Paris is too beautiful and multifaceted to be explored in 3 days. But if to consider this city as a destination for a romantic weekend, then there is a number of iconic points in it, and each of these is an absolute must-have: the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysees, the Louvre, Montmartre, Notre Dame, the Latin Quarter…
If to plan a trip correctly, then there will be time to visit more distant attractions outside of Paris. To be honest, the mention of “correctly” is for a reason – during our recent visit the objects listed below were visited chaotically, according to a mood of a moment, which caused us a loss of time and generally limited a possibility of their inspection. 👉 Therefore, in the post below, the author tried to arrange them according to a relative territorial proximity (or importance). Hope this will be helpful 😊
No matter how many times we’ve been to Paris, always visit Montmartre first. The ideal solution is to go there for breakfast 🥐 (the choice of cafes is incredible!), and then walk around the area, because surely there is something to see. From our numerous trips, a kaleidoscope of photographs from different years and seasons had been accumulated. But I must say that until we took a tour with a private guide, Montmartre did not reveal itself in all its glory.
It was the guide who reminded that the highest point of Paris and the hill of the same name in ancient times were the site of an ancient Roman settlement, and its name is directly related to the ancient god Mars (Mont Martis – Mars Hill). The guide also led us to the Wall of Love – a place of pilgrimage for lovers or those who intend to make a wish. The wall was created from 612 enameled lava tiles containing the phrase “I love you” in 250 languages. The sweetest discovery of this trip! It’s better for a respected artist to write this phrase in his creation than for the numerous people to handicraftly scratch the trees with a knife with the same meaning 😊
The highest point of Montmartre and the dominant building is considered to be the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, built at the beginning of the 20th century and being the one of the symbols of Paris. Opposite its entrance there is a spectacular panoramic platform – the view of the city is simply mesmerizing! The steps of the basilica are always very crowded and street performers take all the attention. It is important not to lose vigilance and keep an eye on the belongings – such crowds of people are a favorite place for pickpockets to work.
Of course, in the minds of the mass tourist, Montmartre is the center of attraction due to the fame of the bohemian area, which has been attached to these places since the end of the 19th century. Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Modigliani – the list 🎨 can be continued indefinitely. Montmartre of those times attracted artists with the affordable housing prices and the accumulation of hot spots. The iconic cabaret of that period “Black Cat” (Chat Noir), unfortunately, did not reach our times, but remained in the memory on the colorful postcards and posters.
Speaking of cabarets, the Moulin Rouge, which has survived to this day, is also located in this area and deserves a special mention. In the center of the French capital, there are still 2 iconic institutions dedicated to the World Exhibition in Paris in 1889 – the Eiffel Tower and the Moulin Rouge (of course, there are much more cultural heritage objects of that period, but only 2 of them are definitely recognizable all over the world).
Located in the red light district, next to Pigalle Square famous for its specific reputation, the Moulin Rouge cabaret still attracts tourists from all over the world, bringing a flair of a touch of the Belle Époque of Paris to the lives of our contemporaries. Personally, a modern story behind the Moulin Rouge seemed to me sentimentally touching: the cabaret had lost its former glory in the 90s (there was a real risk of closing) and it was breathed new life into by the film of Baz Luhrmann, “Moulin Rouge!”. This is really the power of art: at the beginning of the 20th century – the efforts of creative bohemian artists 🎨, at the beginning of the 21st – cinema and modern technologies 📽️. What is important: it is recommended to purchase the cabaret tickets well in advance, it’s possible to buy day-to-day only from the resale services with a markup. But it’s worth it anyway!
And finally, once mentioned, the Eiffel Tower, the main symbol of Paris. In order to get there, as a rule, it is still necessary to take a taxi, so it’s not so important on what day of the trip to visit it. Preferably, of course, earlier – the influence of this symbol of Paris on the perception of the city is difficult to overestimate, and it is better to be impressed by it for the rest of the trip.
