The Best Things To Do In Paris
There probably isn’t any city which has constantly enthralled, enchanted and thrilled the world as much as the fabled City of Lights. From its graceful spires to its soaring towers right through to its perfectly manicured gardens, the French capital continues to amaze and delight every visitor it welcomes. Paris lies ensconced in the Seine’s bend to the south of Calais, Rouen and Brussels while the cities of Nantes and Orléans lie to its southwest and south, respectively. Whether you love the arts, fashion or food, you will feel right at home in this fascinating capital which is renowned for all these and so much more. All you need to do is plan that vacation which will make all your holiday dreams come true.
As one of the most visited capitals in the world, Paris maintains important transport links between major cities in France and on the continent. Visitors arriving from London, its famous neighbor will be able to board the Eurostar at St. Pancras Station and arrive at Gare du Nord in about two and half hours. Tourists visiting from Marseille will be able to board a TGV (high speed train) and arrive in Paris in three hours while those visiting from Lille will be able to get there in one hour. Paris prides itself on its highly efficient transport system and you will find getting around remarkably easy whether you choose to travel by metro, overland rail, bus or tram. If you enjoy cycling, you will find the city’s Vélib bicycle hire scheme to be an excellent option for exploring the capital.
Paris is quite simply, every fashionista’s dream and is quite capable of keeping the most dedicated of them fully occupied from dawn to dusk. If indulging in heaps of retail therapy is one of your favorite pastimes, you will love exploring the upscale shops along the Champs-Élysées, Rue Saint-Honoré and the Palais-Royal Gardens as well as the excitement of the huge flea market, Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen. If you happen to be a foodie, you too will find Paris to be a city of delights, with several of them tucked away on Rue des Martyrs. You will be able to sample delicious French cheeses, tempting pastries and delectable chocolates. For a taste of the French cuisine which has fascinated the world, all you have to do is head to Brasserie de l’Isle Saint-Louis while a visit to Bertillon will enable you to experience ice cream as you never have before.
HERE ARE OUR PICKS FOR THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN PARIS…
On the Rue de Rivoli you will find arguably the world’s greatest art museum, the Louvre. A visit to the Louvre is an absolute must for anyone visiting Paris, and visitors are advised to allow at least one whole day to enjoy it in full. Your exploration will take you through some of the world’s most famous art pieces – from antiquity to the nineteenth century – with works by every famous artist is on display, including of course, Leonardo da Vinci’s, ”Mona Lisa”.
The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower needs no introduction, but did you know it was nearly torn down? Built in 1889 for the World Fair, many did not like it – it was on the verge of destruction when the new science of radiotelegraphy saved it! It was the perfect platform for holding their antennas! Today, it stands tall, so gaze up in amazement, and then down from the viewing levels as you take in the magnificent landscape of the surrounding city. Make it special and book a table at 58 Tour Eiffel Restaurant!
Palace of Versailles
The history of the magnificent Palace of Versailles really started in 1682 when Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles, and the opulence of the palace continued until the revolution in 1789. In 1830 the palace became the Museum of the History of France and is one of the most popular attractions in the city. The history and art on display is immense, so if time is an issue, choose subjects and periods of history that are of most interest. But make sure you visit the Hall of Mirrors, the State Apartments and the Royal Chapel!
Notre Dame Cathedral
As you approach the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Gothic architecture towers over the visitors, and its grandeur reminds you that this Catholic Church has presided over significant religious ceremonies for more than seven centuries. Stand in the open square and take in the intricacies of the sculptures and stained glass, and then move inside. Here you will be in awe of the immense interior which can hold 6000 people. Soak up the beauty of this magnificent cathedral, including the rose windows and the pipe organ.
Arc de Triomphe
Standing 50 metres tall and 45 metres wide – at the top of the Champs-Elysees – the Arc de Triomphe is a proud and respectful memorial to all who have fought for France in the wars and conflicts of the nation; particularly the Napoleonic Wars. Visit the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and take in the views from the panoramic terrace.
Avenue des Champs-Elysees
All along the 1.9 kilometres of Avenue des Champs-Elysees, the style of Paris is on display. Take in the jewellery stores, the antique boutiques and the renowned fashion stores. Stop at a café or restaurant for a break, and people-watch for a while as the locals go about their day. Seek out the finish line for the Tour de France, remember the liberation of France at the statue of General Charles de Gaulle, and admire the Arc de Triomphe which honours the victories of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Paris Catacombs (Les Catacombes)
Practical but eerie, the Paris Catacombs (Les Catacombes) were created in 1785 to address the problem of overflowing cemeteries. Bones were exhumed from existing plots and relocated to old quarries, with over six million relocated. Their turbulent history continued, when in WWII they were used by the Resistance. This tour is therefore a mix of macabre and fascinating history. The tour starts at Avenue du Colonel Henri Roi Tannguy, and an audio guide will take you through the stories and history of the exhibits, but don’t be tempted to souvenir a bone – checks are made!
