Paris from Towers of Notre Dame (Photo by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)
Paris from Towers of Notre Dame (Photo by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

LOCATION: Two airports serve Paris. Both are an easy RER (regional train) ride from the center. If arriving by train, you will arrive at one of several train stations. Not to worry, thank to its comprehensive and efficient metro, Paris is one of the easiest cities to navigate. Get a free map from a metro booth, a public transportation pass, and just go.

DESCRIPTION: Paris is the most visited city in the world and the Louvre is the most visited museum in the world. And for good reason. It is diverse, walkable, safe, and features an incredible cultural richness. Caution – do not try to do everything in one short trip. You will burn out and miss one of the most important Parisian traditions-to sit in a cafe or a park and talk about matters that have no definite answer.

1. The Louvre

Nike of Samothrace (Photo: JW Bailly CC by 4.0)
Nike of Samothrace (Photo: JW Bailly CC by 4.0)

You can’t say you’ve been to Paris if you haven’t been to the Louvre. On November 8th 1793, the French Revolutionary government formally opened the Louvre Museum. To this day, no museum in the world is as comprehensive, vast, and rich.

2. Eiffel Tower

Valerie Villa at Eiffel Tower (Photo by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)

First, take the obligatory picture. Good. Now, take a moment to appreciate the meaning of the Eiffel Tower’s revolutionary and controversial history—it really is fascinating. Cabeza Tip: Take the stairs, it makes the view from the top so much more rewarding.

3. Notre Dame & Ile de la Cite

Notre Dame (Photo by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)

Visiting Ile de la Cite is talking a walk through history. Paris was born on this island, and to this day, the center of French civic and religious life is here.

4. Orsay

Cabeza’s JW Bailly in Musée d’Orsay (Photo by Corey Ryan CC BY 4.0)

As heavy as the Louvre is, the Orsay is light.  Housed in a beautiful repurposed railway station, this museum is smaller, the works more intimate, and the subjects less daunting.

5. Centre Pompidou/Museum of Modern Art

Cabeza’s Corey Ryan in front of Klein’s Blue (Photo by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)

The trifecta of Parisian art museums end here. The Louvre covers prehistory to 1848, the Orsay 1848 to 1914, and the Centre Pompidou from 1900 to the present day. The building is incredible, the art inside, even more so. Cabeza Tip: Don’t miss the amazing views from the rooftop.

6. Invalides/Musée de l’Armée

Napoleon Tomb
Napoleon’s Tomb at Invalides (Photo by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)

There are several reasons to visit this museum: Napoleon’s tomb, the incredible collection of historical weapons, and the comprehensive and compelling World War II exhibition. This is the best place for children (and maybe adults) to learn their history.

7. Jardin du Luxembourg

Luxembourg Gardens (Photo: Stephanie Sepulveda CC BY 4.0)

Are you 20-something and in Paris? Then go lunch and hang out on the greens of Luxembourg. It is the best spot to engage in Paris’ respectful, reserved, but absolutely lovely, flirting.

8. Place des Vosges

Place des Vosges (Photo: Stephanie Sepulveda CC BY 4.0)
Place des Vosges (Photo: Stephanie Sepulveda CC BY 4.0)

Some consider this the greatest square in the world for its stunning architecture and intimacy. This is the place to spend an afternoon idly lounging in the way only Parisians know how.  

9. Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Jim Morrison
Jim Morrison grave at Pere Lachaise (Photo by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)

Can a cemetery be romantic? Weird, but definitely, yes. Buy a map and visit the graves of many of the greatest minds that Paris has given the world—from Delacroix to Oscar Wilde.

10. Arc de Triomphe & Champs Elysses

La Marseillaise on the Arc de Triomphe (Photo: JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)

Take a walk down the iconic Champs-Elysses to reach the Arc de Triomphe. Remember, Napoleon saw himself as a Roman, and this was designed to be his lasting legacy monument, built for his victorious troops. Cabeza Bonus: Beneath it lies the original tomb of the unknown soldier.



John William Bailly and Stephanie Sepulveda, 29 January 2016


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