Planning a trip to the Paris can be overwhelming. There is so much information to glean and with 7 days in Paris, we barely even scratched the surface of what the City of Lights has to offer. As a city with ancient origins dating back over 2,000 years, there is no shortage of experiences to discover. Here are a few highlights from our Parisian adventure.
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
The Notre Dame, located on the Ile de la Cite in the Seine River, is widely considered the most stunning gothic cathedral in the world. Construction on the famed cathedral started in the 12th century and it was completed in the 14th century, integrating colorful stained glass, magnificent sculptures, and flying buttresses reaching toward the sky. After a period of neglect, the popular novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame, written by Victor Hugo, helped save the cathedral from destruction.
Strolling the Seine
An essential part of experiencing Paris is to stroll the banks of the Seine. As the central artery of Paris, the Seine is a world heritage site and passes many of the main treasures of the French capital. For centuries Parisian artists such as poets, painters, architects, and philosophers have used the ancient river for inspiration. Over recent years, love-struck sweethearts began affixing padlocks onto the Pont Des Arts to symbolize their eternal love.
Iconic Eiffel Tower
Some find the Eiffel Tower beautiful, and some find it ugly. Regardless, it’s amazing how insignificant you feel beneath it. At 1,063 feet, the giant iconic structure was once the tallest building in the world and has become a symbol of Paris. The tower was erected in 1889 by Gustave Eiffel to serve as the entrance to the World’s Fair and scheduled for demolition in 1909. It’s now impossible to imagine Paris without it. (Tip: If you don’t mind jostling the packed crowds of tourists, take a Seine river cruise to get a picturesque view of the iconic landmark and the left bank it sits upon.)
Arc de Triomphe
This impressive monumental landmark was commissioned by Napolean Bonaparte to commemorate his army’s victory in the Battle of Austerlitz. The arch pillars are adorned with sculptural battle reliefs, engravings of military leaders, and French victories. Since 1920, the tomb of France’s Unknown Soldier lies underneath the arch. Some of the best views aren’t just from the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame. The Arc de Triomphe’s boosts an observation deck that offers sweeping views of the city and the Champs-Élysées.
As we all know, Paris is known to have of the most diverse selections of museums in the world. Unfortunately, they are also some of the most crowded. With a staggering list of 150 museums, it clearly isn’t possible to see everything. In order to save time and money, we purchased the Paris Museum Pass. Not only does it cover the admission to the most popular museums at a discount, but allows you to skip the long entrance lines at many of these attractions.
Les Invalides | Tomb of Napoleon I
Jardin des Tuileries
Lounging on a green deckchair in Jardin des Tuileries is a Parisian spring essential. Walking distance from the Louvre, the Tuileries is a perfect park for relaxing. It’s relatively small, just over 60 acres, but it features two large basins, several fountains, numerous sculptures, and houses two museums (the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume and the Musée de l’Orangerie).
The elegant Sacré-Cœur is perched atop Montmartre Butte — the highest point in the city of Paris. The basilica is built with travertine, a stone rich in the mineral calcite, which keeps the facade white. (Tip: Beware of pickpockets — you’re likely to be solicited by men who want to tie a bracelet to your wrist and expect money in return.) Montmartre is known for its charming, yet quirky, neighborhoods rich in history. Wander the narrow alleys around the basilica and enjoy the cafés, galleries, and markets.
The neo-classical Panthéon is located in the Latin Quarter at the heart of the left bank. It was originally built as a church, replacing the ruined abbey of Sainte Geneviève, but now houses the remains of distinguished Frenchmen. The interior of the Panthéon includes an enormous basilica-like space on the ground level, with high domes and paintings on the ornate walls. In the crypt, you’ll find more than 70 tombs, which vary in appearance from simple funeral stones to sculpted works.
Jardin du Luxembourg
The Jardin du Luxembourg is the largest park in Paris and is a favorite place for Parisians to sit back, relax, and watch children sail boats across the Grand Basin. There are nearly 100 statues in Luxembourg gardens including a statue of Saint-Genevieve (the patron saint of Paris) along with a small bronze model of the Statue of Liberty.
Le Marais is the closest you will find to medieval Paris. It has more pre-revolutionary buildings and labyrinthes of small streets preserved than any other area in Paris. The bustling Marais district area has mercifully few tourists and gave us the opportunity to experience an authentic Parisian lifestyle with our apartment rental near the Place de la République. (Tip: Consider renting an apartment. It’s very cost-effective, have the comforts of home, option to prepare meals, clean your clothes, and can immerse yourself in the culture by living among locals.)
Our Metro Station | Place de la République
A short distance away is the Square du Temple; the former location of a 13th century medieval fortress built by the Knights Templar. It was later used to imprison the royal family during the French Revolution and was demolished in the mid 19th century.
The historical Place des Vosges is Paris’ oldest square and commissioned in 1605 by Henri IV, but inaugurated in 1612 for the wedding of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria. The elegant square is flanked with 36 red brick symmetrical houses with arcaded ground floors, and steep slate roofs.
Have you visited Paris? What was your favorite experience? We love to connect with others, so feel free to leave us a comment!