belle visite de Paris

Europe it is! It feels so magical to start with Paris in my first trip to Europe. The sight of standing in front of Eiffel Tower itself gave an adrenaline rush to jump on the plane immediately. So touristy but so true! Soon the day has arrived to land in the Paris ORLY airport which is about 20 KM from our hotel. I checked in my local guide aka Google Maps and immediately know the best way to head out. That moment, an epic tour to Paris has kicked off.

Bus to Montparnasse is waiting just outside the terminal and I had to buy the ticket before stepping in the bus, right in the bus stop. Instructions on the kiosk are in French and there aren’t any representatives to help. But with the help of Google Translate(Image Translator), figured out its one price for all stops. Credit card was accepted and I am all set to head out to the city. I couldn’t help but smile traveling on Paris roads. Its a beautiful city and well organized.

20 min later, Gare Montparnasse (train/bus station) welcomed and it only took few seconds to recognize the Montparnasse tower which offer pretty views of Eiffel Tower. But we first headed to our Hotel Tourisme Avenue by Metro train.  It is a great hotel with all modes of public transportation just on the front door and also Eiffel Tower only couple of blocks away. And it offered the best price in the area. We checked in and before long, we are in Montparnasse again. At least this is the part of the city we know already right? 😛

First things First, is City Pass worth? Not for us. We are visiting only few locations listed in the attractions and no we aren’t taking Hop on-Hop off Bus Tour. Though it covers full public transportation for the duration, we are only using 1/3 of its value. Also 3 day City Pass comes with only 2 day Museum Pass. Find more about it here.

Savory crepes at La Creperie Bretonne

Flying in Norwegian Air Shuttle made our stomachs growl. And with all the saved places in Google Maps, I knew exactly how to eat like a local. Just a few steps from Montparnasse station is – La Creperie Bretonne. Serving most delicious crepes and applauded for its most authentic food, this is without any doubt the best place to start our Paris expedition. Nutella is my all time favorite but chef specials are really good. Later, we explored the area for a bit and decided to skip the Montparnasse Tower as it is a very cloudy day, still we have a long list to explore in the city of Lights/Love/Fashion, probably everything.

Here are all the places we have been to in our first ever trip to Paris —

Les Catacombes de Paris

Catacombs of Paris

Just a few minutes ride from Montparnasse are Catacombs of Paris. Catacombs are underground cemetery where the skeletal remains are stored, first such are built by Romans. This is not for faint hearted as the underground confined spaces in the midst of millions of skulls may create nausea. And also there will lot of walking and passing on spiral staircases. This is good for those who haven’t checked Catacombs anywhere else.

Be prepared for long lines as there is a limit of 200 visitors inside the site.

  • Worth                     :  ♥♥
  • Time spent            :  1 hour
  • Best time to visit :  Late in the evening if you’d like the thrilling experience at night and also as other attractions will be closed. Site closes at 20:30 and last entrance at 19:30. Closed on Mondays. More about it here.

Trocadero

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Art work at Trocadero

Trocadero is a site in front of the Eiffel Tower across the Seine river. One will instantly realize the place if you are an Instagrammer, as it is one of the most photographed spots in Paris. The steps, elevated hill and the water fountain add up to a perfect view of Eiffel Tower. It is one of the best views and definitely not to be missed. The other side of the Tower is Champs de Mars park which again provide a beautiful view over lush green gardens. This is best place to picnic with snacks and wine. Yes it is legal as in most of the Europe provided, no nuisance created.

  • Worth                     :  ♥♥♥♥
  • Time spent            :  2 hours
  • Best time to visit :  Early morning to Champs de Mars and evening – Trocadero wrt. to Sun.

Yup. We aren’t going to Eiffel Tower yet. Stuck with Eiffel Tower employees strike. Twitter account of Eiffel Tower did a great job with constant updates so we could plan. Strikes are very common in France. There are Govt. employees strike often. So always research about them, though some strikes can pop up with no advance notice.

