France: Highlights of Paris!
January 1, 1970
by Lani Loves To Travel
Making memories with mom in Paris
Since I can remember my mom has talked of Paris. She has always dreamt of walking through the cobblestone streets, sipping a hot chocolate at a street café while people-watching, experiencing the French culture, seeing the Eiffel Tower and of course, the Mona Lisa… By the beginning of 2016, I think she may have given up on her Parisian dream, realizing that she may never eat a real French croissant and only see Paris in the movies.
Me, on the other hand… I have been to Paris twice, and enjoyed both trips tremendously! I think that her talk of Paris has always fascinated and inspired me, and it became my dream too! Every time I went, mom was happy that I had the opportunity to go, but I know that deep down, she wished she could have climbed into my suitcase and gone along…
The gift of Paris
In March this year, my husband suggested that as a birthday present, I ask mom to go to Paris with me…! (Best husband ever, I know!) On her birthday, we took her to a restaurant for lunch, and once we sat down, I ordered a single croissant. When it arrived, she was a bit confused, as she thought that we would be having lunch, and now the solitary croissant… I then told her, I think that this one will not be nearly as good as the real thing and that we should go taste a real croissant in Paris, just to be sure… Mom was completely overwhelmed! Once the initial shock wore off, she could not contain her excitement.
We decided that the best time to go was June, and started making travel arrangements right away. This gave us enough time to arrange for airplane tickets, Schengen visas, accommodation etc. I knew that I needed to get started on the itinerary as soon as possible, as this would not be a typical trip…
How often do you get the opportunity to take your mom to Paris?! A city that holds a special place in my heart, and one that she has dreamt about forever! I decided that I was going to make this trip extra-special and include all the highlights of Paris, packed into just 7 days.
I started off by Googling the highlights of Paris, and goodness, when you start you realize there are hundreds of highlights. Each article or blog post I came across had its own “must see” attractions… For me, there were a number of attractions that stood out from the rest…
I compiled a list of places that were of interest to us, pictures we just had to take and things that you simply must do while you are in Paris. I truly hoped that this was a realistic list for the 7 days we had in Paris, I did not want mom to miss out on anything!
I am sharing my list of ultimate highlights of our trip below. [I will go into more detail about each in posts to follow.] For us, these were the things that we just HAD to do while we were in Paris, but by no means are these the only things to see and do, the list is literally endless!
My Paris must-see-and-do list:
♥ Book a dinner at the Eiffel Tower. Rather pricey, but an experience you will treasure always! The 58 Tour Eiffel Restaurant on the first floor, is a great choice, and easier on the pocket. Do dress up for the occasion.
♥ Go up the Eiffel Tower. If you decide not to have dinner at the Eiffel Tower, you at least have to go up the Eiffel Tower to admire the views. Book tickets on the official Eiffel Tower site before your trip, to save you LOTS of waiting-in-line time.
♥ Watch a show at the Moulin Rouge. Many posts/articles I have read said watching a show at the Moulin Rouge is a bit of a cliche, a very touristy thing to do, which it is…“They” also say that it’s not worth it, considering the price tag, but here I have to disagree. The setting inside the theater, the dancers, the dance moves, the costumes, the elaborate sets that are changed so swiftly… it all comes together to create a magical experience that is hard to beat!
♥ Spend a day at Versailles. There is so much to see and take in, that you simply cannot do it in less than a day. Marie-Antoinette’s Village, which is located at the far end of the estate, is enchanting and not to be missed!
♥ A leisurely day spent wandering through the streets and shops of Montmartre.
♥ A visit to the Sacre Coeur. Join the crowd of tourists on the steps out front to enjoy the view of Paris. Go inside and marvel at the beauty and craftsmanship. Then there is the option to visit the crypt underneath the Sacre Coeur, as well as climb the 300+ steps to the top of the dome. The climb to the top should only be undertaken if you are not claustrophobic and fit enough to climb the steps. The stairway is quite tight and winding with only a few small windows along the way. But once you reach the top, the views are breathtaking! TIP: count the steps as you go, that way you can keep track of how far you still need to go and it becomes a little less daunting!
♥ Get your portrait painted by an artist in the Place de Tertre. A lovely keepsake to remind you of your trip to Paris.
♥ See the magnificent Arc de Triomphe, and take many pictures while you’re there. There are stairs to the top, for those wanting a great view of the Champs-Élysées and surrounds.
♥ Take a tour of the Paris Opera House, Palais Garnier. Discover where the story of the Phantom of the Opera was born. The opulence of the interior, designed during the Belle Époque era, is something to see.
♥ Make a stop at the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann. Marvel at the architectural design and magnificence of this building, shopping optional. I found the Children’s Toy Department to be truly impressive, though a tad overwhelming with all the choices!
♥ Make time for a stroll through a Parisian Market. Marche Bastille is a personal favorite, open on Thursdays and Sundays. Here you can shop for scarves, bohemian clothing, food, a variety of odds and ends. This seems to be the go-to market for many Parisians on a Sunday, to buy their weekly supply of fresh fruit, veggies, fish, meat and cheese. Have a crêpe and coffee while you enjoy the Parisian street life.
♥ A day spent at the Louvre (you need a day, any less and you have to rush through it all!). Truly amazing, this is one museum that you cannot leave off your list. You do not need to be a fine art critic, or even an art lover, to appreciate the Louvre. The vast differences in architecture from section to section had me in awe, snapping pictures all the way through, in order to fully relive the experience at a later stage.
♥ Walk through the Jardin des Tuileries on your way to Angelina’s (on rue de Rivoli) for a cup of their world famous African Hot Chocolate. Once you enter the salon, the look and feel will transport you back in time to the era of the Belle Époque. You almost expect to find Coco Chanel sitting at the table next to you drinking a cup of tea.
♥ Take photos of the Luxor Obelisk, the fountains: Fontaine des Mers and Fontaine des Fleuves, with the Eiffel Tower in the background at Place de la Concorde, one of the major public squares in Paris.
♥ Notre Dame, what an experience! The amazing stained glass windows that each tell their own story, the domes and pillars and arches, the centuries-old artifacts, the whispered conversations all come together to create a peaceful , almost surreal atmosphere which is better experienced than can be described… You can easily spend 2 hours here, to try and take it all in. Don’t be put off by the length of the line to go into the cathedral, it moves rather quickly. Unfortunately the line to go up to the towers is even longer, this one moves MUCH slower and there are only stairs to the top, no lifts!
♥ Wander around the trendy Marais area, have a drink at a street cafe, if you have time take a walking tour.
♥ Take in a boat cruise on the Seine. There are many tour operators offering boat cruises. See the city from a different angle, the evening cruise promises a magical view of the City of Lights.
♥ Sit at an outside table at a street café, chair facing towards the road, and people-watch like a true Parisian. Do this at least once a day to truly immerse yourself in the Parisian culture.
Enjoyed the list? What are your top Parisian attractions? I would love to hear about them, leave me a comment below!
Lots of travel love,