City itineraries for Paris
I thought I’d write about the City of Lovers. I spent a little time there in between destinations, and it’s always either lovely, or terrible. A bit like the French.
If you only have one day to see Paris, here are the must-see attractions:
– In the morning, have a quick look at the Sacré-Coeur basilica and the Montmartre hill (Butte de Montmartre), it’s a beautiful part of Paris. The Metro stop of Anvers is right by there, and will take you to your next stop: Porte Dauphine, where you can get a glimpse of the Avenue Foch.
– For lunch, head down to the wonderful ‘Le Stella’ brasserie (133, Avenue Victor Hugo) which serves French classics like the ‘sole meunière’ I had (so good), steak tartare and snails; it has real character and is well worth the price tag (approximately 40 euros).
– From there, it’s only a 10 minute walk to Trocadero, where you’ll have a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower. You can walk across the river to the Champ-de-Mars and then take the RER C to the Musée d’Orsay (if you have time to roam around the museum, they have some amazing Monets).
– You can get a closer look of the Tuileries and the Louvre Museum by crossing the Pont Royal; from the Louvre, it’s a leisurely 20-minute walk along the Seine to Notre-Dame Cathedral, which is a favourite of mine; at night it gets less crowded and you’ll usually find musicians strumming away. It gives the evening a romantic finish! The Notre-Dame is well-connected and will help you get back to whichever airport you’re flying home from.
3-day itinerary: perfect for a long weekend!
– 1st day: Stay at the retro Platine Hotel, near the Charles Michels Metro stop; all the decoration is reminiscent of classic Hollywood stars, Marilyn Monroe in particular (PS: they also have a sauna!). Take the RER C to the Gare d’Austerlitz, walk to the Natural History Museum (Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle), which is free for those under 26, and then have lunch at “Breakfast in America” (an American diner on the Rue des Ecoles) where you can get some of the best U.S. grub there is outside of the Great States themselves. The whole atmosphere is right on, with red leather couches and booths, milkshakes and the Beach Boys playing loudly. On to the Notre-Dame Cathedral, which is open to visitors until 6:45 pm. After that I’d take it easy and shop around Chatelet-les Halles a bit before heading back to the hotel, via the Eiffel Tower (it’s very beautiful at night).
– 2nd day: Take the metro to Montmartre, and feel the romantic, artsy atmosphere around there. Then take the 4 Metro to Cité, where you can visit the Sainte Chapelle. Head south to the Jardin de Luxembourg, with its lush and beautiful garden structure. Close by, you have the most charming little Japanese/French pâtisserie: ‘Sadaharu Aoki‘ in the Rue Vaugirard. After a full day, try some Indian for dinner: the ‘Etoile du Kashmir’ restaurant on the Rue de Charonne is so so good!
– 3rd day: I would spend the last day leisurely going through the Louvre Museum; you can go back 20 times and still not see everything, so choose which sections you want to see most. The Mona Lisa is, of course, on top of everybody’s list, but be prepared: the painting is beautiful, but much smaller than you’d expect. Also, you’ll have to fight 40 other people who want to see her, too. For lunch, there is the excellent ‘Le Fumoir’ on the eastern side of the Louvre (6 Rue de ‘Amiral de Coligny), where there is free wifi and hearty food. Stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries, maybe pop in to see the Musée de l’Orangerie (which holds a lot Impressionist paintings) and then sadly make your way back to the airport!
– For the first three days, you can imitate the 3-day itinerary described above; given that you have more time, you can take your time, switch sights around, etc.
– 4th day: A trip outside of Paris might be in order; why not visit the famous Versailles Palace? You can take the RER C to Versailles (don’t forget to get the right ticket, zone 1-4), and either get visitor tickets to the palace online or buy them at Entrance A. The palace is gorgeous, and the grounds are best seen during the spring. Marie-Antoinette’s cottage is a quaint addition to the visit.
– 5th day: If you’re lucky enough to have a sunny day in Paris, you should walk along the entire Canal St Martin. This will let you see everyday Parisian life (in all its splendor!). Start at the Porte de la Villette, and admire the Parc de la Villette. Then start walking south along the Quai de l’Oise, the Quai de la Seine (here is a great spot to hunker down; musicians and artists abound, and if you want to catch a movie, there is the cool MK2 theatre) and on to the Quai de Valmy. Continue down until you hit Bastille, where there are loads of cute little bistros you can choose from for dinner; also a good place to go out ( Sans Sanz is a swanky club).
– 6th day: Discover 4 fascinating spots that are all close together: first the Musée d’Orsay, then the Assemblée Nationale, see Napoleon’s tomb at the Army Museum of the Invalides, and finish off with a walk down the Champs Elysées, on the other side of the river.
– 7th day: One of the world’s most famous flea markets is ‘Les Puces’ at Porte de Clignancourt. Go there on a Saturday or Sunday and simply get lost!
Enjoy Paris, it’s the most famous and romantic city for a reason 😉 !