Paris is one of those iconic places that you have to experience at least once in your lifetime. We went in May, which is a good time to visit as the weather is agreeable and not too warm for sightseeing. Our aim was to see the main tourist attractions during our short break.
We traveled via Eurostar from London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord, then to Paris Gare de Lyon. From there it was a 13-minute walk to our hotel Ibis Styles Bercy. The hotel was clean, comfortable and good value. It is situated in a pleasant district of Paris and relatively quiet. There is a variety of traditional restaurants in the area plus some more trendy ones in the regenerated Bercy Village, which is a short walk through a park.
Bercy metro station was our starting point each day for exploring Paris and we bought a Paris Visite travel card, which enabled us to make unlimited, unrestricted trips. Naturally we saw the River Seine, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Palais Garnier Opera, Sainte-Chapelle, Montmartre, Musee du Louvre, Musee d’Orsay and the Centre Pompidou amongst others.
Montmartre on top of a hill can be reached via a funicular, which cost the same price as a metro ticket. The Sacre-Coeur is one of the most iconic buildings in Paris with panoramic views of the capital. Around the area there are unique restaurants and shops with artists vying for custom to draw your portrait. My friend fell for one Parisien charmer, who drew a flattering picture of her. Then we took a winding walk downhill to the Moulin Rouge.
Sainte-Chappelle is a unique place of worship with stunning stained glass windows 15 metres high and a magnificent rose window. The panes depict 1113 scenes from the Old and New Testaments recounting the history of the world until the Franciscan St Louis brought relics to Paris in the 13th century. As King of France, Louis was devoted to his people, founding hospitals, visiting the sick, caring for lepers and personally serving meals to the poor.
The Louvre Museum is housed in a 13th century palace and is the largest and most visited art museum in the world. It is a rectangular structure with two wings. In the centre is a glass pyramid above ground and an inverted pyramid into the underground lobby to form the entrance. We booked our tickets in advance in order to avoid standing in a long queue. We decided to pick an area of interest to explore rather than to take it all in. There is much more to be appreciated than just the Mona Lisa!
We both enjoyed visiting the Musee d’Orsay and spent several hours there to see and enjoy all the works of art.Situated on the Left Bank of the river Seine, the building used to be a Beaux-Arts railway station. It houses the largest collection of impressionist masterpieces in the world as well as sculptures, furniture and photography.
During our short break, we managed to see such a lot but at a leisurely pace with regular sit-downs to relax and at an overall reasonable price too.