03 September 2010


- Views from several places such as the Tour Montparnasse, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Centre George Pompidou.
- Walking aimlessly in areas such as west of Av des Champs-Elysees, Latin Quarter, Les Halles etc.
- Seeing Paris by river, for example a Seine cruise.
- Visiting Montmarte- especially the flea market (check in the "Shopping" section)

Paris, the world's most visited city, is that right? Of course it is! Then it must be doing something right! Now days, many people, whether or not they've been to Paris, have some idea about it. The clichés do exist, but the traveller discovers something beyond them, which may be more appealing than the clichés- such as simply walking around quiet side streets.

When to go
April is a good time to go in shoulder season and the weather is nice, if a bit rainy. Been in August for 3 days and thought it was crowded and on the cooler and rainier side (2010). But I don't know general weather. Look here- http://www.timeanddate.com/ From what I've heard, August can be anything or everything.

Always say "Bonjour" when entering a shop and say "Merci" when leaving. If approaching a person on the street for directions, understand that he/she isn't entitled to help you so being polite will be appreciated, start off with "Excusez-moi." Bad French is better than no French, that goes without saying. By doing all this myself, people were extremely helpful and kind.

Clearing up Stereotypes
Remember, the French aren't generally rude. It is an often misjudged stereotype. Many people involved in the tourism industry speak English, but a few phrases/words in French go a long way. Saying "Bonjour" (Good day) while entering a shop and "Merci (Thank you) while leaving is local etiquette and should be followed to receive similar respect in return (see above).

City Mapping
The city of Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements , like districts, each with numerous attractions and hotels etc. Have a look here for some more information.

See more in the "Transportation" section.

Good Internet resources
Paris Info

Sigh...this is a superb long list! Here is a shortlist of some of the sights.

The Louvre
La Jaconde, or commonly known as Mona Lisa
The Louvre is one stunning museum It has had a varied history, serving as palace (Palais du Louvre) in the past, too. Today, it is a grand museum. There is a famous pyramid made of glass outside the main entrance, do see.

The Mona Lisa/La Jaconde, as you can see above, is a famous work inside, though not my favourite. My favourite work is right opposite it. In fact it is totally unforgettable.

A good, relaxed way of seeing this mega-site is to get the pamphlet and do some research, then tackle the part you feel is most interesting.

The Louvre has an excellent Egyptian collection, for example.

The Louvre is well connected- with two metro stations close by (Louvre-Rivoli and Palais Royal-Musee du Louvre).

  Cenrtre George Pompidou

Center George Pompidou's appealing exterior facade
With its striking design, the modern art museum Centre George Pompidou strikes out (a building with its inside turned outside, basically). It has good and appealing modern art and a good viewpoint for the "Panorama of Paris". Views of the area are good and the museum is good for some modern art.

It's around a 1-1.5 km walk from the Louvre

Tour Eiffel/Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower
No one can say that they've not heard of the Eiffel Tower. It's one of the world's more "known" landmarks with a striking architectural design- the colour of the tower is actually brown- not black and not grey!

Built in 1889 for L'Exposition Universelle (World Fair), the Eiffel Tower was strongly opposed by the elites and was about to be pulled down. Not it is a symbol for the technological advances of the 19th century.

The Tower can get pretty crowded, some people prefer to get tickets on-line in advance although we waited in the queue. Still, the former is preferable.

Our experience was from the second level- with a nice souvenir shop and crowded viewpoints. The views were lovely- the Seine, the roads along it, the cruises cruising it, the Park below...

Metro station Bir-Hakiem is close by. There is also a bus station close by. For great views get down at Trocadero metro station (some of the best views are from Trocadero).

Tour Montparnasse
Tour Montparnasse
The tower is wonderful, with great views, and that too, with less crowds. We were there on a weekend evening and we almost had the viewpoint to ourselves! A lift whisks you to the 53rd floor where you can see a café and a shop. Climb a flight of stairs to reach the viewpoint with wonderful views over Paris. It isn't too far from the Eifel Tower and the metro station Montparnasse-Bienvenue is pretty close to it. Note that metro station is in Gare Montparnasse.


