HOW I SPENT 24-HOURS IN THE WONDERFUL CITY OF PARIS!
Bonjour! So you’re looking to visit Paris, but limited on time? Read on to see how to see the city of love in just 24-hours!
Paris… the city of love, the capital of France, and the maker of delicious macaroons! There’s a reason why it’s one of Europe’s major go-to cities – it’s totally awesome! With plenty of world-famous landmarks and leaders in both art and fashion, Paris certainly makes for an exciting holiday destination. Oh, and did I mention, they even have their own Disneyland! Even more reason to visit.
Paris is a culmination of everything that I love. From wonderful architecture and incredible food, right through to its exciting, rich history of royal executions and oustings. Throw in being the most romantic city in the world, and you have everything you need for a wonderful breakaway. In fact, the one and only time I was in Paris was on my honeymoon, and it was so dreamy. Even my brother proposed to his wife (my lovely sister-in-law) here.
However, there is more to Paris than romance and beheadings. With beautiful gardens, museums, and art galleries galore… oh, who am I kidding! It’s super romantic! You will fall in love with your sweetheart here and remember it forever. It will make you want to do insensible things, like wear ill-fitting, impractical shoes to walk around in all day, because you’d rather be beautiful than comfy (Not that I did this! That would be silly. Shhhh!). But don’t let all the love-foolish things I did turn you off, and no, you certainly don’t need a partner to enjoy this European gem. I am going to show you how I spent 24 beautiful hours in this spectacular city, without spending heaps of money and while still taking in the magnificent sites. A heads up – we did a lot of walking! Tip: Wear. Sensible. Shoes!
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My husband Zac and I were on a tour of Europe, and Paris happened to be our final stop. What a place to end, right? The City of Love. Our coach had left Luxumberg around lunchtime and we headed across France to the capital. As soon as we got to the outskirts of the city, the buildings started to develop a bit of a Parisian flair, with their pretty detailed facades and Juliette balconies. Paris here we come!
We were traveling with a wonderful company called Expat Explore. They took our group on a tour of the city, which ran for over two hours, and we pretty much got to see everything! (Enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org | www.expatexplore.com) I know many of you won’t be on a tour, but if there’s one piece of advice that I can give you, it would be to do the next best thing and jump on one of the red Hop-On-Hop-Off tour buses that operate throughout the city. This is a great way to ensure that you’ll get to see everything. The best thing to do is stay on the bus for one full circuit. This will ensure you get to see everything. Then on the second time around, you can get off at the stops with the places you really want to see. This makes it feel like your own personal little tour. A nice little bonus that I have recently found out, Hop-on-hop-off bus tickets are usually valid for 24 hours after your purchase, which really gives you the chance to make it excellent value for your money.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to go back to some of the places we saw on the coach tour. One such place I would have loved to experience up close is the beautiful Pantheon. Although it was only built in 1758, it looked like it was made by Zeus a few millennia ago and then plonked right in the middle of Paris’s Latin Quarter. The external was made up of the unusual columns and impressive façade that you’d expect, and it looked great from the coach, but as yet, I’ve not been inside.
Place du Panthéon, 75005 Paris, France | Book Tickets Here > > > > > www.en.parisinfo.com
PARIS OPERA THEATRE
We also had the pleasure of driving past the Paris Opera Theatre. The decorative exterior of the building is simply stunning. It looks similar to something you would find on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles. Again, I’ve only seen inside the building in photographs. One day, when I head back to Paris, checking out its lavish interior will be at the top of my list. The building was designed by architect Charles Garnier in 1875. It is done in an Italian style, hence the name Palais Opera, and is adorned with various sculptures throughout and gold masks that line the roof’s perimeter. There are also hints of pink and blue in the stonework, which look absolutely stunning in the soft glow of the evening sun.
Place de l’Opéra, 75009 Paris, France | www.operadeparis.fr
We got to drive past the Louvre Museum too, which was crazy busy! But when we went the following day, we didn’t have to queue up because we arrived very early, so make sure to do the same if you want to avoid the crowds.
