March 2014. Us two and another couple decided to go to Paris. We rented an Airbnb right at the foot of the Eiffel tower (Rue de Buenos Ayres) at a very reasonable price - it's gotten way up since then. We had a small place with all the amenities. The kitchen was tiny but we managed to cook most of our main meals at home, since the city is quite expensive.
We arrived late so the only thing to do at the time was checking out the Eiffel tower. We took a walk beneath and continued towards Palais de Chaillot for that classic view. Let me tell you - the Eiffel tower is huge! I've heard things and saw the pictures but I never imagined it to actually be this big. I found that many things in Paris were out of proportion. Or at least from my perspective.
Sightseeing. We started the morning with Notre-Dame de Paris, the famous medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité. An amazing piece of architecture all around. The inside is really stunning as well.
We explored the surroundings and headed towards La Défense, a modern business district with its own arch - La Grande Arche de la Défense. But I think I like the old one better. We went back east under the Avenue Charles de Gaulle to reach Arc de Triomphe. Another site that was considerably larger than expected. It's got stairs, a museum and a viewing point up top.
Hôtel de Ville
Pont des Arts
de la Défense
Arc de Triomphe
Next day - Versailles. We took a train and waited quite a while at the entrance. Apparently they opened the palace a little late that day. It was packed but we managed to escape the crowds by first heading towards the gardens. It was probably "off-season", since the gardens weren't really that lush and taken care of. Most of the fountains didn't work and the statues were mostly covered. But still one can imagine how it used to be in the time of Louis XIV. We visited Le Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon, Temple de l'Amour, Maison de la Reine and headed back towards the actual Palace of Versailles and checked the crazy interior. It's simply indescribable. It's just so full of everything I didn't even know where to look. But definitely interesting.
Jardins du Château
Back in the city we checked out the Panthéon in the Latin Quarter, another huge church. Shame it was under renovation and the big dome was covered up. But still the interior was magnificent. In the evening we ascended the Eiffel tower. We walked all the way up except the very last part where you have to take the elevator. It was super fun and the view over the whole City of Lights was amazing.
Next day was the first sunny day. We went to Les Invalides to check out Musée de l'Armée and Dôme des Invalides. The museum is huge and really interesting.
We then visited a few awesome sights - Palais Garnier, L'église de la Madeleine, Place de la Concorde and its Obélisque de Louxor. We visited a couple of galleries, spent some time shopping in Galeries Lafayette and continued on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Arc de Triomphe was shining nicely in the evening.
We decided to use a rainy day to visit the Musée du Louvre. I didn't bring my camera this time. We enjoyed the full day there and left exhausted. Louvre is the world's largest museum. We naturally couldn't see all the collections but after a certain time everything starts to blend together. You should really take it easy and don't worry about seeing everything. It's an amazing experience though, from the very entrance through the glassy pyramid to the massive collections all around.
Montmartre. A lovely and artsy district elevated in the northern part of the city. We took a stroll around Place du Tertre. It's usually packed with artists painting and selling their work. Right by this square stands the white-domed Sacré-Cœur Basilica, the famous Parisian landmark and a prominent spot on the Montmartre hill. We took the stairs to the top and enjoyed the amazing view on a sunny day.
We used Paris Métro the whole time and we loved it. The city is nicely connected and you get from one place to another really fast. If I remember correctly it was really cheap as well. And an added bonus is visiting Paris if you're younger than 26. We saved tons of money on tickets and entrances to galleries and museums.
Musée du Louvre