I recently, reluctantly, spent three weeks in Paris and London. Last week I shared the best of London via 11 photos. I’ve since gone through the 1368 photos (that’s not made up, that’s legit) I took on the Paris leg and after many hours of deliberation have culled it down to 15 of my favourites. Here they are:
15. The impossible not to love Louvre
One cannot come to Paris without visiting the mother of all museums, The Louvre, with it’s labyrinth of ornate galleries and works of art in the tens of thousands. A highlight was (obviously) the Mona Lisa, where I was quite amused to find a throng of tourists more enthralled in their selfie-taking than taking in the Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece itself.
14. Reims Cathedral, but where’s the Champagne?
It took a lot of convincing (by a lot I mean none) but on one of my days in Paris I hitched onto a tour out to Champagne country (a three-hour round trip from Paris) to visit a little known Champagne house called Mumm. Part of this day-long tour also took in the nearby Reims Cathedral. Truth be told, I was a little disappointed that this part of the day didn’t involve Champagne. That was until I got sight of those ceilings and discovered that this is only the exact spot where the previous kings of France were crowned. It’s also where, in 1429, Joan of Arc led a bloody battalion to recapture the English-controlled area so that the king of the time, Charles VII, could be crowned. After hearing this story we humbly walked back to our luxurious, air conditioned coach.
12 & 13. Sacre Coeur, the first of many vantage points
After ambling through the staircased streets of Montmartre, Paris’s tallest hill, you’ll be rewarded with the sight of the beautiful-domed Basilique du Sacre Coeur standing proud at the top, along with harp-playing musicians and a carnival-like setting. Hand over €6 and climb a few more stairs to the top of the basilica – this is the first of many vantage points across Paris and the first of many dizzying, claustrophobic spiral staircases.
11. Luxembourg Gardens, the world’s sexiest patch of green
You may as well have just bumped into a Thor-sized Chris Hemsworth because Luxembourg Gardens will leave you a hot stuttering mess. Well at least that was the effect this garden-on-steroids had on me as I struggled to take in the perfectly-groomed lawn, cute sailboats bobbing about on the pond and row after row of happy-looking flowers.
10. Paris. Period.
Before travelling half way around the world, I had some pretty dangerously high expectations of Paris and after spending 10 days camping out in the city of love, my gawd, it didn’t disappoint. It’s such a beautiful city that it hurt my eyeballs. Caught in this time capsule of Art Nouveau beauty, Paris is without a doubt the Miss Universe of world cities.
9. French pastries, breads, crepes, cheeses, deliciousness
By the time I left Paris I was diagnosed with bread poisoning, and given my daily diet consisted of two morning croissants, a baguette, two (sometimes three) crepes, pastries, and lashings of cheese, wine and meats, I’m not surprised. Would I eat it all again? You bet your baguette I would! Because it was all just too delicious for words.
8. Palace of Ridiculousness, I mean Versailles
The gold, the grandeur, the gardens! France’s Palace of Versailles is ridiculously ridiculous, yet totally worth making the 30-minute train ride and battling the crowds as it’s a four-course feast for the eyeballs. The highlight for me was escaping the Hall of Mirrors (which reminded me of those hated morning peak-hour tram rides into Melbourne when the trains aren’t running) into the not-small gardens, and lapping up the last of the Autumn sun, navigating the Grand Canal in a row boat.
6 & 7. Gargoyles galore at Notre Dame Cathedral
The line up to explore the towers of Notre Dame Cathedral is consistently dangerously long. It took me two attempts and in the end a very cold one and a half hour wait (after getting there at 9am) before I was finally ascending another dizzying spiral staircase. But it’s worth every shivering second as the experience is nothing short of incredible. There’s something very stirring about the bells ringing and reverberating behind you, as you stand atop the city of Paris, staring lovingly across into the eyes of the Eiffel Tower. It was unexpectedly breathtaking.
4 & 5. Arc de Triomphe
Of all the spiral staircases I huffed up to be rewarded with panoramic views across Paris, my favourite was the Arc de Triomphe, with its 360-degree viewing platform perched smack bang in the guts of the city. Plus the grand old structure is quite attractive on the eye in the way that everything in Paris seems to be. Watching cars do the tango around the notorious Etoile roundabout below is also pretty entertaining.
3. The Metal Asparagus
I think I might have a small crush on the Eiffel Tower, given the bronzed looker made an appearance in over half of my 1368 photos. Now that my little affair is out in the open, I still can’t think of a better way to have spent my final night in Paris than with my metallic lover, dining in the first-floor 58 Tour Eiffel restaurant and then being able to skip the cue, climb to the top and join the other revellers in toasting a €12 glass of champagne from the Champagne Bar. The view over a twinkling Paris is the stuff of dreams, although at one point I did disappointingly ask where the Eiffel Tower was, so used to it dominating the Paris skyline. What a dingbat!
2. Visiting Champagne. Not Sparkling, Champagne!
You’ll know from previous posts that I’m a full-blown wine snob, so having the opportunity to visit Champagne in France, and in particular touring the Mumm and Mercier Champagne houses, was my version of doing the Harry Potter tour of London. When we drove down Avenue de Champagne I thought I was going to wet my pants. The best bit was taking a miniature train ride through the Mercier cellars where bottles and bottles of Champagne were quietly cellaring. This Champagne-induced smile refused to leave my face for days.
1. Who wants to picnic under the Eiffel Tower? ME!!!!
The downside of being inside the Eiffel Tower is that you can’t get a visual of it in all its metal, Art Nouveau glory. You also miss the hourly nighttime light shows. So freshly back from Champagne country, I packed a picnic of French cheeses, meats and some newly-bought Mumm Champagne and camped out underneath the tower, using my Paris map as a picnic blanket and bathed in my three French loves: wine, cheese and the Eiffel Tower.
Given the accompanying itinerary to our Paris holiday was so comprehensive it had a table of contents, I figured it’s only fair I share. Here it is – how to spend eight days in Paris.