After living in Germany now for five months, I decided to take advantage of living so close to so many amazing cities. Number one on my list to see was Paris. A few hours with a bus and then a few more with a train and I arrived at Gare du Nord train station in Paris after spontaneously booking a hostel only a few days before. After searching hostels.com for a convenient location and best value, I found St. Christophers Inn right next to the train station. Great for someone traveling alone with the sports bar and restaurant right on site. Its also a great place to meet people if you’re looking to socialize. I happened to meet another girl from the US right away and we decided to do a bit of touring together.
If you are also looking to travel to Paris, here is some great advise for where to go and how to get there. Three complete days of activities and adventures in Paris are listed out to make the most of your travels.
Take the metro M4 to stop Cite in direction of Mairie Montrouge and you will find none other than the one and only Notre Dame. The famous cathedral perched on a small island between rivers. This is a great way to start your day off with a walk past such a beautiful landmark.
From here, it is a short walk to cross the river and start to make your way along the Seine towards Quai des Tuileries to take in all the sights Paris has to offer. The most exciting sight right away is that first glimpse of the Eiffel tower off in the distance. This is where your walk will eventually lead to but, don’t jump ahead to the end! There are so many amazing things to see along the way. A few blocks further you will come to an opening in the intricate architecture, Place du Carrousel. Turn in here to find the beginning to the striking Jardin des Tuileries, a large garden. Once in, don’t forget to turn to the right or you will miss the Louvre Pyramid right before you. Take a few photos and continue your walk down the gardens (don’t worry, well come back to the Monna Lisa)
If you are lucky enough to come in summer, the gardens will be an amazing place to take your time strolling through, maybe in that new sundress 😉 and drinking a lemonade from the outdoor cafes.
The end of the gardens start the famous Champs de Elysees shopping avenue. There are a number of monuments and statues to see here as well. Some rather comical such as this one I like to call “Naked Woman Fell Over”.
The next largest building you will see is the Grand Palais. Be sure to check out what exhibitions they have going on when you get there. Most times there is always something interesting happening and it is most often also free! I went to see the Louis Vuitton exhibition, a history of all his bags which was great for anyone interested in fashion.
Continuing your walk down Champs de Elysees, there is some fun shopping, all well known brands to check out. The most exciting shop for us ladies that you will find is Laduree, the Patisserie and Macaroon shop. Already from the outside, you feel as though you will be a princess walking in. It is one of the prettiest shops I came across in Paris. Inside, you will find the most colorful array of macaroons you have ever seen. Ofcourse, this is a very famous macaroon store in Paris and therefore a bit pricy but, worth every penny. You can purchase small pastries for a reasonable price and individual macaroons starting at 2.50 euros. The princess like boxes of macaroons start at 17 euros and can go all the way up to more than 50 depending on how large your appetite for macaroons is and, after seeing them I imagine it will be hard to control. 🙂
Next stop on the tour, the Arc de Triomphe. You will see this coming up at the end of Champs de Elysees and perhaps even make a mad dash down to it seeing how magnificent and large it is. If you wish to walk through it, there are underground stairs and walkways to get across the crazy traffic packed round-a-bout.
Finally, what you’ve all been waiting for…. the one and only Eiffel Tower. Make your way down Avenue Kleber to the Palais de Chaillot and cross the river to stare in awe at the grand sight that is the Eiffel Tower. Make your way down the Parc de Champs du Mars for some great photo ops.
Again, don’t panic, well be back to the Eiffel tower.
For now, you are most likely famished from walking and need to find some nourishment. Parisian nourishment. Head down Avenue de la motte picquet and you will find a nice little restaurant called Les Parisiennes. There they offer English menus and the waiters will also speak English with you. It is also reasonably priced for a lunch visit. Plan on 11-25 Euros depending on how much you want to indulge. I tried a pumpkin soup with chestnuts. It was amazing!! I had never tried cooked chestnuts before and they are delicious!
I also decided I must try creme brûlée wherever they have it and theirs is one of the best! You won’t truly feel like a Parisian until you’ve had creme brûlée.
After you’ve had your sweet and savory fix, continue down the road to Hotel des Invalides. Note: if you do not know what this is you will say, “Woah, this is a hotel!?!” when you see the large gold dome and beautiful architecture. This is actually where Napoleon is buried. It also includes a museum of Arms and Maps as well as a great view out the front of the city. This was named Hotel des Invalides when Louis XIV created it to be a place where soldiers could come to recover or retire back in 1670. They are currently in the process of a bit of renovating so you can see the new shiny areas of the building as well as the old dirtier original stonework.
