Paris, one of the most romantic and exciting cities in the world! We have been here before a few years ago, but visiting in the summer was a completely different experience. The crowds were bigger; it was hotter, and more expensive. Still, I would return to Paris again and again as there are endless amount of things to do – from museums, to parks, to simply sitting at a café and people watch – I would never be bored.
How We Got There and Around
We took the RER back to Paris city center from Disneyland Paris. We were able to take the Metro to our apartment. Throughout the stay in Paris, we used a Weekly Travel pass, which made travel pretty easy. We took the RER, Metro and the City Bus at various times in our trip.
When we were in Disneyland Paris, we found out my friend Chris was in town from Edmonton. We were so lucky to be able to spend time and dinner with Chris! We got to catch up on our lives, hockey and geek out with theme park talk.
The day after we arrived, Suzanne, Steve’s mom met us! Months of planning, and it was finally here! Our two-week vacation has begun!
Where We Stayed
With Steve’s Mom, we shared an apartment in Paris near the Notre Dame. The apartment was the typical Paris apartment – small, with a hard bed, somewhat unusable kitchen, and tiny bathroom – it was perfect for us though because of the location.
Our apartment was actually next door to the Medieval Houses of Rue François-Miron! Throughout the day, tourists would stroll by taking pictures. It added to our excitement of morning and afternoon people watching from the window.
Our Favorite Foods
Nos Ancêtres les Gaulois – We decided to go to this restaurant to celebrate our 1-year wedding anniversary! We visited this place on our last visit as it has special meaning for Steve. He came here several times with the jazz band he was in back in high school. The restaurant has a unique vibe and menu, with live music and a fun staff.
Macaroons – We visited Maison Georges for delicious macaroons – worth a visit!
Crêpes – You can’t visit Paris and not have a crêpe… or two… or three. We had a variety – Nutella, Ham & Cheese, and more.
What We Did
Picpus Cemetery – During the French Revolution, the land was seized to become a cemetery. During the Reign of Terror (June 14 – July 27, 1794), 1,306 victims were buried here, just minutes away from the guillotine. We had another interest in seeing the cemetery, because Marquis de Lafayette, is buried here. The cemetery, although plain, was very interesting. Since we visited right after 4th of July, Lafayette’s grave was still decorated in American flags.
Pére Lachaise Cemetery – This is the most visited cemetery in the world with 3.5 million visitors annually. It was created in 1804, making it quite old as well. Some notable burials here include: Oscar Wilde, Frédéric Chopin, and Jim Morrison. The cemetery is quite large and built on a hill – making it quite the hike. The graves are beautiful and interesting; it was worth the visit.
Printemps Department Store – This high fashion store opened in 1865, and again after a fire in 1881. The owners selected the up and coming neighborhood Chaussé-d’Antin to open their store – which focus on high quality and low and competitive prices. Today, it is known for its loyal fan base and high quality in fashion. We went to visit their top floor observation deck, however, it was closed due to remodel so sadly didn’t get to visit the beautiful room.
The Catacombs of Paris – This underground network of tunnels has over 6 million people buried here! Why? In 1738 there was some serious issues with cemetery overflow, the solution seemed to start burying people under the city. We bought our tickets online for a two-hour time slot – I highly recommend this. We waited about 20 minutes to get in. For those who did not have a ticket had to wait 2-3 hours. The catacombs are eerily beautiful.
Luxembourg Gardens – The gardens and the palace was built in in 1612-1620. Today, the palace serves as the Parliament house. The gardens are a beautiful place to visit, with statues, a fountain with small wind boats to play with, music in the park and cafés. We stopped to enjoy a soda and people watch.
Montparnasse Tower – This 210-meter tall tower provides awesome views of Paris, although, I can see why locals complained it was an eye sore. We went in the late afternoon and were able to have a fantastic view of the city. There was a bit of smog and pollution, but overall the view was nice. Our ticket also included a glass of Champagne, which was nice.
Montparnasse Cemetery – Another beautiful cemetery, known for the burial of many famous artists, writers and sculptors.
Eiffel Tower – This global icon opened in 1889 for the World’s Fair, and since then has been delighting millions of people. You may remember, we have seen some of Gustave Eiffel’s famous works around the world, including the Statue of Liberty, Church of San Marcos in Arica, Chile, and San Camilo Market in Arequipa, Peru. Our visit there was quite busy; luckily we bought our tickets online a few months prior. Even with a timed visit, the line to get on the first elevator was about 30 minutes. The line for the second elevator took about 30 minutes as well. We spent about an hour exploring the exhibits and the views. We also spent time walking around the park nearby, enjoying a soda and more people watching.
Arc de Triumph – This famous arch honors those who have fought and died for France during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. The tribute opened in 1836. It is also home to the Tomb of the Unknown solider of WWI, with an infinity flame. We bought our tickets ahead of time to avoid the line. The climb to the top gives great views, including a view of Champs-Élysées. There is also a mini-museum inside.
Notre Dame – Originally built in 1160, and renovated over time. The church is breathtaking, and a milestone in Paris – a must do. We went here on a whim and forgot we needed to have our shoulders covered (the ladies), but luckily we had our rain jackets that Suzanne and I popped on. However, once we were inside, it seemed like ladies just took off their jackets/cover-ups… we didn’t. I had also read that there is a Quasimodo statue on the outside of the church, it took us a while to find it, but we finally did. Also, funny enough, outside the church is a statue of one of my ancestors – Charlemagne!
Musée d’Orsay – A beautiful art museum located in the old terminal train station. The art is mostly from French artists from 1848-1915 from widely respected artists like Monet, Degas, van Gogh, etc. We spent a few hours here exploring the art and sculptures.
Palace of Versailles – About an hour outside of Paris is this must see UNESCO site. The Versailles Palace was first built in 1623. Throughout different rulers, the palace underwent upgrades and renovations, all for their summer retreat. Today, visitors are treated to view galleries, apartments and the beautiful gardens. The only downside to visiting is the amount of crowds. In fact, it was almost unbearable to be with that many people. Besides the people, the palace is breathtaking, and beautiful. I was even able to spot a statue of one of my ancestors, Charles Martel (thanks ancestory.com!). The gardens were fantastic. We did the golf cart rental, which was a lot of fun and worth it since we had tired feet. We also ate in the café right before the rain started (perfect timing). Overall, we had a great time, worth the excursion from the city.
Maison de Victor Hugo – This is the apartment of the writer, Victor Hugo. As most artists are, Hugo was quite an interesting person, with an interesting apartment. Today the apartment serves as museum to his work as well, with artifacts from the family. I found his apartment fascinating because Hugo himself was an extraordinary writer with a very complex personal life (he was exiled from France at a time, wrote controversial political pieces including one against Queen Victoria, had a long-term mistress, etc.).
The Louvre – Originally, a palace, today the Louvre is considered one of the top museums in the world (2nd most visited in the world). It has over 380,000 objects!!! Egyptian pieces, Greek classic, French impressionists, and much more – it is said you can spend a month in the Louvre and still not see it all. We spent half a day here, exploring and trying to see the “highlights” – Mona Lisa, The Seated Scribe, Nike of Samothrace, and much more. We also were able to spent time outside discovering the Tuileries Garden and walk down to the Place de la Condorde.
Seine River Cruise – We did an evening cruise of the Seine River. We were able to see the beautiful sights from the river, including the beautiful bridge – Pont Alexandre III – a symbol of friendship between France and Russia in 1896.
Paris is a place I can come back to again and again, and really never be bored. There is much more to see! The public transportation makes it incredibly easy to get around. I feel like it would be the perfect layover destination for us in the future as well.