9 TOP PLACES YOU SHOULDN´T MISS WHILE VISITING PARIS
1- St Chapelle
This small chapel located in the heart of “Ile de la Cité” is a jewel you do not want to miss. King Louis the Saint, also known as St. Louis, ordered its building in 1248 to keep a collection of Passion relics, such as Christ’s Crown of Thorns, one of the most important relics in medieval Christendom. The chapel has two levels: the lower floor designated for the kingÂ´s servants to attend religious services, while the upper one was assigned for the king´s exclusive use and he had an individual entrance from the “La Conciergerie“.
The superior level is fully decorated with glass-stained windows or “vitraux” that gleam amazingly with the sunlight. The “vitraux” represent important scenes from the Old and New Testament.
If you are a fan of classic music be aware that you can attend a concert in the upper level. I went there twice and just loved the experience, mostly because of the intimate intimacy. People are sit close to the musicians and the acoustic is excellent. Tickets are not cheap and depend on how close you are to the front row. Anyway, is an experience I fully recommend!
2- Notre Dame Cathedral
The Cathedral is Paris´ most beautiful Lady. It´s a medieval church and is located on the “Ile de la Cité“. If you´re on a budget, you can just visit the interior and enjoy the gothic architecture. The entrance is free but you cannot go inside with backpacks or other luggage. Notre Dame is open daily from 7.45 am to 18.45 pm.
But there is more to see! If you have some extra time and money, go to the line on the left of the cathedral (usually is a very long line, so be patient! I waited for 1 ½ hour, so be prepared) and climb up more than 400 marble steps to enjoy one of the most amazing view of Paris from above! You will get to the towers exhausted but very happy. Although the stay is short (visits are only allowed for about 10 minutes because tons of people want to visit it) you will be able to a look at the famous “Gargoyles“ from a very short distance. If you still want more, you can visit the crypt and also the Treasury.
Gargoyles are monsters half human, half animal that decorate the main walls of Notre Dame. You can watch them this close when you go up to the towers!
For further info: http://www.notredamedeparis.fr/es/visites/
3- Leave your love padlocks on Pont des Arts or on Pont de l´Archeveche
Many couples like to leave their padlocks as a loving gesture. In our last visit to Paris we hung ours on Pont de l “Archeveche” behind Notre Dame´s Cathedral. We got there prepared, with our padlocks bought in Buenos Aires -I wasn´t going to miss that moment by having nothing to put- so on a sunny afternoon we headed the Pont and made it our very special moment. I must confess it turned out to be more romantic than I expected.
Tip: take a picture of the place where you put your padlock as there are millions of them, and the next day it might be difficult to find them again (both Ponts are packed with them, placing a huge risk because of the tremendous weight they now have).
4- Opera Garnier
If you are very much into art and music, this is definitively a place to visit. The main auditorium is not open usually and doesn´t say as much as other rooms (unless you´re a huge Chagall´s fan, he painted the ceiling) such as the entrance and those amazing halls with such a stunning decoration you won´t believe your eyes. You can stroll around and take all the pictures you like. Audio-guides are offered at 5 euros in case you are looking for deeper knowledge. And of course, you can always check the calendar and book tickets for opera or ballet!
More info: http://www.notredamedeparis.fr/es/visites/
5- Rue de Mouffetard
This open Street market opens daily except in Sundays afternoons and Mondays. Whether you´re planning to buy fresh fruits or vegs, surprise yourself with the vintage and antique section along this narrow Street. You will find from old watches to collectibles and even fine pottery and glassware. It´s nice to make a change, going outdoors, wandering around and breathing fresh air.
The stands are located in “Contrescarpe Place” and the closest metro station is “Place Monge ou Censier – Daubenton“. Market stalls close at 1pm, what makes mornings the only visiting time.
6- The Louvre Museum
Step into the Louvre to dazzle your eyes with the most famous masterworks from around the world. The museum hosts paintings, sculptures, pottery and plenty of other stuff. Be ready to meet with the “Venus of Milo”, the “Winged Victory of Samothrace” or the “Mona Lisa” masterpieces, as well as “Napoleon´s Coronation” and plenty of Michelangelo´s work, Dutch, French, Spanish and Italian painting.
Tip: make an ahead visit plan: there´s so much to see and it´s such a huge museum! The visit can take many hours, depending on your interests and time. You can also buy your tickets before visiting, saving a lot of time.
Tip 2: The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays. It opens Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday: from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Friday: from 9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.
Tip 3: from October to March, access to the permanent collection is open for free the first Sunday of each month.
7- Tour Eiffel
The Eiffel Tower was built by Gustave Eiffel in 1889 for the “Exposition Universelle” intended to commemorate the 100th year anniversary of the French Revolution. It was a huge success and it´s still is.
Without any doubt, the Eiffel Tower is Paris´ icon. The most amazing thing is that due to its height it can be seen from many places around the city. Suppose you´re having a picnic along the Seine River. Be ready to watch the Tower illuminate during 10 minutes after sunset. It´s quite a show, breathtaking! Also you can go at night to Pont Alexandre III and watch the lights over the river. It´s very beautiful.
There are 2 ways to go to the top: by lift or by stairs: it depends on how long you wanna wait, the lines, your strength, the weather. Consider that on one hand to go up in the elevator it might imply a longer waiting line. But climbing up the stairs takes about 1 and Â½ hours, so itÂ´s up to you which way you choose.
8- Arc d´Triomphe
This monumental Arch was built to honor the people who fought for France during the Napoleonic Wars. It celebrates Napoleon´s victory on the Austerlitz war. Is located in the center of “Place de L´Etoile” (The Star Square) now named “Charles de Gaulle”. It´s a round square where 12 main avenues depart. On the base of the Square you´ll see the Memorial Flame.
Catch the stairs to get to the rooftop and get one of the most striking views of Paris. You can overlook Champs Elysees from above to “La Defense”, the modern side of Paris or the Eiffel Tower. Just take a look at my pics and imagine your visit! I had a great time there!
Tip 1: there´s an underground tunnel that takes you from Champs Elysees Avenue to the Arch. Don´t even think of crossing the avenues, please don´t! it´s very dangerous and walking through the tunnel you´ll get there quicker and safe.
Tip 2: up in the rooftop it´s pretty windy, take a coat to go there, unless is summer!
Tip 3: tickets can be bought ahead, so if you want to save time you know you can book them online
9- Petit Palais
As its name says it´s the little Grand Palais brother, although it doesn´t seem small at all! The architecture of the palace is beautiful and the building hosts a collection of impressionist painting and sculptures. It has a lovely cafe in a gallery with spectacular painted ceilings (please, don´t forget to look up!!) overlooking two ponds with flowers and a quiet atmosphere. The entrance to the permanent collection is free (access to special exhibitions must be paid). I loved it!