You can enjoy Paris, even if you have only a few hours to spend in this grand city. Recently, we flew into Paris from the U.S. and spent just a late afternoon and evening before heading to Normandy the next morning. Dealing with jet lag, we still wanted to make the most of our time. It helps to stay outdoors as much as possible, rather than going in darkened museums or churches when you are sleep-deprived. I was pleased with our plan, so I’ll share it in hopes that, if you have just a short time in this rich place, you can get some ideas of how you can best tour the sights. Here’s what we did.
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First Stop: The Palais Royal
Somehow I missed this unique courtyard on previous trips. This was around the corner from our hotel, so we headed here first. You’ll find 260 short columns of black and white in the court of honor of the Palais Royal. I hear that this art is controversial, but I find it fun. It’s worth a look.
On to the Louvre
One of my favorite places in Paris is Pyramid Place, which is the front entrance of the Louvre. The famous glass pyramid gives this area its name. We happened to arrive on a Tuesday, when the museum is closed, so crowds were not as big as usual. I love the buildings and the sculptures here.
Crossing the street, we came to the small Arch de Triomphe (the larger one is straight down the Champs Elysees). Military shows put on for royalty were called “carrousels” or “little wars.” The arch here was commissioned by Napoleon I in 1806, modeled after a famous arch in Rome.
The long stretch of gardens and fountains between the Louvre and the Place de Concord is always a welcome place to relax. Created by Catherine de Medici as the “front yard” of the palace in the 1500s, the Tuileries became a public park after the French Revolution. For hundreds of years now, it’s been a place where Parisians meet and enjoy the outdoors.
And from the Tuileries, we glimpsed the iconic Eiffel Tower.
The Seine and Notre Dame
We stopped at a sidewalk cafe for cold drinks, then made our way back to our hotel. After a yummy Italian dinner, lack of sleep caught up with us and we had to call it a day. But I felt like I had experienced some of my favorites in Paris in the few hours we were able to wander here. And I certainly hope to return!
We stayed at the Hotel Moliere, just a few blocks from the Louvre. The central location of this hotel allowed us to drop our luggage off, freshen up, and head out for sightseeing on foot.
I did spend quite a bit of time researching hotels in the area where we wanted to explore. Hotels of all levels of expense can be found here, including some extremely pricey ones adjacent to the Louvre. I was happy with this mid-price hotel. I actually booked two different hotels earlier, but they were both a long ways from central Paris and would have called for metro rides or taxis. Hotel Moliere turned out to be the perfect location.
We opted for a taxi from Charles de Gaulle Airport to the hotel. We have taken the train (RER B) but found it so time consuming with stops along the way. Having such a limited time to see Paris, we splurged on the taxi. If you land at Charles de Gaulle and want to hire a taxi, be sure to line up at the official taxi area. “Unofficial” taxis will try to get your attention and your business, and they do charge more than the going rate.
If you have an overnight stop in Paris, be sure to sample the flavor of the city, even if your time is limited. As they say, Paris is always a good idea!