What to do in the City of Light and Love…
“Paris is always a good idea”
Audrey Hepburn (From the movie – Sabrina)
I would say that Paris is a GREAT idea!
Considered like the city of love by the majority, Paris is romantic and enthralling. It has always something to impress its visitors.
We are in February and Valentine’s Day stands at the doors (Do you know how it’s celebrated Valentine’s Day all over the world ?)
Let’s breathe fresh air and close our eyes while forgetting about the pains this marvellous city endured those last days. Now we can deepen ourselves in the Parisian atmosphere, the most desired destination for the nouvelle cousine lovers and headquarters of Chanel and Dior. It is bounded of wonderful tree-lined avenues.
Paris, most populous and also capital city of France, is born on the Seine and is divided in two parts: the Rive droite at north and the smallest Rive gauche at south.
UNESCO heritage since 1991, Paris is known as the Ville Lumière (city of light) and is one of the main touristic destinations of the world. It offers the beauty of its architecture, unique artworks, secular museums and a lot of stunning romantic sites.
Departing from the numerous moments, parks and arriving to the most famous areas, while enjoying the showcases of the coloured macaron and spending some time in the typical bistros of the Rive Gauche, we will inevitably fall in love of this city which takes out the best of our feelings.
There are a lot of things you shouldn’t miss in Paris, but let’s start with the 15 must.
We will have the opportunity to talk more about Paris later and go deeper through its secrets.
1) The Louvre
Starting from the centre where rises the museum Louvre, one of the most famous in the world.
You will quickly be obsessed by the desire to visit Mona Lisa of Leonardo da Vinci.
Though, don’t miss the beauty of the astonishing thousands artworks which contribute to the peculiarity of this museum.
An entire day will not be enough to visit properly the masterpieces present there. So my advice for you is to decide in advance what you absolutely want to see in order to have a guided visit and avoid casualty.
It’s closed on Tuesday.
2) The Sainte-Chapelle
Powerful expression of the gothic architecture, the chapel has that stunning appearance which attracts more than one.
The 600 m2 of coloured windows allow a bright game of light and throw back in the glassware of the XIII century.
Inside, there are a lot of pieces from the most important Christian relic even if the Catholic Church has not recognized their authenticity.
3) The Centre Pompidou
It’s a modern art museum located in the bulk of Beaubourg. But it is also a research centre and a public library. It’s constituted by a set of coloured tubes usually illuminated and apparently disordered. Actually they give a unique look to the building.
It’s closed on Tuesday.
4) The Cathedral of Notre-Dame
Majestic and elegant, Notre-Dame de Paris has many times been near to destruction. But due to the kindness of some powerful Parisian, it has been saved up till becoming the protagonist of a splendid book of Hugo: Notre-Dame de Paris.
It’s one of the most important gothic constructions in the world and it represents the main point for catholic worship services in Paris.
5) The Musée D’Orsay
The Musée D’Orsay, beautiful and mysterious, is born on the ashes of the old and homonym train station, Orsay.
Even though the architecture is modern, at some points of the building it’s possible to glimpse the look of the ancient train station. Inside, wonderful and priceless artworks follow one another!
“The Luncheon on the grass” of Manet, “The poppies” of Monet, the “Self-portrait” of Van Gogh…
It’s closed on Monday.
6) Montparnasse Tour
The tour has been constructed between 1969 and 1972 on the old train station of Montparnasse and today it represents the symbol of that area.
It’s made of 56 floors lying on 200 meters height. Thanks to the fastest elevators of Europe, in only 38 seconds you can reach to the top of the tour.
Even if it’s smaller that “Eiffel“, it offers a breath taking panorama and I may say the most beautiful view of Paris from above.
At the last floor, you can get into a small café or a souvenir shop and from tree ramps of stairs; you can reach the 59th floor, an open-air space.
Here the view is wonderful, a 360° sight on the Ile de France!
You will feel to have Paris at your feet.
7) The Eiffel Tower
Here we are arrived at the symbol of Paris, the Eiffel Tower.
Hated and criticized but finally beloved, this tower is unique. With its 300 meters height, it seems to touch the sky.
More than 18 thousands of metal sheets have been put together to construct the bulk of this monument who has been near to be demolished only two years after its construction. Today it’s still the pride of one of the most beautiful city in the world.
The lighting and the light game that characterise this tower are the ones giving its splendour. You will not miss to snap it.
Available every day.
8) We can’t forget to mention the Triumphal Arch, which construction has been initiated by Napoleon in 1806 in honour of its Army. At the top, you can enjoy a stunning view on the Champs-Elysées, Place de la Concorde and the Tuileries Garden.
For a briefing between history, architecture and culture, let’s make a walk on the famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées, 2 kilometres of one of the largest avenues of Paris.
You may find shops, also luxurious ones, wonderful views on the city and typical café.