This domed landmark called the Pantheon is a nice structure with good artwork inside. The dome is pretty striking too. Close to the Latin Quarter.

Notre-Dame Cathédral

It is one of the most visited buildings in Paris- so queues may persist. But it's rewarding as the interior is pretty beautiful (lovely stained glass).

Jardin du Luxembourg
Jardin Luxembourg and the Palais Luxembourg
It's a lovely park with many flowers blossoming. There is also a Palais du Luxembourg- with chestnut trees all around- giving the tag of "picturesque". It's really nice to roam around- and to sit, lounge, take pictures. It's also a place where locals seem to like hanging out at.

Marais and Bastille
In the third and fourth arrondissments, Marais and Bastille are another set of lovely areas. Marais is a nice place to walk around, and has some museums there, like the Musée du Picasso with artwork of Picasso and some other artists. You'll have to give your bag to the counter.

Bastille is home to the Opéra Bastille and Place de la Bastille where the infamous prison once stood.

Sacré-Cœur Basilica

It's situated on top of the Butte Montmarte with majestic views across Paris. Beware of pickpockets around. Again, it's a busy and touristy place. There is a nice funicular to get you to the top, or else you can walk. Abbess metro station is close by.

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe
In the world's largest roundabout, the Arc de Triomphe was built by Napoléon to commemorate his victories. It has a nice viewing station with lovely views over the 12 avenues. However, to reach the top, you have to brave steep steps- in a dark and dingy room. Reach by the Charle de Gaulle-Etoile metro station. No one in their right mind would walk across the roundabout- everyone uses subways.

Champs-Elysees is home to designer boutiques as well as other less expensive brands and many restaurants (such as Paul). Surrounding streets have more boutiques.

                                                                   Opera Garnier
This is Paris's premier opera house and is a beautiful building.

Around Paris
La Défense is the commercial area of Paris with the Grande-Arche with great views of Paris. There is an RER station called Grande Arche de la Défense.

Another place is the town of Versailles , home to the famous grand Chậteau de Versailles. It's huge. The gardens are very elegant, even more elegant than the lovely interior, IMO, although both are excellent and worth visiting. Very ornate interior, showing the opulence of the royalty, and very beautiful and lush gardens.

Look here for my favourite hotel: Le Meridien Montparnasse .

From a now deleted post:

Le Meridien Montparnasse

LE MERIDIEN MONTPARNASSE- 19, Rue du Commandant Mouchotte, 75014 Paris, France‎ - 01 44 36 44 36‎, in the Montparnasse neighbourhood of Paris is a wonderful hotel. As you step out of your taxi, you see this tall building and 2 supermarkets around it. There are also many restaurants close by. Step in and you see a plush and comfortable lobby with many people sitting using their laptops (free wi-fi in the lobby). After you get checked in you go to your room from the elevators. When you step into the room, you see a plush and comfortable place where you will be glad to sleep in. There is a flat-screen TV and a nice bathroom with a bathtub. There is also air-con and if you are on a higher level (where I was), you will get a view( probably of the cemetery and the buildings behind). When you go to the lobby before going out, ask the concierge. The concierge is helpful. There is also a bar. Attached to the hotel is a bookshop (mostly selling newspapers and magazines). Remember to take your laptop.
There is the cemetery close by. Also is the Tour Montparnasse( Montparnasse Tower) from where you can enjoy wonderful views. The catacombs are also closeby. For other attractions take the metro, walk or take the RER/Bus/Taxi.
The branch of Galaries Lafayette is close by. There is also the branch of Tati close to rue de la Gaite. For your daily needs there are 2 supermarkets. For fashion head over to Blvd St-Germain, a short walk away.
AROUND THE CITY- Metro stations Montparnasse Bienvenue ( Gare Montparnasse) and Gaite ( rue de la Gaite) are closeby. The bus stop is closeby. You can also hail taxis.
FROM THE AIRPORT/RAILWAY STATION- Air France buses (12 Euros) go from Aeroport CDG to Gare Montparnasse. A taxi from CDG is around 55-65 Euross. Gare Montparnasse is a short walk away.

