Ah, Paris. This is the #1 city destination for travel, according to the recent Trip Advisor poll. I’ve fallen for the charms of this City of Light, and I’ve included time here in every one of my 4 trips to Western Europe. We are planning to end our upcoming European adventure in Paris because that works well and Paris is always a good idea.
I will admit that the first time I ventured to Paris, I felt just “meh” about it. I was thrilled to finally be in the middle of a place I had heard about for so long. I loved the Eiffel Tower at first sight. But I felt I could take or leave the rest. I hopped on a train and moved on to other countries and cities that definitely stirred my heart more than Paris. For some reason, returning several years later, I was immediately smitten with everything — the clean architecture and wide boulevards, the ancient and stately Notre Dame, the sidewalk cafes with their colored chairs and awnings, the art, the Seine. So here are a few of my favorites in Paris, in no particular order except that I’ll save the best till last!
Here is a place you can blend in with the locals, especially on the weekend when you’ll be among joggers, skaters, children running happily, and friendly residents out for fresh air. Beautiful Luxembourg Gardens dates back to 1612. The gardens and the palace here were designed for Princess Marie de Medici, who became Queen of France. Nazis occupied the residence during WWII, and the French resistance fought nearby. The palace is now used by the French Senate.
Colorful toy boats sail on the pond, guided by children along the banks. It’s a delightful place to relax and perhaps enjoy a picnic lunch, too.
Of course, the gardens and tree-lined lanes are a wonderful place to explore.
Locals somehow knew we are from the U.S. and several of them stopped to tell us to be sure to see the Statue of Liberty. As directions were given in French, we wandered around a bit before finding it. The fun part was that we met a family with young children at the statue, and they wanted to practice English. We had quite a chat about their cats and school. These are the experiences that make travel so memorable.
The beauty of Sainte-Chapelle, in the heart of Paris, amazes all who enter here, but it is easy to miss. From the outside, Saint-Chapelle is unimpressive, so you may walk by and not realize this is definitely worth a visit. The chapel dates from 1248. King Louis IX, who lived next door in what is now known as the Conciergerie, built the church to house the relics he collected from Venice. You won’t find the relics here, but come in for the stunning stained glass. You will stand in awe gazing up at these artworks.
During the French Revolution, the chapel became administrative offices. Tall cabinets hid the glass. So when the choir stalls and other parts of the building fell victim to vandalism, these windows weathered the war. The rainbow of colors survived to be enjoyed hundreds of years later.
Visitor’s tip: You walk into the ground floor of the chapel, which does have stained glass windows, but be sure to climb the stairs to the top floor. That’s where the dazzling tall windows will surround you.
You cannot properly visit Paris without sitting in a sidewalk cafe, enjoying a coffee and croissant or a glass of wine. As sidewalk cafes line every street I’ve traveled, you’ll be spoiled for choice. If you find a view you like, grab a chair and settle in. This one is across the street from the Sorbonne, just off St. Michel Boulevard in the heart of the Latin Quarter. We’ve eaten breakfast here. And dinner. And breakfast again . . .
The Marais district offers so many cafes.
Odette’s in the Latin Quarter majors in charm and cream puffs. So many cafes, so little time!
The Invalides is a fascinating place where you can take in France’s military history going back about 200 years. The tall dome that crowns the Invalides is a landmark in the center of Paris. The Eiffel Tower rises behind a front yard that’s filled with shrubs and cannon. The Invalides is a chapel, an army museum, a hospital, and the final resting place of Napoleon I. You are sure to find something intriguing here. I’ve spent time at this museum every time I’ve come to Paris.
Exhibits fill the buildings around the courtyard. While some are here for a limited time, a permanent collection on World War I and World War II fills one wing of the museum.
Be sure to go in the chapel at the museum to see Napoleon’s tomb. And glance up at the dome, too.
If you have even an hour, check out this fascinating museum. If you have a morning or afternoon to spend here, that’s even better.
THE EIFFEL TOWER
My #1 favorite in Paris is this iconic symbol of the city.
I love the structure, the intricacies of the thousands of rivets, the sheer size in both width and height.
And the views from the top levels are unmatched.
So there you have my top favorites, but I have so many others, too. There’s the Arc de Triomphe, the Rodin gardens and museum, and the lovely D’Orsay art museum.
How about you? Have you been to Paris? What are your favorite places? Or if you would like to go, where would you head first?
Sharon, I love the way you showed off Paris in your photos. Your angles, panoramas, and close ups (love the Eiffel Tower ones), they really gave me a sense of the depth and awesomeness of the city. If I don’t get to Paris in this lifetime, that’s okay. I’ve embedded it on my list for the next one. Thanks for the suggestion. 🙂
I so want to see Paris one day!! So magical!
