Paris, a city of romance and sophistication, has plenty of attractions. My time is precious in Paris, so I’ve planned my itinerary to maximize time to get the best out of Paris. Knowing which day the attractions have extended hours or when they are closed helps to avoid disappointment. Note that the opening hours vary during summer and other months.
Spend the day in Ile de La Cite, Ile St Louis and Les Halles that’s all fairly close to each other. See the magnificent, illuminating stained glass at Saint Chapelle (8 euros, late opening on Wednesdays till 9 pm in the summer). Saint Chapelle Official Website.
Visit the gothic Notre Dame Cathedral and do the Notre Dame tour to see the timeless gargoyles, the 13-tonne bell, and panoramic view of Paris (Free to visit the cathedral, 8.50 euros for the tower tour. Opening times vary between the cathedral and tower, see the websites below). Cafes are especially prominent at this part of town. Enjoy a lovely (but slightly pricey) lunch at Au Vieux Paris D’Arcole.
Notre Dame Cathedral Official Website. Notre Dame Tour Website.
Stroll along River Seine, wander around St Louis, where you will see crafty boutiques, and discover gorgeous candy shops, like La Cure Gourmande.
Finish off the day with visiting Center Pompidou, a modern arts museum with an inside- out architecture. The awesome viewing deck allows you to see the Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur from afar. (11 – 13 euros. Closed on Tuesdays. Late opening till 11pm on Thursdays). Center Pompidou Official Website.
Visit the eerie yet intriguing catacombs with 6,000,000 counts of Parisian bones in a dark, wet, gloomy tunnel (8 euros, closed on Mondays). Opens at 10am, but be there early if you don’t want to wait for 3 hours (like us). Cafe Lakanal is right next to it if you need to grab a bite. Catacombs Official Website.
Luxembourg Garden is just down the road so be sure to drop by to enjoy the joyous garden, with lovely flowers and beaming liveliness. Eat dinner at Cafe Cercle Luxembourg nearby – decent and affordable food thought slightly inconsistent at times. Luxembourg Garden Website
The night gets younger as it gets darker in Paris. Or you might notice that in Paris, the night gets “bluer”, morphing into different shades of blue that is especially stunning as a backdrop for Sacre Coeur. (Basilica opens daily to 10.30pm, free of charge. Charges apply to crypt and dome with shorter opening hours). Sacre Coeur Official Website.
Visit the iconic Eiffel Tower. Again, be there early, at least 30 minutes before it opens, to avoid waiting too long. Better still, buy the tickets online before going (5 – 8.5 euros, depending on how and which part of Eiffel Tower you go to. Opens daily till 11pm or 12am depending on season). Eiffel Tower Official Website.
Visit Musee D’Orsay, a former train station transformed into a majestic art museum, housing important impressionist paintings of Monet, Van Gogh, Manet and more. Grab a floor plan to help you navigate better (9 euros, free on Sundays. Closed on Mondays. Late openings on Thursdays till 9.45pm). Musee D’Orsay Official Website.
Visit the Louvre and of course the most famous painting on this planet, the Mona Lisa. Being one of the largest museum in the world, it is not easy to digest everything about the Louvre in a day. Visit the Louvre strategically by using the floor plan that is provided. The floor plan indicates key masterpieces like Venus de Milo, Napoleon’s Apartment, Winged Victory of Samothrace and more (10 euros. Closed on Tuesdays. Late opening on Wednesday & Friday till 9.45pm). The Louvre Official Website.
Dedicate a day for Chateau Versailles, an ultimate demonstration of the French monarchy’s power. An opulent and luxurious palace with splendid gardens. (18 euros, closed on Mondays). The palace consists of 4 sections – the main palace, the trianons, the landscape gardens, and Marie-Antoinette’s hamlet. Key places in the main palace include Hall of Mirrors, the Royal Chapel, the King and Queen’s chamber. Marie-Antoinette’s hamlet is at the far end of the castle but not to be missed. It’s a bit of a fairy land with straw-roofed cottages and lively flowers (18 euros, closed on Mondays). Chateau Versailles Official Website.
We didn’t have enough time at the Louvre to see the pyramids on day 3, so we made a point to go back there. You’ll see some funny things that people do, trying to position themselves to visually “hold” the pyramids!
And, to end our fantastic trip in Paris, we spent the rest of the day shopping in Galeries Lafayette & Printemps. Remember to get your VAT tax refund and enjoy !
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