Driving almost 5 hours they reached the Land of Love-Paris. Eiffel Tower was the first stop where the guide had bought the ticket to go to Second Level. An evening in Paris and a Hop on - Hop off cruise in Seine river is amazing. Dining at different cafes and buying designers are some of the main attractions of the city.
Notre Dame Cathedral
En route to the Notre Dame cathedral, I checked out the Louvre museum(obviously closed!) as it was close by and the only time it is free is around midnight. The Pyramide du Louvre stood desolate yet looked impressive! It brought back memories of Da Vinci code and Kane Chronicles! Note: It requires a day or two to have a look at the world's biggest museum. Hence, plan accordingly! I am yet to visit the museum!Finally, I made it to the Notre Dame Cathedral for the Christmas mass. For a non religious person, the entire set of events was interesting. You might wonder why I visited the church in the first place! Christmas at Paris begins with the 12 am clock bell of Notre Dame. One of the biggest churches in Europe, you have to visit it at least for the architecture. What makes it even more interesting is that the church is located in an island close to the river Seine and the view from the river cruise is all the more impressive!
Stroll along the Avenue de Champs-Élysées and indulge in some people watchingThe Avenue de Champs-Élysées road was created in 1670 as part of a project to reconnect the Louvre to the Tuileries Garden by a great road. While it was a space only used by the high society in the early days, today, it is an incredible walking area lined with hotels, cafes, restaurants, souvenir kiosks and high-end luxury stores. Often referred to as the most beautiful boulevard in the world, the avenue is used for all major celebrations, including the famous Bastille Day military parade. Walk along the 2km-long road and take in everyday Paris life.
Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmartre (Sacre-Coeur)
Because of the magnificent views that it provides, the Sacré Coeur Basilica draws more yearly visitors than even the iconic Eiffel Tower. If you’ve got time, it’s definitely worth exploring the interior of the church as well. The church features one of the largest mosaics in the world, and the domes are just as impressive seen from the inside. It’s also possible to climb to the top of the central dome, from which you’ll have an even better view of Paris and also of the Eiffel Tower.
Montmarte was the third destination for us, we reached there using the local metro and then from the station it was a 10 minutes walk past the local market where you can shop for souvenir and gifts for people back home. Remember since the economy of Paris is not so great shopkeepers bargain and you can get things like magnets or small Eiffel Tower's and other gifting items at throw away prices, please buy and dont wait for going some other place.
Pont Alexandre III
Walk out of the Champs elysee station, take right and you would find the above two museums. Walk straight and you come across this magnanimous bridge Pont Alexandre III on river seine. The Eiffel tower can be seen from here too. We walked past the bridge and on the other side found this beautiful boat restaurant where we sat for lunch. The food is okay but the ambience is amazing.
Get a whiff of the famous cabaret at Le Moulin RougeThe Moulin Rouge is the oldest, biggest and most sophisticated cabaret in Paris. Originally established in 1889 as a house for the performance of can-can dance, today it is a tourist attraction that offers cabaret dance entertainment and women dressed in grand feather headpieces. The glitz and glamour, however, comes at a steep price. The cheapest tickets are for €95, which are only for the show with no drinks or dinner. But with only 2-days to see Paris, you should postpone seeing a show for your next visit. This time, stick to enjoying the red windmill installed on the iconic building and taking pictures.
La Défense is a major business district of Paris and quite unlikely to be an attraction for the typical tourist. I, on the other hand, was so intrigued by the area that I spent an entire afternoon there. A stark contrast to the historic buildings in central Paris, the modern architecture at La Défense was surprisingly a breath of fresh air to me. At the heart of La Défense is the iconic La Grande Arche de la Défense. Designed by Danish architect Johan Otto von Spreckelsen, the striking 110-metre tall building resembles a cube with a hole in the middle. It was built in the late 1980s, supposedly to be a 20th century version of the Arc de Triomphe. I was in awe of the Grande Arche. I couldn’t stop looking at it. That sort of explains why I spent such a long time at La Défense.
