PARIS – There is a strong reason why it is one of the most visited cities in the world. It has something to offer for everyone. An art lover can spend days and weeks museum hopping and see the work of the most influential renaissance and gothic artists in the history. You can also spend the same time visiting the numerous monuments appreciating the wonderful architecture. If you are travelling with family and don’t fancy a visit to the US, they even have a Disney World in Paris to keep the kids or the kid in you busy. A sports fan can tour the Roland Garros or Stadia de France to get their sports kicks. Of course no one can ever resist a visit to the Eiffel Tower, the eternal background wallpaper for any romantic moment.
2 days in Paris is surely going to feel like a short stay and I don’t deny! So, here is what we covered during our 2 days in Paris. Before that, couple of logistics to start the Paris adventure.
Using Paris Pass is the easiest and the most economic way of moving around in Paris. Paris Pass also comes with a Travel Card which allows you to travel across Paris. However airport transport is not covered in the Travel card. The city has well connected public transport system including metros and buses which can take you to all the monuments and places of interest. Further, we took a 2 day Paris Museum Pass which covered skip the line fast track entry to all the attractions listed below except the Eiffel tower.
Where to stay?
We stayed in Central Paris in a AirBnb apartment which was a 5 minute walk from two metro stations. Quick Tip: Most apartments or hotels in Europe have late check-in times (between 2 PM to 4 PM). So I would suggest talking to your host (if apartment) or hotel for an early check-in. Most hotels hold your bags till your room is ready. You could use that time to spend in a nearby cafe. There is nothing more Parisian than taking a few moments out of your day to sit with an espresso in one of the city’s thousands of cafes.
2 Day Detailed Itinerary
Our Day 1 in Paris started post lunch, and our first destination was the Louvre museum (French pronounce it as Loov-err). We used our Paris Pass to skip the lines and head straight into the museum. We spent more than hour going through the three floors of masterpieces from different ages in history. The museum also had collection of art work from different civilizations like the Egyptian, Babylonian and Byzantine eras. If that does not entice you, you also get a chance to see “the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, and the most parodied work of art in the world” – the Mona Lisa. You would not be alone if you felt you were in Hollywood Boulevard with the paparazzi flashing a hundred snaps every minute with the beautiful lady.
After the art overdose, it was time for the two of us to move on, and just a few minutes’ walk from the Louvre takes us to the Tuileries Gardens, where you can relax in the deckchairs with a view of the Louvre in the back and a lake with the view of the Arc-de-Triomphe and Eifel Tower in the front. I was told that this is a great spot to watch the sunset as well. Alas! We could not wait for that long, so we moved on to our next stop.
This was originally a part of the Palais de la Cite (Royal Palace for the King of France till 14th century) ordained by King Louis IX. While the Palace is now converted to a law court, the chapel is still retained as a tourist monument. The highlights of the chapel are its colorful stained glass work and the intricate geometrical designs of the interior walls.
A 5 minute walk from the Saint Chapel takes you to Notre Dame. Norte Dame (literally means “Our Lady of Paris”) a 13th century cathedral, is probably one of the best examples of the Gothic architecture. I would recommend you to advance book the time slot for tower visit using “Jetfile app”, as they get filled out fast. The tower entry is free with the Paris Pass, but needs advance booking of the time slot. Also note that the tower tickets are different from the actual cathedral tickets. Unfortunately we did not know this, and missed out taking the tower tour.
A short train ride and a 10 mins walk brought us to the most recognized structure in Paris. It does not matter how many videos or pictures you have seen of the Eiffel Tower, the real thing still leaves you awestruck, especially when lit at night. You also realize the irony when a tower made of metal kindles the romantic spirit in you. I know I am sounding clichéd, but when you are there, you will feel this too. You could pre-book your tickets to take the elevator to the summit and cut the wait time.For a first time Paris visitor, this is highly recommended. To extend your Eiffel experience, try 58 Tour Eiffel, a restaurant with a great view, on the first floor (58 m above the ground) of the Eiffel tower. This restaurant requires advance reservation and includes a vegetarian menu. You should definitely dine here for the amazing view, an exceptional service and the best champagne.
Chateau De Versailles
The first stop for Day 2 was Chateau de Versailles. Versailles is a one hour train ride from Central Paris, and is home of the Palace of Versailles (Chateau de Versailles). It is one of the most opulent palaces in Europe. The Palace of Versailles was the royal residence in 17th century during the time of Louis XIV, and has mainly four areas of interest – The Palace, Estate of Trianon, the Gardens and the Equestrian Academy. Paris Pass includes access to all the four areas. Once you are in the palace, you do not want to miss the Hall of Mirrors, an architectural masterpiece. Also each window inside this hall has a breathtaking view of the well-manicured gardens. You could spend an entire day here, but we had to move on.
Musee Rodin, which houses work of the master sculptor Auguste Rodin. As this was our first exposure to his work, this turned out to be an educational exercise. I would recommend a visit to at least see “The Age of Bronze”, and you will realize how life-like these sculptures look.
This museum used to be a railway station, but today is one of the largest art museums in Europe. We spent about an hour looking through several masterpieces from Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh, before we moved on.
After the museums, our next stop was the Garnier Opera. The inspiration for the original “Phantom of the Opera”, is a really beautiful building designed by Charles Garnier in 1875. The Grand Staircase, and the Grand Foyer are great photo-ops, so would highly recommend it to everyone. If there are no events or shows scheduled for the day, they even let you inside the main auditorium where you can see the famous Chandelier. The chandelier apparently weighs more than seven tons and is made of bronze and crystal making it one of the biggest chandeliers in the world.
Siene River Cruise
Sienne River cruise starts at the foot of the Eiffel tower and we could not miss a chance to enjoy the beauty one more time. The river cruise lasts for about 90 minutes and is included with the Paris pass. This is a good way to look at some historic monuments from the outside and also get to know some additional trivia and history of the places. However this can also be boring, if that is not your cup of tea, so choose wisely before you decide to take it. For us, this was an opportunity to escape the heavy rain that day 🙂
Arc De Triomphe
This is the second largest triumphal arc standing above 50 meters. It was commissioned by Napolean to commemorate those who died during the French revolution and the Napoleonic wars. The Arc is also home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – a World War I memorial. You have an option to go on top of the Arc to get a great view of the Champ Elysees, Eifel Tower and the Louvre. As we were at the end of a long day, we decided against going on top, but took a short walk on the Champ Elysees.
Our final stop for the day at the Luxor Obelisk. The Luxor Obelisk is a 3,000 year old obelisk which was originally located at the entrance of the Luxor temple in Egypt. It was later relocated to Paris. This 270 metric ton 25 meter obelisk is made of granite and has ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs on the side. It is really interesting to read about how they managed to move this large monolith all the way from Egypt without any damages.
The following morning we bid our adieu to Paris. While it is hard to leave this beautiful city so soon, we were also equally excited for the journey ahead of us across Spain.
– Signing off
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