Paris. Je t’aime.
One of the most famous and romantic cities in the world, it’s easy to fall in love with Paris. With an overwhelming number of landmarks, sights and attractions, if you haven’t got that much time to explore the city it can be difficult to know where to start. On my visit to Paris for three days I managed to do everything on this list of Top 10 Things To Do below. A great piece of advice when planning your trip to Paris is that many of the sights are open at night and look even more beautiful when lit up in the dark, so if you’re stuck for time maybe plan to see some of them in the day and then do a spot of sightseeing after the sun goes down. You can also do a Paris hop on hop off tour to explore the attractions of Paris conveniently at your own pace.
1. Go to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre
Is she smiling? Visit the glass pyramid museum of the Louvre to decide yourself whether the Mona Lisa is grinning or frowning. I wasn’t expecting the portrait to be so small, but I have to say it does look like a smile to me. The Louvre itself has an impressive collection of art and sculptures, including the Venus de Milo and the enormous painting of The Last Supper, also by Da Vinci.
2. Watch a Show at the Moulin Rouge
By far the best experience I had in Paris, a show at the Moulin Rouge has to come somewhere near the top of your list. Although it’s a little pricey and most people book in advance, there are often cancellations on the day. On my visit to Paris I asked in the box office if they had any tables available and within 5 hours I was in my cocktail dress drinking champagne in front of the most spectacular show I’ve seen. When you enter the theatre the volume from the sheer number of people dining is indescribable. The show is incredible, not just a bunch of scantily clad burlesque dancers in vibrant costumes but all sorts of acts including gymnasts, jugglers and ventriloquists.
3. Climb the Arc de Triomph
Climb the steps to the top of this magnificent arch to have a view of the 12 avenues which meet at the point where the Arc de Triomph stands. The arch, which was commissioned in 1806 by Napoleon to commemorate his imperial victories, remained incomplete after he started losing, but was finally completed under Louis-Philippe in 1836. The body of an unknown soldier who died in World War One lies beneath the arch to commemorate those who have lost their lives in battle.
4. The Opera House
The Opera House, otherwise known as the Palais Garnier, where the musical Phantom of the Opera is set, is a 2,200 seat Opera House in the Neo-Baroque style. In 1896 the chandelier fell, killing a construction worker, and this was the inspiration for the novel of the Phantom of the Opera. The rich, fabulous Grand Staircase is one of the highlights inside the Opera House and used to be a place where fashionable ladies would brush. Take a look inside the auditorium, with its red and gold colours, velvet seating and red velvet curtains, lit up by the crystal chandelier.
5. Have a coffee on the Champs Elysees
No visit to Paris is complete without having a coffee or lunch on Paris’ famous avenue, the Champs Elysees. Have a browse in the luxury shops or sit outside on the tree-lined avenue and watch the people go by.
6. Browse the art in the Orsay Museum
A museum in a train station, it’s certainly a little different. Set on the banks of the Seine, opposite the Tuileries Gardens,the museum could be considered a work of art in itself. The museum was built inside the old Orsay Railway station for the Universal Exhibition in 1900. The museum contains works of art you will have studied in your school art class, including paintings by Monet, Van Gough, Cezanne, Degas, Munch, Matisse and Rodin.
7. Sit on the steps at the Sacre-Coeur
After you’ve had your photo taken at the red windmill of the Moulin Rouge, go and sit on the steps of the hill in Montmartre. The Sacre Coeur stands at the top of the hill and is known as the Basilique de Sacre Coeur, or Basilica of the Sacred Heart. It’s a holy place and a symbol of Catholic devotion to the Holy Virgin. The white domes of the Sacre Coeur are visible throughout the city and sits on Paris’ highest point.
8. Light a candle at the Notre Dame Cathedral
The Notre Dame Cathedral is a great example of French Gothic architecture and the most visited site in Paris. It’s also the inspiration for the classic story the Hunchback of Notre Dame. It’s free to have a look around and many visitors or pilgrims go there to reflect, pray and light a candle.
9. Enjoy the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower
The most famous landmark in Paris and certainly one of the iconic landmarks of the world, the Eiffel Tower is 324m high and offers the best views of Paris from above. Take the escalator to the top and admire the panoramic views, plus spot some of Paris’ famous other famous landmarks below…the Arc de Triomph looks tiny! If you’re up fro a romantic evening, book a table at one of the tower’s restaurants and admire its twinkling lights at night. The Eiffel Tower is open from 9:30am to 11pm so it’s always worth paying a visit at night as well as in the day.
10. Napoleon’s tomb at Les Invalides
Visit the tomb of the Emperor Napoleon 1, where his remains now lie. Napoleon, after passing away on the island of Helena, was transferred to France in 1940, 19 years after his death and his ashes were eventually laid to rest in this tomb on April 2nd, 1861. Les Invalides, where the tomb is situated, was a home for wounded veterans built in the 1670s for Louis XIV.