As provided by the owner of the architectural bureau Gustave Eiffel, the “300-meter tower” was supposed to be a temporary structure for the World Exhibition of 1889 mentioned above and its dismantling was envisaged in 20 years. Then he clearly did not imagine that he was involved in the creation of the most visited paid attraction in the world 😊
The tower was a controversial object for its time, causing a serious discussion among the progressive public. The “letter of 300”, signed by the prominent cultural figures of that time (including Alexandre Dumas son and Guy de Maupassant), entered history, containing a protest against its construction. However, to this day the tower stands in its place, and has not only cultural, but also scientific, military and telecommunications purposes. Ticket entry to the tower is carried out from 4 sides, and 2 levels are available for the visitors (to the middle or to the very top). Entrance tickets to the Eiffel Tower can be purchased online, and it is advisable to do this in advance.
It is so romantic to start a morning with a breakfast 🍳 in one of the many cafes in the Latin Quarter of Paris – its traditional student quarter near the country’s main university – the Sorbonne. As it’s possible to guess, the Latin quarter began to be called by the language of teaching at the Sorbonne 🎓.
Numerous students 📚 ensured not only the spread of Latin, but also the presence of a variety of cafes, bookstores, museums and other centers of cultural leisure that attract tourists to this day. In the city of palaces, large-scale squares and parks, it is in the Latin Quarter that one can feel the charm of a medieval city and appreciate the life of ordinary Parisians of that time.
Notre Dame Cathedral, or Notre Dame, is another recognizable symbol of Paris, located near the Latin Quarter, on the Ile de la Cité. This Gothic cathedral ⛪ was built between the 12th and 14th centuries on the foundations of the Gallo-Roman Temple of Jupiter. And again, the power of the art in action – the longevity and interest of the public were largely ensured by the imperishable novel of the classic of French literature, Victor Hugo, who immortalized this cathedral in his work of the same name.
However, such a long historical path of Notre Dame was almost interrupted during a large-scale fire in 2019. Then this attraction was seriously damaged, and it took the development of options for its restoration from the leading experts in this field. Among other things, there have been attempts under the auspices of restoration to change the cultural purpose and even the historical appearance of this heritage site. But common sense prevailed, and at the moment tourists are given the opportunity to personally observe the progress of restoration work, designed for many years. Well, at least to compare the photos in the style of “before / after” 🏗️.
The next must-see in Paris is certainly the Louvre. Special art lovers can allocate a whole day to visit it, but we are not one of them, and this time we went there mainly because of the rainy weather 😊 However, in order to spend time in this huge museum properly, it makes sense to book an individual or group tour. In this case, the guide will save the time and focus on the most important exhibits. Well, there is less chance of getting tired and generally losing any interest in such events. It is also worth buying tickets to the museum online – this will allow to avoid the “famous queues”.
I must say that every time I visit the Louvre, some new exhibits are opened to me, such as the room of the Queen Marie Antoinette (“Let them eat cakes!”), or the Code of Laws of Hammurabi – the oldest written code of laws of mankind, surpassed only by the ancient Roman lawyers, well, and much another to choose from, like the Venus de Milo or the ancient Egyptian mummies . By the way, within the framework of the modern “agenda”, mummies can no longer be called that, if someone did not know. Now these are the “mummified persons”.
Depending on the weather in Paris, one can take a waterbus ride on the Seine. However, during our stay this time we were not very lucky with the weather and we did not get such a river cruise. Which, of course, was postponed until the next visit.
For the evening we decided to continue the tradition of visiting a cabaret, and this time we visited the “Crazy Horse”. It must be admitted that the level of this cabaret is seriously different from the level of the “Moulin Rouge”, both in terms of the scale of the production and in terms of the nuances of specific parts of the performance. And the emphasis was more on the striptease component, and not on the show. But for those who could not purchase the Moulin Rouge tickets in advance, going to Crazy Horse will also be an event – nevertheless, they try to follow the aesthetic component here (in every sense!). By the way, the package offer “table + champagne” is worth it. We only paid the entrance fee and chose the overpriced cocktails from the menu. Those who chose the champagne option had a whole bottle of an excellent drink for two. The price is the same in the end, but the profit is obvious 😊
The rest of the day we’d been visiting the various sights, depending on the preferences of individual members of our group (some were in Paris for the first time and went for a walk according to their program). We went towards the Palais-Royal Garden (Jardin du Palais-Royal) right behind the Louvre building – there is a wonderful “cinema” park with the fountains, an “instagram” square 📷, as if it was created for the modern photographs, a vintage clothing store of high brands and many pleasant little things of the best city of the world for tourists.