Head to Montmartre, a hilly district located on the Right Bank in the northern section of Paris. Spend your day enjoying the bohemian ambience and climb the hill to visit the Sacre Coeur Cathedral. Having got your exercise for the day, and having absorbed the fascinating history this area offers, stay for the evening. Montmartre is full of restaurants and cafes, and the district come to life at night with nightclubs and bars throughout. And of course, the famous Moulin Rouge is found here too!
Take a break from sightseeing and have a day of magical fun at Disneyland Paris. Just outside the city, Disneyland Paris will be everything you expect from this famous theme park; there are two parks; Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park. Take the rides, meet your favourite Disney characters, watch the parades, have a meal and a drink and go home happy!
Located at 82 Boulevard de Clichy, Moulin Rouge has been entertaining partygoers since 1889! Join them for a lively Parisian party, and to watch one of the most famous shows on earth. Be enthralled by the beauty and skill of the 80 artists in exquisite costumes, supported by musicians from around the world. Make a day or night of it, with a meal and a few drinks, and a visit to the gift shop to take home a memento once you’re done.
As you take in the beauty of the River Seine from the many bridges that link the two banks, take some time to imagine how important this river has been to the economic and cultural development of Paris. As the river winds its way inland, Paris established itself at the centre of a crucial trade route, going right back to the roman days. Of course, times change, and as you stroll along its banks today, it will be mostly leisure boats that glide along its waters.
Lido de Paris
Take a trip to the Lido de Paris and have a night of high fun. Located on the Champs-Elysees, this awe-inspiring theatre – that seats over 1100 – will dazzle you with the colour of lights, mosaics and tassels. Enjoy dinner and take in a show that is elegant, sensual and spectacular, performed by beautiful woman and mystical dancers.
Pont des Arts
As you cross the River Seine from the Palais du Louvre to the South Bank, you will use the Pont des Arts. Today, this pedestrian bridge is a great vantage point to view the beauty of the River Seine and to take in the sights of the city. Mingle with the artists and painters who tend to migrate to its wide pathway and display their wares, and take a while to appreciate the foresight of the city’s forefathers, who originally constructed the bridge in 1802.
There are two museums on Avenue Winston Churchill, and it will come as no surprise that Petit Palais is the smaller of the two. The building was purpose built as an exhibition venue and is the home of the Musee des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris. A visit to this museum is to enjoy a wide collection of art objects, paintings, and sculptures from many periods, including the Middle Ages, Renaissance, 17th and 18th centuries.
Pere Lachaise Cemetery
History abounds in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery (Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise), which is in the 20th arrondissement of Paris. Take time out and wander through the 44 hectares and 70,000 burial plots, and you will find yourself walking through the history of the city and country. Many famous people – such as Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust, Edith Piaf, and Jim Morrison from the Doors – are buried here. Meander through this garden cemetery, absorb the history, and take in the mix of funerary architecture, from Gothic headstones to ancient mausoleums.
When you’re feeling peckish, seek out Laduree Paris pastry shops to provide a thrill for your taste buds! Since 1862, Laduree has excelled at providing pastries to Parisians, and in the 1950’s established macaroons as a special favourite. You will find these shops on Rue Royale, Rue Bonaparte and the Champs Elysees, among other locations. Join the queue for a taste sensation!
Since 1875, the iconic Opera Garnier has been home to Opera de Paris, and is the key venue for its ballet performances. Head to the Place de I ‘Opera and visit this beautiful theatre to experience where the Phantom of the Opera was filmed. With an audio guide, discover the history and mysteries of the theatre and climb the Grand staircase to see the enormous Phantom chandelier. Theatre lovers will love this tour!
Place Vendome is an impressive mix of historical and modern Paris. As you enter this public square, the forty-three metre Vendome Column will tower over you, topped by a statue of Napoleon. Sit for a while and take in the splendour of the 18th century architecture, and people-watch as locals go about their day and tourists bustle to and from the luxury hotels. Then stroll through the luxury shops where old Paris blends with the new!
58 Tour Eiffel Restaurant
Make your visit to the Eiffel Tower extra special and book a meal at the amazing 58 Tour Eiffel Restaurant. The restaurant is located on the first floor, and you will have either spectacular views of the city, or a view of the fascinating architecture of the Eiffel Tower. Enjoy a leisurely and relaxed lunch, or come for a more formal dinner and take in the lights, as you choose from a menu of traditional French cuisine. Your meal also includes a priority elevator ticket, which is handy!
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