Paris in Spring...and Summer

I visited Paris with my Mom in summer of 2004 and again with friends while studying abroad in spring 2006. It is an amazing city and I cannot wait to go back.


Paris in Spring...and Summer

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Sabina315 on August 11, 2006

Whether it's watching the end of the Tour de France from the top of the Eiffel Tower or listening to jazz in an apartment on the left bank, Paris always has some magical moments. It seems like every place I visited in Paris is somewhere I could have spent hours and hours, but there are so many places to visit and see. My favorite places include the Musee D'Orsay, the Marche Aux Puces, the Espace Dali, and the Ile St. Louis. ${QuickSuggestions} Pick some things you want to see before you go, but don't be afraid to depart from your itinerary if you find an interesting neighborhood to wander. Hotels in Paris can be expensive, so if you are traveling with 4-6 people, consider renting an apartment. Knowing a few words of French will be extremely helpful, if you use a little French and are polite, the French people will be polite in return. ${BestWay} Walking is the best way to see Paris, there is much more to see than the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. However, Paris is a very large city and walking everywhere would be exhausting. The Metro is very easy to navigate. Buy tickets in carnets- 10 tickets at a time. For RER trains which go to the suburbs, the cost is a little higher and you often need your ticket to exit the station, so be careful not to lose it. Taking the RER from CDG is pretty easy, but on busy travel days the line for tickets is extremely long and the machine accepts only french credit cards and coins. The boats on the Seine are a good mode of transportation between landmarks and provide beautiful views of the city. Starting a river cruise jut before sunset can turn into a nighttime cruise of the Seine as well.

L'as du Fallafel

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Sabina315 on August 11, 2006

In the window of L'as du Fallafel, it says that Lenny Kravitz likes to eat here. If anyone knows food, it's Lenny Kravitz, so I chose to eat here rather than any of the many other falafel restaurants in the Marais neighborhood. The seating area is small and crowded, but the food is good and fast. One warning: the indoor area is quite smoky.
L'As du Fallafel
34, Rue Des Rosiers
Paris, France, 75004

Cafe des Deux Moulins

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Sabina315 on August 16, 2006

We spent quite a while trying to find this unassuming cafe on Rue Lepic, which winds down Montmartre. We finally arrived in the middle of a long rainstorm, so we spent a while warming up with hot drinks in the cafe. There weren't many non-french patrons, I think we were the only ones, but the Cafe certainly finds some of its business from the movie Amelie (this is where Amelie worked in the movie). There is a large movie poster on one wall and the receipt says "Amelie thanks you." Otherwise this is a typical french cafe, a perfect place to enjoy a coffee on a rainy day.
Cafe des Deux Moulins
15 Rue Lepic
Paris, France, 75018
33 (1) 42-54-90-50

Champs Elysees

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Sabina315 on August 11, 2006

A late afternoon promenade down the Champs Elysees is Paris at its best. Anchored by the Arc de Triomphe, this is the most famous street in Paris, and one of the most famous in the world. Here you can find some of France's most celebrated brands, such as Louis Vuitton. Even if you cannot afford the products in these stores, this is window shopping at its finest. The Champs Elysees is a great place to stretch your legs after a long flight, or sit on a bench and read the newspaper as the sun sets behind the Arc de Triomphe. It is easily reached by metro as the Arc de Triomphe sits above an immense metro station.
Avenue des Champs-Elysées
Avenue Des Champs-elysées
Paris, France, 75008

Sacré-Coeur

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Sabina315 on August 11, 2006

Paris is known for Notre Dame, and Europe is known for it's Gothic and renaissance cathedrals. Any city you visit in Europe will have at least one beautiful cathedral. Sacre-Coeur is a must-visit because it is different than many of these. The bright white building sits at the top of a brightly colored hillside garden in Montmartre. The inside is as beautiful as the outside and the decor has a more eastern feel, with more mosaic than stained glass.
Basilica du Sacre Coeur
35, Rue Du Chevalier-de-la-barre Rue De La Bonne
Paris, France, 75018
+33 (1) 53 41 89 00

Eiffel Tower

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Sabina315 on August 11, 2006

To many travellers, the Eiffel Tower is synonymous with Paris, and it certainly is a must visit site. Though it may at first seem like an ugly brown tower, spend some time looking at the Eiffel tower and you can't help but find it impressive. Climbing the tower can require long waits, especially if you take the elevator up the first two levels, so walking them may be a better choice if you are up to it. You will still have to wait in line for the elevator up to the top, but the views once you get there are perfect. Inside the observation deck is some information about the tower and, of course, windows for those who prefer not to go outside.