Among such little things, I would like to mention the chocolate shop of Alain Ducasse, the best confectioner in France and the president of the confectioners’ association. It is not for nothing that I mention all these titles of his – his chocolate is truly a work of art. So many varieties, and so decorated! Perfect for a souvenir from Paris. But the point is that on the second floor of his store there is a cafe where, in addition to chocolate, anyone can order delicious desserts served in the entourage of Parisian chic. Unforgettable impression! I intentionally didn’t list the restaurants we went to during our stay in Paris – there are so many options here that I wouldn’t dare to encroach on the individual choice of other people. But I still dare to recommend Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse (Le Comptoir Palais Royal) cafe. It’s magical there!
The Champs Elysees is another recognizable landmark in Paris. This street also takes its name from the ancient mythology and is named after Elysium (part of the underworld in ancient Greek mythology), where the fields of the blessed are located, on which eternal spring reigns, there is neither disease nor suffering, and where heroes end up at the end of life. Cool concept, right?
At the beginning of this street is another iconic structure – the Arc de Triomphe. Therefore, it seems logical, being in this area, to visit it too. The Champs-Elysées is a commercial street with many shops and shopping centers – a paradise for shoppers 🛍️. It is even possible to find a store dedicated to the TV series “Stranger things” – unfortunately, we did not get into it this time, because there was a huge queue. But next time…
And nearby is the cult street of “high shopping” Avenue Montaigne, where the flagship boutiques of such brands as Dior, Chanel, Hermes and others are located. And there is one special cafe in that area, known to all Parisians – L’Avenue cafe. It is known not only for the fact that they serve the delicious desserts in the atmosphere of luxurious Paris. The highlight of this institution is that the girls of model appearance dressed as the rock stars work there. The funny thing is that we tried to take pictures of them, but they were moving so fast that all the photos turned out to be blurry. But it is worth to be checked out in person 😜
Of course, there are so many tourist places in Paris that it’s impossible to mention everything in one post. But if time is limited, then the most important of them still can be visited. And that’s not to mention the time for shopping – the outlet village or the department stores of the Galeries Lafayette network also require their day. As well as visiting the country palaces or castles near Paris (Versailles, for example).
Therefore, as a bonus, I will write about the wonderful Chantilly castle, which we once visited – for this one will definitely need to set aside a separate day. After all, it will be needed not only to get there (although it is enough to rent a car), but also to devote time to the castle itself and its environs. The Château de Chantilly is one of the most significant residences in France during the era of the old order (before the French Revolution).
The main noble family associated with the history of the castle is Montmorency, who gave the history of France such well-known military leaders as marshals (12!) and constables. The estate passed into the possession of this family in 1484, and from this date its documented history begins.
The Chateau de Chantilly houses the Condé Museum, a collection of art objects and a library with the ancient tomes, hundreds of handwritten and early printed books, as well as paintings and engravings by the famous artists. The interior of the castle is striking in its luxury, and in itself is an object of a cultural heritage.
A luxurious park is laid out on the vast territory of the estate, which is the result of the work of the famous landscape architect André Le Nôtre, court gardener of Louis XIV. This park still bears the traces of its former grandeur and is carefully maintained. The presence of swans in local reservoirs is touching – they behave like the owners and are very friendly to the visitors.
In general, it will take a whole day to visit this castle, museum and park to see everything slowly and with pleasure. For a longer (than 3 days) trip – that’s perfect. And the charm of the situation is that this castle is far from the only one. But that will be a completely different story.