Listed as one of the most popular places on earth, Paris, France lives up to the traveler’s expectations. It also makes for a great place to spend a weekend!
Following an afternoon or evening arrival in Paris, you can make your way towards the Louvre. Fridays and Wednesdays are the days the Louvre is open until 9:45PM. It regularly closes at 6:00PM. If you arrive early enough, this is a great place to start and catch a glimpse of some of the most amazing artworks of all time, such as Da Vinci’s La Jaconde (The Mona Lisa), the Venus de Milo, Veronese’s The Wedding Feast At Cana, and the Winged Victory of Samothrace.
You could easily spend days visiting the Louvre, but if you do your research beforehand and know what pieces you really want to see, you should have no problem seeing them in a couple of hours.
After your visit to the Louvre, you can take a walk towards the Eiffel tower (about a 40 minute walk, there are metro and buses available as well). There are numerous cozy restaurants along the way and most of them provide a great taste of Parisian cuisine. If your budget allows, you can also reserve at the 58 Tour Eiffel or Jules Verne Restaurants in the Eiffel Tower.
After dinner, you can make your way up the Eiffel Tower for what is arguably one of the best views in all of Europe. Wowing tourists since 1889, the tower features three different observation decks. The tower is open until midnight during the summer and until 11:00PM the rest of the year. Remember to check the tower’s information booth, as weather can periodically close the observation decks.
If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend making it to the top level. The view up there is worth it.
Get an early start to your day with a visit to a French bakery for some fresh pastries. Quiche, croissants or French bread are always available and make for great starts to your day.
Find your way to the nearest Metro station and make your way to the Château de Versailles. The Château is accessible through the RER C train at the Versailles – Rive Gauche station. If you wish to take the train first, you can, and you will find several bakeries on the five minute walk from the train station to the gate of the Château de Versailles.
The Château de Versailles is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was originally a hunting lodge for French King, Louis XIII. In 1682, after an expansion, King Louis XIV moved the government to Versailles and made this his official Palace. It was here that King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were captured during the French Revolution, on October 5, 1789.
The Château is quite possibly one of the best places to experience the opulent lifestyle of 17th and 18th century royalty. It features a great Hall of Mirrors where the King would host his parties to demonstrate the wealth of his kingdom; a beautiful Chapel where the King would worship; and incredible artwork throughout.
The visit to the Château can take as long as you would like, but making your way through the main rooms and gardens can be done in about two and a half hours.
If you are the adventurous type, you can take the 90 steps to the base of the Basilica. If you prefer a Parisian experience, you can take the Funiculaire de Montmarte, which is a small inclined train that will take you to the base of the Basilica. Once you reach the top, you have a great view of city of Paris from the front of the Basilica.
The Basilica was consecrated in 1919, after the completion of World War I. It is a beautiful representation of Roman-Byzantine style. The interior has an incredible mosaic over the altar and a large pipe organ that was a marvel of its day.
For €6 you can choose to make your way up the top of the dome of the Basilica, where you will get a great view of the city, weather permitting. If you are claustrophobic, I would not recommend this. It is a nice experience, but not necessarily a must do. You can also visit the crypt of the church.
Make your way to the Metro and to the Cité station. This will leave you a block away from one of Paris’ most popular locations, the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
Its first stone was laid in 1163 and this gothic style cathedral has been a symbol of Paris ever since. Stories have been written about its bell towers and its crypt. Its history is rich and can be seen at every turn inside this massive cathedral.
It can be a bit dark inside, but the light shining through the stained glass windows provide an incredible mix of colors inside its nave. Walking behind the altar is like walking though history, with art pieces and tombs dating back to the early days of the church.
The tower is open for visiting, but once again, not a good option for those who cannot make the trek up many steps or who suffer with claustrophobia. I will say that the views are worth the effort. You will also pass the famous gargoyles in the exterior of the cathedral.
To end the day, you can make it out to the Concorde station on the Champs Élysées. The Concorde Station is at the Place de la Concorde. The Place de la Concorde was created in honor of King Louis XV and featured fountains and an equestrian statue, it is also the place where King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were executed during the French Revolution. The Obelisk of Luxor still stands here today.
From the Place de la Concorde, you can walk up the Champs Élysées. The walk will take you past stores like the Disney Store, Swarovski, Cartier, Sephora, Gucci, Prada and many more.
You can find some great resta urants as you walk and end your trek at the Arc de Triomphe.
The Arc de Triomphe is another of Paris’ most famous locations and underneath holds the tomb of the unknown soldier.
After a stop at a French bakery, make your way to the Musée de l’Armée.
The Musée de l’Armée is a museum dedicated to the military history of France. You will see artifacts from the French military throughout history. From Army jeeps to cannons to dining sets, you will see it all. If you are not that interested in this portion of the museum, you can make your way to the Dome Church, where you will find the opulent tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Your next stop will be the Pantheon. Located in the Latin Quarter of Paris, the Pantheon was originally built as a church, but changed to a mausoleum after the French Revolution. Inside, you will find the tombs of famous French individuals such as: Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Louis Braille and Marie Curie.
After your visit you can end your visit to Paris with a cruise of the River Seine. The River Seine is UNESCO World Heritage Site. Boat tours are available departing from the Eiffel Tower and from the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
Tip: Entry to many museums and attractions is included with the purchase of the Paris Pass, along with metro transportation. You can purchase a 2 or 4 day pass. For more information and a list of locations, you can visit: www.parispass.com