From the outside you can see all of Paris. Because many attractions are closed on Monday, the tower is more crowded that day. Visiting at night can also be fun, the tower lights up and sparkles and you can see why Paris is called the City of Lights. One of my visits to the Eiffel Tower was cut short by a torrential downpour, but watching the storm come in from the top of the tower was beautiful and completely worth being drenched. If you don't want to climb the tower, take your traveling companions, a blanket, and some wine and cheese (or whatever food you'd like), and sit on the Champs de Mars starting around sunset. Parisians, especially students, and some tourists (though I saw surprisingly few), get together here for an evening snack and to watch the tower light up and sparkle.

Eiffel Tower
Champ De Mars
Paris, 75007

Montmartre

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Sabina315 on August 11, 2006

Named for a Greek martyr who was decapitated here, Montmartre and the surrounding areas have long been haven for artists and "questionable elements of society." To get there, take the Metro to the bottom of the hill and then either walk up or take the cable car. Most people visit Montmartre to see Sacre-Coeur, but there is much more to do.

If you chose to walk up or down, make your path through the garden in front of Sacre-Coeur, filled with beautiful flowers, recently famous from the movie Amelie. Spend an afternoon walking around Montmartre. Get crepes from one of the many restaurants and stroll around the square about 1 block to the left of the front of Sacre-Coeur, where artists paint and sell their work.

Some of the main streets of the neighborhood are overly touristy, filled with souvenir shops and vendors walking the street selling portraits and cheap whistles. Avoiding those streets, you can still find the Montmartre artists have loved. And while you're there, be sure to visit the Espace Dali, a Salvador Dali museum on a small street (follow the signs from the artists' square).

Montmartre

Paris, France

Espace Dali a Montmartre

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Sabina315 on August 11, 2006

Before visiting this museum, I was not a huge Dali fan, having seen only his most famous paintings in school, and I had not heard of this museum, so I was not planning on visiting it. We wandered in and explored the museum, and it is now one of my favorite museums anywhere. You won't see a lot of Dali's paintings here; what the space exhibits is Dali's drawings and illustrations. My favorites are the incredible illustrations of various works of literature, ranging from the Bible to Alice in Wonderland to Don Quixote. I have looked everywhere for a book of these drawings and haven't found one--what you'll see at the Espace Dali is something you won't find anywhere else.
Espace Dali
11 Rue Poulbot Near Place Du Tertre
Montmartre, Paris, 75018
+33 (1) 42 64 40 10

Le Louvre

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Sabina315 on August 11, 2006

The Louvre is Paris' most well-known museum and is understandably quite crowded. Lines are shortest early in the morning, and during the day, the wait may be shorter if you enter through the Metro and the shopping area under the Louvre rather than outside by the famous pyramid. Pick what you want to see before entering one of the three wings of the museum (Sully, Dennon, Richlieu), and make sure to get a map. The Louvre is full of incredible works, so no matter what, you won't be disappointed. One of my favorites is the sculpture court, which seems less crowded and allows for an intimate view of the sculptures (I even ran into a friend who happened to be in Paris here!).
Musée du Louvre
99, rue de Rivoli
Paris, France, 75001
+33 (1) 40 20 51 51

Shakespeare and Company

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Sabina315 on August 11, 2006

Shakespeare & Company was recommended to me and the friends I was traveling with by a man we met in the Barcelona airport who is getting his masters in Paris. He said compared it to City Lights in San Francisco, which happens to be one of my favorite bookstores, and I have visited many bookstores, so of course we had to visit and I fell in love. This is no Barnes & Noble, the store is covered, floor to ceiling with books, some well known and some from small publishers like City Lights books. Around the store are comfortable places to sit and read and the store often has poetry readings. The staff is extremely friendly, as is everyone who happens to be browsing the store.
Shakespeare and Company
37, Rue De La Bûcherie
Paris, France, 75005
+33 1 43 25 40 93

Musee d'Orsay

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Sabina315 on August 11, 2006

The Louvre may be Paris' most famous museum, but the Musee d'Orsay holds many of the most famous paintings and is my favorite of the two. This museum picks up where the Louvre left off and focuses on impressionism, especially on the top floor, which includes Monet, Manet, Renoir, Cezanne, Degas, etc. Here you will find Degas' ballerinas and Toulouse-Latrec's posters, as well as sculptures and architecture.

It closes one day a week and lines can be longer than those at the Louvre, so get there early. It can be a little confusing getting from one floor to another. The first time I visited, security evacuated the building, but the whole thing only took about 20 minutes.

