Paris has absolutely everything and more: history, art, culture, fashion, shopping… and beyond all this Paris remains a city that’s perfect for relaxation. The city is so magical you feel like you’re the hero of a fairytale as you walk its streets. There’s so much to see, you really need a week to see everything “one has to see.” If you have less time, you have to prioritize and miss the chance to see something that might have proven to be life altering. On the other hand, you should still make sure to have time to relax if you’re only there for a short time, you wouldn’t want to rush and ruin the magic of the city for yourself!
The first thing you need to when you get to the city, either from the airport or from Gare du Nord, is to find a metro map. Paris has one of the largest metro systems in the world, complete with 16 lines that intertwine, along with 5 separate train lines. While this can be confusing, it means that even if you’re lost you don’t need to worry, there’s unquestionably a metro station within 500 meters of wherever you happen to be!
So… how about a quick tour of Paris? Let’s go!
If you want to see the true soul of Paris, the first place you need to go is Montmartre. Because all the buildings in this region are fully intact, the cafes and boutiques in Montmartre give off the unfettered atmosphere of real Paris. Every day the city is more enchanting than the last. Never forget that this is where the French “little sparrow” (La Mome Piaf in French) got her start and where she grew in fame. If you’re lucky, you’ll hear someone still singing Piaf’s famous “La vie en Rose,” and enjoy one of the true musical pleasures of life. This funky part of town also houses brilliant modern artists, whose paintings are on typically on display.
Despite all this, there is not surprisingly significantly more to the city than just Montmartre. At the top of the hill of Montmartre is the Sacre Coeur Basilica, which overlooks the whole of the city. From which you can take in the city and enjoy the pure pleasure provided by looking over the most splendid city in the world.
Of course, when you think of Paris some of the first things that come to mind are its beautiful art and museums. The biggest and one of the greatest museums in the world is the Louvre, and as a result it requires multiple days to see everything. However a quick tour of what is most interesting to you personally is absolutely possible. At the entrance to the museum is a catalogue of every wing of the museum and their contents. It helps to remember that all museums in Paris are free on the first Sunday of every month, so this is the ideal time to get as much out of the wealth of museums that Paris offers. Near the Louvre are the fantastic Musee D’orsee and the Military Museum.
Even for those who love shopping, before heading over to the Champs Elysee one absolutely has to see the Eiffel Tower. Just the enormity and majesty of the structure is enough to make anyone weak at the knees. While some Parisians themselves claim not to appreciate its beauty quite as much, it brings an extra layer to the historical city and is probably the most dominant symbol of the city as a whole.
One gets the best views of the tower right across from it on the balconies of the Palais de Chaillot, or on the grass just outside where one can lie back and bask in the shadow of the tower. You may be interested to know that the Palais de Chaillot is historically important as the place where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948.
From here it’s about a 20 minute walk to reach the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysee. This is the street that makes brands famous, with its flashing lights and masses of people. For those who love shopping, the Galleries La Fayette is an absolute must. La Fayette is easy to maneuver and fantastic fun to just walk around in. Its architecture is enchanting, and even more than that when you head up to its roof you’ll be in store for one of the most beautiful views you’ve ever seen. On your left you see the Eiffel Tower rising up above you into the heavens, while on the right you see Sacre Coeur with the Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame right in front of you. Stunning.
Speaking of the Notre Dame Cathedral, the 800 year old subject of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece is still a centerpiece of Paris. It’s impossible to look at its spire without thinking of Quasimodo’s love for Esmeralda, or to hear Belle’s humming in your ears as you gaze at the historical monument. At Notre Dame, you feel history as much as see it.
The hardest thing to do in Paris is leave. But before you go, make sure to see the last thing on our list: the Pont des Art! The pedestrianized bridge over the Seine is perfect for lovers. Here you can gaze off into the distance and let your daydreams wander. Maybe you’ll dream of love, or happiness, or maybe just dream of the next time you return to Paris…
But for now it’s time to head out, to leave Paris with thoughts only of your return, and leave the Pont des Arts for others to dream…