A scenic train ride from Lucerne, Switzerland took us to Paris, the City of Love, at 1.30pm.
My sister wasn’t keen on adding Paris to the itinerary. She was never a Paris kinda gal. But I cited the Louvre and Estate of Versailles as great reasons to visit. They didn’t disappoint!
As soon as we arrived we dumped our things at our Airbnb (sign up using link to get $35 credit!) and rushed to the Louvre via Metro, hoping to squeeze as much time in as we could. To save money, we booked an Airbnb in La Plaine – Stade de France, which is a 15 minute metro ride from Paris.
On Day 1, we had a crash course of the Louvre before walking to the Arc de Triomphe via Champs-Elysees, and then walked to the Eiffel Tower. Day 2 was dedicated to the Palace of Versailles, easily a full-day affair. Click here for my Complete Guide to Versailles.
Since we arrived late (2-3pm), it didn’t take hours to enter the Louvre via the Pyramid entrance. In fact, it took minutes!
It was easy finding our way to the Mona Lisa, the Louvre’s most famous artwork, with the numerous signs all over the place. The Mona Lisa room was rows deep with people. Expect crowds!
We squeezed to the front to take selfies, of course.
Museum Goers walked around toting Nintendo 3DS XLs and it took awhile for me to realize that they were actually Audio Guides. Available in multiple languages, it consists of a map on the top screen and information/additional content of each art piece on the bottom screen. Rent one for only 5 Euros! I wish we knew they existed, and that we had time to utilize them and enrich our Louvre experience! Alternatively, you can download the My Visit to the Louvre app and customize your visit.
The Louvre website also has a ton of content and videos about their exhibits, including a 1.5 hour video about Da Vinci code: Between Fiction and Fact. This way you don’t even have to visit the Louvre to learn about the exhibits! It’s amazing!
One of the most impressive (and my favorite) statues was the Winged Victory of Samothrace, displayed prominently at the top of a staircase. This Hellenistic statue, made of Parian marble, is thought to celebrate a naval victory.
Most of the information is available only in French, which is why the audio guide or app will come in handy in understanding the exhibits.
Seeing that we had some time before the Louvre closed, we wandered into the Egyptian Antiquities section. The exhibits were housed in extremely modern glass casings that provide a nice contrast with the ancient pieces of art.
The museum started closing at this time, but as we were ushered out of the museum, we managed to catch glimpses of other exhibits:
I wish we had more time at the Louvre. There was so much we didn’t see! I suggest you arrive early at the Louvre if you want to see most of what it has to offer. The Louvre is so large that it would take 100 days to look at every piece of art for 30 seconds!
Exit into the Louvre Mall and you will find an upside down pyramid. This is also where the alternative (less crowded) entrance is located. There is a souvenir store, several luxury stores, and a food court.
The food court is located at the end of the Mall and consists of several food stalls and a McDonalds. Most of the food stalls were closed because it was so late, so we had no choice but to eat fast food. Did you know McDonalds sells macarons in France??
Next on the Itinerary was the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower. Since we wanted to see more of the city (and we were on a budget) we decided to walk to the two landmarks.
The Gardens outside the Louvre were quite beautiful and peppered with gorgeous statues.
The walk to the Arc de Triomphe gave us plenty to see. We walked down Champs-Elysees and saw this gorgeous Disney store:
It looked super elegant. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to explore, but we’re definitely coming back next time!
Arc de Triomphe
When we got to the Arc de Triomphe, we
risked our lives took selfies in the middle of the traffic intersection. There is a small area between the two busy roads where tourists flock to take pictures like these. It was quite unnerving but worth it!
We watched, slack-jawed, as a group of young girls hopped off a cab and, encouraged by their cab driver, ran across the road to have their picture taken with the famous landmark. D:
The Arc de Triomphe honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars. You can climb up to the top for a nice view of Paris if you don’t mind paying a small fee.
The walk to Eiffel Tower wasn’t as scenic as the walk to Arc de Triomphe, but as the Eiffel Tower loomed into view, we started getting really excited.
We passed a small souvenir store with all sorts of Eiffel Tower-related paraphernalia:
And then finally we arrived at Paris’ famous landmark. The one, the only – Eiffel Tower!!
And then, surprise surprise, the Tower started sparkling!
Turns out the Eiffel Tower sparkles during the first 5 minutes after nightfall every hour until 2am and 1am in the winter. My sister and I had no idea, so we were pleasantly surprised! It takes 20,000 lights flashing on and off to produce this effect! Wait for it – it’s really cool!
After passing security, we walked around the Eiffel Tower park for a bit and realized how lucky we were to have entered from the back entrance, versus the entrance by the park. Because it was packed. So now you know: do not use the park entrance.
I wish we had the budget to go up the Eiffel Tower, but we didn’t. Next time!
It was a long day of walking in Paris, and we finally headed back to our Airbnb for much-needed Zzzs to prepare ourselves for the long day of walking at Versailles tomorrow.
I have decided to split this into 2 posts, so you’ll find the dedicated Palace of Versailles post here! (It’s just too much to squeeze into one post!)
With only 1 day to spend in the city of Paris (we spent the 2nd day at Versailles), there were so many things we didn’t get to see or do. My top to-dos for my next trip to Paris are:
- Explore Louvre with interactive guide
- Go up the Eiffel Tower
- Visit the Catacombs
- Notre Dame Cathedral
Onwards to the Estate of Versailles!
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