Get filled 
There are many places to eat in Paris, including restaurants and cafes. There are also kiosks, like Pomme de Pain etc. I won't recommend Basanti in Montparnasse, rude service and poor quality of food. For great bakery items, try branches of Pomme de Pain.

Check out Europe's largest flea market, Marche aux Puces de St-Quen in Montmarte near Abbess metro station.

Many designers are located on Av Champs-Elysees and around. In addition, try Blvd St-Germain and Rue St-Honore.

Transport around Paris is easy, use the Metro (€1.60/ticket, a carnet [10 tickets] for around €12). There's also the bus and the RER.  http://www.ratp.fr/en/ratp/c_5000/accueil/

To get from the airport- taxis and can also be used.

My Parisian itinerary

My Parisian Itinerary

Paris Itinerary: day to day
DAY 1- I went to the Eifel Tower after my arrival and after I checked-in to my hotel, Le Meridien Montparnasse (http://www.spg.com/). I just took some photoes from the Champs-du-Mars garden and went to the Invalides before walking away to Trocadero.

View from Eiffel Tower
DAY 2- I spent a few hours in the Louvre before walkng over to Center Georges Pompidou for an hour to enjoy the panoramic views. In the evening, I visited the Tour Montparnasse for cool views and the awesome Marche aux Puces de St-Quen flea market.

DAY 3- I took a bus to Arc de Triamphe. After enjoying the views, I headed on Champs-Elysees to eat and shop. I visited the Sacre-Coeur and the Eiffel Tower in the evening.

DAY 4- I visited the Chateau de Versailles and La Defense.

DAY 5- I visited the Notre-Dame, Pantheon, took a Seine cruise and visited the Jardin du Luxembourg.

DAY 6- Shopped around St-Germain Blvd and visited the Musee du Picasso and roamed around the Marais and Bastille.

Paris has an efficient metro and bus network, and in a city where the atmosphere has to be experienced to be believed, walking is superb.

A Metro station

Top Experiences 
- A Seine cruise (touristy but what the heck?) Great views.
- Walking around Marais (quaint street, nice bakeries...)

Views of Paris

It can hard to decide where to go for good views if you're short on time. My personal favourite is Tour Montparnasse which gives a fairly open viewpoint with breathing room. The first two pictures are from Tour Montparnasse, the third from Arc de Triomphe and the last two from the Eiffel Tower.

Paris is, in general, a safe city but you should be wary of the usual petty crime. There have also been some reports of petty crime from the RER. Although some areas of Montmarte may seem dodgy, they are as safe as anywhere in Paris if you follow normal precautions.

One Day
Just one day in Paris? Extremely difficult to shortlist! But you can start off with the Eiffel Tower, go up for some good views, and walk around the park and come to Trocadero district. In the afternoon, go to Arc de Triomphe and walk up for some views. Roam around Av des Champs-Elysees and around. Return to the area around the Eiffel Tower in the evening for a Seine cruise.

Two Days
Follow the One Day itinerary on the first day. On the second day, visit a museum such as the Louvre and stroll around the area of the respective museum. Later in the afternoon, visit the Notre-Dame and the Jardin Luxembourg and go up Tour Montparnasse later in the evening.

Three Days
Follow the Two Day Itinerary for the first two days. Make a day trip on the third day, such as to Versailles. When you're back in the evening, go to Montmarte and visit the Sacre-Coeur Basilica and visit the flea market Marche aux Puces de St-Quen.

Four or More Days
You can now visit more areas such as La Defense and Marais and explore deeply in already visited areas.

Remember one of the main source of enjoyment in Paris is just strolling around aimlessly!

Last visit- Aug 2010
No of visits- 2
First visit- Apr 2009

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