Next we headed to the crown jewel of Paris, the Eiffel Tower. I was so ridiculously excited to finally see it after viewing it so many times in books and on TV. I appreciate that a lot of people are underwhelmed by this fantastic structure, however, I think this is because they fail to notice the intricate details that reveal themselves the closer you look at it. It really is very beautiful. On one side, the tower is surrounded by trees and grass for relaxing, while on the other side are beautiful fountains, which are nice to walk around as you take in the views. The surrounding area really helps add to the super romantic atmosphere created by the tower. Be prepared to get mushy!
We also saw the stunning Pont Alexandre III Bridge. As far as crossing go, this one is pretty special. Made from white stone and flanked by gold statues at both ends, its opulence is just what you would expect from a Parisian bridge.
ARC DE TRIOMPHE
After taking in all of these wonderful sites, the most terrifying and amazing thing happened towards the end of our tour. As we drove through the roundabout surrounding the Arc de Triomphe, we all nearly died within a few seconds! Let me explain! We were sat at the red traffic lights awaiting a signal change to green. As the coach moved cautiously into our lane, we found ourselves in the middle of an absolute free-for-all! It was as if the road rules simply didn’t apply here, which was made more evident as cars seemed to fly at us from every direction. We were all literally screaming as our driver desperately tried to navigate his coach around what I now like to call, the island of death!
Then amidst all the chaos, everything suddenly calmed down, and order seemed to return to society once more. It was 6:30 PM, and unbeknownst to us, every evening, a ceremony takes place at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, right beneath the Arc de Triomphe. For this ceremony’s duration, all the traffic is halted, and our coach was forced into a stop right at the foot of the monument. We practically had un-planned front-row seats. Zac and I were sat on the coach’s left-hand side, with a great view of the whole event. We looked on as members of the French Army formed a guard of honour before lighting the candle underneath the Arc. After this, members of the public walked down the center carrying flags. One person carried a wreath and laid it beside the flame. It was all very moving, and getting to see it all so up close was a real privilege and something I will never forget! The ceremony is relatively short – though it would have to be if they are going to stop traffic in the middle of the Parisian rush hour – and less the 10-minutes later, the traffic was moving again. I still find it very touching that they do this every night.
Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris, France | www.paris-arc-de-triophe.fr
Just as the sun was setting, while heading towards our hotel, we happened to drive past the legendary Moulin Rouge and were able to catch a glimpse of its world-famous lights and the renowned red windmill on top of the building. But then I saw the queue to get in, which snaked all the way up the road! Wow! I was glad that I didn’t try to get tickets that night!
82 Boulevard de Clichy, 75018 Paris, France | www.moulinrouge.fr
WHERE DID WE STAY?
We were staying at the Ibis Budget Hotel, located in the 14th arrondissement. This made it around a five-minute walk to the Port D’ Orleans Station, which was really handy. While the hotel’s public areas are reasonably spacious, the rooms themselves were more like shoeboxes. Our bathroom may have been the smallest I have ever seen. But this didn’t really matter because we barely spent any time here, as we were always out discovering the wonders of Paris. The room was small, but it still had everything we needed for an awesome stay.
Ibis Budget Hotel 15-21 Boulevard Romain Rolland, Montrouge, Paris 12120 Looking to book your accommodation in Paris? Head on over to Hotelopia now to explore their great deals. (CLICK HERE)
The next morning we were up at the crack of dawn, ready for a full day of exploring the streets of Paris. Being well into autumn, I wasn’t expecting great weather, but as it turned out, it would reach a sunny twenty-six degrees that day. I was chuffed to bits! I stuck on a colourful summer dress, some ballet pumps, and made the most of the last day of our honeymoon.
