A bank holiday weekend in Paris

We used to do a city trip over the Easter weekend for the last few years but have missed to do so last year. This month the time had come again: we went to Paris!

I have been to Paris before while Jardena did not visit the city yet. We decided to come here due to that reason, it was easy for me to show her several sights and places I already know while we both had a possibility to explore new things there.

Paris is world famous for its sights, its flair and it’s meant to be the city of love. Many people have a visit there on their bucket list. As we were lucky to be able to travel to Paris and spend three days here, here’s our view onto the city and hopefully some inspiration for you what is possible to see and do here within a short stay like that:

We flew to Paris on Air France so that we arrived at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in the north of the city. Getting into town from here is easy, several bus services are operated but we decided to take the train. It was 10€ per Person for a ride to any point in the city, you can exchange to the metro there for no extra costs. Our hotel, Hotel Gustave (Tripadvisor) was located near the Eiffel Tower in a good location to explore the city from. If you are looking for a good quality hotel in Paris, we can totally recommend this hotel.
 

We started our first day by walking past the nearby Eiffel Tower. It is the landmark of the city and a sight you can’t miss to see from many places in the city. As you can see on the picture the weather was a little cloudy while we were there so we decided not to go up as the view would not have been so perfect that day. Our decision was also supported by the masses of tourists standing in queues to get tickets first and waiting to get to the stairs and elevators afterwards. Last time I visited Paris I went up to the middle platform by stairs which is really a great view and not too expensive, but we didn’t want to waste a lot of time in lines during our short stay here.

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From the Eiffel Tower you can easily walk over to the Seine river and walk along it for a while.  Passing Pont de L’Alma you reach the Hôtel national des Invalides with its Golden Dome and the Grand Palais opposite at the other bank of the river. The Pont Alexandre III directly connects those two sights.

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If you don’t like to walk this much, you can also take one of the Bateaux Mouche Boats that offer short cruises to see Paris and the sights along the Seine river. As we needed some rest and lunch we took the Metro back to the hotel. The metro is actually the best way to move around in Paris. It’s way faster than moving around by bus and taxi and in comparison with taxis it saves you a lot of money. You can either buy single ride tickets (1,90€ per Ticket) or a carnet of 10 tickets (14,50€). There are several machines at every Metro station where you can usually pay by coins or Credit Card. Mind that you can only use Credit Cards that need you to enter the PIN during purchase. If yours doesn’t, you can use Maestro Cards debit cards as well besides Visa and Master Card. Paris is covered by Metro stations so there’s actually no place you can’t visit by taking the Metro there.

After our lunch break we went on with sightseeing and visited the next famous sight: The Cathedral of Notre Dame. Many people know it from the novel by Victor Hugo and the late published Disney Movie  “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. It is an impressive building that gives you great impression of the Gothic architecture of the time it was built in (1163-1345).

For sure it is one of the main tourist attractions of the city what meant long lines to get in, so we decided to walk on after enjoying the sight of the cathedral.

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From here you can walk along south to visit the Panthéon and the Palais du Luxembourg.

Also located on the Île de la Cité you find the Palais de la Cité with the Conciergerie, an impressive complex of buildings that has been used as a prison in the past but now houses law courts.

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For sure Paris is also known for its night life. A lot of clubs and bars are located everywhere in the city. From underground to big room parties and concerts you can find anything you want here. We decided to have some drinks at the nearby bar “Le Zinc” where we also ended our first day in the city.

The second day started with a good breakfast at “Maison Meignan”, a really good nearby bakery.  Next we did something I think almost every tourist does in Paris: we took the metro to Charles de Gaulle – Étoile, the metro station at the Arc de Triomphe and went along the famous Champs-Élysées. The Arc de Triomphe is in the middle of a huge roundabout at the entrance to the Champs-Élysées today.

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The Champs-Élysées was luckily blocked for traffic that weekend what meant perfect conditions for a walk down here as it was possible to walk on the road as well.

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It is not only a famous shopping street with shops by many high class brands, cafés and the special flair with its large old buildings on both sides, it also is a perfect connection between the Arc de Triomphe in its west and the Grand Palais in its south while at the eastern end you’ll find the Place de la Concorde which connect to the Jardin de Tuileries and the Louvre Museum.

We went down the whole street, did some window shopping and enjoyed the Jardin de Tuileries for some time as the sun came out that day. It is a good place to have a rest at one of the fountains, a lot of seats and benches are available, during good weather it is for sure not too easy to find a free one.

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Walking over to the Louvre, the worlds most visited arts museum, you arrive right at the famous glass pyramid in front of it. It’s an impressive building and for sure has a great collection of arts exhibited, but unfortunately it is crowded here often during weekends and we don’t like to be pushed through masses at a museum. For that reason we went on from here.