Sainte-Chapelle  

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Brilliant architecture and glass work at Sainte-Chapelle

A Royal Christian worship place built with exceptional stained-glass windows portraying various scenes from Jesus life. This place looks so colorful when sun shines. When we thought ground floor itself is amazing, first floor stunned us. The amount of art work put in each glass is unbelievable. We strained our necks marveling at its beauty. It is one divine experience.

  • Worth                     : ♥♥♥♥
  • Time spent            : 1 hour
  • Best time to visit : In the morning or evening. Check site timings here.

Public Transportation and walking are the best ways to explore the city. Ubers add up so quickly and before you realize it, they will be more than the flight price 😀

Notre-Dame de Paris

A few min walk from Saint Chapelle is – Notre Dame, the finest example of French Gothic architecture and is one of the best cathedrals to visit. There is beauty everywhere -the entrance, ceiling, walls, corners. Entrance to the ground level is free but is highly recommended to pay and visit the towers. Be ready to climb 300+ steps but hard work always pay right? Notre Dame towers has one of the best city views which include Eiffel Tower, Seine river and other prominent buildings. 

  • Worth                     : ♥♥♥♥♥
  • Time spent            : 2 hours
  • Best time to visit : Anytime. Information about towers here.
Long lines are a usual sight at L’as Du Fallafel

After our hearts are filled with all the beauty of Notre Dame, it’s time to fill the bellies. And we are in one of the best neighborhoods to walk and explore. 15 min walk from cathedral is L’as du Fallafel, the best falafel sandwich in the town. They serve best hummus and the eggplant, we absolutely loved it. We grabbed a take-out, ate on the streets and tried not to make a mess from the huge sandwich.

Take a walk…a long one

We walked back on Rue de Rivoli, one of the famous streets in Paris, a commercial one with beautiful stores. Best place to window shop. But the prettiest part is in the little alleys. We skipped the main road and walked the small ones to catch Paris vibes –  the murals and street artists. We are on Pont Marie by now and its time for🍦. Berthillon glacier has huge range of ice creams in beautiful colors and we aren’t surprised to find lines outside the building. It’s hard to choose from hundreds of options but we believed nothing could go wrong. On our way out, we grabbed few extra napkins and glad we did it. Scoops are nothing like we see, they are huge. 

We set our little expedition by foot along Seine river stopping at various Ponts (~bridges) along the way. Every pont is historic with statues and adds beauty to river. We skipped river cruise as it is little touristy. We stopped along the way to check out the beautiful views over Seine river. We walked until Pont des Arts, the historic bridge where all the love locks used to be. They were removed few years back as they are adding huge weight to the bridge and it is illegal now to lock. I am glad they took action to protect it. The walk on the bridge is still historic with several street artists performing their best. 

We are still craving for more Paris so we continued our expedition on Rue de Seine. This is another perfect street to walk in Paris. With budding shops and local markets, the street is colorful and lovely. A small fruit market greeted us followed by several classic intersections surrounded with outdoor seating restaurants. It is a beautiful scene, Paris is living the modern life preserving the history and art in every corner. Classic!

There is this one store we passed and couldn’t resist but come back. It is a small and beautiful rose color store – Popelini where cream puffs are served. We tried rose flavor and loved it immediately. It just melted in the mouth, so delicious.

Couple of blocks away, there is another store which just opened, Pierre Marcolini. We tried chocolate and they are worth a try. Overall, we loved this walk from Notre Dame. Absolutely must to do in Paris to shed some calories after so much intake. I would do it again to explore other stores along the way. 

Palais du Luxembourg

A block further Rue de Seine is Luxembourg Palace. Palace is beautiful and surrounded by acres of gardens. Entry to gardens is free and every corner is filled with locals, it is a great place to meet them. They would bring chairs, sit next to water fountain and just enjoy the day. We walked along the garden to the other end. We had to watch for footballs flying around as there are several kids having their usual lovely evening. We skipped museum, it has entry fee. 