From here, head back to the Eiffel Tower and get in line to head up to the top. The best time to go is just before sunset because you will see the city in daylight, sunset, and nighttime with all the sparkling city lights. If you have a slight fear of heights this might test that as the elevator is glass and you can see everything below you. If you brought your man with you just hold on to him tight and brave it because it is worth every moment. It costs 17 euros for anyone over 24 and only 14.50 for 24 and under. The lines can be quite long so prepare to wait 30-60 min. You will first stop at the second level and and take in the view from there.
Next, brave the next elevator ride and make your way all the way to the tippy top. Up here, everything is enclosed so you feel a bit more secure. However, if you’re up for an even better view, climb the one flight of stairs up to the tippy tippy top to the outside (but caged) view. This view is the best in Paris and you can truly see every side and monument of Paris from here.
Once it is completely dark out and you’ve had your fill of heights and photos, make your way back down to the grass near the tower. At the top of every hour the mesmerizing light show begins. It lasts about five minutes and will blow your mind how spectacular it looks. But also beware, many men trying to sell Eiffel tower souvenirs will try to hassle you into buying something from them. Simply ignore them and they’ll go away. Maybe you’ll be so enchanted you won’t even know they walked up to you. 🙂
Dinnertime hunger is probably setting in about now. A great little cafe near the Eiffel Tower where they also speak English and the Es Cargo smell of the best butter and garlic money can buy is a great choice. Bistro de la Tour Eiffel is the name. By the time you’ve finished indulging, I imagine it is time to take a metro back to your humble abode or French castle and refresh for the next day.
Day 2 can go a couple ways. One would be to venture down to St. Germain de Pres and the Latin Quarter. There are lots of well known cafes, brasseries, cathedrals, and chocolatiers. The Latin Quarter is one of the most artsy and oldest areas of Paris and has very beautiful middvil looking streets.
At night you must return to the Louvre to see the Pyramid with the lights. Its even more glamorous with the golden glow. This is also a good time if you want to go inside and see the art as there are fewer people. (it does close at 9:30 however) The line to see the Monna Lisa can get quite long however, we managed to have no wait to get up close and personal with her.
Afterwards, take the M1 from the Louvre to the M4 towards Porte Clignancourt to Barbes Rochechoart. Here will be the Montmarte district. It is quite the quaint and cute area, but certainly quieter at night so be sure to walk with a buddy. Start to make your way up the windy roads towards Sacre Coeur. Along the way there are a few cute shops to stop in, especially if its a tiring walk uphill for you. When you reach the top you will come to the grandest Basillica that you may have ever seen (surely the grandest I have seen). Its quite a sight at night as well with the way it shines in the lights. There might be a service going on at any time so be respectful when walking in but do walk in! Its beautifully decorated ceiling and walls inside will not cease to amaze.
While in the area you can also make your way over to the famous Moulin Rouge simply to see the windmill and neon sign all lit up, nestled among the many interesting sex shops I might add. If you dig this vibe, its worth the trip. Shows at Moulin Rouge start around 70 euros, therefore I did not see one, but if you have the funds and are feeling a bit exotic, a show there might be right up your alley.
First, you must try a French crepe for breakfast. Most brasseries or cafes will have them. My favorite to try was a crepe with banana, coconut, and nutella. You can get all sorts of sweet ones but also crepes with eggs and bacon for a savory meal.
Your last day is all about Marie Antoinette and the Palace of Versaille. If you go in spring or summer, this truly is a day trip. It takes about 50 minutes with the RER C train out to Versaille. This is by far the cheapest mode of transportation to get out there. (only 1.80 euros each way!) Once there, you will need to walk about 10 minutes down to the entrance where you will be greeted with golden gates and colorful marble. Purchase the complete passport to see the palace and Marie Antoinettes chateau. Start your visit with the walk through the entire palace using the complementary audio guides. From there wander out into the gigantic garden and imagine you are the queen in 1670. The gardens are so large it could take hours just to stroll through every corner. To walk straight down to the end of the pond takes 25 minutes.Unfortunately if you are like me and visited in February, there won’t be quite as much to stroll through. My recommendation, come in spring or summer if you can!!
After you have thoroughly enjoyed the gardens, make your way to Marie Antoinettes Chateau. Don’t worry, they hand out maps on the way in so you’ll be able to find your way out of your secret kissing corner of the garden and over to the chateau.
And there you have it, three beautiful days packed with the best that Paris has to offer. Book your flight or train today and experience your own Paris adventure! And don’t forget to tell me any other amazing restaurant or sight seeing finds!
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