Our 10 Favourite Things about Paris

eiffel at night300pxAhh, Paris, the City of Light! Few other cities have inspired as Paris has! It is one of the most iconic places in the world, where people return over and over again to take in its fascinating art, culture, and history. Difficult as it is to try to create a definitive "Top Ten" list for Paris, the tour leaders at Today’s Woman Traveller have put together our own list of 10 great things we adore about Paris.

1. The Seine River and its Bridges

The Seine river winds through the oldest parts of Paris with 37 beautiful bridges criss-crossing its waters, Le Pont Alexandre III being its most spectacular. Decorated with sculpted horses, cherubs and statues, Le Pont Alexandre III is wonderful during the day, but when lit up at night, it is mesmerizing. Be sure to take a ride in one of the hop on-hop off boats as they float by the beautiful Seine promenades abuzz with activity day and night.

2. Île St. Louis
Right in the heart of Paris, in the middle of the Seine, is Île St. Louis, an island brimming with history. The island offers quaint eateries, some of the city’s best ice cream, and charming boutiques. This is the place to go for lovely gifts for yourself or for friends and family.

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3. Sainte Chapelle

Sainte Chapelle was a royal medieval Gothic chapel famous for its 15 huge breathtaking 13th century stained glass windows that fill the nave and apse. They are beautiful both when the sun shines brightly and also in the fading light of dusk. Now deconsecrated, Sainte Chapelle has become an intimate concert venue where frequent evening concerts of baroque music and operatic arias are a real treat. This is one of the first places we head to as we settle into our week in this stunning city.

4. Eiffel Tower
From both the top and the bottom, the Eiffel Tower is very special. It is classic in its own right, timeless, and the most recognized icon of the city. At the top, take in one of the best views of Paris. From the base of the Tower, gaze up at its magnificence through the intricate pattern of steel rods. Lit up at night, this iconic monument is gorgeous.

5. Paris begs to be Walked
Napoleon III re-designed the entire city of Paris in the 19th century with the help of George Haussman, making it one of THE most walk-able cities in the world. Stroll the Latin Quarter listening to music drifting towards you from every corner. Did you know that the area was so named because this is where the Sorbonne University is found, and during the 17th century the official language of the university was Latin? Still on the Left Bank, as you cross over Le Boulevard St Michel, you'll come upon the Luxembourg Gardens where you can watch Parisian families at play. Now you are in the busy and delightful St. Germaine area with absolutely tons of small restaurants and specialty food shops to tempt you. Cross the river to Notre Dame Cathedral, and don’t forget to put your foot on the bronze disk that marks the start of the Pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostella or to Rome. On the Right Bank the streets of Le Marais, Place des Vosges (the oldest planned square in Paris - built in the 1600s), and the Bastille are all full of intriguing boutiques, cafés, museums and hidden gems. Walk along the Seine River thru the Tuileries Gardens at the Louvre and head toward the Champs-Elysées, passing palaces and gardens. So much to take in!

Parisian artist300px6. Montmartre, Place du Tertre
The charming area of Montmartre includes a village square called Place du Tertre. It’s here in the 1920s that artists like Monet, van Gogh, and Picasso resided. This is still a place to see and wander, as literally dozens of artists and poets soak up the sun, gather to share a glass of wine and talk of the day’s events while they do their work. Walk along the beautiful cobbled streets lined with charming cafés. From the steps of Sacre Coeur church, you are so high up that you can see the whole city spread out before you. Just try to count chimney pots springing out of a sea of the classic Mansard roofs pierced by the Eiffel Tower way across the city – Breathtaking !

Musee dorsay diningroom300px7. A Trifecta of Stunning Museums
The French have an amazing flair for re-purposing grand historic buildings, and here are three of our (and everyone’s) favourites which all showcase art and now invite ordinary people to enjoy them in perpetuity.

The Louvre was once a Palace which now holds everything from famous paintings, sculpture, antiquities and even reveals archeological sites beneath its surface.

L’Orangerie was a greenhouse to protect the orange and lime trees of the Tuileries Gardens from the winter cold and now is dedicated to showing off Monet’s large "Water Lilies" canvasses in a space designed by Monet himself.

The Musee d’Orsay was once a train station (some of us even remember when it was a train station – Yikes!) This fabulous Beaux Arts building, too small to handle modern trains, is now a showcase for Impressionist and Post Impressionist paintings. Over 2000 paintings and 600 sculptures are displayed in this glorious historic space filled with natural light.

france paris cheeseshop8. The Food!
Parisian food is world famous, and it’s easy to understand why. Don't miss the crunchy baguettes, the charcuterie and sausage items complemented with just the right cheese, fresh French pastries, rich chocolate, heavenly macaroons, to name a few "must haves". French cooking classes can offer a more intimate view into the flavours of the city.

We have a favourite street that we will take you to on our tour where we keep tasting wonderful Parisian specialties, sweet and savoury as we walk along until we just can’t eat anymore!

9. Paris Neighbourhoods
We’ve touched on a few special neighbourhoods already, but there are so many more:

Champs-Elysées, well-known as one of the best places to sit and people watch.

Trocadero, where grand apartments nestle amongst museums and embassies standing beside butcher shops and bakeries.

Bastille is lively during the day and then becomes even more alive at night with popular bars and the Opera Bastille. Check out Bercy/Nation, a residential neighborhood that includes a medieval castle.

Les Halles, the central market district of Paris.

Opera/Bourse, with the Palais Garnier opera house, theatres, cinemas and little French bistros.

Louvre/Palais-Royal, is a chic area with haute couture shops, exclusive jewelers and upscale eateries.

10. The Countryside
Monets garden300pxOnly an hour outside Paris is the tranquil pastoral countryside with charming villages connected by a profusion of poppies waving in the golden wheat fields. Monet’s house and garden in the village of Giverny is a wild bouquet of soft pinks, purples and whites that also showcase his famous waterlily garden. Auvers-sur-Oise is a tiny village where painters Pissaro, Cézanne , Corot and Van Gogh lived and worked. Walking the village, you can recognize some places which Vincent painted. Versailles, both the village and the stunning palace, are worth a daytrip.

Give yourself up to the sensory feelings that Paris evokes. 

To thoroughly appreciate the charms of Paris, join us for one full week in the city this May on our Paris and London in Springtime Tour.

 

Today’s Woman Traveller, a member of The Travel Broker Group Inc. (TICO 50022628), was created for women who want to travel in small groups on tours to beautiful places. Today’s Woman Traveller attracts women of all ages from Canada and internationally who travel solo or with others. Repeat tours include France, Italy, Africa and Asia but each year amazing new locations are offered. Today’s Woman Traveller is all about women travelling together, enjoying the camaraderie and security of small group tours.

 

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