from 1887 to 1889.

The tower is 1,063 ft. and holds the title of the tallest structure in Paris. The puddled iron weighs 7,300 tons and with the lift its weights 10,100 tons. There was much care taken with regards to the wind while building the tallest structure. Till date there are constant maintenance of the tower to avoiding it from rusting.

The tower had three levels for visitors to enjoy with restaurants in the first and second level. The top level, at a height of 906 ft. is the highest observatory deck.

Visiting the Eiffel Tower is there on the bucket list for most people, we were no different. The glass floor on the first floor, the sparking of the twinkling lights as the sun sets makes the whole experience of visiting the Eiffel Tower a memorable one. 

We have walked around in different places around the tower to capture it in every way possible. It has left a lasting vivid memory in our minds, one which we will remember forever. 

LUXEMBOURG GARDEN

A garden which was built back in 1612 by Marie De’ Medici for her Luxembourg Palace. The name is given because of the hill where it’s located. 

It is filled with plenty of flower beds, sculptures and fountains as if it’s out from a fairy tale. Walking along with no set itinerary or a map  and still beings stunned with every corner makes the place well worth the visit. A perfect place to sit down and relax, enjoy a lunch basket by the garden and rent boats for kids to enjoy. 

Parisians love their gardens, parks and this is such a nice way to relax and enjoy sometime in between nature. A very beautiful park with a warm atmosphere, one I would definitely recommend visiting. 

PANTHEON

Initially when the construction started it was intended to be a church. However as French Revolution started the place was transformed into a mausoleum for the remains of the French citizens.

This was not really on our list to see but while walking we came across the building and got curious. The neoclassical dome does stand out as one of the most recognized icons. 

CATHEDRALE NOTRE DAME DE PARIS

One of the finest French Gothic architecture cathedral which was dedicated to Virgin Mary. It was designated the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. 

The spire, stained glasses, impressive statutory and dramatic towers all have left a lasting image in our minds.  I feel very fortunate to have seen the beauty of the church before the unfortunate fire event which took place in 2019.

ARC DE TRIOMPHE DU CARROUSEL

A Corinthian style architecture which was built between 1806 and 1808. It was built to commemorate Napoleon’s military victory from previous years.

The monument is 63 ft. in height and is topped by eight soldiers of the Empire. It’s more colorful if compared to the Arc De Triumph and beautifully placed at the entrance of Tuileries Garden.

POMPIDOU CENTRE

It was built to bring together in one place all the different forms of art and literature. An art museum which has some interesting and unique art work. 

When it was initially designed the structural elements like plumbing, climate control, electrical wires were all having unique colour. The building was built with the exterior actually showing what would normally be the interior of any building. For me personally this was a very interesting and unique design.

MONTPARNASSE TOWER

This is actually an office skyscraper which was constructed from 1969 to 1973. It remained the tallest building of 689 ft. till 2011. On the 56th floor there are restaurants and terrace for public viewing of the city. Since we had seen the view from Eiffel Tower we didn’t go up. 

ARC DE TRIOMPHE

A very famous monument of Paris which honour all those who fought and died during French Revolution and Napoleonic wars. The names of French generals and victories are all on the inner and outer walls. There is also a vault beneath which is a tomb of the unknown soldiers from World War I.

The place stands in the centre still sharing with its viewers the history. A place where you can still see the soldiers remembered even after so many years. 

CHAMPS ÉLYSÉES

In between Place De La Concorde and Place Charles De Gaulle is the 1.9 km long lane where also Arc de Triomphe is located. The place is famous for its theatres, cafes and luxury shopping. There is also the annual Bastille Day military parade and the cycling race which is held here. 

A very busy street and also difficult place to capture a good photo. The place is well lit up during Christmas but the traffic here looks horrendous. 

GRAND PALAIS

A large exhibition hall and museum complex which is located in Champs-Élysées. During World War I it severed as a military hospital. Today it has a major police station in the basement who are there to protect the exhibits. It was really pretty both inside and out. 

CHAMP DE MARS

A large lush green space which is found in between Eiffel Tower and Ecole Militaire. Initially it was a place reserved for market gardening. A pot was bought for growing fruits, vegetables and flowers. In 1765 it was taken over since the place was not fertile and decided to care for it differently. Since then many festivals have taken place here. 

The view of the park from the top of Eiffel Tower is awesome, you can capture the whole place in one shot. We had also enjoyed the evening light show from this park. Many pictures of the Eiffel Tower and its surroundings can also be captured from the park, only issue is it’s always crowded. 

SACRE- COEUR

A Roman Catholic Church which is also known as The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris or Sacre-Coeur Basilica. A very popular place and said to be the second most visited places in Paris. It stands at the summit of Montmarte, hence giving its visitors the highest point in the city. 

The place dominated the skyline both when you see it up close or from distant. There are gorgeous, colorful and well painted glasses with the largest mosaic in France. The interior offers a sense of calm and tranquility. Upon looking closely you can see the intriguing details in the architecture. 

SEINE RIVER

The name is derived from the Latin word Sequana which is linked with Gallo-Roman goddess of the river. An important commercial waterway of 777 kilometre long river within Paris. There are said to be 37 bridges within Paris which are visible along the river. 

Walking along the river, crossing the bridges, sitting by the benches or simply enjoying a boat ride along Seine is some of the things which are enjoyed both by the locals and tourists. 