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On working days (Monday-Saturday) there are a lot of interesting shops in the nearby streets around the metro stop Tuileries, as it was Sunday the stores weren’t open (on Champs-Élysées they were) so we did some window shopping again. We took the metro to Rambuteau, which is right next to the Place George Pompidou where you find the famous museum Centre Pompidou. From here you can also walk through the Le Marais quarter, a quarter with big parts of Jewish population (you also find Synagogues here), a big lesbian and gay community and a lot of cafés, restaurants and interesting shops in the narrow streets. While there are a lot of interesting sights hidden here, such as the Hôtel d’Albret, Hôtel de Sully and the Hôtel de Soubise it is also really pleasant to walk through the streets here, have a snack or ice cream and sit down at one of the cozy cafés. It was a quarter in Paris we liked a lot due to its history and its flair.

We walked around through the quarter, walked over to Forum des Halles where there are lots of shops and restaurants are around and had some milk shakes at a nearby diner.

Later that day in the evening, we went back to the Le Marais quarter to have dinner, as a lot of good and not too expensive restaurants are located here. Unfortunately meal prices in restaurants are very high in Paris. If you compare it with other nearby countries in Western Europe the restaurant prices are more on a level like Scandinavia but not like the neighboring countries like Germany, Netherlands or Spain.

At day three we visited the Basilica Sacré-Coeur, another one of Paris’ most famous sights. Many people know the view from the foot of the stairs up there. Sacré-Coeur is enthroned on the highest point of Paris at the “butte Montmartre” what means that it doesn’t only have an impressive view onto it from below, but also a great view onto Paris if you walk up the stairs. But beware of the many scammers trying to put something into your hand or tie something around your wrist to make you pay for it afterwards.

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If you walk around the basilica you will find some nice streets with cafés, restaurants and artists selling paintings and handicrafts. I really like that area; it is touristy but somehow has a nice flair and is quite authentic even if there are some many tourists coming here every day.

As it was starting to rain a little we walked down again, walked along the Promenade Georges Ulmer that leads you directly to the Moulin Rouge. At daytime there are only tourists here taking pictures of it, but there are still shows regularly here, in the evening long queues can be seen, if you want to visit a show here, you should plan that in advance.

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After that we went to the area around the Royal Palace as we wanted to have some lunch while it was raining. This area is also very interesting; a lot of hidden passages with beautiful stores are hidden here. Unfortunately most were closed on this holiday. Nonetheless if was worth walking through there.

As our flight was taking off in the late afternoon we used that point to end our trip here, collected our bags at the hotel and took the RER train back to the airport.

A bank holiday weekend in Paris was a great option to have a short insight into what this city has to offer. Paris is huge, we haven’t visited many sights and didn’t go to museums as the waiting times were really long. If you want to do that, you should either come here during weekdays to avoid the long queues, or you plan more time than just two days. On the other hand if you did a trip like this first, it is a great argument for another stay here to go more into detail.

We really liked our trip, Paris is a little overrated in my eyes but it is a beautiful city full of history that is worth a visit or two. It has its own flair and feeling and I haven’t met any bad experience here yet.

Now here are some restaurants and bars we can recommend to you:

  • Libanese specialties and Falafel: Falafel du Liban (Tripadvisor)
  • Parisian Bakery: Maison Meignan (Tripadvisor)
  • Parisian Bistro and Café: L’Escurial (Tripadvisor) the bad reviews seem to result from bad service, we had good food and a friendly waiter here
  • Bar: Le Zinc (Tripadvisor)
  • American Style Diner: HD Diner Chatelet (Tripadvisor)
  • Coffee and Sandwiches: Grenouilles (Tripadvisor)

How to get to Paris?

Getting to Paris is quite easy. It is connected by TGV and Thalys trains to many bigger cities in the neighboring countries (for example Amsterdam, Brussels, Cologne, Zurich, Frankfurt…), the Eurostar connectets Paris and London through the Eurotunnel. Also many European Coach companies offer connections to Paris.

If you are flying into Paris, there are three airports: Paris Charles De Gaulle (CDG), Paris Orly (ORY) and Paris Beauvais (BVA).

Charles de Gaulle is the largest airports, there are flights from every continent here: Air France is operating non-stop flights to almost every continent. Besides that Aeroflot (through Moscow), Aeromexico (through Mexico City), Air Canada (through Montreal and Toronto), Air Berlin (through Berlin), American Airlines (through Dallas, Miami, New York and Philadelphia), British Airways (through London), Lufthansa (through Frankfurt and Munich), Emirates (through Dubai) and Ethiopian Airlines (through Addis Ababa) fly here for example (there are many more).

Paris Orly is mostly flown to from European and nearby cities: Air Algérie, Easyjet, Norwegian, Transavia and Vueling are the largest operators here.

The third and smallest airport Beauvais is farthest away from the city (85 km) and served only by Blue Air, Ryanair, Wizzair, Volotea and Air Moldova.

As always we recommend to use price comparison sites to find cheap flights such as www.kayak.com or www.skyscanner.com.

 

Thank you for reading, we hope we were able to give you some interesting insight into our trip

You can contact us by commenting below or just dropping an e-mail to thealterlookout@freenet.de in case you have any questions or suggestions. Also don’t forget to follow our Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/thealterlookout ) and Instagram (http://www.instagram.com/thealterlookout ) to be always up to date about our blog posts and to see some pictures even while we are travelling.

 

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One thought on “A bank holiday weekend in Paris

  1. Pingback: Wild’s Life Weekly Finds #3 – Wild's Life

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