A trip to Paris is on just about everyone’s must-do holidays. Filled with markets, renowned landmarks and cafés, you cannot help but be drawn to this metropolis that is bustling with tourists and locals alike. Some come here for the architecture, fashion or even frog legs! And then there are those that find Paris romantic – ever done a proposal at the top of the Eiffel Tower? That could be the perfect way to ‘pop the question’.
While you are here, experience some of the best restaurants you will ever visit and be sure to eat a baguette, croissant and some fine cheese. The ideal time to visit this remarkable city is during the warmer months. This way you will be able to enjoy the parks too. Throughout the year there are outdoor concerts and in winter, to escape the cold, see a fashion show or sip on some French wine to keep warm. Before your visit it would be feasible to learn a bit the local lingo to help you get by.
Paris won’t fail to deliver an unforgettable holiday experience. Done your French beret and hit the streets.
The Sacred Heart of Paris: Sacré-Coeur Basilica
Standing tall on top of the Butte Montmatre, the Sacré-Couer Basilica overlooks the beautiful city of Paris. To get the perfect design of this imposing basilica, a competition was held by the national assembly in 1873. Over 70 designs were submitted for the design. Paul Abadie won the competition. He is also well-known for restoring two other cathedrals in France. Built in Roman-Byzantine style, the basilica was consecrated in 1919. Totally grand, the basilica is brilliant inside and out. Arriving at the holy site, you will notice musicians playing on the steps and people on the lawn just below the basilica.
Also known as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (with reference to the heart of Jesus Christ), the church was erected after the Frenco-Prussian War. French parliament made a vow that if the French escaped harm from the war against the Prussians, a church would be built. Climb the 270 steps to the basilica’s dome – a real highlight of your visit here. Over in the distance you will be able to see the Eiffel Tower. Get out your binoculars while you are at the top and see nearly all of Paris’ great monuments. If you are walking on the streets of Paris during the evening, look up to the dome and see a light burning. The light is said to be a symbol of hope.
The huge bell called the Savoyarde is one of the largest bells in the world, weighs a mammoth 19 tons and can be heard from quite some distance. Inside the basilica set your eyes upon one of the largest mosaics in the world. The mosaic is 475 square metres long and depicts Jesus Christ with outstretched arms. The basilica’s organ dates back to 1898 and considered to be one of the most significant organs in Europe.
Entrance to the church is free, but there is a charge to enter the crypt and go up to the dome. After your visit to the Sacré-Couer Basilica, stop in at one of the nearby cafés and shops.
- Place du Tertre: Not far from the Sacré-Couer is the cobblestone square of Place du Tertre. This is a popular tourist spot in Paris. While you visit here, get your portrait drawn or painted by one of the artists for the perfect souvenir. To soak in the atmosphere of the square, drop in at one of the restaurants, cafés or shops. Browse the art on the street and pick something for your personal collection. If art is not your scene, listen to one of the musicians playing at the square.
- Palais Garnier: This magnificent opera house is home to the Paris Ballet and seats an audience of almost 2,000. The opera house is named after its architect Charles Garnier and adorned in velvet and gold. Each night opera singers and ballet dances grace the stage to give a brilliant performance. Check out the impressive 8-ton crystal chandelier. Visit the Library Museum where there is a permanent exhibition of drawings, paintings and photographs. Walk over the grand staircase of white marble and get a view from the rotundas where the Paris elite watched performances. The 154 metre grand foyer will take your breath away. The ceiling is covered in an 1874 fresco which displays the history of music and there are two massive fireplaces. A night at the Palais Garnier is well worth it. Come see your favourite opera or ballet recital.
- Palais Royal Gardens: One of Paris’ ‘hidden’ attractions has to be the Palais Royal Gardens. The centre of the garden stands a water fountain. The beautifully manicured gardens are dotted with flowerbeds, statues and fountains. For something to eat or drink, there are cafés nearby. The garden is the perfect spot to relax after touring Paris.
- Shop in The Marais: A famous shopping neighbourhood, this is where you will come to fill your wardrobe with items from an array of fashion shops. It’s also a great place to take a stroll and people watch.
- Latin Quarter: The Latin Quarter is one of the oldest areas in Paris with a bite of a Bohemian feel to it. A popular place for students, the Latin Quarter is also home to an array of eateries, cobblestone alleyways and winding streets. If you are in the mood, see a theatre show.
- Take a class: What better way to experience a city than through the eyes of the locals. Take a language, writing, photography or cooking class for something different. You will be taking some French expertise home with you.
Getting around Paris
The metro system in Paris is one of the oldest in the world and great to use while you are in Paris. You can purchase just a 1-day ticket or a ticket that is valid for up to 5 days. If you are planning to stay for a while, there is a monthly ticket to purchase. The RER Train is short line that travels outside the city with stops in central Paris. You can use the RER Train to reach Orly Airport. The bus system is great to get to know the city. Another way to get around Paris is catching the Batobus which is a boat service with 9 stops close to Paris’ popular districts and monuments. For a quicker way to get home after a day’s sightseeing, there are taxi stands throughout the city.
*For more Paris attractions, see the blog posts on France.