The hotel served a good breakfast with lots of choices. They also had chocolate croissants, which were yummy! I definitely didn’t stop at one and even wanted to steal a few to put in my bag, as we had a long day ahead of us, but Zac insisted I didn’t. He did make me a promise though. If I agreed not to stuff any pastries in my bag, he’d buy me some fresher, nicer ones when I was hungry later in the day. That way, I wouldn’t have to eat squashed ones from the bottom of my bag. How could I refuse?
Once we’d filled up on our belly-busting hotel breakfast of chocolate croissants and other healthy treats, we headed to the station to catch the train into Paris. We found a seat in the carriage and waited for the train to depart, but ten minutes later, we still hadn’t moved. Then the dreaded announcement came over the speakers, advising everyone that the workers had just gone on strike! Are you kidding me? I don’t have time for this right now. This was my only full day in Paris!! We proceeded to sit there for a total of forty minutes. Fuming! There was literally steam coming out of my ears! However, something really beautiful happened. A man walks into our carriage, takes out his violin and starts playing, ‘Nearer My God To Thee!’ Now, I’d like to pretend that I didn’t look this up on Google before writing this, but that would be a lie. I did know the song, just not the title. For those who are unaware, this is the last song the poor band from the Titanic movie played before they went down with the ship. When this incredibly talented man started playing, I began to choke up! I mean, who wouldn’t? It was such an incredible moment. When he finished, I started clapping… and silence. No one else flinched! There was no applause or “bravo’s.” Maybe these lucky Parisians are used to this happening every day, but I certainly wasn’t. I salute you sir, whoever you are, you were terrific!
THE LOUVRE MUSEUM
We eventually started moving toward our destination, and finally, we arrived at the Palais-Royal-Musee du Louvre stop. It’s so convenient, as when you exit the station, the museum is literally just above you. As we walked towards The Louvre, the sky was a deep blue, and there was barely a cloud in sight.
The museum holds eight different departments. The first section we explored was Etruscan and Roman Antiquities. There’s many pieces housed here, but the one sculpture in particular that everyone was buzzing about was the Statue of Venus (Venus de Milo). Carved from marble in 130 BC, she remains in pretty good nick, considering she’s well over two thousand years old. Only her arms are missing.
As soon as we entered, we went in search of the Mona Lisa, which resides in the Paintings section. I could tell we had arrived in the right room as soon as I walked in. The space was rammed. This zone is full of fantastic pieces, such as ‘Liberty Leading the People’ by Eugene Dalacroix of the 1830s French Revolution, ‘The Raft of Medusa’ by Theodore Gericault and, one of my personal favourites, ‘The Wedding at Cana’ by Paolo Veronese, where Jesus converts water into wine. How the Mona Lisa became so renowned above these works of art is baffling. It’s only the size of an A2 piece of paper. To make matters worse, she’s also behind protective bullet-proof glass so that when you take pictures, it’s hard to get one that doesn’t have a glare on it. Even still, many people stood in front of her, jostling to get a photo. Be patient. It’s just one painting. People won’t stand in front of it forever. They will eventually move out of the way, so take a look at her if you want, but make sure you take some time to look around the rest of the room so you can appreciate some real art. Another odd thing about this room that bugged me was the cheap office block-style ceiling, while the rest of the rooms in the Louvre were adorned with beautiful paintings and handcrafted sculptures. The ceiling in this area was a complete thumbs down from me! (>>>>> Full Article Click Here <<<<<)
The Louvre, Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France | www.louvre.fr
After we had finished inside the Louvre, we headed back into the beautiful midday sunshine and made our way over to the Jardin des Tuileries, the gardens which once formed part of the Palace de Concord. Although these were once royal gardens, today they are available for everyone to enjoy. Upon arrival, you will pass by the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, another of Paris’s lovely triumphant arches. It is in a Corinthian style and was built in 1808 to celebrate Napoleon’s victories from the previous years. The top is adorned by three gold-plated warrioresses (girl power!), styled to look as if they are leading their chariots into battle. Underneath, there are several sculptures of high-ranking officials, one of which I believe to be Napoleon. Although I could find no literature to confirm this, one of the gentlemen sculptures on the right bears a resemblance to paintings I’ve seen of the General. The arch has some faded green and red detailing in the marble, which differs from the more well-known Arc de Triomphe, which is around a 20-30 minute walk from here.
