We arrived in Paris with 4 days and 4 priorities of what we wanted to do. Eat good food and drink good wine, and visit the 3 top tourist attractions: Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower. The first one was easy. Everywhere we turned was a fabulous corner café, a bakery, even Irish pubs. All we had to do was choose what we wanted our view to be. Did we want to people-watch, sit under the Eiffel Tower, or stare across the River Seine to Notre Dame.
It was Labor Day weekend, hot and crowded. As we walked the kitschy neighborhoods and city streets, any time we felt overwhelmed by the crowds, we ducked into a café for a coffee, a glass of wine, and perhaps a croissant.
Our hotel was near Notre Dame, so we walked toward the Cathedral first, taking pictures of unique cafés and streets along the way. Arriving at the Cathedral, we saw that due to the fire in April of 2019 much of it is covered in scaffolding, but the front façade is very pretty and still good for selfies and great photos. Photography tip – go across the river or on the bridge, facing Notre Dame and you can take photos of the River Seine and the Cathedral with little to no interference from the scaffolding and the work being done.
We wandered this neighborhood for hours and enjoyed a classic French dinner of steak frites and an especially good house wine.
Our next classic tourist destination was the Louvre Museum. We made our ticket reservations in advance, choosing our day and time to visit. We arrived at the Louvre at our assigned time and entered for an incredible look at the unique collection of sculptures and paintings assembled over centuries. Of course, the classics are the statue of Venus de Milo and the painting of Mona Lisa. However, our favorite was the hall of Greek sculptures, including a sculpture of Joan of Arc, in the Richelieu wing. We spent a few hours in the Louvre, not seeing close to everything there is to see.
We walked to our next destination in the 18th arrondissement, to see the Sacré Coeur Basilica. The stairs up the hill are indeed steep and long. But the sweeping views across Paris from the top are worth the climb, as well as seeing the beautiful Basilica. There’s a lot to see around the Basilica. There is a second, older church, Saint Pierre de Montmartre. It was built in 1147 and is one of the longest surviving churches in Paris. There are also artists, shops, and an Irish Pub.
Past the pub, down the road, are tons of restaurants with open air seating, ready to greet you with both delicious food and wonderful service. As with everywhere in Paris, a relaxing dining experience lasts for a significantly long time. As we strolled down the streets, looking at the shops, we wandered down to the famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées. The Avenue extends from the Place de la Concord to the Arc de Triomphe. We arrived at the Arc de Triomphe in time for sunset. Purchase your tickets at the Arc for a short 284 stairs up to the terrace roof. We were at the top of the Arc de Triomphe, awaiting sunset, with a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower. As the sun set, the tower lit up with sparkling lights, an incredible view, the true city of lights.
After snapping selfies from the top of the Arc de Triomphe, we made our way to our next tourist attraction, the Eiffel Tower. Having worked up an appetite with all the walking, we decided to eat at a restaurant with a Tower view. Few experiences are better than having a glass of wine, a wonderful meal, with someone you love, with a view of the Eiffel Tower. It truly is a city of love.
Once all our tourist priorities were met, we spent our time roaming the true attraction, the neighborhood streets of Paris. We love the Saturday markets for taking colorful photos of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, olives, breads, meats, and fish. Amazing displays, and a great place to pick up picnic supplies. A lovely wrap-up of our 4 perfect days in Paris.
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