Welcome to the mini city guides. A guide for those of you with a busy schedule with around three days or less in a major city. The mini city guide offers a quick snapshot of the top tourist attractions that you might consider including on your itinerary. If this is your first visit then this guide is made for you.
Mini city guide to Paris
Without a doubt, Paris is the number one tourist destination in Europe and perhaps to many, a long held romanticised dream of maybe one day visiting. Known as the city of light or – for the lovers out there – the city of love and whether it’s art and culture or food and fashion, Paris has got it covered. Being such a diverse city, there is a lot to see and experience in Paris and the dilemma is what to include as a must see on your itinerary.
Something else to consider is that Paris is quite a spread out city and there are many transport options to get you from one site to the next. Bicycle tours are great and so is the hop-on-hop-off bus that can take you around the main sites within a day. I also highly recommend utilising the Paris Metro too. The Metro is a hassle free way of moving around Paris and is incredibly easy once you work out how to buy your first ticket.
So all there is left for you to do is to check out the list below and start planning!
The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is both impressive and is easily the most recognisable structure in Paris – it’s simply a Paris icon. The tower is the first port of call for most tourists and often the main reason people give for wanting to go to Paris. Of course it’s not the only reason but I’m sure if it were the only thing you were to see in Paris, then I would be confident that you would have walked away happy. The view from the ground at any angle or vantage point is absolutely superb and one of which you will be constantly delighted in. The view from the top is equally impressive with an uninterrupted view over all of Paris. Not only is the Eiffel Tower a sight to behold during the day but it is at night that this beauty truly shines. For at dusk, on the hour every hour the Eiffel Tower lights up and sparkles it’s way through a dazzling five minute show.
The Louvre is a magnificent building – it was formally a Royal Palace of grand proportions. Today the Louvre Palace houses the worlds biggest art museum and home to the famous Leonardo Di Vinci painting of the ‘Mona Lisa’. Other popular exhibits to see here are the sculptures of Venus de Milo, cupids kiss and the Nike of Samothrace. The grounds and courtyard are also interesting with feature water fountains and the glass pyramid entrance. Now the Louvre is an incredibly large museum and to really see it you would need to visit it on a few occasions, so don’t despair if you don’t get to see it all. The Louvre is open everyday except Tuesday. Ticket prices range from 12 – 16 euro and children under the age of eighteen go free. Free entry is also offered to residents of the EU under the age of 25.
Jardin de Tuileries
The gorgeous 17th century gardens are expansive and stretch from Place de Concorde to the Louvre along the Siene. What better place to sit and have a picnic with some cheese, bread and wine. If you forgot the picnic rug then the tranquil gardens have lot’s of seating to rest those weary bones from a long day of walking.
The Arc de Triumph
The Arc de Triomphe is a monument dedicated to those who fought for France particularly in the Napoleon era. Located at the Western end of the Champs-Elysees, it is easily accessible from the underground tunnel, so no need to negotiate the hectic traffic. Start your walk from the Place de Concorde and stroll along the Champs-Elysees to get a lovely view down the tree lined Avenue. You can also climb the monuments 40 steps for a lovely view from the top. The climb is fairly inexpensive at eight euro and children and students under seventeen go free.
The long Avenue of the Champs-Elysees is a wonderful walk from the Place de concorde to the Arc de Triomphe. A very popular destination for shopping and dining. Home to many of the global retail giants and in the streets located close by you will discover the world of high end couture. Don’t forget to call into Laduree for their famous macarons.
This impressive cathedral has been made the subject of many a book and in film – does the Hunchback of Notre Dame ring any bells? Okay that was a bad pun but this famous church is well worth the visit. It is free to enter and a chance to sit and reflect. If you wish to take in the view, take the entrance from Rue du Cloitre which takes you to the top and you can come face to face with the 13th century gargoyles that keep a ever watchful eye over Paris.
Pont des Arts
Love is alive and well in the most romantic city in the world – just take a look at the love lock bridge (Pont des Arts) if you were ever in doubt! The idea is for a couple to write their names on a padlock and then lock it onto the bridge. Throwing the key into the Siene symbolises the couple’s undying love. Even if you don’t have a love to call your own, it’s still lovely to see others placing their locks and pledging their eternal love. As for me Paris will always have my heart!
Le Marais is one of the oldest quarters in Paris and has many intact buildings and narrow lane ways from the medieval and renaissance period. A popular art and culture district full of trendy boutique shopping, galleries and great little cafes and restaurants. Head straight for Rue de Rosiers and then start winding your way in and out of the fascinating lane ways – be warned you could easily loose half a day just wandering about here!
Basillica Sacre Coeur
The Basilica Sacre Coeur is located in the district of Montmartre and sits on the top of the hill. Built in the romano-byzantine style it is made of travertine stone which makes it’s exterior white. If you stand right in front of the Basilica you will be rewarded with stunning panoramic views over Paris and no matter what season it is, this place will be very busy with visitors all admiring the same view. Heading down the steps you will find the gardens and at the very bottom a pretty little carousel. The Basilica is open every day of the year and is free to enter.
You cannot leave Paris without visiting the charming village like area of Montmartre. Located high on the hill above Paris, Montmartre offers a glimpse into the Paris of old. Montmartre and particularly the Place du Tertre was once an area that attracted a bohemian society. If you were a writer, a poet or an artist you came to Montmartre. Today the bohemians may have gone but you can still see a large artist colony set up in the square painting away at their easels. Montmartre is full of interesting architecture, cobblestone streets, steep stairways and picture perfect vistas between buildings of Paris below.
Le Jardin du Luxembourg
The beautiful Luxembourg gardens is an expansive parkland area and is famous for it’s Medici Fountain and Luxembourg Palace. Within the park you will find many sculptures, a pond in the middle and plenty of seating throughout. A popular spot for the locals who come to sit, read, write or just to spend their lunch break in the outdoors. Located in the lovely Saint Germain district you will find many patisseries and cafes close by if you wish to take a little something to eat in the park.
There of course is plenty of other delightful places to see in Paris but if it is your first visit and are on a tight schedule then make these a must see. So if you happen to miss any, then there is always next time. Next time you say? Yes of course there will be a next time – as for Paris will have captured a piece of your heart.