This will most likely be the last of the big ‘tourism’ days for you in Paris. This will be the last full day that you have to experience everything that Paris has to offer. As such, let’s start with the Notre Dame Cathedral; after that, we will move on to the Musee d’Orsay, a museum that is overshadowed by the Louvre but significantly more enjoyable than the Louvre (I’ll tell you why below); then, what would a trip to Paris be like if we did not go to the Eiffel Tower?!
Today will be a pleasant day that you can take at a nice slow pace after Versailles and it should leave you feeling satisfied that you have seen many of the amazing treats that Paris has to offer.
Let’s begin 🙂
What you should do:
Notre Dame Cathedral
There are many Metro stops that you can use to get to this cathedral but the most commonly used is probably “Chatelet.” The closest metro stop is “Cite” but only one Metro line runs through Cite whereas many lines run through or end at Chatelet.
I recommend getting off at Chatelet because, though it is not the closest Metro to Notre Dame, the walk from there to the cathedral will give you great views of Ile de la Cite (the island upon which the cathedral is located) and also some famous clock thing that you see on the right after you cross the nearest bridge (I know the clock is famous and that it looks cool but I never bothered to figure out why lol).
Once you get to Notre Dame, remember to look for the gargoyles on the building and, of course, the rose window, though I don’t find the window particularly interesting. You can enter the church for free, but if you want to go to the top of it, you will have to pay, of course. I find that the architecture of this structure and the outside of it are significantly more interesting than the inside of it.
This is a very easy site to see and you can spend as much or as little time here as you would like.
To get here from Notre Dame, just cross a bridge to the south side of the river Seine and take a nice stroll up the river towards the Eiffel Tower. Musee d’Orsay is just on the river and it should take about 10 or 15 minutes to get there. On the way, take note of the artists and street vendors along the river. It is also worth it to wander around some of the side-streets (by day) and enjoy the architecture and character that is present throughout Paris. You may also find a nice place to eat around here.
This is by far my favorite museum and one of my favorite places in Paris and maybe in all of Europe. The structure itself is an old train-station that is itself a piece of art and which serves to accentuate the art contained within its walls, the most impressive of which is the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings in the world; read Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cezanne, and of course Van Gogh.
The reason that I love this place so much is because of the ambiance. It is a personal viewing environment. Unlike the Louvre, you view the art in small rooms with dim light and no tour groups. You can stand just a foot from some of the most famous works of art the world has even known. You can see every brush-stroke and truly appreciate the art that is before you. This is what you wish every other art museum was like.
One of the best experiences of my life was to go here with my beautiful girl-friend Alexandra (no longer in the picture, but the enjoyment of the experience can never be diminished).
I don’t think that I need to say much about this attraction. If you have never heard of it, what are you doing in Paris?!
From Musee d’Orsay, there are a lot of ways to get to the Eiffel Tower. I would not recommend public transportation unless you are really tired because you will then miss some of the city. If you want to go on a little adventure, bring a map and cut through the streets that are between Musee d’Orsay and the Eiffel Tower; if you do this without a map though, you will certainly be lost, but that can also be part of the fun :).
If you are worried about getting lost or just want a nice stroll along the river, stay on the river Seine and continue walking away from Notre Dame and the Musee d’Orsay. You will pass by some really cool sites and will have a lot of photo opportunities, especially once you get to the next bridge on the river. Take this walk nice and slow and soak up the views. The walk could take 15 minutes to 30 minutes but is not difficult to complete.
Once you get to the Eiffel Tower, buy your tickets to go up or pick up your tickets if you booked them in advance. It is a very good idea to book these tickets in advance because the line can be VERY long. You can purchase your tickets here: Eiffel Tower Tickets Online. If you can stomach it, go to the very top; this will provide you with amazing views of Paris that you can get nowhere else in the city.
Now, once you have done this, you should remain in the area until dark, or just go eat or go home for a while and come back after it is dark outside. At, I think, 8pm, every half-hour, the tower sparkles from top to bottom for 5 minutes. This is amazing, especially the first time you see it. If you can, don’t tell your friends and family that it does this and it will be a very cool surprise for them. The last time I took a group of people from my hostel to the Eiffel tower at night, every girl started crying and one Canadian guy started crying as the tower was sparkling… I’m not saying you should cry, but it is a really fun experience.
When you are done, take the closest Metro stop home. I prefer to take “Ecole Militaire” or “Trocadero.” The other stops near the tower will be filled with ‘street-people’ that will harass and accost you.
Saving the Eiffel Tower visit until the end will put a very nice cap on the whole trip. After seeing this, you should feel pretty good about Paris. Now, you have one more day left where you can see some sites that may still remain on your to-do list.
What I am doing:
I spent the day walking around Opera and at the top of Printemps enjoying a nice view of Paris and a relaxing lunch. Then I headed off to a movie with one of my favorite people in Paris.
After that, I met my very good friend for some drinks and hot chocolate. 🙂