Welcome to my second post from the Trip Diary series! This time I will give you a tour to Paris – through my eyes, of what is best to visit if you have only four/five days in the city. My boyfriend and I spent full four days and a half in the “city of love”, and given that we entered every single monument (thus consider the queue waiting time), we managed to visit everything that we wanted. Prepare yourself for a lot of pictures of gardens, palaces, museums, us two hugged in front of every monument we saw, postcards of coffee, cakes, and many of the Eiffel Tower.
Hope you enjoy this colorful post, even if you have already visited the stunning French capital.
First, some very practical information: Even though we took a trip to the capital of fashion and love off-season at the beginning of November (as you can guess from my warm scarf and our autumn jackets), there were queues of fellow-tourists everywhere. I strongly advise you to book tickets online for the popular sights, if possible. With regards to the transport in the city, we used the metro during the entire trip and we were satisfied.
With no surprise, I start our tour with the most emblematic sight of Paris – Tour Eiffel.
The Eiffel Tower
We spotted the Tower immediately from the plane, shortly before landing at Charles de Gaulle. Despite our previously sarcastic comments about how commercial and exaggerated the Tower was, the moment we laid our eyes on the tiny vision of the monument, we both held our breath. I thought it was “just a tower”, that was never meant to attract millions of people from all over the world to Paris; a cliché to check off the list of world’s must-see symbols or architecture. Yet, I surprised myself with how much I was searching for the sight of it – everywhere we went in Paris, every day. Regardless of location, I always wondered: “Can we see the Tower from here??”, followed by my over-excited me adding quickly: “Ah, babe, look over there..no, no, there, behind the tree, on the left side of the building..the tower!” Want it or not, once you step foot in Paris, you get under the Eiffel Tower spell.
I take everything I have said about the Eiffel Tower back, and to add to my obsession with the exterior vision of it, I did enjoy the panoramic view over Paris from the top floor more than I can describe. The fact that we were extremely lucky with the weather during the entire trip, probably helped a lot.
Of course, I did not disclose all the photos of my boyfriend and me kissing on top of the tower. Cliché? That was what I also said, before we (finally, after two hours of queuing) reached the highest platform and glanced over to the picturesque landscape of buildings, cathedrals, gardens, streets and of course La Seine.
As you can imagine, we took 100 pictures of The Tower – behind, front, left, right, up, down, from the garden, from the street, and literally every other corner possible.
The Eiffel Tower By Night
The lit up Tower by night is an iconic sight, which you should definitely experience! The square is full of life, music, dancing – I remember that even though we are exhausted after 12 hours of walking, trying to captivate the sights, and taking pictures, we stayed for three extra hours just for that.
Cafes, Restaurants and Bakeries
I am a bit ashamed to say that I do not remember the names of most of the cafes, bakeries and restaurants that we had our breaks at. Pastries, baguettes, croissants, the little Parisian cafes have it all, and the food was delightful. I got the impression the central cafes all have the same menus and cozy surroundings. We were delighted by the small bakeries at every corner, and we could not help tasting the traditional French macaroons – they were indeed delicious! We discovered they tasted nothing like the ones we had bought in Denmark or Bulgaria before. You should make sure to try them, and buy them from a local bakery. It is a very authentic experience!
Notre-Dame de Paris
Who else remember Disney’s fantastic The Hunchback of Notre-Dame adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris?? The first thing to come to mind has always been the fairy-tale of the hunchback and Esmeralda when I thought of the Notre-Dame, and that is why I was over-excited to step foot in the Victor Hugo’s novel-centered cathedral.
I have always loved the colored glass church windows, and the light streaming through them. Notre-Dame has some of the most beautiful I have seen so far.
Unfortunately, I found out it is not legal to share pictures from the interior of the cathedral – same valid for the Basilica. Besides, I do not want to spoil your experience when you first enter the cathedral.
On the way to Notre-Dame, the fortress-looking royal chapel is located. It is within the medieval Palais de la Cité. We read later that the castle has been the residence of the French Kings until the 14h century. This Gothic style palais at the heart of Paris, with its view over La Seine is no doubt one of our most favorite places.
Since I can remember, I have been fascinated by Ancient Art and History, particularly Egyptian, Greek and Roman, therefore visiting Palais Royal Musee du Louvre, which is home of all that and more, was a dream come true! However, I can guarantee that even if you are not passionate about antiques, you will fall in love with the paintings, decorative arts and the interior of the halls of the museum-fortress.
Unless you have ordered tickets online, you can expect to wait in queue for an hour or two, before you can enter. Once inside, however, unlike the Eiffel Tower’s tour, the grand museum was quite spacious, and we did not encounter any crowds or queues – apart from the crowded selfies enthusiasts in front of Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece of Mona Lisa. You can get a map at the entrance, and it is very useful to carry one with you, as there are many halls and levels, and that way you would have an overview of your location.
It was hilarious to see how many people were trying to get close to the Mona, followed by a fake smile to the smart phone camera, before running out of there as fast a possible. But I guess, the whole atmosphere of people pushing you around to get to the Mona does not predispose for standing there in peace, taking into consideration the infamous portrait.
My most favorite piece of art residing at the Louvre museum is the sculpture by Antonio Canova of Cupid and Psyche. The masterpiece represents the scene of Cupid awakening his lover Psyche by kiss, thus bringing her back to life. The whole scene is so tender, magical, beautiful, and emotional. Pure Love. I could not take my eyes of it, not until another True Love got me out of the trance and reminded me that we had to keep moving.
Thank you for joining me for the first part of my travel diary to Paris! Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Trip Diary to Paris, which will follow in the next days;)