When thinking of a city to escape to that is rich with architecture, art, and design history and romantic there is no better place that comes to mind than Paris, France. You could spend a month in this city alone and still not have enough time to see it all. So take the time you do have and make the most of your experience. No matter how you spend your time you cannot beat waking up every day looking out a window like the one pictured above. The architecture of the city alone screams romance and it is everywhere!
Like I said, the architecture is amazing no matter what part of the city you are in so make sure to take some time to just get lost. Some of the best days in Paris are the days nothing is planned; you can take your time, relax, get lost, and discover things you never could have planned for. That being said, you do need to do some planning if you want to see what this city has to offer. I for one am a fan of Gothic architecture so a trip to Notre Dame Cathedral was a must. Take your time to really look at the architecture, go in and explore. It really is an amazing building. There is a tower you can climb, be prepared though, it is a very long spiral staircase to the top, but it is worth it. You cannot beat the view you get from the roof of Notre Dame. How else would you be able to get that close to the Gargoyles guarding the cathedral? After you climb back down from the tower be sure to walk around to the back side of the church and check out the park behind. There is a beautiful fountain (pictured above, bottom middle) and you can get to a bridge over the river here and get some great shots of the flying buttresses that are part of the amazing architecture of this cathedral.
After visiting Notre Dame we just began wandering the area it is located in. This is one of those times you can pause and get lost. By doing so we stumbled upon Sainte-Chapelle Chapel by accident. We decided to go in and it was one of the best decisions we made. There are not words to describe the beauty of this chapel. The stained glass windows are breathtaking. They are large, floor to ceiling, colorful, and intricate. Absolutely gorgeous with the afternoon sun shining through them, the pictures do not do them justice. It does not take much time to go through, but I guarantee you have never been in a building like this so it shouldn’t be missed.
While in Paris you must check out a museum of two. Of course the most well-known, and most popular is The Louvre. Since you are here you have to check it out. It is worth seeing. There is a large variety of art, artifacts, and finds from all over the world. You will of course get to see the Mona Lisa, that is if you can fight your way to the front of the crowd that will no doubt be in front of her. I found this museum good to see, interesting to look at art other than just paintings, and I am glad we took the time to go through here. Since the crowds are so massive it is harder to take the time to stand in front of a painting and really study and appreciate it. You kind of just move along at a quicker pace than I would normally take through a museum, but there is so much to see you have to unless you want to spend weeks just going to The Louvre.
However, if you are a lover of art and would like a less crowded place then the Musee d’Orsey is for you. This ended up being my favorite museum we went to. I happen to love the Impressionist period and this museum houses a lot of Impressionist works. If you have only seen the works of Van Gogh and Monet in a book you will be so much more amazed to see them in person. The great news is that this museum is A LOT less crowded than The Louvre is and you can actually take time to really look at a painting. I was able to examine works up close and really look at each and every brush stroke. It is also smaller than the Louvre so you can take time to go through it and really appreciate what you are looking at and still have time left in your day to go see other sites, or just relax in the park that is in the middle of the museums.
Another must see is The Palace of Versailles. I would plan an entire day to see this as it is large and the gardens are even larger. Go early in the morning to avoid waiting in long lines to get in and again to make sure there is enough time to see it all. It is worth planning to spend the entire day there. Spend the morning walking through the palace. You will be less crowded and have less people in all the pictures you take if you do this in the morning. Once you are done inside head outside to get some good shots overlooking the gardens and then head down into them. While up by the palace you will see lakes in the gardens in the distance, make your way in that direction. We made it out there around lunch time. There are a few restaurants to pick from and we sat down and ate. If we had this to do again, we would pick one and get our food to go. You can rent row boats and row around the lakes in the gardens. This was one of the highlights of the trip, especially with my brother’s creative rowing of our boat. It was difficult to keep it going in a straight line and that provided a lot of laughs along the way. If we had known about the row boats prior to lunch we would have gotten lunch to go and eaten it in the middle of the water in our boat like we saw others doing. That is on the list for the next time I visit. So have a great lunch and relax on the water. Once done finish exploring anything you did not see and you will still be able to make it back into Paris by dinner.
The hotel we stayed in was a block away from The Eiffel Tower and just down from a street market. This was great as we were able to wander by the Eiffel Tower each day. We saw it lit up at night and the light show it puts on every hour. We mixed our trip up with days where we were go, go, go seeing sites and everything we could squeeze into a day and then a few days we took time to relax and live a little more like the locals. Everywhere you go you will see people in the parks, reading, catching some sun, picnicking, etc. It is a very laid back big city. Some days we sat down to a delicious Parisian breakfast, other days we headed down the street and grabbed crepes from one of the street vendor crepe stands. This is a must. I still miss those crepes and that will be one of the first things I find when I go back. They are just not the same from anywhere else. So take the time and get lost in the city. Make sure to eat outside at one of the many cafes. Stop and have a drink when on the go to catch a moment to relax, catch your breath, and people watch. Slow down and enjoy the city. Wander through a market, grab some meats and fruits. Head into a cheese shop and pick out a couple that sound good. Grab a baguette from the bakery and a few pastries for dessert (so many to choose from and they are all delicious). Lastly, grab a bottle of French wine and head on over to a park (we chose the one in front of The Eiffel Tower) and have a picnic. Spend the afternoon relaxing on the grass and enjoy every moment of it. It is not every day you are in a city as romantic as Paris.