Day 2 :- Second day post breakfast at the hostel we planned to visit the city's most visited tourist spots starting from The Louvre Museum one of the worlds most visited museums. It is again connected to metro station and once you get down at the station you can enter the museum from down. You can get tickets from the store and enter the museum. If you are an art lover and love history would suggest you to buy audio guide system as well, it will help you. The audio guide will tell you things about the room you enter in detail and is wonderful to know. Do not forget the great "Mona lisa" painting which is the main attraction apart from other paintings and art-effects. We entered the museum around 10.30 am and were there till 1.00 pm since my wife loves art and history. Its worth the time spent and if you have the luxury spend a day at the museum. Please remember any time of the year there is a queue to get in the museum ranging from minimum an hour to two hours, we were very lucky to enter from the metro station and get direct access to the museum without any queue. Please try and plan to visit first thing in the morning, preferably be there by 9 am to avoid the crowd.
Pont des Invalides
14. Les Invalides Les Invalides, which is the gorgeous domed building that used to be the military hospital but now houses Napoleon’s Tomb (skip going in). That is all really close to Champs de Mars, the park that runs under Eiffel Tower. Really nice and pretty area., with great restaurants also hidden throughout. (Image credit: Pantchoa)
Gare du Nord
If you happen to enter Paris by rail from another International destination( for me it was Amsterdam), then you are most likely to reach Gare Du Nord station. At the very first sight it could seem very intimidating, owing to the fact that it is one of the six large terminus stations and offers connections with several urban transportation lines, including Paris Metro, RER and buses. Well don’t worry you are not alone, there are hoards of tourists haggling over the map to figure their way out. The first thing do is to go to the tourist information counter and let them know your destination and they would very clearly guide you through the maze of the station and help you board the correct transport. And it is advisable to always keep the map handy.
Enjoy the exquisite art collection at Musée d'OrsayThe Musée d'Orsay used to be an old train station built in the 1900s. Today it is a museum that houses exquisite French masterpieces by the likes of Courbet, Monet, Van Gogh, Manet Seurat, Matisse and Degas. In addition to the artwork, you find temporary and permanent collections of sculptures, furniture and photography. And when you need to take a break, admire the opulent building located smack next to the Left Bank of the Seine and capture beautiful views of Paris with your camera.
On the last day of the vacation - we saw people running half marathon on a sunny sunny day. We stayed at Le Marais for 4 days and it was a lovely location although you may not find something spacious if you are looking for cheap accommodation in the heart of the city. It's manageable - the place tightly accommodated 3 of us - Airbnb again
It’s the first Art Museum for Modern and Contemporary art in Europe and the second in the world after the Moma ! Even French people are not aware about it! The found is amazing : 60,000 art works from 1900 (fauvism) to today but they can only display 1000/1200 in the museums spaces that’s why they change the hanging each 18 months, they renew it totally, so even Parisian can discover jewels from our national collection from Matisse and Picasso to Bill Viola, Anselm Kieffer, Ed Rucha and many other...The temporary exhibitions are great too: right now we have Gerhard Richter retrospective, one of the greatest painter alive today.
Place du Tertre
Only a few streets away from Montmartre's Basilica of the Sacré Cœur and the Lapin Agile, The Place du Tertre is a square in the heart of the city's elevated Montmartre quarter. With its many artists setting up their easels each day for the tourists, the Place du Tertre is a reminder of the time when Montmartre was the mecca of modern art. At the beginning of the 20th century, many penniless painters including Picasso and Utrillo were living there.
Hotel de Ville
We grabbed a couple of sandwiches from Carrefour (where we were first spoken to with French and we couldn’t understand a thing though we’ve practiced basic French haha) and pique-niqued with Place Stanislas as our view. Buildings of neoclassical style border the square while elaborate sculptures and wrought iron gates adorn the corners. The statue of Stanislas that stands in the middle of the square was offered a nice background by the stunning HOTEL de Ville.
Get your shopping fix at the Galeries Lafayette department storeThe largest departmental store in Paris, the 120-year-old Galeries Lafayette will impress you not just with its 3500 brands and the 3,500 square metre lingerie department, but also with its gorgeous history and design seen in the Neo-byzantine style stain glass windows and the dome roof. Head to the welcome desk, and get your hands on a map to guide you to the various stores on its seven floors. If you are here during spring or fall, don't miss the fashion shows at 3 pm every Friday in the Salon Opera on the 7th floor. After you're done shopping, make your way to the top floor for some breathtaking views of the city, including the Tour Eiffel, the Opéra Garnier and Sacré Coeur.
