Summer Holiday in Paris
Paris: Essential Travel Tips to Popular Tourist Destinations
Developing a travel itinerary is challenging especially in place like Paris wherein there are lots of attractions to choose from. Even a five-day trip is not enough to cover everything. I just came from the City of Love a week ago and I was so psyched from my experience that I decided to open this blog site once again after a year. The aim of this article is to guide future travellers in planning their first ever Paris trip.
As for general tips, it is important to book your tickets in advance. If you are generous on your budget, you can buy Skip the Line Tickets for every attraction you wish to explore. Always have a bottled water in your bag which can be bought on local grocery stores near your accommodation. Buying water elsewhere will cost you a minimum of 2.50 euros. Wear a comfortable shoes since you will be basically walking the entire day. Finally, be mindful of your time and the opening hours of the attractions you wish to visit.
Notre-Dame de Paris
Notre-Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris) is the most famous Gothic cathedral in the Middle Ages and is distinguished for its size, antiquity, and architectural interest. This historical church was also the setting of Victor Hugo's popular novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which was adapted for the screen in 1996 Disney film making the character of Quasimodo a household name.
How to get there: There are several modes of transportation in Paris, but taking the metro is way faster and cheaper. Notre-Dame is just a 10-15 minute walk from the RER B & C Saint Michel-Notre Dame station. On your way, you can pass by the famous "Love Locks" of Paris Bridges.
Prices and Passes: You can enter the cathedral for free, because of that, lines can get long. It is better to arrive there early in the morning to avoid the crowd. Make sure you bring umbrella to protect yourself from the sun or sudden rain while you are on the queue. If waiting is not your game, you can always buy skip the line ticket for 10 euros which not only gives you instant access but also lets you climb the towers. Be mindful of the opening hours as it vary depending on the season.
What not to miss: The iconic gargoyles and chimera, the huge 13th century organ and original gothic architecture, 10 large original bells, and the two towers with breath-taking views of central Paris and the Seine river
The Louvre Museum
The Louvre Museum. The world's largest museum and a historic monument in Paris, France. It contains approximately 38,000 objects, from paintings to sculptures, dating back to the 21st century. With an average of 7.3 million visitor in 2016, this world's most visited museum was once a main residence of the French Kings. The museum was opened on 10, August 1973 with an exhibition of 537 paintings. The collection further increased during the reigns of Louise XVIII and Charles X, and during the Second French Empire the museum gained 20,000 pieces.
How to get there: There are two main entrances in the museum: the underground shopping mall The Carrousel du Louvre leading you directly to the inverted glass pyramid which can be accessed by metro station Palais Royal Musee du Louvre and the other one is outside the famous glass pyramid located at the front of the museum. Based on experience, it is best to take the underground entrance. It is faster and more convenient since you are not exposed to such extreme weather conditions. Plus, you can quickly grab a bite and use the toilet inside the mall before you head to the museum.
Prices and Passes: The cost of general admission to the museum is 17 euros, there is an additional 5 euros if you want to avail of the audio guided tour. However, you can save yourself from paying extra by downloading audio guided tour app to your mobile phones such as Rick Steves Audio Europe Travel App. Skip the line ticket is also available, though it is not really necessary since the line moves fast. Again, be mindful of the opening hours for it vary depending on the season.
What not to miss: Apart from the Mona Lisa, there are other pieces of art which you should not miss such as Winged Victory of Samothrace, Michelangelo's Dying Slave, Venus de Milo, Great Sphinx of Tanis, and the Law Code of Hammurabi which is the longest surviving text from Old Babylon. The Louvre Pyramid itself is already an iconic symbol. The best time to appreciate its beauty is during the sunset and at night.
The Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles or Chateau de Versaille. The Palace of Versailles has been listed as a World Heritage Site for 30 years and is one of the greatest achievements in French 17th century art. Today, the palace contains 2,300 rooms spread over 63,154 m2. The royal residences was once a symbol of power until the 1789 French Revolution that forced Louis XVI to leave Versailles for Paris.
How to get there: The journey from central Paris to Versailles will take approximately 50 minutes to an hour via RER C. Outside the Versailles Rive-Gauche station, there is a nearby Starbucks, McDonald's, and KFC. The Chateau Versailles is just a five minute walk from the station.