JARDIN DES TUILERIES
As we walked further into the gardens, I remembered something our coach driver told us a few nights earlier while having dinner. He was advising us on some of the dos and don’ts for when we arrived in Paris and things to look out for. One situation he’d witnessed several times was gangs trying to extort women for money. They would tie themselves to the women’s wrists with lengths of string before calmly advising them that this is a kidnapping and a large amount of money would have to be given to them before “being released!” He said they mainly hang around near the Sacre Cour but could be anywhere and even advised carrying around a small pair of scissors in our bag in case this happened to any of us!
Just as I finished recalling this conversation, right on queue, a man stepped straight out in front of me, brandishing some string from behind his back! He tried to lure me away, saying he wanted to show me a “trick.” Zac put his arm around me and we kept walking, barely giving him a backward glance and keeping my arms tucked tightly to my sides. Despite this negativity, the Jardin Des Tuileries is stunning, and it is a nice change of pace to walk around in a relaxing wide-open space after being in the very busy Louvre. Take the opportunity to walk along the beautifully manicured paths while gazing upon the statues or do as the Parisians do, and take full advantage of the nice weather by catching up with friends and lying on the grass. I wanted to take the time to do both, but as we only had one day, we kept moving. Before exiting the gardens, we arrived at a pond, which had a sculpture in the middle that looked strikingly like a section of the female anatomy! See what you think in the photo below, but that is the shape I see.
Place de la Concorde, 75001 Paris, France
Next, we headed past Cleopatra’s Needle, an obelisk gifted from the Sultan and Viceroy of Egypt to Paris in the 1800s. It’s definitely worth a look, although it seems oddly out of place where it is. We also passed the Fountain des Mers. Attractive as it is, it’s no Trevi Fountain. [>>>>> Click Here Trevi Fountain Full Post <<<<<]
FONTAINE DES MERS Place de la Concorde, 75008 Paris, France
We next arrived at the avenue of diamonds and rubies – The Champs Elysees. Why the nickname? This thoroughfare can get very busy, and at night the headlights from the oncoming cars are white like diamonds, while the taillights of those departing the avenue shine red like rubies. Trust the French to turn boring old traffic into something beautiful. I love it! This is where all the expensive and luxury shops are located, complete with extravagant shopfronts comparable to works of art. Most notable is the Louis Vuitton store. They have a lovely, funky flower display, which reminded me a bit of the enemy plants from the Super Mario game.
Our tour leader told us that the McDonald’s along here is slightly different from all the other restaurants in this chain. As it is located on this prestigious avenue, they couldn’t have their typical red and yellow colours, as it wouldn’t fit the aesthetic of the area. Instead, they had to opt for a forest green and gold to open one of their restaurants here. Since our visit, it has actually undergone a huge renovation and now sports a classic black and white industrial look, with a very modern and stylish interior. This makeover was so successful for McDonald’s that they have since re-done several restaurants at key locations throughout France. Just another example of why Paris is so beautiful, as even McDonald’s is forced to sport an upmarket look. Bravo France!
We stopped in a little shopping centre around halfway up the Champs Elysees to find a toilet and ended up finding possibly the fanciest loo I have ever seen! Before you go in, I must warn you, it will cost you €2. We couldn’t resist as it was so lux! Each room where you did your business had a large plush armchair for you to place your things, and the walls were decorated in fantastic wallpaper. Best of all, there was relaxing music playing in the background. The handwashing area had a range of lovely soaps and moisturisers too. They even had a shop on the way out, where you could buy funky toilet accessories. Once you’ve been here, you’ll be ruined forever! You will start to compare all public toilets to this posh one of the Champs Elysees, and none will ever match up. Sob!
Before you reach the end of the road, be sure to take in the funky architecture of the Publicis Building, which has an interesting glass front built in a free-form style with no straight lines. It almost defies logic, but it’s really cool.
