What to Do in Paris

    What to Do in Paris
    “At Sunrise from the Trocadero” - By Tristan Nitot - standblog.org, CC BY-SA 3.0

    Paris, France is one of the most popular European cities, and citizens of the world flock there every year. And because there is so much to cover, Paris gets its own post!

    So what can you do in Paris?

    Eiffel Tower  in the Champ de Mars, a square along the northwest part of La Seine river in Paris

    This is the picture of Paris, France. You see a picture of the city without the Eiffel Tower, and you would probably say it could be any city in the world. There is no structure more iconic when one is talking about travel must-sees.

    Built in 1889 by one Gustave Eiffel for the “Exposition Universelle,” the Eiffel Tower was not well-liked by the locals, but since then it has seen the largest number of paying tourists in the world. Over time it has had improvements made, had maintenance done, and added numerous restaurants, souvenir shops, and lookouts.

    Also, if you plan on taking a ride all the way to the top, you ride in panoramic glass lifts so you can see exactly how high up you are! For the faint of heart…close your eyes.

    By Optimist4343 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

    Sacre-Coeur on Montmartre, a hilltop in the 18th Arrondissement

    The Sacre-Coeur is a landmark basilica that began construction in 1875 and was consecrated just after World War 1. Unlike the Gothic Notre-Dame styles that littered the Middle Ages, it is considered to be a Romano-Byzantine style.

    It’s made of this bold white stone and it dwarfs buildings for miles, which isn’t helped by its position on a hilltop. There are three crazy-big domes, one large and several smaller supporting domes. The interior is of similar stone, massive arching ceilings and monstrous columns supporting them, and rounded out by the masterpiece highlighting the apse ceiling, Christ in Majesty surrounded by angels, saints, some 18th century characters in suits, and the Pope from the time the painting was completed.

    Montmartre a hilltop in the 18th Arrondissement

    As mentioned previously, this hill lifts up the massive Sacre-Coeur into view of the whole city, but also holds a number of other treasures to discover through one’s wanderings. If you look closely, you’ll find a couple quaint squares to sit and snack, a gallery and museum, and a park or two to appreciate. La Maison Rose is a quaint restaurant with good prices to stop and see. And before you leave, be sure to stop by Bateau Lavoire, a “studio” where Picasso, Braque, and several other artists worked.

    Also, the area around the bottom of the hill is not a place to be at night as a tourist. Enjoy the sites during daylight hours only, because it gets sketchy later.

    By Bastiaan – Flickr: Paris très nuageux, CC BY-SA 2.0

    Arc de Triomphe is in the northwestern part of Paris, at the center of Place Charles de Gaulle

    At the pinnacle of 12 streets and the corner of three Parisian districts, the Arc de Triomphe is a national monument built in the early 1800s after the Napoleonic Wars to honor French soldiers who died in combat. It is a major symbol of patriotism emphasized by the grave of the Unknown Soldier from 1914-191? and the Memorial Flame which has burned since 1923.

    This is an enormous Arc, standing 49.5 m (162 ft) tall, 45 m (150 ft) wide and 22 m (72 ft) deep, covered in carved friezes and reliefs by major artists of the time. This is a sacred site and probably more influential to the citizens of Paris and of France than the Eiffel Tower.

    By Michael Meinecke, CC BY-SA 3.0

    Ile de la Cite is an island in La Seine river, the northeastern side

    Now this is a place that is jam-packed with places to see.

    In this little piece of historic land, you’ll find the Sainte-Chapelle, a chapel to hold Christian relics from Louis IX’s collection, Notre-Dame de Paris, the most famous Gothic cathedral from the Middle Ages, Palais de Justice de Paris, beautiful judicial offices that once held Marie Antoinette prisoner, the Deportation Memorial for French concentration camp victims from World War II, and some charming, picturesque bridges to get to the island.

    Sainte-Chapelle on the island of Ile de la Cite on La Seine river

    The Saint-Chapelle is a small but incredible chapel masterpiece. Commissioned by Louis the IX to hold his collection of Christian relics in 1248, it has two floors: the bottom entrance for parish services under a blue and gold-gilded arched ceiling that led to the breath-taking view of the second floor. This room is almost entirely made of stained-glass windows, 15 of them, 50 feet tall, 13.5 feet wide, and they date to the 13th century!

    The word on the street is that morning is the time to go in order to avoid crowds.

    By Jean-Christophe BENOIST – Own work, CC BY 3.0

    Notre Dame de Paris on the island of Ile de la Cite on La Seine river

    This is the most famous and well-known Gothic cathedral from the Middle Ages, hands down. Construction began in 1163 and finished in the early 14th century, changes were made in the 17th and 18th centuries and a restoration took place in the 19th. And you know a building is big when you measure its construction in decades and centuries!

    Aesthetically, intricacy knows no bounds. Truly, every square foot of the place is elaborately done, covered in statues, relief sculptures, and fine detailing. I honestly have no idea how to put this place into words. I can give adjectives: enormous, elegant, imposing. Seriously, there isn’t a spot inside or out that doesn’t have something interesting going on. Best you can do is see it for yourself!

    By Sanchezn – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

    Latin Quarter just south of Ile de la Cite on La Seine river

    This is for those of you interested in a nightlife. Now it isn’t raves and strip clubs, but it does have plenty of options for shopping, food, drinks, bright lights, and a local atmosphere. Sometimes we just want to wander around without being restricted to the “classics” and this is a great place to stop.

    Catacombs in the 14th Arrondissement

    Now this freaky place is a maze of tunnels under Paris that holds bones from more than 6 million people starting in 1738. The bones are used like building tools, skulls used to make shapes in the walls and columns also made of human bones. It is a trippy place to go, not for the faint of heart or the physically disabled, but if you’re up for it…

    Bouquinistes along sections of La Seine 

    These are book stalls filled to the brim with antique books and used books for us bookies and posters and magnets for the tourists! This is just a fun tradition along the Seine, and you can take a moment to enjoy it during your stay.

    The Louvre on the northern bank of La Seine, north of Ile de la Cite

    The Louvre is a museum founded in the 1790s and added to over several centuries and through a number of wars and kings.

    I suppose the Louvre can be equated to the Smithsonian Museums in Washington D.C. in terms of popularity, but where the Smithsonian dominates in quantity of content, the Louvre reigns sovereign still in quality and sheer presence.

    At the front of the establishment is a pyramid of inwardly-lit glass surrounded on three sides by the museum. Inside, you’ll find that the elaborate, stately qualities from the kings of old still reside as part of the museum. This is not your average, sanitary-tiled, and white-walled modern museum. Gold-gilded rooms and halls, bold royal colors, high arching ceilings…nope, not your average museum at all.

    By Benh LIEU SONG – Own work, CC BY 2.5

    Now, while I won’t go into detail on the rest of these, here are some more spots to check out for yourselves:

    Musee d’Orsay

    Pont Alexandre III


    Montparnasse Tower

    Belleville neighborhood

    Place de Vosges square

    Champs-Elysees street

    Coulee verte Rene-Dumont park

    Wall of Love

    Bois de Boulogne

    Bois de Vincennes

    Port St. Ouen Flea Market

    Thanks for stopping by! I hope your Parisian trip is one for the records!


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