Paris France Travel
Vacationing in Paris France
Paris France is a well-known destination for lovers of romance, culture, art, architecture and fine dining. But what if you are only in Paris for a few days? You can’t possibly experience everything there is to see and do. So here are a few tips from someone who has been blessed to travel to Paris on more than one occasion, on how you might spend your limited time wisely. There are countless other things to see and do, but these are among my favorites, and I hope, you enjoy them as well!
Arc de Triomphe
Another of the city’s iconic architectural achievements, the Arc de Triomphe is a bold, stately, arch representing the battle victories of Napoleon, which sits commandingly at the head of the Champs Elysees. At the center of the Arc is the tomb of the unknown soldier, who was killed during World War I. His tomb is marked by an eternal flame which is reignited each evening at 6:30. There are relief sculptures throughout the Arc which represent Napoleon’s victories. Tourists can take the elevator or stairs to the viewing platform in order to get a more extensive view of Paris.
Le Tour Eiffel
Let’s face it, as cliché as it might seem, no trip to Paris is complete without a trip to the Eiffel Tower. Of course it is stately and large, so you can technically “see” it without having to make the trip up to the Trocadero, but it is worth the trip. Especially if you’re willing to spend a few extra Euros and take the lift to one of the upper decks. The walk between levels one and two is 700 steps. Ouch! I’d recommend saving your viewing dollars for a nighttime stroll up the Trocadero to the Tower. At night, the Tower is illuminated by flood lights which cast it in the most magnificent orange lights, making it one of the most unique, incredible architectural sights in the world. Levels one and two include restaurants and there are small gift shops featuring fairly routine, touristy items.
The view from the top of the Tower provides an amazing, panoramic tour of Paris including Sacre Coeur, the Champs Elysee, L’Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame.
The only downside to the visit are the roving street vendors who literally harass tourists to buy their wares (mostly key chains and small replica statues of the tower). Be firm with them if you’re not interested and you should be fine. Making eye contact is a sure sign that they will follow you incessantly, so avoid it if you can. There are plenty of stationary street vendors in respectable huts that you can visit for postcards, t-shirts, key-chains, snow-globes, books and such if you are interested, and they don’t molest you on the streets. Be sure you have enough time to take photos, as you’ll want to get a lot of them, including the surrounding grounds.
This Gothic cathedral is an architectural masterpiece, the foundation of which was laid in 1163. The flying buttresses are an incredible architectural feat and worth a look. The cathedral also boasts the largest organ in Paris. The twin towers are hallmarks of cathedral and tourists can climb the nearly 400 steps to the top of the towers for excellent panoramic views of the city. One can literally spend hour upon hour gazing upon all of the gargoyles, stained glass window, statues and other carvings and still not have seen them all.
This basilica sits on the highest point in Paris and serves as a memorial to French soldiers who were killed during the Franco-Prussian War. To this day, priests pray for the lost souls twenty four hours per day. The domes are distinctively white and the basilica is easily recognizable from miles away. With its mosaics, bell tower, and vaulted crypts, this is a uniquely beautiful basilica.
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Centre Georges Pompidou
Completed in 1977, the Pompidou Centre is home to the modern art museum, a library, gift shop, and theater. Outside, tourists and performance artists gather and mingle, eating, drinking and relaxing. Families with children love the exterior Stravinsky Fountain, featuring wildly colorful, whimsical creatures spitting water to the delight of onlookers.
Visitors can ride the exterior, tube-like elevator to the top of the Centre to get better views of the city. The restaurant Georges Pompidou is at the top of this uniquely modern structure and features excellent, if expensive fare including pastas and seafood. The décor is very modern with extensive amounts of white laminate and steel. Views are spectacular and outdoor seating in a rooftop courtyard is also available. They also serve mini-bottles of wine that are perfect for couples that may not be able to finish a complete bottle.
The museum of modern art features a vast array of works by artists from the early twentieth century, including surrealism, photography, sculpture and kinetic art. It is an interesting departure from the classical art found in other museums and galleries about Paris.
While the Louvre is the most famous museum in the world, and features the infamous Mona Lisa, it can take over one full day to view everything inside, making the Louvre an overwhelming place to visit if you are on borrowed time. A much more manageable, and every bit as enjoyable museum, is the Musee D’Orsay. The Orsay is fashioned from a renovated train station that was built in 1900. It hosted its grand reopening as a museum in 1986. Inside are several galleries, featuring countless impressionist and other works by masters such as Monet, Picasso, Manet, Degas, and Van Gogh. I had the privilege of visiting both the Louvre and the Musee D’Orsay, and I much prefer the art of the Orsay.
Sculpture fans will love the Musee Rodin, located in the Hotel des Invalides. The artists most famous works, including The Thinker, can be found here. A true Rodin fan, I found this to be one of the most intriguing, sensual exhibits in Paris. The exterior gardens are magnificent, lined with trees and shrubbery, and featuring more of the artists works. This is a true gem that may be all too often overlooked by those in search of the big name attractions of Paris, yet I highly recommend it.
This fashionable boulevard in Paris, is accented by the Arc de Triomphe at its head. The street is lined with charming lights, chestnut trees, and flowers. There is also plenty of outdoor seating at countless cafes and restaurants along the street and large shops and specialty boutiques abound. Most restaurants display their menus outside, so you can easily find something that appeals to your tastebuds and pocketbook before you go in. This is a wealthy man’s playground, also featuring high-end automotive showrooms and fashion houses such as Louis Vuitton. One could literally spend an entire day dining, shopping, window shopping, enjoying an afternoon espresso and people watching. In Paris, the Champs Elysees is the place to be!
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