Right at the end of the Champs Elysees is the Arc de Triomphe. Despite having flashbacks from the night before, it was great seeing this magnificent structure again, as there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, so it looked beautiful against the blue backdrop. While we were taking in the views, we got to see more of the infamous psychotic Parisian driving. Just like the night before, people were driving in whatever direction suited them. This is one of the most dangerous roundabouts to cross in all of Europe. In fact, it is so dangerous that insurance companies won’t insure you if you crash around here. Crazy!
PUBLICIS BUILDING 30-34 R. du Chemin Vert, 75011 Paris, France
CHAMPS-ELYSEES 8th Arrondissement, Paris, France
Next, we headed down Avenue di Lena to make the 2.5 kilometers walk to the Eiffel Tower. We passed a few bakeries along the way, so I decided that it was time for Zac to keep good on his promise and buy me my non-squashed chocolate pastry. We stopped at this quaint, typical French-looking bakery, where we each bought a cheese and ham toasted sandwich, which until this day, is still the best toasted sandwich I have ever eaten. The chocolate croissant I devoured was also scrumptious. But here’s the shocking part… it was so cheap, costing us only €10 for both meals, so I guess it is possible to eat cheaply in Paris after all. These were the takeaway prices though, but the weather was so beautiful that we didn’t mind walking to the Eiffel Tower while eating our food anyway.
Feeling a lot more refreshed, we continued on our walk. We ended up back at the Place du Trocadero, where we were able to get some wonderful views of the Eiffel Tower. The combination of the sunny day with the beauty of the surrounding gardens, made for such a picturesque scene that it was just aching to be captured by my camera.
EIFFEL TOWER Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France | www.towereiffel.paris
HOTEL DES INVALIDES
Next, we headed to the Hotel des Invalides, which is an old military barracks, which has since been converted into a museum. Walking here from the Eiffel Tower takes around 25-minutes. You can cut through Champ de Mars, head down Rue de Belgrade, and turn down Boulevard de la Tour-Mars Bourge and voila! You have arrived at your destination. Of course, you could just follow the road which runs along the Seine River, which is a lovely walk, but it will take longer.
Its full name is Hotel National des Invalides, and this is the place you come to learn about France’s history. Housed on the grounds is the Musee de L’armee’s. Louis XIV commissioned the Hotel in 1670 to provide accommodation and care for currently serving soldiers, as well as those who have become disabled and retired. Louis knew that in order to protect France, he had to have a well-cared-for army. The complex is absolutely huge. At one point, 4000 soldiers lived here, whereas today, it functions strictly as a museum.
Once through the grand entrance, you find yourself in a large courtyard where you can walk amongst artillery collections and sculptures. Some of the detail on the canons was so beautiful that I almost laughed. The French even killed their enemies in style. Nothing in this beautiful city is plain and boring. I love Paris! This courtyard is a perfect example of 17th-century classical architecture, which can be found throughout Paris. Don’t forget to look up to the far end of the square, or you might miss out on the sculpture of Napoleon (I), looking down on you as you explore.
We did have a walk around to see Napoleon’s tomb, but again we missed out due to time constraints. Although we didn’t get in, we did manage to catch a sneaky glimpse through the double doors which led inside, and his mausoleum looked spectacular! This is where you will find the beautiful dome which can be seen from the front of the complex. The room reminds me of the Pantheon in Rome, due to its round-shaped interior with columns around the side. Napoleon’s coffin is right in the centre of the room, but it’s not like you will miss it! It’s constructed entirely from a burgundy marble and raised high off the ground by a huge plinth constructed in contrasting forest green. Part of the reason this room has been decorated so lavishly is because it was also once used by King Louis (XIV) as his royal chapel.
