Sights I visited in Paris
by jipp05 on January 7, 2011
Paris is such an beautiful city with so many amazing museums to vist. Unfortunately it is also one of the most visited cities in the world and at nearly every one there will be a large queue and this is where the Paris museum pass becomes a must buy if you intend to visit the most popular. It cost's 35 Euros for a 2 day pass, 50 Euros for a 4 day pass and 5 Euros for a 6 day pass. With the pass it entitles you to free entry to over 60 of the cities most popular museums and attractions inclusing The Louvre, Musee de Orsay and The Pantheon. For 35 Euros I definately think it represents value for money and we used our 2 day passes quite extensively saving us quite a bit of money. For example if you just visit 4 of the most popular attractions such as the Louvre, Musee de Orsay, the Arc de Triomphe and Centre Pompidou then the card will already have paid for itself. The best thing about the card and the main reason that we decided to buy it was because it allows you direct entry into the museums bypassing the queues. For anyone who has ever visited the Louvre then you will know just how long the queues can take. With the pass we were able to just walk past all the people queuing straight to the ticket booth which made this pass absolutely invaluable and something I would have happily paid extra for. If you want to buy the Paris museum pass then you can either buy it from the official website before you leave for Paris but you need to make sure you order at least ten days before you leave to ensure it arrives in time. The easiest way and what we did was just buy it when we arrived in Paris at the tourist information centre. You can also pick one up at any of the museums and monuments that the pass covers.
The Arc de Triomphe is located at the end of the champs Elysees and is hard to miss as it dominates the local skyline and is pretty impressive looking. The Arc was originally commisioned by Napolean to commemorate his victories and honour all the French soilders who were killed in battle. Just looking at the Arc from outside is fantastic and there is so much history to see adorning it. The Friezes and sculptures that are on the facade are amazingly detailed and absolutely beautiful. Because it is so large be prepared to get a sore neck with craning it up to try and see everything. Beneath the arc lies the famous tomb of the unknown soldier which I found to be a humbling experience and seeing the eternal flame really made me feel quite emotional. I wanted to go to the top of the Arc as I had heard the view was spectacular. There is an entry fee to go up but we had the Paris museum pass so this meant it was free for us and we could also bypass the queue which was quite large. Inside there is a small museum which houses an interactive exhibit which details the building of the Arc and all the important dates of it's history. The exhibit is accessed by touch screens and these were easy to use and meant we could skip the boring parts. It was also in English which was good as some other places we visited only had information in French. After the museum you can continue on the way to the top of the Arc but be wanred this is only for the able bodied and is quite a hike at 284 steps. Once on the platform roof the view didn't dissapoint and was absolutely superb. I made sure we visited when it was dark as the view of Pairs twinkling in the night is one that really can't be beaten. The Arc is opened from 10am until 10:30pm in winter and until 11:00pm in summer and is a must for people interested in history or even those who just want a fabulous view of the city.
by jipp05 on January 5, 2011
Notre Dame de Paris is an amazing building that I thought I knew well from seeing on the TV and in movies but nothing could prepare me for how jaw-dropping it is to see it in the flesh for the first time. Located on the Il de la cite which is in the 4th arrondissement it is hard to miss due to it's size and also the crowds who are constantly outside. Although it is a catholic church you by no means need to be religious to appreciate the absolutely stunning archetecture and the special atmosphere the church has. Just standing outside and staring up at the church there is so much to see from the famous gargolyes and sculptures. Built in the gothic style it has to be thmost beautiful gothic building in the world as far as I am concerned. Gaining entry into the interior is free and although there is always tourists around somehow it feels like an calm oasis in the middle of the city. The atmosphere really is special and although I am not religious even I was awed by it. The gothic archetecture continues inside and the stain glass windows are absolutely beautiful. The huge organs really are a sight to see as are the paintings sculptures. You can really get a feeling of the history of the building and understand why it has been such a literary inspiration over the years. Once you have spent some time wandering around the interior you can then climb the tower and although this has a fee it is something that is a must in my opinion. Be prepared to queue as it is very busy and it is only for the fit as the steps up to the top are narrow and steep. Just walking up the spiral staircase takes you back in time and when you reach the top the views over paris are stunning. The reason I wanted to climb the tower was to get up close and personal with the gargolyes and this was a highlight for me on my trip to paris. You really can get up close to them and see every detail. There is some fencing though for safety which does slightly take away from the experience but it is something I highly recommend to everyone visiting paris. Make sure that you come back at night and view the church when it is lit up as most of the crowds have gone by then and you can sit on a bench and really appreciate the beauty of the building.
No trip to Paris would be complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower. Although you may think you know the tower from movies nothing can prepare you for seeing this iconic landmark up close for the first time. It can be seen from almost anywhere in the city due to the fact it is so large and towers above the Paris skyline and although the tower may not be traditional Paris archetecture somehow it blends in perfectly with it's surroundings. It was built for the World Exhibition in 1889 and has now become one of the most visited sights in the entire world. Just viewing the tower is an attraction in itself and at 324 metres tall it really is a jaw-dropping sight. Standing underneath it really gives you a prespective of just how small you really are. I couldn't wait to be able to go to the top of the tower. We had to queue for quite a long time ot buy the tickets to reach the top and this is done by way of elevators which really shoot you up in the sky and was an experience in itself. Paris is an unbelievably beautiful city and the view from the tower is far and away the best one in the entire city. It really is breathtaking and well worth the fee for the elevators. At night the tower is lit up which really needs to be seen to understand just how spectacular this is. From dusk onwards every hour the tower puts on a light display which lasts 10 minutes and is an amazing thing to see and just walking around the city you see the light display and was probably my favourite memor of being in paris. The tower is open every day of the year and I highly recommend that you visit it but even if you don't just make sure you are not inside at night so you can at least experience the beautiful light display.
