Monday, September 17, 2012

how to be a typical tourist | sightseeing in Paris

Last Paris folks, I promise! Some of you may be disappointed and others may be relieved... either way, we'll be back to normal tomorrow. I'll end with all the things you have to do if you go to Paris. Everyone will ask if you saw La Jocande and you don't want to have to say you didn't, do you? I didn't think so. So here's what to do and where to go, according to me - 

arts and culture:
Louvre - I'm ashamed to say it, but we zipped around the Louvre like lightning to see Mona and Venus with a pit stop at Winged Victory of Samothrace (the one I actually really wanted to see), and then spent the rest of our time in the area at the Tuileries garden watching the fountains and eating pistachio gelato
Musée d'Orsay - impressionism at its finest. Go if you love Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Cezanne, Van Gogh, etc. My favorite, along with... 
Musée de l'Orangerie - you'll feel like you're inside Monet's famous gardens. I could have spent all morning staring at the waterlilies. 
Centre Pompidou - Modern art, some to look at and some to experience, plus a fun children's section.
Palais Garnier - all I could think of was Victor Hugo's The Phantom of the Opera. The gilded halls, intricate wooden floors, and lush velvet curtains of the opera house were a sight to see for sure.

monuments and sights:
Arc de Triomphe - absolutely humongous, and it was fun to watch the traffic zooming around the circle
Eiffel Tower - of course! Go at night to see the tower twinkle.
Montparnasse Tower - ascend to the 56th floor for incredible views, and then walk up the remaining three flights to the rooftop. Better views here than from the Eiffel Tower because you can see the Eiffel Tower and not the Montparnasse Tower!
Place de la Concorde & Obelisk of Luxor - the light at the end of the Champs-Élysées

churches and history:
Notre Dame - so crowded but worth it to see the amazing stained glass windows
The Pantheon - see where Rousseau, Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, and Marie Curie are entombed. 
Père-Lachaise - the final resting place of many famous Parisians (or at least temporary Paris residents), like Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, and Gertrude Stein. If you're not into any of them, the cemetery is still a beautiful place unlike any I've seen in the United States. 
Chateau de Versailles - not in Paris but close enough. I would have been happy just visiting Marie-Antoinette's estate, but we didn't know what to expect and saw it all because we didn't want to miss anything. We were mostly hot, tired, hungry, and grumpy because the grounds are so extensive and we walked everywhere. Plan accordingly.

Luxembourg - This was news to me in the months leading up to our trip, but in Paris you can't walk on the grass in many public gardens. We walked from one end to the other until we found a place to rest and promptly bought a crepe and sat down. Then just take it all in...
Tuileries - pretty fountains, a little carousel that Ezra loved, and a cart selling gelato = my kind of garden

That's all for my guide to Paris! I'd love to know if you visit (or have visited!) any of the places I've mentioned. And if you head to Paris any time soon, have a macaron for me!


  1. Yes, we were there in the spring and it was nice to see some of the same sites that you mentioned and loved the pictures!

  2. This makes me miss Paris, looks like you had a wonderful time!


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