You will enjoy all this in a unique Parisian atmosphere which attracts millions of tourists every year.
9) Garnier Opera
By its eclectic architecture, the Garnier Opera stands lordly. It’s a living pump of pride with its purple red stairs, golden insertions and a central chandelier which weight is about 6 tons.
Historical and important Parisian theatre, it hosts numerous shows, concert and ballets.
For a memorable party, it’s the place to be.
10) Montmartre in Paris
During the year 1800 it was a district of penniless artists and rich men fascinated by prostitutes of the Moulin Rouge. It was seen as a cursed area.
The hill of Montmartre has enjoyed famous artists like Picasso, Renoir, Van Gogh and Modigliani!
Today it still shows off a fascinating mystery you wouldn’t like to miss.
11) Sacred Heart Basilica (Sacré-Cœur)
It’s the whitest monument of Europe.
The Sacred Heart Basilica is a catholic basilica which rises up on the Montmartre hill at a quick walk from the well-known place of artists.
It seems to blow by its own and after raining times it goes more and more white.
12) The Moulin Rouge
Who never heard about the famous Moulin Rouge?
Opened every day, since 1889, it represents the most aggressive side of Paris and embodies the myth of liberty and depravation.
It is located at the feet of Montmartre, and inside you will find dancers of can-can with coloured braces and Champagne, a lot of Champagne!
If you want to see with your own eyes this blaze, dress well before going there otherwise they are not going to let you in. For the most prudes, I advise to stick a picture on your red face.
13) The Latin Quarter
The name suggests a well exotic area… but… No.
Actually, the name comes from the fact that during the middle ages, in that area, all the lessons where in Latin language. All the professors and students therefore needed to know perfectly how to speak and write Latin language. Today it’s the head quarter of the main universities of Paris.
That’s how came up the name Latin Quarter.
With a light atmosphere, this zone is full of pubs, café opened all day long, fast-food, clothes franchising, libraries and shops of vinyl.
It’s one of the most famous areas of the city. It’s multi-ethnic and multicultural. The streets are bounded with students, professors and group of friends looking for nice place to relax and spend some time together. The culinary choice is large… Italian food, Greek, Indian, Mexican, Arab and more others.
You don’t have to miss it, all is to discover.
If like me you are a reading lover, don’t forget to visit the Shakespeare and Company. It’s a historic library which was a meeting point in the twenties for famous writers like Ernest Hemingway, to mention only him.
It has become a true literature institution in Paris which usually hosts events, books presentation, lectures and meeting with writers.
14) St-Ouen Flea Market
Are you passionate of antique deals and old frippery?
I am curious in front of strange things, retro and I simply like to discover any vintage gadget.
Above all, I over like old books with yellowed pages which weep of life.
If you are like me, don’t miss the occasion to visit this market which held three days during the week: Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
The Saint-Ouen market is well organised and divided into sections, books, furnishing, clothes and CD. Even if you don’t buy anything, be sure that you will be enriched of history.
15) The Palace of Versailles
Last but most important step, you DON’T have to miss the Palace of Versailles.
Part of the UNESCO Heritage since 1979, it’s a source of splendour, magnificence and majesty; one of the biggest and more beautiful palace in the world.
This master piece is born from the will of Louis XIV, nicknamed Sun King, and it has become a source of pride and symbolizes power. It represents perfectly the French monarchy during the period of the Ancien Régime.
The Sun King, megalomaniac, asked the palace construction with the purpose to go away from the capital and its citizens.
He thought that they were against him and it was difficult for him to control them.
His greatness manners found their accomplishment in his residence, incredibly luxurious, which obviously create envy. According to the most famous monarchy of all times, the Palace was supposed to represents its all mightiness.
All the castle and the surrounding park which extends on an area of 815 hectares, with 93 gardens and numerous perfect architectural elements, help us to understand the immensity of the French supremacy. It’s a story well explained by the audio guide which also uncover the hidden part of one of the longest kingdom of the human history.
You will be amazed.
Guidelines to Versailles:
You have to buy a metro ticket: Paris – Château de Versailles Rive Gauche zone 1-4.
At about 20 kilometres of the South of Paris, it’s reachable by one of the RER C stops going down at the Gare de Versailles Rive Gauche.
The entrance ticket of the Palace varies accordingly to the trip inside but it will always be around 15/18 Euro; I suggest you to buy it in advance so that you could avoid long queue at the ticket office.
The Palace is opened every day except on Monday.
From 9 am to 6:30 pm from April to October / from 9am to 5:30 pm from November to March.
For more information: https://viviparigi.it/attrazioni/reggia-versailles.html
A young couple kissing in front of the Hotel de Ville,
That’s how the most famous kiss of the photography history has been immortalized.
“Le baiser de l’Hôtel de ville” of Robert Doisneau (1912-1994)
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