Musee d'Orsay
62, Rue De Lille
Paris, France, 75343
+33 (1) 4049-4994

Musee Picasso

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Sabina315 on August 12, 2006

Picasso museums are scattered throughout Europe because creating them was one of the ways his family settled his debts after his death. This one has works from different times in his life, which allows visitors to see how his style changed. It is worth a visit, especially for Picasso fans, but for others with a limited amount of time, another museum may be better.
Musee National Picasso Paris
Hotel Sale 5, Rue De Thorigny
Paris, France, 75003
+33 (1) 42 71 25 21

Notre Dame de Paris

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Sabina315 on August 12, 2006

Paris started here on the Ile de la Cite and this area is one of my favorite places to visit in the city. One reason for that is because of Notre Dame. The area in front of the church is beautiful and perfect for relaxing, as is the small park behind the church. Inside, you can chose to go up in one of the towers. There is an audio tour which is informative. And of course another way to enjoy the cathedral is just to stroll around the interior, admiring the stained glass windows. Of course the rest of the cathedral is impressive, as well as the facades on the outside (including the famous gargoyles), but the windows are definitely my favorite part. Though Notre Dame is famous, it is not usually too crowded and people generally keep quiet inside so the atmosphere is serene and besides tour groups there are often people praying or lighting candles. Mass can be heard most Sundays. Entrance is free (except to go up in the towers) and Notre Dame is easily accessed by metro or boat.
Cathédrale Notre-Dame
6, place du Parvis-de-Notre-Dame
Paris, France, 75004
+33 (1) 42 34 56 10

Arc De Triomphe

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Sabina315 on August 14, 2006

The Arc de Triomphe is beautiful, especially late in the day. It is easy to get to by taking the Metro to any of the many lines that stop at the Etoile under the Arc. It is free to visit if you don't go up to the viewing deck on top. And it is located at the end of the Champs Elysees, another popular place to visit. However, the Arc de Triomphe has about as many tourists as the Eiffel Tower, just in a smaller space. Also, it is in the center of an immense traffic circle, so don't let children stray too far away and don't try to cross the street to get there; take one of the tunnels under the road. Once you do get there, take some time to walk around and look at the sculptures, such as Napoleon as Caesar.
Arc de Triomphe
Place Charles-de-gaulle
Paris, France, 75008
+33 (1) 55 37 73 77

Chartres Cathedral

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Sabina315 on August 14, 2006

Taking a trip to Chartres was not planned when I visited Paris, but I was staying with family, and they said it was a must. The drive from Paris is not long, about an hour or two, and it is definitely worth making the trip.

The town of Chartres is a nice contrast to Paris because of its size. Before or after you visit the cathedral, take some time to stroll the tiny streets and have a leisurely lunch in one of the bistros near the cathedral, which are surprisingly non-touristy. The one we went to had maybe one English-speaking staff member (I speak French), and the food was as good or better as I had at any bistro in Paris.

The cathedral itself is amazing. From the outside it is impressive certainly, but it is the inside of Chartres that earns it such fame. Chartres has some of the best stained glass of any cathedral. The color created by the sunlight through the glass is known as "Chartres Blue", and it fills the cathedral all day. The other aspects of the cathedral are also quite interesting, and an audio tour or guided tour are a good choices. While inside, don't miss the maze on the floor. Because it is outside of Paris, Chartres has less tourists than Notre Dame and is a great place for a day trip.

Chartres Cathedral/Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres
Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres
Chartres, France

Château de Versailles

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Sabina315 on August 14, 2006

Visiting Versailles can be a great day trip or a hot, loud, crowded experience that makes you want to go home. You can take the RER and explore the little town around the Palace, but I recommend getting there early, especially if you want to take a tour. Versailles is absolutely enormous and immediately imposing as you walk up to the palace. You'll probably have time to stare in awe at the outside of the building as you wait in line to go in, but if there is no line, take a little time to gawk at one of the most famous royal residences in history. In crowded places like this, I like to take the audio tour instead of a guided tour because I can get a little farther from huge groups and spend as much or as little time at various stops on the tour. If you like this sort of thing, the interior of Versailles is consistently impressive. Every room is entirely ornate, from the wallpaper to the furniture to the silver on the table or the pillows in the bedroom. A lot of history has been made at Versailles and the architecture and decor don't let any visitors forget that, especially in places like the Hall of Mirrors. If any place is worthy of being the site of the end of major wars (and the beginning), this is it. If fancy dining rooms and crowds of tourists aren't your thing, skip the building and head to the gardens of Versailles. They are expansive and you could easily spend the better part of a day exploring them if the weather is nice. Especially interesting is the Orangerie, full of orange trees. The gardens are a perfect follow-up to the palace or an alternative, they are large enough that you can find parts that are not too crowded and a nice break from bustling Paris.
Palace of Versailles (Chateau de Versailles)
20 Km Sw Of Paris
Versailles, France
01 30 83 78 00

Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Sabina315 on August 14, 2006

Every 20-something backpacker who visits Paris visits Pere Lachaise. While it may not be high on the lists of everyone you're traveling with, for everyone other than kids, it's worth a quick visit. Pere Lachaise is easy to get to by metro. I went with a few sites in mind to visit once I got there, but after seeing them I spent a little time just walking through the quiet paths, enjoying the calm and the trees and plants that fill up all the space that isn't filled with elaborate headstones and mausoleums. I am not the kind of person to spend an entire day in a cemetery, but I was happy to spend an hour in Pere Lachaise, relaxing with the memories of Heloise and Abelard, Jim Morrison, Sarah Bernhardt, and the spirit of Paris' history.
Pere Lachaise Cemetery
16, Rue Du Repos
Paris, France, 75020
33 1 55 25 82 10

Ile de la Cite/Ile St Louis

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Sabina315 on August 14, 2006

I went to the Ile de la Cite the first time to visit Notre Dame after passing it on a water taxi and deciding to hop off. After visiting the cathedral, I decided to take some time to explore the island Notre Dame is on and its neighbor, the Ile St Louis.

Ile St Louis is home to quite a few expensive apartments and is definitely a nice neighborhood. Get some ice cream at Berthillon or any Berthillon vendor and roam the neighborhood, which is full of patisseries and jewelry shops. Even in mid-afternoon this isn't a touristy area, so a relaxing walk is quite possible.

The Ile de la Cite, home to Notre Dame, is a bit more touristy. My friends and I spent a morning here, and besides visiting Notre Dame, we got breakfast at one of several patisseries (while it may be harder to find a place where everyone wants to eat lunch or dinner, pastry for breakfast in Paris is win-win). After enjoying our hot, fresh breakfast, we did some shopping and watched some street performers on rollerblades. Looking at a map and planning a walk of these islands is not something I would do, but taking a relaxing walk to explore the heart of Paris is definitely something I have done and will do every time I visit this city.

Ile de la Cité/Ile Saint-Louis
Centre of Paris in the Seine
Paris, France

An Afternoon in the Marais

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Sabina315 on August 14, 2006

Paris is definitely a walking city. The best way to see Paris beyond the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower is not to take the Metro directly to the front door of a less touristy site, but rather to go to one of Paris's great neighborhoods and explore. The Marais is the old Jewish neighborhood and is still home to many of the Jews in Paris. Highlights include more than a handful of restaurants specializing in Middle Eastern cuisine, bookstores, and bakeries. The architecture on old synagogues is impressive as well.

Marche aux Puces

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Sabina315 on August 14, 2006

As a recent high-school graduate in Paris, I was certainly not in the market for any of the expensive antiques for sale at the Marche aux Puces (flea market), but visiting the market was like a different type of sightseeing. As soon as you arrive here, hold on to your purse or wallet, as this market is quite crowded and has as many pickpockets as antique armoires. Outside the market are vendors selling clothes, shoes, electronics, food, etc. Inside aisles of furniture vendors with incredible pieces. My favorites here were the huge chandeliers, decorated with flowers and crystals. In another building are things like jewelry and swords. And yet another (two-story) building is mostly fabric and art. I spent quite a while exploring the old maps of Paris and prints of drawings from fashion magazines of the 1800s. The Marche aux Puces is a hot, crowded market, but it is full of amazing pieces to discover and characters to meet.
Marche Aux Puces
Rue Des Rosiers
Paris, France

Galeries Lafayette

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Sabina315 on August 15, 2006

Galeries Lafayette is not a typical department store. In the center of the store, you look up to see an impressive stained glass dome at the top of the building, and the building itself is beautiful. It is easy to reach by Metro and foot.

As far as shopping goes, Galeries Lafayette is wonderful, especially in February and August, when European stores have big sales. This is the perfect place to buy the things women want to buy when visiting Paris, make-up and lingerie. The staff here is beyond helpful in French and English. Almost everyone who visits Galeries Lafayette leaves having found much more than they expected.

Galeries Lafayette
40, Boulevard Haussmann
Paris, 75009
+33 (1) 42823456

Kazana

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Sabina315 on August 15, 2006

This Paris chain can be found in several neighborhoods, including the Ile St Louis and St Germain de Pres. Its collection of jewelry and accessories is youthful, bright, and inexpensive, and there is something for every girl in Kazana stores.
Kazana
10, rue Steinkerque
Paris, France

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