An October 2004 trip
to Paris by Rachobutt
Quote: This chronicles a whirlwind weekend trip to Paris, my very first time in Paris.
We ate at Planet Hollywood on Halloween, so the place was decked out for the holiday and the staff was all dressed in costumes, providing a fun ambience. The burger was about as American as it gets while in France, as was the shake. The price was a bit high, but for two homesick Americans, the meal was worth it.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on September 9, 2005
78, avenue des Champs-Elysees
Paris, France 75008
+33 (1) 5383 7827
The artwork was my big draw to the museum, being a huge fan of impressionism myself (I am an art history minor, which influences my opinion of Paris greatly). Though it seemed to take forever to get up to the little maze of galleries that held my Renoirs, the journey was worth it, for the art all around was terrific. I especially enjoyed the statue at the end of the main gallery (four women and a globe, though I can't remember the name of it). The rooms displaying Art Nouveau pieces were very interesting. Besides, this museum is chockfull of famous 19th-century paintings, from Manet's "Olympia" to Monet's "Gare St Lazare."
I arrived at the museum shortly after opening and there was already a line out the door, though it moved quickly. I spent roughly 4 or 5 hours in the museum, which was enough time to cover everything (resting at my favorite works) and also eat lunch in the dining room.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 9, 2005
62, Rue De Lille
Paris, France 75343
+33 (1) 4049-4994
My first piece of advice is to buy your tickets ahead of time; this will save time waiting in line (once you are through the first entrance, which may also have a line). My second piece of advice is to arrive early--a few minutes before opening (no need to be there ridiculously early--save your energy for once you are inside the Louvre). If you arrive early, as I did, the crowds at the major works of art will be significantly smaller than later on in the day. Which leads to my next piece of advice: see the major works first thing. I was fortunate enough to spend a little bit of alone time with the Venus de Milo and also to get relatively close to the Mona Lisa, although she did already have a small crowd in front of her (but not nearly as large as the crowd would be later).
Once you have a map of the Louvre, it is a good idea to come up with a sort of plan for the day. Knowing where the works of art are that you want to see allows you to formulate a sort of route that you will take during the day. For example, I started with the Venus de Milo, went past Winged Victory on my way to see Mona Lisa, then turned back to see the Raphaels and the Madonna of the Rocks before checking in on the large-scale French paintings and moving toward the French art gallery, then proceeding to the Dutch and Flemish art, then back down to Egyptian and then Mesopotamian art and ending with the Medieval Louvre. I was lucky (and hardy) enough to have seven hours to spend enjoying the museum, even having time for lunch at the cafe and shopping time. Just make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes and sit down frequently if you plan on spending much time in the museum.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 10, 2005
Musée du Louvre
99, rue de Rivoli
Paris, France 75001
+33 (1) 40 20 51 51
This was my first trip to Paris, and I only had 3 days to see all of the things I felt any person traveling to Paris must see. On my list were:
-the Musee d'Orsay
-Cathedral de Notre Dame
-Arc de Triomphe
-Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur
-the cemetery of Montmartre
-Palace de la Bastille
Needless to say, I covered all of these with time to eat and sleep (and even get lost). And here's how I did it (warning: this itinerary is for the truly dedicated who can withstand lots of walking and endless moving).
Saturday morning and early afternoon was spent enjoying the Musee d'Orsay (yes, it was thoroughly enjoyed and not rushed). Then my friend and I crossed the Seine and walked by the Louvre, stopping for a beautiful view of the Seine (very beautiful in autumn with the changing leaves of the trees and the afternoon sun characteristic of fall). Sadly, time was wasted trying to find the H&M store on rue de Rivoli—don't bother. Stores are crowded on Saturdays, especially if it's a 3-day weekend. After dropping bags at the youth hostel, we made our way to Cathedral de Notre Dame. Again, we got lucky with the autumn lighting. It was 6pm and the sun shone golden on the cathedral's great towers. There was a mass going on, so the cathedral was packed inside and out. We basically were squeezed in one door, caught in the flow of all the other people, and then squeezed out the exit. The cathedral was still beautiful. If you are pressed for time, it is definitely worth it, even if it is crowded. After the cathedral was dinner nearby, followed by a trip to the Eiffel Tower to see it lit up at night. Wow. The Eiffel Tower is gorgeous at night. The lights turn the great piece of architecture into some sort of magical tower, made all the more magical when it starts to sparkle on the hour (flashing lights create this effect). Great views were to be had from the park behind the tower and from the Palais across from the tower.
Sunday was spent on the Champs Elysees with time for shopping, going to the Arc de Triomphe (but not climbing it), and eating lunch at a sit-down restaurant. Then we went to see the Eiffel Tower in the daylight (it was cloudy and thus not as magical as the night before, but still a marvel of architecture). Then we headed up to Montmartre to see the Moulin Rouge, the Sacre Coeur, and the cemetery. The Moulin Rouge was right outside our metro stop, but was nothing great in daylight (much cooler at night when it's lit up). We had to wind our way through narrow streets and climb a few hills to get to the Basilique du Sacre Coeur, but it was well worth it. The views of Paris are amazing—never had I seen a city that stretches into the horizon (and with so few high-rises). It was a cloudy view, but again, worth it. After that we found the cemetery, which was an interesting place. It was Halloween, and thus slightly eerie, but beautiful. Trees were orange and leaves lined the tombs and roadways. I found Degas' tomb, but had no luck with La Dame aux Camellias. After some rest at the hostel, my friend and I decided to spend Halloween at the Eiffel Tower. What a great time to go up the tower. There was no line, and perhaps because of this the elevator operator mistakenly let us off on the second level (we paid for the first, and that was all I wanted). The view of Paris at night was spectacular, and I highly recommend it to everyone. I could see the Hotel des Invalides, Notre Dame, and the Sacre Coeur all lit up. It was great.
Monday was spent at the Louvre, that's it. Seven hours. I am a die-hard art fan (I am an art history minor). I made a point to see the Venus de Milo, the Mona Lisa, the large-scale French paintings, the Raphael’s, the Rubens, and whatever else I could fit in (which turned out to be half the museum). I moved from gallery to gallery, soaking up the artworks that really grabbed me and pulled me in. I discovered a new favorite artist, Backhuysen, whose paintings of ships at sea really touched me. I even got to see the Code of Hammurabi and the medieval Louvre exhibit.
So, by moving around, yet taking time to enjoy life, I made the most of my weekend in Paris. I even saw the monument at the Place de Bastille and the Palais Royal. If you have a short time in Paris and want to hit the major sights, this is how you do it. Just make sure you get a good rest afterward.