For us it’s possible to visit most of European capital cities in just one day (of course when assuming to see only the most popular spots and monuments). But when it comes to Paris, the situation is different :) It definitely requires more time. That’s why we decided to stay there a bit longer – full 4 days. And what’s more important – we managed to visit Paris on a budget.
Arch of Triumph & Champs-Élysées
We arrived in Paris in the afternoon and started with sightseeing the Arch of Triumph and then we went for a walk through the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. There’s a lot of greenery and this space is very well organised. As we later had a chance to see, this place makes even a greater impression from the distance – it can be seen from the other parts of the town. But as we were contemplating the uniqueness of the Champs-Élysées while walking there, we got the feeling that it’s the romantic side of Paris.
From there we took a distance to the Elysee Palace, that is huge and well-guarded and as we were passing by it, there were a lot of policemen with guns and soldiers. This special protection came from series of terrorist attacks, which took place that time. It’s worth to mention that we visited Paris between attacks and you could notice plenty of additional forces that guarded the city. They were present everywhere: at touristic spots, metro stations, airport, streets…
After that we went to the Les Invalides (a complex of buildings such as museums and monuments). However this place is known because of the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte that is located there. We saw all these buildings from outside only because we didn’t have that much time to sightsee as it was getting late and we had to go back.
For the second day we planned 3 attractions to see. We’d booked tickets to the top of the Eiffel Tower at 9:00 o’clock in the morning. But we didn’t expect that there would occur the metro breakdown :) We can’t speak French and we didn’t know what happened. But next to us there was standing a lady at our age that explained us everything and offered that we can go with her to the bus station that was nearby and get to the Eifel Tower by bus :) She was really helpful and we must admit that we didn’t expect such politeness in Paris because we have always heard that locals in Paris refuse to speak English with tourists. But apparently and fortunately, it’s not a rule :)
We got to the Tower just on time and quickly got to the entrance to the top. You can have a stop at the 2nd floor before reaching the top. We were there for a while and then took an elevator to get to the highest point of the tower. The view of the city was breathtaking. We spent there lot of time because it’s not settled for how long visitors may stay there. What stands out from above is that in general architecture of Paris is very consistent and of classical style with large amount of white buildings but with one exception. Only the business district La Defense, that is very modern, stands alone significantly from the rest of the city.
Then we spent lot of time admiring the Eiffel Tower. It made a huge impression on us when we were standing under it, we’ve made a lot of pictures there because we really liked the area with the greenery of Champ de Mars.
Later on, we headed to the Basilica Sacre Coeur. We came inside, but photographing there was forbidden, what was strictly controlled by a guard. The basilica is another place that delighted us but there was actually something that we didn’t like! There were a lot of shadowy people hanging around. For example we saw a group of guys that would immediately run up to tourists and try to put a bracelet on their wrist and then try to forced them to pay for this “service”.
Our next destination was Cathedral Notre Dame. We also liked this monument and could spend there some more time because it was our last stop that day. We also went inside the cathedral as we wanted to see as much as possible. Even we wrote ourselves in the visitor’s book there :) And that’s how our second day in Paris ended :)
Palace of Versailles
On the third day we planned to go to the Palace of Versailles that is very close to Paris. At first we admired the Palace from the front and of course we made plenty of pictures. Then we visited it inside and were taken in by its splendor. It actually didn’t took as much time to see everything and we probably spent more time in the Gardens of Versailles. It’s another romantic place of France. The gardens are huge and in the center there was the Grand Canal. There is a possibility of renting little boats and float on the water. Everything in France is designed very symmetrically and such are also the Gardens of Versailles. It was a pleasure to spend time there as it is a place full of greenery and at the same time a perfect place to relax and quiet down.
In Versailles we spent almost a whole day but in the evening we visited a modern district La Defense. When it’s getting dark, this place becomes very colorful because the buildings are illuminated with lights of different colors. In this area most of people are wearing suits because this is a business district and we didn’t notice many tourists. But for us it was worth seeing and we could discern Champs-Élysées and Arch of Triumph from the distance :) And at that point we ended our third day :)
The fourth day was our last one and was “the day of Louvre”. We were expecting very long queues but it wasn’t that bad, maybe 30-40 minutes. Perhaps because it was in low-season and we got there very early in the morning because we wanted to make the most of that day. We knew that there is a lot to see in the Louvre, but we wouldn’t think how much. At first we started to admire every single painting :) That’s really funny when we think of it now because we had only 5-6 hours to stay there. But we think that it’s something that everyone does. To see all exhibits in details even a week would be too little. After we saw the biggest attraction of the museum – famous Mona Lisa (there are huge crowds in front of this painting), we started looking for the most important masterpieces. Luckily, we took an audio guide as it’s equipped with GPS. However it still wasn’t easy to find anything. And at the end of our visit in Louvre and, in fact, in Paris. We were exhausted and ready to go back home :)
Although it was a very intensive time, we very very satisfied with our trip. We really enjoyed time in Paris and managed to see everything we wanted. For us spending there less time wouldn’t be sufficient. On our way we met people that were very helpful, but when we talk about it, everyone is surprised. We also always heard that people from France are not willing to help and speak English but fortunately that’s not what we encountered. And we can also recommend to buy croissants in Paris because there are very delicious and during our stay we’ve eaten tons of them! We had great time in this romantic city and wish you the same experience!