Prices and Passes: The standard ticket pice of 20 euros gives you access to the Palace (with audio guide), the estate of Trianion, the temporary exhibitions, the Gardens and the Park, and the Coach Gallery. On the other hand, if you want to witness the spectacular Musical Fountain Shows or Musical Garden, you have to pay an additional 7 euros.
What not to miss: When planning to visit Versailles, it is ideal to allot an entire day to fully appreciate it.The main palace itself will already consume two hours of your time, make it three hours if you are fond of taking a selfie in every corner. Once you have finished touring the palace, take a break at the Angelina's. It is a medieval styled restaurant situated inside the Chateau and famous for its hot chocolate and pastry selections. Stroll through the sands of time as you walk across the intricately designed majestic gardens with classical musics playing in the background. To reach the Trianon, you have to walk for about 15 minutes. For those who have a driver's license, you can rent a cart to make your wandering seamless. The perfect moment to admire the beauty of Versailles is by sitting on the stairs overlooking the entire garden during the sunset.
Catacombs. It is an underground ossuaries in Paris, France, which hold the remains of more than six million people in a small part of the ancient Mines of Paris tunnel network. The underground cemetery became a tourist attraction on a small scale from the early 19th century and has been open to the public on a regular basis since 1874 with surface access from a building at Place Denfert-Rocheareau in the extreme southern part of the city of Paris.
How to get there: The Catacombs of Paris is just in front of the exit of the Denfert Rochereau Metro Station.
Prices and Passes: Skip the Line ticket is highly recommended. There are only certain numbers of visitors allowed at a time being making the queue move slow. For just 26 euros, you can instantly skip this long dreadful line. Once you reach the Catacombe, go to a small shop called Le Tabac du Lion which is just 50 meters away to print your vouchers and head back to the main entrance.
What not to miss: You cannot certainly miss anything as long as you follow the audio guided tour. Not all passages are open to the public. All the scriptures and signage were written in French. It is a surprisingly fun and interesting experience knowing that some of the gatherings during medieval times were held here, 600 meters underground, with the skeletal remains as the guests of honour.
Disneyland Paris. Originally Euro Disney Resort is an entertainment resort in Marne-la-Vallee and it is the most visited theme park in all of Europe. The park is divided into two: Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios. Each park is unique to one another. Upon entry, you must grab a map and programme that will guide you throughout the day.
How to get there: It will take an hour from central Paris to reach Disneyland via RER A Marne-la-Valle. For those tourists who will take the metro, especially during weekends, take note of the timetables.
Prices and Passes: There are several tickets to choose from online. The best deal is adult tickets for the price of child which is just around 42 euros. It gives you access to both parks and makes you eligible for fast pass tickets. To avail a fast pass ticket, scan your ticket to the ride of your choice and it will give you a fast pass ticket which indicates a certain time that allows you to skip the long queue. However, you can only do this for a particular time period.
What not to Miss: The main highlight of the park is the Parade of Characters which starts at 530pm and the Disney Illuminations at 11pm. It is important to secure your spot two hours before, or else you wont be able to have a great view of the attraction. Other must try rides include The Pirates of Caribbean, Hyperspace Mountain, Rock and Roller Coaster, and Ratatouille.
Eiffel Tower. Named after engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Constructed from 1887-89 as the entrance to the 1889 World's Fair, it was initially criticised by some of France's leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but it has become a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognisable structures in the world.
How to Get There: The nearest Metro station is BIR-Hakeim. You will not get lost because you have the massive tower in front of you as your guide.
Price and Passes: Sitting on the grass of Champ de Mars while admiring the beauty of Eiffel Tower is absolutely free. If you want to climb the tower using the elevator or the stairs, the price starts at 25 euros - a small price to pay to see the sweeping views of the entire city. There are also cafes and restaurants on the Eiffel Tower itself.
What not to miss: The best time to visit the tower is during the sunset. At night time, the tower displays glittering lights at a certain interval. Le Bistro Parisien is a must try restaurant that not only gives you a breath taking view of the tower at night but will also satisfy your craving for a Parisian style of dining.