2017 ends in the next few hours. Expectedly, the year has given us a fair share of highs and lows, surprises and disappointments. But as I sit down with my diary on the penultimate day of the year I do realize how special a year this had been. We changed cities, my daughter turned one and I met PARIS!!
I cannot tell you how earnestly, honestly and longingly I had always wanted to meet Paris. The charm of this French capital is infectious, it is addictive. It is true that if you give it some time the city grows on you and it stays with you…forever. It is not without a reason that Ernest Hemingway had called Paris a ‘Moveable Feast’.
It was no less than a dream come true to spend a little more than a fortnite in the City of Lights. As I now flip through our photographs I cannot but smile like a Cheshire cat and feel grateful.
Touristy or the local way, fancy and uber lavish to more humble and cheap counterparts, Paris has something for everyone.
Here is our list of things you CANNOT miss when in PARIS:
1) The Eiffel Tower
No great surprise eh! This 1063 feet tall wrought iron lattice tower is perhaps the most overused symbol for a place that have ever been used. But trust me when I say it is hard not get goosebumps once you go and stand in front of it.
Nearest metro : champ de mars Bir-Hakeim
Timing for tower lights : the tower lights up every evening from sunset to 1am along with the lighthouse on tower top. The glittery lights is a ten minutes show added on the first 5 minutes of each hour.
VISIT EIFFEL SUMMIT
Definitely one of the foremost high points of our stay.
Timings : 9-30 am to 11-45 pm
Tickets to tower top on elevator : 17 Euros for adults. If you are taking the stairs it will cost you something around 7 euros but that gives access only till the second level.
2) Spend some time by the Seine Flowing right across the heart of city, the Seine River is truly a reflection of the beauty and enigma that Paris is. Be it a Sunset cruise or a lazy stroll by its banks soaking in the summer sun under the willow trees or enjoying a crepe or two by the river in the evening watching the city pass by, there are no rules about exactly which way you want to romance Seine. There are about 32 bridges on the river some more impressive than the other.
3) Notre Dam
This medieval Gothic church is famous for its stained glass windows and the Bell tower. We recommend to time your visit in and around dusk. The Prussian blue dusk sky makes a hauntingly beautiful contrast with the Gothic details of the church.
3) The Area In And Around Notre Dam
Perhaps not something that you would find in the tourist guide books. But believe me some of the most beautiful places of Paris remain strewn in this part of the city. We believe the best places in a city can only be found by walking and aimless explorations.
LA MARAIS AREA
This area gives you the best essence of medieval Paris. The crooked, cobbled lanes lined with bustling bars, restaurants, fashion boutiques, old fashioned bread and wine shops is one of its kind. Marais also happens to be the most famous Jewish quarter in Paris still maintaining its strong traditions.
SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY
This legendary book shop, just at a stones throw from Notre Dam is some kind of a literary utopia. Expect a long queue to enter the shop on summer weekends. There is also an adjacent café. Plan a post lunch reading session followed by some coffee in this place.
ICRCREAM AT BERTHILLON
If you have only one icecream scoop in Paris make sure you have it at Berthillon. While there are quite a few outlets we recommend a visit to the original outlet at Rue Saint- Louis.
Again a few blocks away, find yourself in a labyrinth of alleys and café lined squares. Do not forget to get yourself the famous Flower Petal icecream at Amorino, some oysters, mussels, cheese, wine and all that is French.
PARIS RIVERSIDE BOUQUINISTES The bouquinistes are the used book sellers whom you can find with their green coloured boxes along the Seine around Notre Dam. Strangely they reminded me of ‘boi para’ or college street in Kolkata.
A visit to this famous art district of Paris should also cover Basilica Sacre Coeur. A lot of tourists do get their cartoonised portrait done by the artists at Montmarte. If you are travelling with a kid like us we recommend the Mini-train that takes you through this area.
Nearest metro : Anvers
5) Moulin Rouge
Just a block and a metro station away find yourself amidst the forbidden and sinful side of the city, alive with neon lights, an edgy crowd and plenty of sex shops. Moulin Rouge distinguished by its trademark red windmill is surely the show stopper of this entire area. The birthplace of the famous ‘can-can’ dance, today the place offers musical dance entertainment. The tickets for the shows are absurdly expensive and have adult contents as well.
Nearest metro : Blanche
6) Arc de Triomph and Avenue Champs Elysees
Nearest metro : Charles de Gaulle Champs Elysees Clemenceau
Timings for Arc de Triomph : 10 am to 11pm
If you choose not to go up the Eiffel Tower Arc de Triomph can be an easier and cheaper alternative. Though the top can be reached in only 40 stairs the tricky part is to reach the monument itself dodging the incessant traffic.
Often described as ‘the world’s most beautiful venue’, Avenue des Champs Elysees is a must visit in Paris. This iconic two kilometer stretch between Place de la Concorde and Arc de Triomph is bustling with tourists and Parisians alike at any time of the day or night. Super luxury brands, boutiques, flagship stores and nightclubs are the big draw of this place.
Do drop at Laduree for a coffee and macaroon break!
7) Musee du Louvre
Yet another popular tourist attraction. Timings 9 am to 6 pm Ticket prices 10 euros for adults. Target a couple of gallaries that you want to cover as it is almost impossible to see everything in a days visit.
8) Sit in café and watch the world pass by
Perhaps the most charming thing about Paris and Parisians is their love for a slow, well lived life with ample wine, cheese and content. Cafes and Paris are inseparable.
Anytime of the day or night, any part of the city, you will see cafes with chairs facing the squares. People some with a group of friends, some with a confidant or some enjoying their own company throng the cafes.
The cafes near Menilmontant and Belle ville Paris is where we found ourselves mostly.
Make sure you visit a Boulangerie (bakery) anf have some of the best fluffy Baguette.
Day outings from Paris
1) Disneyland Paris
2) Palace of Versailles