129 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris, France | www.musee-armee.fr
We were pretty tired by this point, but we couldn’t come to Paris without making a trip to Notre Dame. The walk took almost an hour, and just as the sun was about to set, we walked down Quai Saint-Michel and stopped at a bridge crossing the River Seine. It was here that I first spotted Notre Dame Cathedral. I was so amazed to be looking at one of the world’s most beautiful and well-known cathedrals. I looked at it in awe as Zac remarked, “come on, let’s head to Notre Dame,” as he had no idea that we were already looking at it. I headed towards it while Zac protested that I was leading him the wrong way. He took out his phone, checked Google Maps, and then insisted he was joking when he realised just how wrong he was. Classic Zac!
The front façade truly is beautiful, comprising of two towers with a round window in the centre. There is a row of sculptures in the middle consisting of King-like men wearing robes. I say King-like as they are all wearing crowns. The end result is pretty cool, as they look down on you just like you would expect ancient royalty to have looked down on its lowly commoners!
Inside the cathedral, you have an enormous hall, which is lined down the sides with impressive Greek-inspired columns. Like most cathedrals, it has tall vaulted ceilings, but these ones are more special than most, as they were the first of their kind to be built in this fashion. They were started in the year 1163 and took over 200 years to complete.
One of the cathedral’s main features is the magnificent rose window, which is almost ten meters in diameter and adorned with biblical images of Adam and Eve. At the time of its construction, it was the largest rose window ever created. It truly is stunning.
You might be interested in climbing the 400 steps up to the cathedral towers to visit the home of Quasimodo, who was made famous in the book “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” by Victor Hugo. Zac and I both skipped this, as we’d walked the length of France that day already! However, once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with some of the most spectacular views of Paris. (>>>>> Click Here Full Post <<<<<)
NOTRE DAME 6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France | www.tripadvisor.com.au
I really wanted to see the Eiffel Tower in all its night-time glory, but we were starting to run a little low on cash, so Zac came up with two options; We could either get a bus back to the Eiffel Tower, or we could brave the two-hour walk so we could afford to buy some crepes while looking at the lights. Unfortunately for Zac, all I heard was crepes! Nevertheless, the mammoth trek was actually quite enjoyable. We made our way back along the River Seine, passing some notable places along the way, including the Institute de France, Pont Alexander III, the Obelisk (which looked like a fluro strobe light as it was so tackily lit up), the Assembee National, and the Hotel des Invalides.
Everywhere in Paris seemed to look great lit up at night. Our feet were screaming in joy as we finally laid eyes on the Eiffel Tower. Seeing it at night was like seeing it for the first time all over again. The darkness hid most of the surroundings from view, making the tower almost look like it was shimmering. It was incredible. To make the night even more perfect, we headed over to the food truck and bought the most delicious crepe in the history of the world (Honest!). I had a banana, Nutella, and whipped cream flavoured one, which had so much cream in it that I think I would have had to walk all the way to Amsterdam to burn off all the calories – totally worth it! It was and still is one of the best things I have ever eaten. We took a seat in the park while we ate and watched the light show coming from the Eiffel Tower. That, my friends, was the last thing we did on our honeymoon, before catching the train back to our hotel. What an incredible day!
If you take one thing away from reading about our whirlwind stop in Paris, let it be this. We didn’t have a lot of money, and we didn’t have a whole lot of time here either, but what we did do was make the most of every minute, saw everything we wanted to see and made sure to have the most epic day possible in the city of love. You don’t need lots of money to travel, you just need the motivation to go, a sense of adventure, and the rest will always fall into place.
Thanks for reading my post on the fantastic city of Paris. Despite only having around 24-hours in this destination, I really felt as though Zac and I made the most of our time here, by ticking off everything we really wanted to see, plus a few extra places. I’d absolutely love to go back to Paris one day, stay in a nicer hotel, head down to a lovely fresh produce market, and sample some of the local delights. Plus I have so many other places I now want to visit, not only in Paris, but the rest of France too. So watch this space! A fire tore through this landmark church in April 2019, yet I still think it would be worth a visit. Are you planning on visiting Paris in the future? Where would you like to visit? Let me know in the comments section below!
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