Last updated on Jul 7th, 2020 at 01:49 pm
Everyone should celebrate love in Paris, be it with a partner or falling in love with the city itself
I have visited Paris many times in my imagination, and even once sat at the airport for a few hours on my way to Italy, but when I finally got to experience it in reality I was totally overwhelmed.
There is something magical about Paris – maybe because it’s the city of love, or maybe it’s the gigantic Eiffel Tower with is lacy trimmings. Whatever it is, it’s the most absorbing city on earth. With all its grandeur and the best tasting croissants in the world, this city is infectious, and here is something wonderful to notice at every turn.
There are so anythings to do and not enough time. If you are on a whirlwind long weekend, these are my recommendations to make your trip memorable – and fun – in 36 hours:
Take a selfie at the Eiffel Tower
Marking the centenary of the Revolution in spectacular fashion, construction on engineer Gustave Eiffel’s iron tower began in 1887. Take the ride up to the third level to get breathtaking views of the city up to 70kms away on a clear day. There are 1652 steps to climb, but the lift is a much better option. For best views of the tower go to Trocadero Station; day or night it’s beautiful. The little models of the tower sold as souvenirs at the base are the single most popular souvenir of the city.
The Moulin Rouge
The most famous cabaret in the city, opened in 1889 by Charles Zidler and Joseph Oller, is still going strong, although the original house burnt down in 1915. Side streets are brimming with clubs and ladies of the night. There is something here for everyone. Don’t expect to be able to film or take photos inside the Moulin Rouge, it’s even forbidden in the foyer. The ticket office next to the main entrance is open all day long, and it is said that around 600,000 people visit the Moulin Rouge every year.
Ride a tuk tuk
For a cool, quick, breezy trip around the city every tourist should ride a tuk tuk at least once. Found in the touristy parts, they can carry up to four people comfortably. Not the cheapest, but if it’s the experience you want and some good music, it’s recommended. By the end of the day, when your feet are killing you, the price is irrelevant. Definitely one of the most enjoyable and unforgettable ways to see the city.
Watch the sun set over the Eiffel Tower or the River Seine
One of the most romantic activities in the city is to watch the sunset over the River Seine. There is nothing more beautiful than the view of the last sun rays touching upon the rooftops of Paris and the pink skies illuminating the Eiffel Tower.
There are many ways to enjoy a Parisian sunset, like going on river cruise, from one of the many bridges, the Eiffel Tower itself. For the perfect shot, head to the Trocadero Gardens: up the hill you will find the Palais de Chaillot; it’s free to visit and you will get perfect shots of the Eiffel Tower as well as the city rooftops basking in the last rays of sun. Buskers perform in the gardens and I even enjoyed the dance classes that taking place – just imagine learning learning to waltz and tango while the sun sets over one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Eat a nutella crepe or ride a carousel (or both)
Carousels or merry-go-rounds are situated in several tourist places in Paris, but the most beautiful must be the one at the Eiffel Tower. Not because the lights twinkle more, or it plays a better tune, but because its back drop is the Eiffel Tower.
Another very important point to note is the delicious street food store that sells the best crepes ever filled with Nutella, and banana and ice cream and basically whatever your heart desires. Bon Appetit!
Admire the Arc de Triomphe
In the heart of Paris lies this beautiful monument built as a symbol of Frances battles, victories and freedom. Beneath it lies the tomb of the unknown soldier, while the arch is inscribed with the names of 660 generals and 128 battles of the Empire. It is located where eight of the main streets merge. Luckily the island in the middle help tourists dodge cars to get theie ideal Instagram shots.
Tour the Palais de Justice
This Gothic-style building is one of the oldest and most prestigious official buildings in Paris. Built on the site of the former royal residence, it includes the Sainte-Chapelle, King Louis IX’s private chapel in the courtyard. The medieval prison overlooks the river on the Northern side: tragically Queen Marie-Antoinette and many other unfortunate prisoners were sentenced to death here during the French Revolution.
Absorb the beauty of Notre Dame
One of the grandest churches in the world, the magnificent cathedral was closed to the public after the fire of April 2019. The Gothic masterpiece is the culmination of numerous temples to pagan Cernunnos, guardian of the underworld, Roman Jupiter and several Christian churches. Climb the 387 steps to the North Tower to see the bells , roofs, gargoyles and superb views of Paris. There are three rose windows: sadly I couldn’t go inside because of renovations but I did enjoy the beautiful pink roses in the garden outside. One of the largest organs in the world is found inside: with 7800 pipes, one can only imagine what it sounds during mass.
Visit the Louvre
Not only one of the greatest art galleries, but also the largest royal palace in the world. Give yourself plenty of time with comfy shoes when you attempt this sightseeing marathon. The Mona Lisa is found here. Leonardo da Vinci brought it to the city himself. The modern glass pyramid built in 1991 is the new main entrance to the museum. Attempting to get the perfect photo is quite a skill and its recommended that you arrive early in the morning before the crowds.
