To be honest, I don’t fall too much for big cities. But when Paris came along, I did. Apart from its original nickname – The City of Lights, Paris is also considered to be The City of Love. Fulfilling my expectations, Paris created emotion and an atmosphere, which can be simply described as – love.
If you think Paris is only for couples, you are fooling yourself. The French capital offers plenty of activities day and night for everyone. It had the perfect blend of well-dressed people, artists and modern architecture making it an inspiring city to live in, whether as a tourist or a born-Parisian. In Paris, I felt the cultural bundle at its best. This lovely city has broaden my views towards the traditional but also modern culture.
My journey in Paris lasted 5 days and hopefully you’ll get an idea of what you can see on my itinerary. Even though it wasn’t enough time, I got a taste of the ‘world’s capital’ through daytime walks, having ice creams near river Seine and nighttime pub crawls, as I enjoyed every experience as a native Parisian.
- Day 1 – Airport transfer, Eiffel Tower and Trocadero Garden.
- Day 2 – Champs-Elysees, Arc De Triomphe, Paris food and drinks.
- Day 3 – Monmartre, Basilica de Sacre Coeur, and Paris Bars.
- Day 4 – Pont de l’Archeveche, Pont de Alexander, Gothic Notre Dame, and Luxembourg Garden.
- Day 5 – Louvre Museum and Louvre Pyramid.
Airport Transfer from Paris Airports
On day one, I landed in Beauvais, which is an airport located approximately 90 kilometers from the center of Paris. It is a small and not too crowded airport, mainly used for low-budget flights.
The trip to Paris lasted about an hour. The ticket from Beauvais was around $22 one-way, which means you have to spend more than $40 if you’re doing a round trip from this airport. Obviously, the shuttle bus service included a trip to Porte Maillot – which is Paris’ central station.
|Paris Airport Transfers
Pre-book your airport transfer and get a convenient shuttle or private car directly to your hotel. Whether you’re coming from Charles de Gaulle Airport, Orly Airport or Beauvais-Tillé Airport, there’ll be reasonably priced transfers available.
Porte Maillot and Metro Stations
Porte Maillot is a station based a few minutes away from the city center. It is safe to walk to the Eiffel tower from there, but I always prefer the metro ride. The thing that fascinated me is that it links to every single area around Paris, crafting a perfect network of transportation throughout the city.
From Porte Maillot, I got on to the blue line of metro which led to my apartment street. I was situated around 3 km from the Eiffel Tower. And although 3 kilometers was nothing for me as a traveler, my luggage was so heavy that I couldn’t even pick it up the stairs.
But Paris saved me here. There were no stairs in the metro station. With exceptions in some of the stations I visited, most of the city stops were equipped with escalators making your trip to the bottom metro lines effortless. Being perfectly organized with colored metro lines, it was easy for me to ask staff members which line should I take. Arriving at the right station was easy due to the clear illustrated maps provided by the staff.
Tip: I had memorized the neighborhood from Google Street View. By using their street view functionality, you can see the buildings, shops, restaurants and other facilities surrounding it. This always makes it easier for you to find the door to knock on without any hassles.
The time between unlocking my apartment door and leaving it was less than thirty minutes. Although I was exhausted because of the 8 hours spent in traveling, I was ready to explore this romantic city.
Paris was magnificent on day one with the sunny warm weather in early autumn. I ditched the metro and decided to walk to the center and master the way on foot. Discovering new streets, doing window shopping and measuring the fancy Parisians from head to toe were my activities up to the first stop – the Eiffel Tower.
I must admit, I never fell for the Eiffel Tower. For me, it was a big piece of metal that was overrated by every single tourist. Well, I was wrong about this.
My way led up all to Trocadero, which is a mini square with a perfect view on the Eiffel Tower. I stood up for a while and just enjoyed the view, appreciating this iconic global attraction. When sitting back home I reunited my thoughts with the traditional French people that didn’t like this monument of steel. But standing in front of it was a totally different experience. From here, I continued exploring the Trocadero Garden (Jardins du Trocadero).
This garden was marvelous, especially in spring and summer. With the green grass and the blossoming flowers, it was an attraction located on the way to the Eiffel Tower creating a perfect harmony that blocked out the noisy traffic. The splashy fountains in the middle of the garden also added to the sound of nature and tourists. A lot of tourists.
While I was walking towards the Eiffel Tower, I noticed over 20 cameras around me as though I was a leading character in a movie. Of course, they were not directed to me but to the Eiffel Tower, which was gradually growing taller as I approached it. Crossing the river of Seine was the next couple of meters in front of the Eiffel Tower. When I finally arrived, I felt like an ant, walking in line with the other ants in a colony, a tourist colony.
