As one of the most populated metropolitan areas in all of Europe, Paris can be a challenging city to conquer. Having so much to offer, Paris has the ability to easily overwhelm visitors and residents alike. However, if you enter with an open mind and a lust for adventure, Paris proves to be one of the greatest of all cities to explore. So, for those of you planning a trip to Paris in the near future, I would like to point out a few must-sees on your venture…
First and foremost, it is a must for any first-time Parisian visitor to tour the famed Louvre museum. Grab a friend, stroll through by yourself, or take a guided tour–whichever you choose, you won’t be disappointed. While you are there, yes, you must see the popular works such as the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo; however, also be sure to browse through by yourself and take the time to discover what truly attracts you in the museums collection. In doing so, I discovered the La Jeune Martyre, my own personal favorite paining in the entirety of museum. Warning, be sure to block out a fair amount of time because lines leading into the museum can be quite long, especially during the summer.
Another fair-weathered outing is to visit the fabulous statue garden of the Musee Rodin. The famous collection includes The Thinker, The Kiss, and The Gates of Hell and the grounds surrounding the museum are lovely. Much quieter than the Louvre and with fewer crowds and more open space, the museum is a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The best way get a grand tour of the majority of the city is to take a boat ride on the Seine River. My personal favorite time for the trip is at sunset in order to enjoy the light reflections and the Parisian night-lights—especially the lights on the Eiffel Tower! The boat also plays music, great to do a little dancing if you are not too tired after sight-seeing the entire day!
While in Paris, visiting the Notre Dame is a must. In addition to viewing the beautiful Romantic architecture, make it a priority to climb to the top of Notre Dame. Though quite a hike (in extremely cramped stairwells), the view from the top is stunning—one can literally see the entire mass of Paris herself (it is wise to arrive early so as to avoid the crowds…it opens bright and early at 7:45)! While you are there, be sure to visit the Crypte Archeologique, which lies beneath Notre Dame and houses ancient Roman ruins and a diagram of the growth of Paris.
As a lover of fashion myself, I encourage you to visit one of the many markets of Paris. I myself visited the Marche de la Porte Vanves, which held a wonderful assortment of vintage clothes and jewelry as well as many other collectables and quirky knickknacks. However, others include the Rue Cler, supposedly the best, the St Germain, and the Rue Mouffetard.
Another fun little Parisian excursion is climbing the Eiffel Tower. Though crawling with tourists, the views are excellent and the feeling of being inside the Eiffel Tower itself is enthralling. Walking through the Champ de Mars, the field right by the Eiffel Tower, on a sunny day is a wonderful outing. Pack a picnic, take along some good friends, find a quiet spot away from the crowds, and enjoy.
As for food, nearly every restaurant you will find in Paris will have delicious food. Take a chance, choose a random side street café that suites your fancy, sip on a cafe au lait, and enjoy the wonderful people watching of Paris. As for dinner, be sure to get a reservation at Georges, a hip, contemporary restaurant located at the top level of the Georges Pompidou Center. The décor is very modern and intriguing, and the food amazing. Be sure to make the reservation for an early time so you can watch the sun set over the city—the view is breathtaking.
So ends my little tour of Paris. Granted, there are millions of ways to entertain oneself in this exciting city, however, these were just a few personal favorites that I wanted to point out. I hope you enjoyed the tour and bon voyage!
Story by Bailey Billups and Photos by Carolyn Balk