INVALIDES BRIDGE VIEW

The lowest bridge transferring the Seine in Paris. This was initially built in 1821 but went through a lot of issues because it was not up to standard. Many times it was demolished and moved. In 1854 the bridge was replaced and sustained until 1880 after which two of the arches were lost. However now the bridge is secure and the only expansion was the pavement which happened in 1956.

PONT NEUF 

This is the oldest bridge standing in the river of Seine in Paris. It was beautifully styled in the 1600s which till date is used by many. It is a very nice place to stand and admire the surrounding architecture of Paris. Having seen many French and Parisian history and yet feels so new.

A word of warning while walking along the bridge be very careful. I have personally experienced and also read many speaking of pick pocket and being attacked by local teenagers. It’s a shame when you are busy admiring the place to go through such an event- puts you off. 

PONT DES ARTS BRIDGE (LOVE LOCK BRIDGE) 

Here is another pedestrian bridge which crosses River Seine. This is also a place where tourists in 2008 started attaching padlocks known as love locks. They would put the name on the lock and throw the keys in the river. This is not a tradition started by the French but they have respected the tourist’s sentiments.

We personally admired the whole things but never really put a lock. Only later while we were trying to find out the story behind it, we learnt that the locals are not very happy with this concept. They feel there is a huge safety concern with the weight of the lock damaging the bridge. In 2015 the city council workmen even cut down the locks upon receiving numerous complaints from the locals.

Well sure is something interesting, little did we know the story behind it. Unintentional our actions sure did respect the local’s feelings. 

OUR ITINERARY IN PARIS

DAY 1

  • Took a flight to Paris. 
  • From airport took the metro to Gare Du Nord station. Then walked 500 m to our hotel. Checked in and rested. 
  • We hotel walked to Gare Du Nord station and took the metro to Palais Royal Musee Du Louvre. Walked 1.2 km to Musee D’Orsay
  • Then we walked to Louvre Museum 

  • From Louvre we walked towards to Arc De Triomphe Du Carrousel.

  • Headed to to Place De Le Concorde on foot. If you don’t wish to walk then you can also take the metro from Palais Royal Musee Du Louvre and get off at Concorde station and walk for 2 mins to reach the place.
  • Took the metro back to the hotel


DAY 2

  • From the hotel we took the metro to Eiffel Tower. From our hotel we had couple of options either get off at Alma-Marceau or Bir Hakeim and walk to Eiffel Tower

  • We took the metro from Bir-Hakeim station to Raspail/ Luxembourg and walked to Luxemberg Garden
  • From Luxemberg Garden we walked to the Pantheon, which was roughly 8 mins.

  • Then we walked for 12 mins to Notre Dame

  • From Notre Dame we walked another 12 mins to Centre Pompidou
  • We then took the metro from Chatelet Station to reach our hotel. 

DAY 3

  • Took the metro and got off at Gare Montparnasse station and walked to Montparnasse Tower.
    From Gare Montparnasse we took the metro to Estacio De Charles De Gaulle-Etoile and walked to Arc De Triomphe
  • Took the metro from Estacio De Charles De Gaulle-Etoile to Champs- Élysées Clemenceau and walked to Grand Palais
  • Walked for 5 mins to Invalides Bridge View
  • We then decided to walk to Pont Neuf. This is a 30 mins walk, you can also take the metro to Louvre-Rivoli if you want to avoid walking. 
  • Took the metro back to hotel for a quick rest. 

  • In the evening took the metro and got off at Ecole Militaire and walked to Champ De Mars
  • Enjoyed night lighting show of Eiffel Tower from Champ De Mars and walked closer to Eiffel Tower. 
  • Took the metro back to the Hotel

Day 4

  • Early morning checked out and walked to Gare Du Nord to take the train to Brussels. 




Below map can be used as a guideline for the metro and walking routes for our above itinerary.

THINGS TO NOTE IN PARIS

  • Plan and book your hotels well in advance. 
  • Know few important French words. Many do speak English, but they always want you to put some effort with their local language as well. 
  • Paris is best explored on foot, make sure to wear comfortable shoes
  • Enjoy the cafes in Paris, there are plenty and each add a little extra to the place. Don’t forget to try the local cuisines.
  • Asking things to go while buying food is not common here. 
  • Tipping is included in meal, but an extra is always appreciated.
  • Drinking in public is legal. 
  • Plan for the travel adopters depending on where you’re coming from. Universal adaptors are best. 
  • There are hardly any free bathrooms in Paris, there is a fee. 
  • Not everything is open on Sundays so plan accordingly. 
  • First Sundays of the month museums are free. 
  • Try the day trips if you have time, heard Versailles is great. 

  • The hop on & hop off buses can help with traveling. Unfortunately we never used one.
  • To see the Arc De Triomphe cross the intersection from underneath the road. Don’t cross in between traffic as it’s very unsafe. 
  • Visit Arc De Triomphe and Eiffel Tower early morning to avoid crowd. 
  • Pont Neuf Bridge be very careful. There are usually group of girls who come with paper asking to sign and another one will be opening your bag to steal something. Speaking from personal experience, be attentive. 
  • Advise taking care of your backpacks. Better to hold it in the front if you have valuables.
  • Be very careful with travel scams and pick pockets. It’s surprising how easily you can be tricked into one if you are not aware of your surroundings.