Without a doubt, Paris was our most ambitious trip to date. We went with a group of seven who wanted to see a variety of different things, and instead of compromising, we thought, “Why not do them all?” which is (almost) exactly what we did. Our days were spent on the go, dashing from one site to the next, hitting every tourist attraction except for Moulin Rouge, the Catacombs, and the Sacred Heart, walking in total around 45/50 miles over the course of three days. So, take it from me, when you’re planning a short trip to Paris, you must pick and choose; and, because I didn’t do this, below you’ll find my review and recommendations on what will give you the most fulfilling yet relaxing tour of the City of Lights.
Arc de Triomphe
I highly recommend climbing the Arc de Triomphe. Not only was it a relatively fair rate for the ticket, but the view was priceless. The line moved quickly, and we emerged to see a panoramic view of Paris on a sunny Friday afternoon. Walking along the sides of the building you could see perfectly the Champs Elysees, Eiffel Tower, and much, much more. Plus, once you ascended the rather large number of stairs, you were able to learn about the history of the Arc and see a few of the original pieces of the architecture that had fallen off of the building over the course of time.
Our group was able to picnic beneath the tower for a dinner and brunch, and climb all the way to the top on the Saturday night we stayed in town. I highly recommend picnicking under the Eiffel at night. Not only are there many areas to lounge with your party, but the twinkling lights come on for five minutes every hour, giving the entire area a magical feeling. The climbing of the Eiffel Tower I would not necessarily recommend if you have any sort of physical malady; i.e. asthma, a trick knee, etc. I have a torn meniscus and scoliosis on top of myself and a few others having asthma, so we most definitely had to take our time making our way to the top. If you do decide to climb it though, I would recommend doing it after dusk – you will not regret it!
Only a short 30-minute train ride outside of the city, Versailles was a unique opportunity to experience culture and history simultaneously. We were able to tour both the chateau and the gardens, allowing us to have the perfect half day trip amongst nature and art.
How could I not mention this? Let me say, you should not go into this museum expecting to see every piece of fine art. The Louvre is expansive, holding large quantities of art of all mediums and from all time periods; to fully experience all its pieces in their fullest would take you months. That being said, go in with a plan, but allow yourself to be swept up by the beauty of it. The interior of the palace itself is a work of art, and being surrounded by marble statues and ornate gold frames holding the works of masters can become quite the religious experience. I had never felt more at home than I did being fully enveloped in the things that The Louvre had to offer.
Jardin des Tuileries
Known as the Tuileries Garden in English, this garden/park was the ideal place for us to calm down just before we left France to go back to the Netherlands. Small street food vendors and multiple benches and chairs scattered among the fountains offer the perfect position to people watch and reflect. Located near the Seine River, the Tuileries Garden was great for strolling to look at flowers, vendors, people, and history alike.