Paris is the city of lights, the city of love, and a breathtaking destination to visit. There’s no way to see all that’s worth seeing in a short amount of time, but there are a few highlights to enjoy.
Notre Dame: Whether you’re Catholic or not, Notre Dame is a necessary stop on your trip to Paris. Even if you only stop to admire the exterior, it’s an indescribable experience. Seeing one of the most famous churches with its fascinating architecture and mesmerizing stain glass windows is an absolutely awe striking experience. If you happen to be Catholic, visiting Notre Dame is that much more inspiring. The building itself seems to hold a sacred power that makes prayer that much more meaningful inside the church. As for timing, the line may be long but it often goes quickly. However, it’s easy to lose hours inside the church if you aren’t paying attention to the time.
While you’re at Notre Dame, don’t forget to step on point zero: the absolute center of Paris. By stepping on that spot, you’re promising a return to the city of lights.
Les Bouquinistes: After leaving Notre Dame, enjoy the quaint bouquinistes alongside the Seine. These are vendor stands that sell anything from tiny Eiffel Towers to hundred year old books. The stands are full of intriguing items. You can spend your afternoon searching through all of the stands or simply browse as you walk by.
La Seine: If it’s at all possible, take a boat tour of Paris. The city is a completely different place along the path of the Seine. Every bridge you’ll pass is absolutely stunning. If you happen to be going with a significant other, be sure to bring a lock. Along the Seine, you’ll find a variety of bridges latched with locks. They say that, by putting a lock on the bridge, you’ll have a lasting relationship.
The art museums: No matter how long you’re in Paris, you have to go to the Louvre. You can lose weeks in the museum, but you can also do the quick tour by seeing the necessities: the pyramid in the lobby, the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and the building itself. Besides the Louvre, there’s the Musée d’Orsay which houses impressionist artwork such as Monet, Manet, Degas, and other famous impressionists. There’s also the Centre Pompidou which is completely modern art. If you have the opportunity, the art museums are a good way to spend an afternoon.
Les Champs Élysées: There is so much to explore on the famous street. First, you have to see l’Arc de Triomphe and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Once you’ve covered the basics, this is where you should do your shopping. You’ll find every high class fashion store you can imagine including Louis Vuitton. Even if fashion isn’t your thing, Louis Vuitton is an interesting store that can only be explained through experience.
The food: If you’ve never experienced French food before, there are a few ordinary things that you have to try at some point. There’s the Croque Monsieur or the Croque Madame, both of which are basically glorified ham and cheese sandwiches. Of course, there are the crepes. And then there are the deserts; try any and all of the deserts you can. Finally, if you have the opportunity, go to a café and order an espresso. Take a break and watch the world of Paris flutter by. Honestly, this is the best way you can get acquainted with the foreign city.
The Eiffel Tower: No matter where you go in the city, this structure will be towering over you. It’s surreal and beautiful and the biggest reminder that you’re in Paris. If you’re in Paris at night, seeing the tower lit up will stun you. That’s not even the best part, every hour, on the hour, for five minutes the lights sparkle. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re in the presence of the towering beauty, you will be at an absolute loss for words.
Overall, Paris is too big to be completely comprehended in a short time, but it’s far from impossible to fall in love with the city after more than a few seconds on its magical streets. To enjoy the time you have in the city, don’t plan every second; take some time to get lost and acquainted with the city. There is so much to do and see, but the best part about Paris is being in the presence of such an inspiring city where so many great humans were before.