Ride the metro
As a lover of trains, this is always something I want to do when I enter a new city. The Paris Metro is known for its uniform architecture and unique entrances influenced by Art Nouveau style. It runs mostly underground and is 211 kilometres long. There are a total of 380 Paris Metro stations on 14 lines. The Metro began operation in June 1900, and now has around 700 trains. It is the second largest subway system in Europe. The fastest way to get around a Paris, I couldn’t resist riding the trains a couple of times – always thankful for the seats and vending machines selling a selection of drinks after a busy day of walking.
Get lost in the bustle of Gare Du Nord
Officially known as Paris Nord, it is the busiest station in Europe and indeed the busiest in the world outside Japan. First opened in 1846, the original station building proved too small and was moved to Lille where you can see it as the Gare de Lille Flandres. The current Gare Du Noord was built between 1861 and 1864. Tourist Information proved very helpful inside (and so did the Starbucks when needing a quick coffee fix). Tourists and locals alike mingle outside the building. There is an electric energy inside as passengers wait on platforms to board and others scurry around buying tickets.
Look for the love locks
Dotted around the city you will come across clusters of the shiny or bright coloured locks engraved with messages to lovers, friends or family. One of the main locations was Pont Des Arts, where tourists would attach a lock, then throw the key into the River Seine below. However in June 2015, the city started removing the locks that were used to display symbolic signs of affection due to parts of the bridge’s railing collapsing under the weight.The city removed around one million locks weighing 45 tons and auctioned them to raise money for refugee charities. It is illegal to place locks on the historic bridges, but sadly people have little respect for these century-old structures.
Sit at the St Michael Fountains
Holding a commanding position, this lavish fountain is one of the major landmarks in the Latin Quarter. Constructed in 1858-1860 during the French Second Empire, it has been listed since 1926 as a monument historic by the French Ministry of Culture. It depicts ArchAngel Michael vanquishing the devil, the battle between good and evil.
Rent a Ferrari
Dreams do come true. If your pocket allows for it, you can rent a Ferrari or Lamborghini in the magical city. All you need to do is show your driver’s license, flash some bills (from around 89 Euros) and you get to live your dream for 20 minutes. #driveme89 will have one of their drivers accompany you while you rev the engine of a dream machine and lap up the sunshine. It’s expensive, but who cares? You get to drive a super car in Paris and feel like a billionaire.
Stay at the Ibis
There is no such thing as cheap accommodation in Paris, but then again what did you expect when you decided on Paris as a destination? I stayed at the Hotel Ibis Paris Grands Boulevard. A great location with good-sized rooms, fresh and modern decor and staff who spoke English perfectly. This three-star hotel with free wi-fi is perfect for those wanting to really see a city.
Eat local and enjoy people watching
Now if there is one thing Parisian’s enjoy its people watching. I noticed it from our first breakfast cafe (which of course included a croissant). All street cafes have their chairs set out in lines, like you are in a theatre (I presume this is to watch the people). Yes, they do start off around tables but quite rapidly become soldiers on the pavement. There are no subtleties or pretences here: its normal to stare straight at the braless women walking with their noses in the air. They have every right to: after all French women are known for being the epitome of elegance, they age gracefully and they always look effortlessly gorgeous. Think of style icon Mademoiselle Coco Chanel who redefined the modern woman. We owe it to her, so if you find yourself sitting at a sidewalk cafe drinking coffee and chatting, enjoy how the ordinary suddenly look extraordinary.
Scoot around the city
Discover the city in a fun way. Renting an electric scooter is the new craze. Launched in 2018 by Lime Scooters, the easy to spot bright green motors are nippy with a maximum speed of 24km an hour. You locate the nearest one with the use of an app on your phone and turn it on by scanning the QR code on the handlebars. At this point you are charged one Euro and then 15 cents for every minute of ride time. These light weight scooters are fun and easy to use. Unfortunately, they are adding to the clutter on pavements and government is now looking at ways to regulate the use of them.
Don’t leave Paris without eating a macaron
Don’t leave Paris without eating a macaron… or two. So some research before embarking on this taste trip. The pastry is very complex to cook and this is what makes them rather expensive. It is said the best ones are the little ones, and if there are many on display they should all be the same size. The top of the macaron should not have bubbles or be broken.
This grand dame of French pastries has become a desirable, luxurious dessert and the most famous brand is the Laduree. I couldn’t resist trying one their exotic chocolate-coated ones, and it melted in my mouth as I paired it with a cup of Starbucks coffee. If you don’t want to eat them immediately, keep them in the fridge and take them out an hour or so before eating them. They shouldn’t be stored for longer than a week.
The French add style to everything, everywhere I went in Paris I found myself smiling. The sun set over Paris as I made my way to the airport, and I knew I would be returning to this romantic city… soon.