This is going to be a big day! So, make sure to get a big breakfast. A croissant and coffee will NOT do. If you want to ‘experience culture’ then, sure, have that, but make sure to fill up on some real food (eggs, bacon, potatoes, beans if you’re from the U.K. and Ireland, etc.). If you don’t fill-up now, you will pay a fortune to eat in or near the Louvre or really any of the attractions that you will be seeing today.
So, let us get started!
What you should do:
The easiest way to get here is to go to the metro stop “Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre.” This station is actually connected to the museum, so you never have to go above ground, which is great if you visit during the winter.
The Louvre museum is huge, no I mean HUGE. This is how you need to see the museum, otherwise it will be a waste of time.
Spend no more than 3 hours inside the museum at any one time; otherwise you will see so many things that you will not be able to appreciate anything. Choose particular sections of art that interest you and stick to those sections; do not try to see everything. When you see the Mona Lisa, turn around, otherwise you will miss the most impressive painting in the room. And, eat before you enter the museum; otherwise you will exit in bankruptcy court.
After the Louvre, you will need some fresh air and this is where the Champs Elysees comes into play.
(can’t find the good photo that I had – will update when find it)
The Champs Elysees is probably the most or the second most famous street in the world. It runs from the Arc de Triomphe all the way to the Louvre museum.
To get there from the glass pyramid that lies in the center of the Louvre, just face away from the museum and walk toward the gardens and the Arc de Triomphe. It is pretty hard to miss. Once you cross a few big intersections you will enter the main street.
You will cross through the Tuileries Garden to get to the Champs Elysees and you should take your time strolling there here. This is a very nice garden with some sculptures, fountains, and otherwise just a peaceful atmosphere.
Take your time strolling down the Champs Elysees and pay attention to some of the really cool architecture. There are some old buildings with classic features that lay at the foot of it and also some modern buildings with really cool features, like the Citroen building.
There are a number of arcades that you can find along here and a number of different eating establishments; you will find everything from the world-famous Macaroons sold by Laduree to some basic coffee shops, to Starbucks and McDonald’s if you want something to which you may be more accustomed.
I do recommend relaxing while on this street and, if you don’t eat, just take a break on one of the many benches here or that are located in the park that leads from the Louvre to the Champs Elysees.
Once you make it to the top of the street, the reward is the Arc de Triomphe.
Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe sits at the very top of the Champs Elysees and is quite an impressive structure. In fact, it is big enough that there is a gift shop inside the top of it and you can go all the way to the roof for a very nice viewing platform. From there, you can look all the way down the Champs Elysees to the Louvre and also down the other side to La Defense, which is like the new shiny downtown area for Paris (technically it’s not in Paris). You do have to pay to go up to the top (~9 euro), but you can walk under the structure for free and it is pretty cool to look at from the underside of the structure.
The best place to get a photo of it is from the middle of the Champs Elysees, just make sure you don’t get hit by a careless driver. Also, to get to the actual structure, take one of the underground passageways – there is one on the top of the Champs Elysees and another on exactly the opposite side of the Arc de Triomphe.
Eat and Rest
After this, I suggest heading towards the Ternes metro stop, which is to the right of the Arc de Triomphe if you are looking at it from the Champs Elysees. On your way there, you will find lots of shops, cafes, and restaurants.
After eating, go home and take a much needed rest :).
What I am doing:
Spent the day resting and had lunch with a really great person.
Then realized “Oh F*** today is Valentines day!” and thanked my ex-girlfriend for breaking up with me before today, thereby saving me a lot of money :).