Beautiful pictures of beautiful Paris
Just gorgeous. Luxembourg gardens are my fav – spent hours there with the kids one trip. Every day we’d swing by. Also spent a surprisng 6 hours in Les Invalides – the time just flew by before I’d noticed! And I think Saint Chapelle is better than Notre Dame…lovely trip down memory lane! Thanks
For me, Paris is like Amsterdam – the art museums are my focus, and the rest comes second:):) In both cities I managed our then two young teens to bring to 2 museums in each city (it didn’t occur ti them then to object:):)), which would be pretty normal for a European family. Have to admit Gail, Americans are so visible, Europeans can see them a mile ahead (because of their loud voices, and lack of fashion – now I am one of them, lol). So many beautiful places there. The Eiffel is known, but not the most elegant:) Many thanks for sharing places in Paris with All Seasons!
Sharon – I have been to Paris a couple of times, and I must admit that I am still ‘meh’ about it. Not sure why. But I sure enjoyed your tour – so much beauty and I didn’t have to spend a penny! Thank you for the thorough descriptions and lovely photos.
I can’t imagine anyone being “meh” about Paris. I have never been, but my sister has lived there and invited my Mom over, where Mom fell in love with the city. When she talks about her bucket list, going back is top on the list. She wishes she had better photos and knows she could get them now. But, she won’t be heading back. I enjoyed your photos so much! Hopefully that will be enough for Mom too.
Oh your photos are breathtaking! I love Paris so much and I really can’t wait now for my next trip there! xx
I can’t help but agree with you here! I really liked the war museum at Dome des Invalides! Though I’d probably swop Eiffel Tower for the 10th arrondissement, which is still a residential neighbourhood, full of street art!
I’ve been to Paris a few times both as a child and as an adult but out of all these I’ve only been to the cafes and the Eiffel Tower! Clearly I have so much more to explore! My favourites include L’Arc De Triomphe and the Sacre Coeur.
I am adding Sainte-Chapelle and the Statue of Liberty to my list. Also, like you, I love the sidewalk cafes.
The Luxembourg Gardens and Saint Chapelle are high on my Paris to-do list as I haven’t seen those two and they are soooo pretty! #FarawayFiles
my favorites are Eiffel tower, Montmartre, walk along the Seine and many more…#farawayfiles
There is something about Paris. I love Paris, the entire city. My favourite spots are Shakespeare and Co. Montmartre, Saint Sulpice and just walking on the banks of Seine. Wonderful post and thank you so much for awakening fond memories. I am going back to Paris next month so looking forward to it..#Farawayfiles
Nothing to argue with here although I do have lots more favourites. Paris is wonderful. It is a city with a certain atmosphere that draws you in. I will never tire at looking at beautiful photos of Paris – thank you!
I felt the same way about Paris the first two times, but for some reason on my third visit it really clicked and now I’m a big fan! Though I’m still too nervous to say much of anything when I’m there. I let my husband do all the talking. Fab photos of the Eiffel Tower by the way! #farawayfiles
It’s funny how you can visit a place for the first time and think “meh”, then return later with a dofferdif set of eyes and love it (Singapore was like that for us). When I went to Paris, I was a Monet fan so D’Orsay museum was a highlight, also enjoyed Sacre Cour, Versailles and Notre Dame. Great suggestions here though! Pinned #feetdotravel
We visited many years ago and really enjoyed Paris. Thanks for the reminder of what a beautiful city this is. Think we need to plan a return visit! #feetdotravel
Oui! I just love Paris, such a diverse city with a special flair. And the food….oh la la! #feetdotravel
Quelle liste fantastique! So glad to see Les Invalides on it. We loved it, but most people we talk to just aren’t moved by it, if they’ve even gone. I think our Top Five would be really similar, but the sidewalk cafes are definitely our favorite feature of Paris – and all of France, really. We could linger there for most of the day if there weren’t so many other great places to go! That’s it…now we just have to go back, tout de suite. Allons-y!
Although i am not really a big fan of Paris you have identified the places i do enjoy visiting when there – especially the marais district where my favourite restaurant can be found!
Paris is such a special city I´m never tired of visiting! There is something unique about those sidewalk cafes, not to mention the croissants! I haven´t been to the Luxembourg Gardens though – such a beautiful place!
It’s been a long time since I have visited Paris. My favorite places were definitely parks and gardens, the Versailles Palace and of course local bakeries. 🙂
I’ve been to Paris 3 times now and of your 5, I’ve only done the Eiffel Tower. Great suggestions – and I really need to go back soon!
I just re-watched Midnight in Paris last night so good timing with the post to get me in the mood to visit Paris. The photos of those stained glass windows always look incredible, but so does Luxembourg Gardens as well. I must visit as an adult one of these days!
That was a lovely tour, thank you, Sharon. Although I’ve been to Paris numerous times, it has always been for work so I’ve generally ticked tourist attractions off in a rush when a little time allowed. I’d like to go back for a few days and follow your lead, it looks like a much more relaxed way to see the city of light.
Love your post on Paris. I’ve been there twice and after reading your post I think I’ll have to go back again. Excellent photos too; they really brought your post to life.
Ah Paris, je t’adore x
Have been to this city several times and it never fails to inspire, beautiful 🙂