Top 6 Places to Visit in Paris [Paris Travel Guide Pt. 1]
I asked myself “what is your favorite city in the world?” It was quite a process trying to narrow down all the choices, but I ended up with Tokyo and Paris: Tokyo because it’s my favorite travel destination since childhood, and Paris because it has that certain "je ne sais quoi." I’ve had the luxury to visit Paris 5 times in my life so far, and I love it every single time. So I’m dedicating a new series of my blog to Paris, enjoy Part 1 of the Paris Travel Guide! And if you want to be up to date on the series, make sure to join my Facebook group!
In this simple travel guide, I will take you to 6 of my favorite places in Paris. People usually refer to these as “tourist attractions,” a term that has a negative connotation nowadays. I would prefer to call them “must-see landmarks” since these places have such historical, architectural, and symbolic significance to the city. Let’s get started!
It can’t be a surprise that this one is on my list. As cliché as this may sound, my heart skips a beat every time I get a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. It is the most iconic monument of Paris, and no matter how many times you’ve seen it in movies or pictures, you’ll still be charmed when you see it in person.
The tower is beautiful during the day and at night. It really embodies the “City of Romance” reference when people mention Paris.
TIP: If you want to get the best view and photos of the Eiffel Tower, go to the Place du Trocadero. The elevated platform gives you a superb view of the tower. After you’re happy with the hundreds of pictures you’ve taken, walk down the stairs and through the garden towards the Eiffel Tower.
Another scenic spot for a view of the Eiffel Tower is the Champs de Mars. Great for a stroll and a picnic as well!
Palais Garnier - Opera National de Paris
This time in Paris, I decided to book a hotel next to the Opera metro station, since it has easy access to several metro lines as well as the airport shuttle bus.
What I didn’t expect is that I would be staying so close to one of the most beautiful landmarks of Paris – Palais Garnier. During the day, when there are no performances, you can visit by purchasing a ticket. Many important scenes from "The Phantom of the Opera" are based at the Palais Garnier!
Comparing to the Louvre or other attractions, Palais Garnier is a lot smaller in size. You can finish walking the building in less than two hours. But the splendor of the place would still blow your mind away.
There were no opera or ballet performances staged during our visit, so, unfortunately, we weren’t able to catch a show at the Palais Garnier. For my next visit, I’ll make sure to get a seat at the horseshoe-shaped auditorium, perfectly designed for the audience to see and to be seen. All the marble, velvet, gilding, and crystal……I want to be immersed in that scene.
The ceiling is painted by Marc Chagall, a genius artist whose art is influenced deeply by his involvement in theater. I attended a Chagall exhibition in Montreal, read about it here!
Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe, standing tall in the middle of the Place Charles de Gaulle, is beautiful in construction as well as in its patriotic nature. The arc remembers the soldiers who have lost their lives in the Napoleon Wars.
From an aerial view of the city, you’ll be able to see the 12 paths that lead into the Arc de Triomphe. One of the many streets is the famous Avenue des Champs-Elysees, which I will write more about in my future post on shopping in Paris.
Chateau de Versailles
(Palace of Versailles)
I’ve seen many, many palaces around the world, and they are all charming and flamboyant in their own ways. But if I were a royalty moving to a new residence, I would move into the Versailles, like right now.
The Versailles is both a palace as it is a museum. All the rooms that the royalties lived in seem so lively and real that you could imagine the scenes as you make your way through the palace. The artworks that hung in the rooms depict 5 centuries of French history in the most glorious form.
And if you’re obsessed with Marie Antoinette (like me), make sure you visit the Petit Trianon in addition to the main palace. The Petit Trianon is Marie Antoinette’s secret hideout. It’s not as glamorous as the main palace, but it’s got its own rustic charm.
TIP: The Chateau is located in the city of Versailles, yep, its own city. What that means is that it’s a short train ride away from Paris. Train, not metro! If you take the RER, it’s relatively quick from Paris city center, but do plan an entire day at the Versailles since it’s huge.
If you’re a planning freak (like I am), you can look through the different areas of the Chateau beforehand to decide on which ones you want to visit. Chances are you won’t be able to visit them all! The Queen’s House at the Hamlet is closed for restoration until 2018, which makes me sad since it’s one of my favorite part of Versailles! I guess I’ll just have to go back to Paris again soon…
TIP #2: Make sure to get an audio guide when you’re visiting. It makes a huge difference. You’ll be able to get a more holistic experience that way, and it makes the visit a lot more educational and not just Instagram-worthy.
Cathedrale Notre Dame
(Notre Dame Cathedral)
You don’t need to be an architecture enthusiast to know that Notre Dame Cathedral is a masterpiece of Gothic art. The novel and movie The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is based here.
The level of details on the exterior and interior of the cathedral is stunning. No wonder it took 200 years to construct. It’s really easy for tourists to come here, take 10 minutes to walk the cathedral, and leave. But I’ll really suggest taking the time to admire all the statues and artworks and appreciate the monument.
Jardin Du Luxembourg
Tranquil and elegant, the Luxembourg Garden is a perfect place to take a stroll, look at ducks on the ponds, and sunbathe in the middle of Paris. And since it’s Paris, you know the Garden wouldn’t be completed without countless statues and flowers.
The Luxembourg Gardens is actually the garden of the Luxembourg Palace, where the French Senate is housed. The garden blends French and English designs. Visiting Luxembourg Gardens is my way to “detox” after two days of shopping.
- I went on this trip to Paris at the end of last year, so it was pretty cold. Colder than I expected actually. Since the leather jackets I brought were too cold to be worn, I had to wear my one and only coat for the entire time in Paris. Kind of a bummer! Make sure to bring at least one extra coat if you’re travelling in the winter.
- Scarf is a very necessary item, for warmth and for accessorizing
- Every time I’m in Paris, I always walk for more than 10K steps a day, so comfortable shoes is important. I really like to pair skirts and dresses with sneakers, so my feet are comfortable but my entire look is still somewhat dressed up
Chateau de Versailles