Day 1 – arrival and Centre Georges Pompidou
I came to Paris to visit a great friend who is here in Erasmus. I stayed in the Cité Internationale, where she lives, and where the university residences of each country can be found. I landed at Orly airport and took the Orly Bus, which stopped right in the Cité Universitaire, super convenient!
As I arrived in the middle of the afternoon we went straight to the Centre Georges Pompidou and from the top I watched one of the most incredible sunsets ever, with the Eiffel Tower also on the horizon. The contemporary art exhibition is incredible – do not forget that almost every museum in Paris is free for any European citizen until the age of 26.
I started the day at Les Invalides, a monument that most leave out of the plan, but that impressed me a lot. Its golden dome protects the tomb of Napoleon, while the other buildings house the Army Museum, which I didn’t visit. The tomb is very beautiful!
Next to it there is the Rodin Museum. Here only the gardens are free, but it is also outside that you find “The Thinker”, so the gardens were enough for me. The whole gardens have incredible sculptures.
I continued on foot to the Musee d’Orsay, one of my favorite museums in Paris, not only for the exhibition, but for the building where it housed, an old railway station.
As it was the first day and I like to walk, I decided to walk along the Seine to the Pantheon, past the Pont des Arts, catching it still full of locks left by couples in love (which were later removed because the weight of the padlocks was endangering the structure). It’s funny that I never entered the Pantheon in Lisbon, but now I really want to, because the Paris one left my jaw drop! Beautiful building and huge!
I started the day in the bustling Place de la Concorde, with its imposing obelisk and beautiful fountains. The plan was to go from there through the cubic garden of the Tuieleries towards the Louvre.
First stop: Musee de l’Orangerie to see Monet’s Nenufares. I found more beauty in the curved rooms than in the paintures themselves.
Finally at the Louvre, I was first outside to take some photographs while watching the gigantic queue. I did not have much time because I had plans to have lunch with my friend, so I went to the security and asked if, due to the fact that I did not have to pay a ticket, I could enter through the door of the “reserved tickets”. He let me in! Then I made the mistake of going to the ticket office – after all, the queue is just for passing the metal detector – because I thought that, even if I did not pay, I needed a paper that proved I could enter. I lost about 15 minutes of museum, I did not need a ticket, we just have to show the ID to the ticket controller. I had already identified some of the works I wanted to see, so I was rushing in the labyrinth that is this gigantic museum – I was in the museum only two hours, if you have the time and patience for more, adjust the script.
We had lunch at the Hotel de Ville square – the town hall – and then crossed the Seine to the island where the Notre Dame Cathedral is located. We chose to take a guided tour that included going up to the top of the cathedral. It was magical to be at the foot of the gargoyles and relive all the imagery of our childhood associated with the Disney movie!
Still on the same island we went to the Sainte Chappelle, a small chapel richly ornamented, from its painted ceilings to its huge and detailed stained glass, where we finished the day.
I started the day at the Palais Garnier, the building that houses the Opera of Paris. Everyone has to pay a ticket here, but I was told it was worth it and they were right. All the detail inside, in all the halls and corridors, the museum, is well worth it!
Since it was right next door, I stopped by Galleries Lafayette just to see the building – on a later visit I discovered that it has a terrace with panoramic views of free access.
I continued to the Church of la Madeleine, with its classical facade of columns and pediment, which usually has musicians playing when there is no mass. Unfortunately, when I arrived, the mass began.
From here we are two steps away from the Place de La Concorde and the Champs Elysees, which I did on foot, upwards, towards the Arc de Triomphe. It is in the top of the Arc de Triomphe that you find my favorite view of Paris, because it is here that one perfectly sees the Paris of Haussman and all the important monuments of the city.
From the Arc I walked to the Trocadero, the site from which 95% of the photographs are taken with the Eiffel Tower. My plan was to go up while it was still day and catch the sunset, the lights of the city lighting up and the night. I decided to walk up the first two floors because the queue for the elevator was giant – I was dead when I got to the second platform (I walked up about 50 floors), but it was worth it because I still saw the city with light. To get to the top, there we have to go with the elevator, and since the queue was huge there too, when I got to the highest point it was already dark. Worth going up the Eiffel tower once in a lifetime!
In the morning I stayed at the Cité Universitaire to visit the Maison du Brésil and the Maison Suisse, both designed by Le Corbusier. I also took a long walk to see the other residences, all architecturally interesting! (An alternative option for those not interested in architecture is the Parc de la Villette or the Père-Lachaise Cemetery)
In the afternoon I went to the hill of Montmartre to visit the Basilica of the Sacrè-Coeur, another of my favorite places in Paris. The Basilica is beautiful, the view of the city is unique, the artistic quarter of Montmartre is loving!
Then I went down the hill to go to the Moulin Rouge, more to do a check in the list, than anything else, as it isn’t that interesting.
I spent all day in Versailles with my friend. The palace is huge and the gardens even bigger, and although I went there during winter and most of the statues outside were covered for conservation purposes, it was totally worth it! It is an impressive palace, and all the small residences in the garden are worth visiting!
On my last day, as my flight was only at night, I was still able to go to Poissy, outside of Paris, to visit Villa Savoy, also designed by architect Le Corbusier. For those who love architecture, enjoy it because it isn’t that far away.
On my return I passed through the modern zone of La Defense, where they have another arch, aligned with that of Triumph.
For those who do not like the plan of this day, I also suggest the Quai Branly Museum, which I visited at another time, and which is very interesting, from the building to the exhibition, on the various cultures of the world.
If you liked this post and want to read more about my trips to France, you can visit the following posts: