Monday, March 26, 2012

6 Tips for Enjoying Paris

Last summer my husband, Jonathan, and I enjoyed a fantastic two-week holiday in France.  We spent some time with friends in Normandy visiting various places that I wrote about here and here.  We also spent three days by ourselves in Paris.  I know - how romantic, eh!

I thought I would share a few tips of things that worked for us and helped us enjoy Paris.  There are about a million things to do and see in Paris and everyone has their own tastes and agenda when they visit so these are just things that I thought were interesting or worked for us.  

1.  Plan your visit to the Eiffel Tower for late afternoon/early evening.  It was so much fun watching the colour of the metal change as the setting sun bathed it in different shades of orange and gold and to watch as the lights come on as day turned to night.  By the time we left the Eiffel Tower was all lit up against an indigo blue sky.

2.  My tip for a great evening's entertainment is to find a quiet place to stroll.  I've already mentioned one place that is great, but I'm going to tell you about two others that we enjoyed.   There is nothing better than going for a quiet, peaceful, and if you are with the right person - romantic walk.  You can saunter along and watch the setting sun and do some people-watching and chat about the day.

One of the walks we took was along the Seine.  We started at Pont de Sully and then walked along beside the island that Notre Dame is on and finally went across Pont Neuf.  There were people out enjoying the weather, playing their guitars, talking, and drinking wine.  I loved having the view of Notre Dame from across the river and watching as the lights came on.  From Pont Neuf you have a view down the Seine to the Eiffel Tower.

These next photos were from another evening when we enjoyed the Jardin des Tuileries. This garden is right beside the Louvre and is a classic formal French garden with gravel walkways through avenues of trees, sculptures, ponds that reflected the setting sun, and chairs everywhere so you can stop and soak in different views as you walk along.

3.   Go early to the Louvres as line-ups are crazy later in the day.  You can also buy your ticket in advance online although we didn't do this and had no trouble getting in.  We were in line at 8:30 and the doors opened at 9:00 and the line-up was only a fraction of what we had seen the day before mid-afternoon when it snaked around both courtyards and out along the street.

4.  Visit Sainte-Chapelle.  It could well be that I'm the only one who had never heard of this beautiful chapel, but it is definitely worth a visit.  Sainte-Chapelle is like Notre Dame's beautiful, but shy cousin.  Everyone visits Notre Dame, but if you walk just a short distance across the island you can visit this little gem.  It was built in 1248 and has the most extensive collection of 13th century stained glass windows anywhere in the world - and believe me they are amazing.  I loved all the painted designs on the wall which you can see in the photos below.  Every panel and pillar is painted in a different intricate pattern and the ceiling is covered in stars.  Gorgeous!

5.  Decide on what the most important things you want to see are and then book your hotel near there - that way you are sure to see it.  Jonathan's number one thing to see in Paris was the Louvre and mine was to see the Eiffel Tower at dusk.  So we found a hotel that was right near the Louvre so it was no problem getting into the line-up early as it was only a 5 minute walk away.  The hotel was also very near the subway so we could easily get to the Eiffel Tower.  In case you are interested we stayed at the Timhotel Palais Royal and would recommend it if you are looking for a small very quiet hotel.  Our room was comfortable, had an ensuite bathroom, and included breakfast.

6.  Pack clothing that is both comfortable and looks good - especially your shoes and purse.   I only took two pairs of shoes with me - a pair of comfortable walking sandals and some athletic shoes.  We weren't planning on doing anything fancy so I knew that what I was taking would be enough and my feet were comfortable the entire time.  Nothing can make a trip worse than having uncomfortable footwear.  As for a purse - I swear by using a small sized bag so it isn't too heavy and I made sure it was a cross-body style so that your hands are free, you can keep it safe, and it takes the pressure off your shoulders.

Yes folks I sat in the Jardin des Tuileries and took a picture of my feet   

I wish I was going back to Paris this year, but we can't have amazing trips every year now can we?  Maybe next year though.  A girl can dream.

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  1. What an awesome post. I read every detail. Paris has to be one of the most romantic cities....thank you for all the tips and the inspiration.


  2. Oh I love hearing anything about Paris. I was going to go this year, then my son got engaged...Wedding....So, it is on my list for next year. I have been to Paris B4, but many years ago!


  3. Springtime in Paris... a girl can dream. Thanks for a little getaway from my stuffy office and cold winter thoughts this morning!

    I want to go back!!!

  4. I will probably never see Paris but if I did this is great advice. Your photos are stunning as always. Such great memories from a beautiful trip.

  5. Paris ... is Paris!!!!