  • Worth                     :  ♥♥♥
  • Time spent            :  1/2 hour
  • Best time to visit : Evening. 

Arc de Triomphe

Metro took us directly to the station underneath Arc de Triomphe. Upon climbing stairs to reach the ground level, we are rewarded with another beautiful scene in Paris. Paris’ beautiful historic monument right before us and huge ferris wheel all the way across Champs-Elysees, the world’s most beautiful avenue. The stores along this avenue stand for prestige and luxury of Paris. It is the one of the best moments to walk along this avenue and, feel the richness and warmth of Paris. And of course, we are pulled towards Ladureeone of the best luxury bakeries in the world. We loved their double-decker macaron and gulped few other macarons right at the door. We are not ashamed. They have some of the best pastries, chocolate eclair and sucre are my favorites. The fruit and flower jam are the unique souvenirs to take home. 

I agree, I got sucked to Laduree but lets back-up to the place of the moment. Arc de Triomphe was built in remembrance of those who fought in the French historic wars. This is the most beautiful symmetrical place from all the cities. Top view of Paris show that all avenues meet at Arc de Triomphe at a fair angle and it is the perfect design. Even from the top of the monument, we could see at least dozen avenues merging and it feels so charming.  Above all, it offers a prettiest view of Eiffel Tower.

Spiral staircase with about 300 steps at this monument is not really for every one to climb. But there is a lift to take to attic which comes with a wait time and another 46 steps to reach to top. Monument is surrounded by roundabout traffic and it is mandatory to use the underpass. Plan accordingly.

  • Worth                     :  ♥♥♥♥♥
  • Time spent            :  3 hours
  • Best time to visit :  Evening. Every hour on the hour (7 PM to 1 AM), Eiffel Tower sparkles and Arc de Triomphe is the go to spot in Paris for that view. 

Pont de Bir-Hakeim is another popular spot to check out Eiffel Tower sparkles. View across Seine River is magical. If it gets crowded, any spot along Port Debilly until Trocadero, won’t disappoint. 

Fun Fact: It is illegal to post Eiffel Tower sparkles picture on Social Media without the permission from Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel. Looks like they got patents for that. So be aware 😛

Louvre Museum

Before we take a trip to Louvre, the world’s largest museum, we had to stop at Angelina to stock up some calories. It is the best breakfast place in the town. The combo in the menu is the apt choice to taste everything. And the hot chocolate is just so delicious. Every bit of restaurant is pretty classic, even bathrooms are beauty.

We arrived Louvre at 8:30 AM and it is not crowded to snap pretty pictures before Pyramid, the museum entrance. We are inside the museum in less than an hour with purchasing tickets on-site ,perks of being early to these attractions. 

Louvre Museum Entrance

Louvre museum is huge. 38000 of exhibits. Thats a lot of them. It is wrong to point few of them but here are the most famous attractions:

  • Venus de Milo, The Rebellious Slave, Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss on Level 0.
  • Mona Lisa, The Coronation of Napoleon. Liberty leading the people and Winged Victory of Samothrace on Level 1.
  • The Lacemaker and several other beautiful paintings on Level 2.

And of course, there are 37992 more exhibits all of similar importance. I tried to put room numbers for these exhibits, but the set up changes frequently and it becomes outdated pretty soon. However, Louvre floor plan keeps the info of every exhibit pretty accurate. It is highly recommended to browse and at least take a note of few exhibits, otherwise it is very easy to get lost at this largest art museum in the world.

If exiting before noon, there will be several street vendors who might ask your tickets in exchange of keychains/small souvenirs and re-sell these Louvre tickets as they are full day-passes. Be aware and avoid selling/buying the tickets outside the museum.

  • Worth                     :  ♥♥♥♥♥
  • Time spent            :  3 hours
  • Best time to visit :  Reach the museum by 8:30 AM and spend the morning. Totally worth it.

