We traveled to Paris in 2009 and I write this blog in 2014, more than 5 years after my visit. I will try and recall our trip to the best of my abilities.
Here is my brief itinerary:
Day 1: Arrive in Paris. Eiffel tower at Night.
Day 2: Louvre visit, Walk around Champs Elysees, Arc de Triomphe. Lido show at night.
Day 3: Notre Dame Cathedral, Pantheon, Eiffel tower during the day. Seine river boat cruise at night.
Day 4: Day trip to Versailles. Meet +Animesh Pathak in the evening and grab some good desi food.
Day 5: Fly out.
When to go?
We visited Paris in the first week of February. I was a little apprehensive that it may be very cold and chilly. It was, but it wasn't unbearable. It wasn't snowing, just a bit of drizzle now and then.
Where to fly?
We flew in to Charles de Gaulle airport (CDG). Our flight was from New Delhi -> Paris -> San Francisco. This airport is a little on the outskirts. We had to take a cab to get to our hotel. We didn't explore public transport options, but I am sure there were some.
Where to stay?
Paris is very well connected with metro/subway. So our main criteria was to find a hotel close to a subway station. Also, I wanted to a get a room with a view of Eiffel Tower. We chose Hotel Concorde Montparnasse and it was a good choice. I would recommend it.
What to see/do?
Getting around Paris is super convenient. The metros are very well connected and I think we got a 3 day, which made our life a lot simpler.
|Eiffel tower from our boat cruise|
I had always wondered if in real life, the Eiffel tower really looks as magnanimous as it does in the pictures. And it didn't disappoint me. It is just breathtakingly wow! And engineering marvell. We went once during the day, to both the floors and got a bird's eye view of the city. And we went once during the night. The views of the city all lit up were all worth the trip and the chilly winds.
Close to Eiffel tower, at the banks of river Seine were small stalls advertising ferry rides/boat cruises. We took a two-three hour cruise and it was well worth it. We saw many important landmarks and I would say it is a must must do just for the experience.
I have been a great fan of the museums, but this one was a treat. I was very keen on seeing Mona Lisa and the mummies. Since Louvre is so huge, the best way to optimize your time is to get the map at the entrance and mark the place of interest. I also enjoyed the Napolean Hall. To plan your visit in advance, look at the floor plans online here. The sculptures by Michelangelo and the Egyptian artefacts were the best. Do not miss the courtyard with sculptures, where a lot of artists just sit down and sketch the sculptures.
|Napolean's dining hall|
|Arc de Triomphe|
Champs Elysees / Arc de Triomphe
Took a stroll at the famous Champs Elysees. Lot of showrooms to visit and while away some time. At one end of the street is Louvre and at the other end is the Arc de Triomphe, or more appropriately, India Gate of France.
Getting here was a lot of fun as we had to walk through some narrow alleys to get here as the metro station was a little far away. It was really pretty inside like most of the monuments in Paris. It is a burial site for some of the great French people. I remember seeing the graves of Louis Braille, Marie Curie, Lagrange and Victor Hugo.
Notre Dame Cathedral
I think the most fun part of touring Paris was travelling by metros. I loved navigating the metro maps and the streets. The cathedral is gorgeous and the stained glass windows on the inside are beautiful. The official website is here. There was a crepes place right outside the cathedral and here is where I ate my first crepes. Absolutely delicious they were.
|Notre Dame Cathedral|
Palace of Versailles
|Palace of Versailles|
The palace is located on the outskirts of the city. It takes about an hour or two to get here. It is huge and one can spend as much time as he wants visiting the palace. Unfortunately the day we went, the palace was closed and we hadn't looked up online, so it was a bit of goof up for us. But the courtyard is still accessible so it wasn't all that bad.
We really wanted to watch one of the cabaret shows in Paris. We boiled down to two choices, Lido and Moulin Rouge. After a bit of research, I settled for Lido and since I had never seen any other shows before, I was totally in awe of these people. The sets, costumes, dances were just so perfect. It may be a good idea to buy your tickets early on as the tickets get sold very quickly.
Where to eat?
I just need to get my desi food fix every two days or so. We discovered this area close to Gare du Nord, which had a lot of Indian restaurants. We ate at this south indian place and it was quite good. Another good place for indian food was this restaurant Santoor close to Champs Elysees.