Getting some rest on a French bench was my next stop. There was nothing better than just admiring the Eiffel Tower on a sunny day in Paris with a caramel macchiato in your hand. After the sun went down, I headed back to my apartment, tired but also inspired of the great first day I had.
I loved waking up in the morning in Paris! Every single café bar, single stop-shop, and restaurant with tables out was close to full. Even though it was a working day, there were so many people walking around in Paris. Having a coffee near my hotel was also a great experience and led me to the thoughts of how easy life can be in Paris. Well, at least how I imagined it.
The schedule for day 2 involved seeing as much amenities, monuments and facilities as possible. Getting off the metro station at Trocadero again, a day in Paris will always include a sight of the Eiffel Tower. From here, I planned a visit to Champs-Elysees.
The Champs-Elysees is a perfectly organized and (very) wide street created for shopping, exploring and enjoyment. With numerous restaurants, bars and luxurious shops, it gives the modern appeal of Paris as I imagined it. A mix of fancy dressed locals and tourists window shopping added to the festive atmosphere. Two sided and with a great deal of facilities, Champs-Elysees had a lot to offer. From McDonalds to Renault and Louis Vuitton, this area was definitely designed to suit everyone’s needs.
Arc De Triomphe
Champs-Elysees lead to the Arc De Triomphe, one of the most valuable monuments in Paris, built by the most famous French Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. It was established as an honor to his Grande Armee, or in translation, the name of the French Army at that time. The Arc De Triomphe was definitely another highlight of my trip.
Paris Food and Drinks
My afternoon walk on Champs Elysees though, lasted longer. It included some shopping, traditional wine tasting with some very nice French snacks as well as taste testing various food from authentic French restaurants.
Blending in with the rushing atmosphere of French cars in the middle of the streets and numerous tourists wanting to catch the perfect shot of the mega-popular Champs-Elysees walk scene, I felt calm and powerful. It was almost like tasting wine next to the Emperor, his majesty – Napoleon Bonaparte. I felt like royalty!
|Paris Secret Food Tour: Taste of Montmartre
Make sure you arrive with an empty stomach, as your guide takes your around Paris sampling cheese, chocolate, crepes, French breads and fine wine on this secret 3 hour food tour.
|Paris Food Walking Tour: Gourmet French Food
Walk through the street of local Paris neighbourhoods with your guide and sample cheese, breads and wine as you learn about the processes involved in creating delicious French food
Ending the night early, inspired by the beauty of Paris, I went back to the hotel. Looking forward to the next day, I prepared my map for Day 3 – reserved for the Basilica Sacre Coeur – Monmartre.
Day 3 began early for me. I caught the metro (it was always the fastest option) and arrived in a old-fashioned neighborhood called Montmartre near the Basilica Sacre Coeur in less than 10 minutes. It only cost 2 euros but a cheaper option is to buy a 10-pass ticket.
Montmartre is an idyllic neighborhood with small buildings and cobbled streets. Although the pavements were tiny, there were rarely cars passing by. I’ve heard about Montmartre before as it was the ideal place for artists, musicians and ultimate nomads finding their inspiration to write, sing or sketch.
Walking through the streets of Montmartre felt like releasing the inner artist in me. The numerous street artists including sketch masters, illustrators and musicians created an atmosphere of pure art and careless emotion. I felt ultimate harmony, leaving all the worries behind.
Basilica de Sacre Coeur
The church (Basilica de Sacre Coeur in French) was huge. Located at nearly 200 steps up, it is placed above the ground level, making another perfect view on the center of Paris. Walking the steps to the top was not a problem as I was distracted by the greenery, fountains and landscaping.
The entrance to the Basilica was big and very well organized. With hundreds of tourists quietly exploring, the culture of this place and how it has been established over time was a surprising aspect. The view from above was marvelous and maybe best when it’s dawn or sunset. Catching the sun going down the horizon when in Paris, was a majestic experience.
After a day well spent, it was time to relax. The night was reserved for a bar I noticed on Champs-Elysees. It was the “Au Bureau”, one of the more popular French franchises, which was why I decided to have a drink here to experience another aspect of French culture.
Drinking beer and having the classic French fries in the heart of Paris again gave me goose bumps. And inside, the atmosphere was sporty. Apparently, it was the main rivals in football playing against each other. PSG (Paris Saint Germain) was playing against Marseille.
The well-dressed Parisians were watching the game in suits instead of sports jerseys, smoking their cigars outside and entering back to see the rest of the game. It was probably their after-work activity. That was when I realized how fancy this town was.
|Paris Pub Crawl
If you’re looking for a different and authentic Paris pub experience, join this tour to get your money’s worth. The tour will include 4 free shots, entry to clubs and further discounted drinks. Be ready to meet other friendly travelers as you stop at pubs such as On the Road Pub, Edward and sons, Bistro Cockney, Café OZ and O’Sulivan’s.
Pont de l’Archeveche
The fourth day in Paris was reserved for many activities, including several bridges on the checklist. After spending the morning (again!) in front of the Eiffel Tower with a ‘noissette’ followed by a nice French ice-cream, I walked along the coast of river Seine crossing many bridges from side to side. I must admit, I was in a quest for the famous “Love Lock” (Pont de l’Archeveche) where happy couples lock their padlocks to a bridge.
Pont de Alexander
After successfully binding a lock with my sweetheart, we carried along the coast to see another bridge, different and bigger than any other! It was the Pont de Alexander, one of the most remarkable bridges in Europe. Filled with statues made from very elegant material, this bridge gave the image of class and royalty.
While walking and taking pictures, I noticed a beautiful wedding! It was the perfect location for this event and certainly something to consider for those dreaming about the ultimate marriage.
Gothic Notre Dame
Continuing our journey, I decided to briefly stop by the Gothic Notre Dame – one of the oldest cathedrals in the world. Built in 1163, It was all about the history in Europe – ancient buildings, streets, monuments.
From here, I moved onto one of the most remarkable gardens in the world, the Luxembourg Garden (Jardin du Luxembourg), which was located near the Notre Dame and not too far from the Eiffel Tower. The good thing with the famous tower was that you can see it from anywhere and it helped me with directions.
The Luxembourg Garden created a fascinating, colorful and calming mood. Tasting one of the French pastry masterpieces, the Parisian ‘macarons’, added to the whole experience. If you’ve had macaroons before, believe me, they will never taste as good as the one’s bought from a Parisian pastry shop.
|Small-Group Luxembourg Gardens Walking Tour in Paris
Join this 2 hour walking tour and learn about the history of Luxembourg Gardens. A professional guide will share the details of how the 23 hectare garden helped shape Paris today.
While buying the set of 10 colors, I couldn’t resist the nice smell of pastry and the great design of the shop. One minor fallback was that there were no tables inside to drink a ‘noissette’ and eat your macarons in peace.
Day 4 was surely a busy day. Exhausted from all the walking, I headed back to my apartment.
Louvre Museum and Louvre Pyramid
This was my last day in Paris. However, my flight was in the evening, so I had the chance to to visit the Louvre museum.
I’ve always wanted to see the Mona Lisa painting. Possibly overrated, it is still an astonishing piece of art once experienced in front of you. The Louvre museum gave a great touch of the traditional art, and for the film lovers, it was a reminder of the famous “Angels and Demons” book and movie inspired by the art itself.
The Louvre Museum was well connected with the metro. Having its own station, the metro drops you off just below the famous pyramid, making you see it from below. Surrounded by luxurious shops such as Prada, Louis Vuitton and many more – the station is unlike any other – a blend of modern luxury and traditional French architecture.
Once I arrive at Louvre, the feeling while walking upstairs and magnificent view of surrounding architecture was glorious. Taking a selfie with the Louvre Pyramid was a must for me, resembling the true image of Paris at its best. Surrounded by fountains and a big crowd of tourists, Louvre was surely one of my favorite places in Paris. I deliberately saved the best attraction till my last day in the city
The trip inside the museum was a complete journey. Apart from the famous Mona Lisa painting, there was so much to see from the renaissance and other periods of growth of the French culture. Inspired by the greatness of the artists in that time, I marked Louvre as one of the most enjoyable places I’ve ever been to and decided to visit it again.
Paris was a perfect paradise. I travelled to many cities during the year, seen plenty of attractions and experienced different cultures, but Paris was definitely one of the most organized cities I’ve ever been to.
A minor drawback that Paris had was the pollution, traffic and tourists. For a city so popular though, this issue was expected. Even the native Parisians were used to tourists and never hesitate to help tourists finding their perfect spot. This was a positive aspect of the citizens in Paris. Most locals took price in their culture and seemed to do their best to help me with my questions.
Ending my trip with a dozen souvenirs including an “I love Paris” t-shirt, I couldn’t be more happy. I said to myself – if I have to visit a city I already visited again – then Paris was first on the list. Even though I had a busy itinerary schedule, I still felt like more time was needed to experience Paris. Maybe the secret paths, streets and parks could be left to me for another trip. Another week spent in the City of Lights, City of Love and City of History – the wonderful Paris.