Last Updated on June 22, 2020 by Amanda Stancati
Paris, I miss you. After a trip to the City of Light, I recount my stay in photos and reminisce on my love affair with the city. Seeing the iconic Eiffel Tower for the first time was magical, especially the lightshow that took place every hour, on the hour. The Jardin du Champs-de-Mars below was filled with people relaxing under the most prominent symbol of France and even Europe. Photo opportunities were endless. Snap photos of the Tower during the day and night, from on top and from underneath and you’ll have your own, handmade postcards like the ones you have seen and recognized for years. There is no bad photo of the Eiffel Tower! This was one of my first stops, but prepare to see this image plastered everywhere, in every souvenir and art shop.
From above, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city. Tickets to ascend to the second and third floors are available (you can even take the 704 stairs to the second floor if you wish). You will catch a view of the River Seine and the cruise ships and spot some of the landmarks. The lookout is a little crowded – which is to be expected – and there is a champagne shop and souvenir shop up top.
The Arc de Triomphe was built in the early 1800s. It marks the end of the Champs-Élysées shopping district. The monument is engraved with the name of French soldiers and houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War 1. Ascend the monument for views of the Eiffel Tower.
One of the most popular tourist sites is the Pont des Arts, also known as the love lock bridge. I have always sought out smaller replicas in other cities I have visited, but this was the real deal. This is where tourists lock their padlocks engraved with the initials of them and their partner and throw away the key as a symbol of their love. Even though Paris officials have removed some of the panels due to safety reasons, you can still visit and attach your lock at either end of the bridge.
Many people’s Paris highlight is a visit to the famous Louvre Museum to see the Mona Lisa and some 35,000 other pieces of art. This building is beautiful – and massive! Its architecture is stunning as well as the glass Pyramid that functions as the entrance.
The Notre Dame Basilica began construction in the 12th century and was finished 300 years later. This Gothic cathedral has detailed sculptures and stained glass windows to admire. People climb the two towers to see Esmeralda’s Cell (from The Hunchback of Notre Dame), intricate gargoyles, the famous Emmanuel bell, and a viewing platform. The line looked very long to get in (for free, unless you’re climbing the tower), but it moved very quickly. Most people just take a walk-through unless they’re attending a service.
The narrow streets harboured the best treasures. From quaint restaurants to home decor to stationary shops, there is so much to explore in the way of shopping, dining, and charming galleries.
Boulangeries are on every corner (but they didn’t like people taking photos!). I loved seeing people riding their bikes fashionably dressed with a baguette in their basket (it sounds like a stereotype, but it’s true!). Patisseries are everywhere as well: macarons, croissants, and crepes filled store windows and lured me in many times. My lunch go-to was a sandwich on a baguette because they were quick, tasty, and cheap – you’ll see them in shop windows everywhere.
I took a trip to Versailles to explore the palace and gardens for a couple of hours. I loved the chandeliers and visiting the royal apartments, the Queen’s bedroom, and the Gallery of Battles. There are a bunch of nice places for a quick lunch just across the street.
Montmartre was my favourite area of Paris. It was once the place where artists like Picasso and Matisse lived and worked, and is now the spot where portrait artists sketch tourists in the main square. Situated at the top of Montmartre is the Sacre Coeur Basilica with its white dome sitting at the highest point in the city. People hang out on the steps of the church and watch buskers below (it reminded me of Rome‘s Spanish Steps). Walk the cobbled streets of this village-like area and come across lots of souvenir shops (selling mainly the same thing), galleries, and the Wall of Love, with I love yous written on a wall in the garden.
A la prochaine…