  We purchased all our tickets on-site. If arrived at least half hour before opening, there would be fairly less queues for Louvre and even Eiffel Tower. Any other times, online tickets are highly recommended. 

Passage des Panaromas

Its stomach growling time and nothing looks better than a food haven. We continued our walk towards Passage des Panaromas and instantly drawn towards a huge building standing across Avenue de l’Opera. The street looked fancy with several branded stores. Along the way, we found another delicious chocolate store – Pierre Herme. And of course we stepped in right away and tried several chocolates. Jaipur is the new flavor and its delicious.

Palais Garnier

End of the street is – Palais Garnier, an Italian style Opera house with a beautiful exterior. There is a paid entrance to enjoy the interiors. We took couple of pictures and proceeded to our paradise – Passage des Panaromas, which is a narrow alley with several restaurants – delicious, authentic and cheap-eats. We took a quick walk and then decided to try the pancake restaurant at the entrance – Bisou Creperie. We had to eat in the basement as the place is full, but the crepes are yummy.

  • Worth                     :  ♥♥♥♥
  • Time spent            :  1 hour
  • Best time to visit : Lunch, explore the place and take your best shot, no restaurant would disappoint.

Montmartre

Once known for artists, Montmartre is flooded with tourists now. Still, this is the one of the best neighborhoods and the finest way to appreciate Paris. There is art every corner, every wall and on every road. Just had to look up. The best way to explore is climb the 300+ steps that lead to Sacre-Coeur, a beautiful Basilica that sits on top of the Montmartre hill. A funicular that runs along is also fun to reach to the top. It is so entertaining to walk along the hill, there will be so many street performers, iconic art and beautiful buildings. Sacre-Coeur offer one of the best views in Paris and it feels pleasant to sit on the steps and enjoy the moment from the top of the hill. There might be many tourist traps but try a restaurant that do not have a server standing out. This is also home to the famous cabaret – Moulin Rogue.

A beautiful neighborhood of Paris – Montmartre
  • Worth                     :  ♥♥♥♥♥
  • Time spent            :  3 hours
  • Best time to visit :  All day. Try to spend as long as you are tired of walking.

Eiffel Tower

Lets be real. Eiffel Tower cannot be missed while visiting Paris and I had to believe myself, it is totally worth the hype. Standing next to it is absolutely wonderful. The surrounding gardens are added beauty and to sit there or most probably sleep to enjoy the view is definitely one of the moments to remember for life. There would be lines at all times, so be prepared for the wait. It is highly recommended to climb stairs until second floor, it is definitely not that hard with few stops and is worth for the views. Elevator lines cannot be avoided from second floor to Summit. View from the top had to be experienced. It is an incredible feeling to stand on the Tower, hard to miss and sure, it could be just one time thing. View from the Summit is thrilling and one would absolutely love it. But if you are acrophobic, even while going up the elevator might cause discomfort; otherwise it is a lifetime experience. There are some restaurants and shops on second floor as well. If you loved it so much and willing to stay, there is even secret apartment waiting for you.

There would be so many things to spot from Eiffel Tower – Louvre, Sacre-Coeur, Notre Dame Cathedral. But there is one thing which is so close yet hiding. About 15 min walk along Seine river is Pont de Grenelle where Statue of Liberty Paris is situated. Yup, there is one in Paris too.

  • Worth                     :  ♥♥♥♥
  • Time spent            :  3 hours
  • Best time to visit : First thing in the morning to avoid long lines.

There is always a happy ending, isn’t it? And nothing could be more perfect than Au P’tit Grec. It serves some of the best crepes in town, the savory ones being most delicious. Of course, there would be long lines and make sure to carry cash to feast the heavenly crepes. Now I would say, I had the best trip of lifetime.


Lets make it easier, shall we? Here are all the places worth-saving. Click the map below and add places to your google maps. Then download an offline map and roam around —– like a local. Check notes on each place, read my review or thousand others and then decide. How about that?  😃

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How did we do? Comment your thoughts and share to the travel buddies. Have a great trip to Paris!

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