Angelina - Rivoli
For the best hot chocolate in the world, head to Angelina's! Within walking distance of the Louvre, this Belle Époque style restaurant serves the most decadent and delicious hot chocolate called L'Africain, deriving its name from the African cocoa beans its made from. Like most famous French institutions, Angelina's has a touch of celebrity with past patrons including Proust and Coco Chanel to boast of. Of course the rich history and chocolate comes at a price but it is well worth it for the indelible taste.
Start the day with a bowl of café au lait in MontmartreCoquelicot is an award-winning bakery in the charming neighbourhood of Montmartre that serves the absolute best bread in the area. Get here early to score a seat outside, from where you can watch Parisians begin their day. But if you don't manage to find a spot, head up to the first floor or the terrace and sit at the beautifully-decorated tables. Breakfast spreads here include a large bowl (yes, you read that right) of black or milk coffee, or hot chocolate, a brioche or baguette slice, a variety of jams, honey, spreads, salted butter caramel and freshly squeezed orange juice.
Head to the Tuileries Garden for a scenic lunchThe Jardin des Tuileries is a central garden, which extends from the Musée du Louvre along the Seine river, to the Place de la Concorde and the beginning of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. There once used to be a palace here, but it was burnt down in 1870. Now these lush garden remain with their trees, pools, statues, and street food booths, becoming a favourite place for Parisians to just stroll around and take a break. Throughout the garden, you'll find many lovely restaurants offering all kinds of food. Pick one that you like, and end your meal with a crêpe from any of the take-away booths.
Shakespeare & Company
Take a tea break with Shakespeare on Paris' Left BankIf you're a literature lover, the Shakespeare and Company bookshop will be the beginning of a torrid love affair with the most famous bookstore in the world. But if not, you will still enjoy the yellow-and-green facade and rustic-feeling interiors, which will transport you to a quieter, older Paris. Inside, every space is filled with books, deep philosophical signs, art objects, writer memorabilia and a cat. Sit, read and enjoy. And when you're done, head to the namesake cafe next door for some delicious coffee, pressed juices, gluten-free sandwiches, decadent pies and brownies, hand-rolled bagels and dark chocolate matcha cookies.
Begin with a satisfying French breakfast at L’ Arc CafeRight in front of the Arc de Triomphe, this trendy and chic brasserie is open from 7am (except on Sundays when it opens at 9am) till midnight, and serves delicious French food in a beautiful setting. One of the options on the menu is the “international breakfast”, which includes a cappuccino or tea, one serving of eggs and the local favourite of tartine, with butter and jam. If you are looking for some lighter and quicker options, walk into any of the charming cafes on Avenue des Champs-Élysées for €1-3 coffee and croissant.
Les Piaules is a beautiful hostel with very helpful and warm staff who took care of us as we entered. It hosted party's every night and offered 2 beer coupons as well as a welcome kit. From the terrace of the hostel you can see the Eiffel Tower which is what you want to see the first thing you are in Paris. We went to our room which was a share and just relaxed for an hour in hostel as we had a long flight. We left the hostel at around 8 pm local Paris time and took the metro to Eiffel Tower, we had to change 3 trains but there is a map and the hostel guys helped us to mark where all to change the train so it was easy and we had the pass so you just have to swipe in and enter the station and follow the directions, it is very easy and safe way to travel. I felt as if we were travelling in Mumbai as there was crowd even at night and in general Parisian's are very helpful. The train took us till the Eiffel Tower and from the metro station it was a 10 minutes walk.
Have your last meal in Paris at KunitorayaMake your last meal in Paris a good one at Kunitoraya, a Japanese restaurant, which is a popular choice on the Paris food scene. Known for its authentic Japanese noodles, ramen, soba and udon soups, Kunitoraya has a minimalist decor with narrow, but well-utilised space. All noodles are handmade on site. You don't need to make a reservation, but be prepared to queue up for a bit.