I honestly thought I’d hate Paris. It is ‘the’ place so many of my friends and family wanted to visit, whilst I was more interested in Italy or Russia; or maybe it was just the eight-years of having the French language that my school tried to inject into me that turned me off of visiting the country which led me to believing it’d be the last place to visit when I finally got to Europe; But the want to escape London became too much and so I decided to finally take a Paris city break, which turned into a week, then finally two weeks and soon I was in love with this chic city I thought I’d hate.
Paris is a big place to explore even in two-weeks but here are my tried and tested places that I just kept coming back to whilst visiting the city of love.
La Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre
It’s a sight you can make out from around the city, set atop the only hill in Paris. La Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre, otherwise known as the Sacré Coeur, is one of the worlds most famous catholic churches. With its build date beginning in 1875 the Sacré Coeur has some remarkable features including being built of travertine stone which contains calcite, which prevents the stone from discolouring and remains white; the mosaic in the apse titled ‘Christ in Majesty’ and dominating the ceiling can’t be ignored; the dome, if open, offers beautiful views across Paris, and, if you have time, take in one of the church services.
Whilst atop the cities hill take a walk through Montmartre and enjoy the sights across the city, the street art, & the artists and portrait painters in the square.
Address: 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre
Nearest Métro: Abbesses
Website: Sacré Coeur de Montmartre
Famous long before the movie, the Moulin Rouge is perhaps the most famous cabaret house in the world located in the suburb of Pigalle.
The Moulin Rouge is famous for modernising the can-can dance, leading to its spread throughout cabaret houses in Europe.
Since 1963’s success with the show “Frou-Frou”, Jacki Clérico has only chosen revue titled that begin with the letter F.
Currently the show Férrie is running, which continues the cabaret tradition which has made the Moulin Rouge famous but also brings back the famous giant aquarium, in which barely-dressed dancers dance in the water, draws inspiration from Indonesian dances and folklore, as well as a host of circus-style acts.
Whilst seeing the Moulin Rouge from outside is great there are also options to see the show and have lunch or dinner.
Address: 82 Boulevard de Clinchy
Nearest Métro: Blanche
For information on their show or meal & a show offers please click here.
Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is part of the Axe historique, or the Voie Triomphale (triumphal way), a line of monuments and important buildings that extends from central Paris to the cities west between the Le Lourve and La Defense.
With building finished in 1836, the Arc de Triomphe was dedicated to those who fought and died for France in both the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, and has the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces, as well as home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the arc, a continually burning flame for those dead who were never identified during all wars that the French have taken part in.
At 50metres in height you can also take a lift to the museum level, which tell the story of the Arc and about its construction It is also possible to then climb 46 stairs to reach the terrasse, the top of the monument, to panoramic views across Paris.
Address: Place Charles de Gaulle
Nearest Métro: Charles de Gaulle – Étoile
Because the Arc is in the centre of a busy thoroughfare visitors are encouraged to use one of two underpasses to access the Arc.
Notre Dame de Paris
Have you read Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame? Then you may recognise the name of this Parisian cathedral as the novels backdrop. With its build date beginning in the 2nd Century, the Notre Dame is considered on of the best examples of medieval architecture.
There are four ways to see the Notre Dame on your visit – from the outside and going inside – both options free if not adding additionals such as audio guides or entrance to ??? -, by visiting the crypts, and visiting the towers – both of which cost a small fee. (Around 10€)
My tip is to climb the 387 stairs of the tower where you can see the Emmanuel Bell, built in the 17th century and the largest bell of the tower, and spend time hanging out with the 19th century gargoyles and chimera who have perhaps my favourite view of the city that rival Monmartre as you gaze down at the Parisians streets, following the River Seine, and even lay eyes on the Eiffel Tower.
Address: Place du parvis de Notre Dame (4th arrondissement)
Nearest Métro: Cité or Saint-Michel
Website: Notre Dame de Paris in English
Eiffel Tower and the Champ de Mars
The tallest building in the world until 1930 at 324 metres (1,063ft), you can’t escape the Eiffel Towers presence in Paris. Spend time taking photos of it, picnic in the Champ de Mars beneath it or take in the views whilst dining in it each experience is unique.
The Eiffel Tower has four floors, including the ground floor where you can send a postcard with a Eiffel Tower postmark, first floor with the 58 Tour Eiffel restaurant and the Cineiffel, second floor which is home to the Jules Verne restaurant and the vision well (glass window), and the top floor which has Gustave Eiffel’s office and a champagne bar – which will be well deserved once you make it to the top!
Be sure to stay around until dark when the Eiffel Tower will delight with a 10 minute light show each hour.
Address: Avenue Gustave Eiffel
Nearest Métro: Bir-Hakeim, Trocadero, Ecole Militarie or Champ de Mars – Tour Eiffel on Line C of the RER
Opening Hours/Rates: vary depending on time of the year. For more information check the official website.