The Louvre is an amazing museum but it is so large it can be intimidating and it's for that reason that my favourite museum in Paris is the musée d'Orsay.The museum is housed in a beautiful railway station dating from 1900 and is grand and impossing on the outside but on the inside is incredibly light and airy. As I am a bit of an archectecture buff I spent quite a bit of time admiring the building. The collection in the Orsay is nowhere near as extensive as some other museums but you can still spend a good few hours looking round the collection and what is on display is pretty spectacular.The museum specialises in 19th and 20th century art and houses work from some of the worlds great artists such as Monet, Van Gough and Renoir. The interior really is impressive and is so light and airy and none of the works feel like they have been crowded together and it is a pleasure to look round. When we visited there was plenty of visitors but nowhere near the crowds at the Louvre and it never felt claustophobic. The high ached glass ceiling really helps in opening up the space and on the upper floors none of the rooms are walled in which also helps with the feeling of space and light. The smaller collection of paintings meant that I could really take time to appeciate the beauty of them without feeling the need to rush so I could see everything and getting museum fatigue. The real highlight for me personally was the sculpture collection which was wonderful and displayed lovely. You could get close enough to actually see the detailing and again none of them were crowded together. Although nowhere near as busy as the Louvre it can get busy so it can be helpful to purchase a museum pass as this will allow you to bypass the queues to the museum. It is open every day from 9:30am to 6:00pm with the exception of mondays when the museum is closed. Located in the 7th arrondissement the museum is quite close to the Eiffel tower and is really easy to find. The musee d'orsay is a must see in Paris and one of the most enjoyable museums I have ever visited.
The Paris Catacombs are a unique and pretty macarbe tourist attraction and one that was high on my list of things to see. The Catacombs are an underground ossuary where the bones of thousands of Parisians from the 18th century are stored after the cemeteries of Paris were overflowing and needed stored somewhere. It isn't exactly a tourist site that will appeal to everyone but I found it to be absolutely fascinating. You will need to plan ahead if you want to visit the catacombs as they are only open for 2 hours a day. The entrance is also quite difficult to find even though it is located near a metro stop it isn't really signposted very well. Once in and paid you head down a staircase into the catacombs. Be warned that if you suffer from claustrophobia then this is definately not the sight for you as it is extremely dark and being undeground even caused me some discomfort and I don't suffer from claustrophobia. Once in the tunnels it is a pretty eerie experience to begin with as you see the bones lined up from floor to ceiling. Some of the bones have been arranged in patterns and it really is a sight to behold and again will not appeal to everyone. After awhile the eeriness dissapears and it really made me think about lifes of the people who were here. I thought it was lovely that these people who had died hundreds of years ago were still a part of the city they lived in instead of rotting away in some neglected cemetery. The Catacombs under Paris go on for miles and miles but the stretch that is open to the public only goes for a mile or so and you can see the opeings of the some other tunnels during the walk. These are thankfully sealed so that you can't go wandering and get lost which was a relief to me as I wouldn't want to be stuck down there for any length of time. Coming out of the tunnels into daylight is a pretty weird experience and when you enter onto the busy street it does take some time to get your bearings again. The catacombs are an absolutely amazing experience and not one that you can experience everywhere. Yes it can be a little macarbe and not everyone will enjoy going down into the tunnels but for me I really enjoyed it and it is something I will always remember for the est of my life.
The Place de la Concorde is a site in Paris that has some amazing statues and monuments and is definately a must see for any visitor to the city. Although I had visited Paris before I had never actually been to the Place de la Concorde or the Arc de Triomph which is located near to it so I knew this time that it had to be on my list. The square is actually octogonal in shape and covers an area of 20 acres making it the largest square in the city. The sheer size of it means that although it gets extremely busy with toursits it never feels like you are being crowded and you can see most of the sights in relative peace and quiet. It was weird to think that I was standing in the place where the famous french guillotine was first placed and where so many famous historical figures were executed. This is where Marie Antoinette lost her head and also where Louis XV was executed. The guillotine is no longer in the square but I would have liked to have seen more commemerating this fact. For me the thing I was most interested in seeing was Cleopatra's needle, the 3300 year old obliesk that came from the tomb of Ramases III in Egypt and gifted to the city in the 19th century. I know there are three needles in total, one in London, New york and the one in Paris but this was the first of them I had seen and it certainly didn't dissapoint and is huge and pretty awe-inspiring. The Obelisk is decorated with Egyption heiroglyphics and I found it particularly intesesting that on the base there was drawning explaining how the massive obelisk was transported to Paris from Egypt. On either side of the obelisk there are two fountains worth seeing. There highly decorative fountains really reminded me of the fountains i had seen in Rome and have the same neo classical look to them. There are some other impressively detailed statues to be seen at the Place de la Concorde and some more fountains and whilst these are certianly worth seeing I didn't really linger here too long before deciding to explore the Champs-Elysées which the square leads to.
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