Years ago, I had the chance to visit the City of Lights and fell in love. No, not with a man. I fell in love with the city of Paris. The culture. The food. The history. The art. This city had me amazed. I felt as if I had gone back in time. I loved eating Nutella Crepes. I saw the Mona Lisa. I went as far on top of the Eiffel Tower as they would let me. I shopped. I visited Notre Dame Cathedral. I dined in cafes and drank wine as I watched the people go by.
But I only had a little over 48 hours. If I could go back in time, I would have set more time for this city and country in general. France treated me well.
When I arrived in France, I took a tai to my hotel (which had a gorgeous view of the city and right across the street from The Louvre) and spent time checking in. By the time I had checked in and settled myself, I was left with an evening and two full days in the city. That night I wandered the streets, got my bearings, and figured out where I needed to go for my little 48 hour period.
So what should you visit if you only have 2 days in the magical city?
- Eiffel Tower–this seems like a no brainer but what a sight to see. Most places in the city can see this monument for miles. I could see it from my hotel. I could see it in the air when I flew into Paris. I could see it from the street. So, what should you do when you visit it? Some words of advice: take the elevator if issues with walking or climbing, otherwise use the stairs. Since one of my traveling companions struggled, we took the elevator to the second floor and went up an additional floor to get a better view with less crowds (the higher you go, the less people you see). Yes, it does cost money (11-17 Euros), but it’s worth every penny. Stop in the first floor if possible to experience the see through floor! No worries, there are restrooms, but make sure you know the hours of operation to enter. During my time, the very top was under construction. However, I went as far to the top as allowed. Breathtaking. There are no other words. In the words of Jack Dawson, “I’m on top of the world!”
- The Louvre–For you art or history fans, this is a must. I was determined to see the Mona Lisa. Gosh darn it, I wiggled and elbowed by way to the front of the crowd so I could see the iconic picture up close. Besides the Mona Lisa, I was able to go through floor after floor of historical and modern art. I had the chance to see Napoleon’s belongings and artifacts. One thing I highly recommend: Do a little planning beforehand. There are 380,000 objects and 35,000 works of art on display. There is no possible way to see everything. When I first arrived, I took a map and figured out which rooms I wanted to visit and which rooms would have to wait until another visit. I immediately circled what I wanted to see and the floor they were on display. I highly recommend seeing the following: The Winged Victory of Samothrace, The Venus de Milo, The Raft of Medusa, Hammurabi’s Code, The Lamassu, and of course, The Mona Lisa. While there, you will find some rooms empty while others are filled with hoards of people. Mapping out your time first hand will help with confusion, eliminating time waste, and making sure you visit some of the most famous art pieces in the world!
- Notre Dame Cathedral–History, architecture, and religion. What a wonderful and beautiful sight. One thing I loved about this place of worship–it was free! While traveling, I found many churches charged a price to enter and look at the relics, art, or architecture. Notre Dame de Paris was one of the few places that welcomed visitors and even allowed pictures (no flash though!). On my second day in France, I had the chance to visit the Cathedral and learn more about it. It. Is. Crowded. Just a forewarning. However, I loved once I was inside. People were generally quiet. The area was cooler and more peaceful. It was nice to be in a less stressful environment. Outside everyone takes pictures, but inside is more reserved. When entering the church, men should take off their hats. Ladies–please wear something appropriate. This is not a time for midriff and breasts hanging out. While there, I wore shorts and a tank top and was not turned away. In Europe, it is more common for women to wear something that covers the shoulders and knees. Although I did not find this (and people were not turned away), men were asked to take off their hat as a sign of reverence. Remember, you are in a place or worship, so treat the area with respect. Yet don’t forget to take pictures and truly look at the phenomenal details.
- Wander–take the beaten path for a few hours. Above are three places that will easily keep you occupied for 48 hours. However, I highly recommend spending one afternoon (or morning) shopping and wandering around the area. While I was near the Eiffel Tower, I saw a small farmer’s market across the area. Here I was able to talk to the locals and find some neat odds and ends. I bought scarves and other items to take home with me. I also had the time to wander up and down the streets and look at a few boutiques. I found one of my favorite dresses in a small boutique, and it always reminds me of Paris now. At one point, I remember being completely lost (even with a map) down the streets of shopping. Locals were kind enough to help me get back to my original area. I found cafes that served scrumptious food (see my previous blog post about eating abroad) and had time to relax a bit. My time in Paris was an absolute delight, because I was able to see non-touristy areas as well.
So, Paris in 48 hours. Not enough time, but it is doable! I loved my time in Paris, and I would return in a heart beat.
“A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.” – Thomas Jefferson.