Visiting Paris? Keep Calm & Read On!

January 11, 2016,

Visiting Paris? A visit to Paris is on many (if not all) travelers’ bucket lists. The French capital attracts millions of tourists yearly and as a result, a wealth of travel information about Paris already exists. Traveling to the much-visited city can be overwhelming with all the information about where you “must-go”. Paris is also physically larger than most other “big” European cities making public transport or driving necessary in between most major sites.

On my first visit to Paris, I too had a list of things I wanted to see and things I wanted to do. Truthfully, most of my checklist was made up of which pastries I wanted to eat. I managed to eat more than my fair share of pastries and checked them all off from my list! However, I only managed to check off about half of my “must-see/visit” items. But that’s totally okay because as I roamed the city, or found myself in a cool part of town by accident, I was able to add some great stuff to my “have experienced” list. That’s what’s great about traveling (and life). As John Lennon put it, “life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”

I want to share the list of sights to visit and things to do while in Paris – some are a result of my wandering, some are suggestions from friends and family, some from Parisians themselves and some from my research on the world wide web! Some I’ve done but some I haven’t (yet). Please share your own below, so that we may all continue to grow our lists and appreciate the magic of exploring cities slowly.

Adding to your Paris bucket list

Visiting Paris: Ile de la Cite and Ile Saint-Louis / at happiestwhenexploring . comThe islands of Paris
Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis are the two islands in the Seine, at the centre of the city – the former located in the 1st arrondissement and latter in 4th. Both are beautiful, cobblestoned and tree-lined islands offering refuge from the busy city. The smaller of the two, Île Saint-Louis, is lined with quaint shops and boutiques like the candy and chocolate shop, Maison Moinet. The islands are perfect for strolling and shopping for something special to bring home to loved ones. I bought a beautiful vintage candy tin (from the 1930s) at Maison Moinet.

Sainte-Chapelle, Ile de la Cite in Paris // at happiestwhenexploring . com

On Île de la Cité, you can visit the spectacular French gothic church, Sainte-Chapelle (pictured above). The vast stained glass windows covering the upper-level walls are breathtaking – they are truly no words to describe its beauty. In addition to Sainte-Chapelle, Cité also houses the historic Notre-Dame. With its majestic organ and rose window, Notre-Dame is also not to be missed!

Montmartre
Montmartre is the neighbourhood that’ll have you thinking to yourself (or saying aloud), “this is Paris!” Overlooking the city atop the Montmartre hill, the charming neighbourhood used to be home to major artists (and their studios) from the Belle Époque (like van Gogh and Monet). Some say that Montmartre has lost its charm (“overcrowding” or “too many tourists”) but I disagree. I started by window-shopping along the lovely rue des Abbesses and was even more charmed as I ventured further into Montmartre’s small, cobble-stoned streets.

Montmartre Cemetery - Image by Peter RiveraThe cemeteries
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that in Paris, the cemeteries are just as picturesque as the rest of the city. There are over a dozen cemeteries to explore, with Père- Lachaise as the most frequented by tourists. Many important historical figures are buried here, including Chopin and Oscar Wilde. Other notable cemeteries include Montmartre and Saint-Vincent, where you can walk along rows of intricate burial stones decorated with fresh flowers and numerous aging copper statues, tarnishing beautifully. You can visit this website for more information on the cemeteries of Paris.

The catacombs
Maze-like, beneath the city lay the remains of 6 million souls in the catacombs of Paris. From existing cemeteries, the bones were transported to what is now a unique museum beneath the city centre.

The many covered passages of Paris // at happiestwhenexploring . comThe many covered passages
You’ll find them throughout the city – Paris’ covered passages offer shortcuts and shelter from the elements but work more as life-size reminders of art nouveau. The passages are elegant with their glass-ceilings, fancy boutiques and cafés.

And of course, like most classic Paris bucket lists: a walk along the Seine, strolling along les Champs Élysées and watching the Eiffel Tower light up against the night sky. And the best place to see the tower light up? Sources agree: from Champ de Mars or Trocadéro Gardens. A lesser-known way to see the Tower is by taking the subway aerial line 5 – I must credit an ex-colleague of mine, who spent a few years living in Paris. He also recommended a visit to the Institut du Monde Arabe. And let’s not forget, my favourite: eating all the pastries in Paris

What’s on your Paris bucket list? Share below! Visiting Paris? Keep Calm and Read on! at happiestwhenexploring . com (Image of Eiffel Tower by Kimberly Vardeman via Creative Commons)

Cover image by Roman Boed via Creative Commons
Eiffel Tower photo by Kimberly Vandeman via Creative Commons

 

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8 Comments

  • Reply Ilena C. January 11, 2016 at 11:41 pm

    I think the day I will go to Paris I will have to do exactly as you suggest…stay calm! I want to see ALL the museums and eat baguette et fromage along the Seine and have a café au lait et croissant au chocolat while people watching and stay up all night, go to the Moulin Rouge…

    As the song by Josephine Baker says…j’ai deux amours, mon pays et Paris ❣

    • Reply Happiest When Exploring January 12, 2016 at 6:47 pm

      That sounds like a lovely day and evening in Paris! <3

  • Reply Celia January 12, 2016 at 3:47 am

    That Eiffel Tower sparkling at night is the most amazing thing to see in Paris. Although it is a very touristy thing to do, it truly is magical and worth the wait (in the cold & dark time)!! I loved Montmartre, it is so beautiful, and you don’t have to walk were many tourists are. There’s so many little hidden streets and gems that Montmartre has to offer. L’Arc the Triphom is also very spectacular, and those visits the Arc de Triphom must go up the stairs rather than the elevator, truly makes the experience more interesting. Plus the view from the top is breathtaking, especially during the sun set (beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower). Truthfully I didn’t even take the subway or drove anywhere, besides Chateau de Versailles (beautiful place to visit), as everything isn’t that far from each other, especially if you like walking.
    Jardin Luxembourg is very gorgeous, Saint Germain des Près area is very nice for a stroll. HAVE ALL THE CROISSANTS (so many different type), and although it’s cliché… a visit to the Ladurée is a must. Macaroons are too good to pass on… I want to go back to Paris someday for sure.

    Enjoy:)

    • Reply Happiest When Exploring January 12, 2016 at 6:47 pm

      I can tell you really have a special spot for Paris in your heart! You have so many awesome Paris tips & insight… I think YOU will have to write a part 2 to this post <3

      • Reply Celia January 20, 2016 at 3:10 am

        I would love to write something for you about Paris:)

        • Reply Happiest When Exploring January 20, 2016 at 5:27 pm

          We’ll chat about it :D:D:D

  • Reply Laura Verbich January 13, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    This made me REALLY want to go!!!! Lovely info & photos… you have such a way of explaining and describing! Thank you!

  • Reply European Itinerary & Adventure: What I'm Looking Forward To April 8, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    […] France Last but not least, I’m closing my trip in Paris. I’ve already done a lot of the “must-sees” in Paris, and have crossed-off a lot of my own “to-dos” in the city. This time, I want to experience […]

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