Paris is one of our favorite cities in the world. We fell in love with it instantly on our first trip to Europe in 2008. Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and it offers so many things to do on so many levels. The architecture, the art, the food, the wine, the famous landmarks… Paris is hard to beat.
Our Favorite Experiences in Paris
#1 See Paris from the Eiffel Tower
What would Paris be without the Eiffel Tower? This is one of world’s most famous landmarks and definitely deserves a visit on a trip to Paris. Lines can be long so either visit it early or late in the day or climb the steps, like we did. The tickets are cheaper and the line, if there even is one, is very short. It’s about 350 steps to the first level and another 350 steps to the second level. To reach the third level of the Eiffel Tower requires taking the elevator, something we did not do on this visit.
#2 See the Gargoyles from Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame was built in 1345. Imagine the history that these gargoyles have witnessed. The views of Paris from Notre Dame are wonderful, but seeing the gargoyles up close is what gives this viewpoint its character.
#3 Ooh la la… French Food
I think it is impossible to have a bad meal in Paris. There are not too many cities in the world where you could randomly pick a restaurant and know that you are going to have an above average meal. For three days Tim and I ate plenty of bread, cheese, chocolate, and washed this all down with fabulous wine. I sampled french onion soup (in Paris it is just called onion soup) that was always delicious. Probably the best part of our meals was the setting…we ate at outdoor cafes whenever possible.
#4 Picnic in Front of the Eiffel Tower
Sure, outdoor cafes are fabulous, but so is assembling your own meal and picnicking in front of the Eiffel Tower. Tim and I went shopping on the market street of Rue Cler, buying bread, chocolate, fruit, french cheese and crackers, and a bottle of wine. We sat in Champs de Mars for one of the most memorable meals ever.
#5 Climb the Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is my favorite Parisian landmark and also provides my favorite view out over the city. From here you have views down the Champs-Elysees, out to the Eiffel Tower, to the Louvre and beyond to Notre Dame, and out to La Defense and the business heart of Paris. Twelve boulevards radiate out from the Arc. Just looking down and watching cars from twelve streets merge onto a round-about is pure entertainment.
Tim and I called home and spoke to Tyler and Kara from the top of the Arc de Triomphe. How cool it was to hear their wonderful little voices as we enjoyed one of the best views in the world.
#6 Stroll up the Champs-Elysees
The Champs-Elysees, one of the most famous streets in the world, is a great place to walk, people watch, go shopping, and grab a bite to eat. It is a 2 km walk from Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe. The closer you get to the Arc de Triomphe the more touristy the shops become.
One must-do stop is a visit to Lauderee for macaroons. The lines are long but a view of their desserts are worth the wait. Take your food outside, find a park bench, and people watch while eating french pastries.
#7 See the Louvre
The Louvre is massive, and if you wanted to see the entire museum it would take days. Tim and I elected to take the ultra quick, one hour tour of the Louvre. We were there to see the three big sites: the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and Winged Victory.
#8 Explore the Catacombs
This was awesome. Tim and I descended under the Paris city streets to walk through a maze of human bones. Centuries ago, as the city of Paris expanded, bodies were exhumed from cemeteries and moved to underground mining tunnels, which are now the catacombs. It is estimated that the bones from 6 million bodies now reside here. The walk underground through long tunnels filled with perfectly stacked bones was both fascinating and slightly morbid.
#9 Enjoy the Sunset from the Steps of the Sacre Coeur
The Sacre Coeur, a Catholic Basilica, sits atop a hill with some of the best views over the city of Paris. Find an empty spot on the steps to enjoy these phenomenal views.
#10 See Paris at Night
Paris, also known as “The City of Light,” is wonderful to see lit up at night. There are numerous ways to see it. Tim and I chose to use a tour bus company for a one hour tour of the city just past sunset. We drove past all of the famous landmarks and it was a good experience. This can also be done by taxi or you can time your trip up the Eiffel Tower to look out over the city as the sun sets.
It was hard to say good bye to Paris but I knew we would one day return. Little did I know then that it would only be four years later and we would be visiting with Tyler, Kara, Mom, and Valerie.
More Information for Your Trip to Paris:
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