A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life.—Thomas Jefferson
We were in awe when we arrived in Paris. Having never been before, we were like a couple of kids let loose in a macaroon shop, so we relied on Expedia Local Expert® to set the tone and pace for our very first visit to the City of Light.
They arranged a variety of tours that included a Gourmet French Food Tour of Paris, Musical Dinner in Montmartre, Paris Segway Tour by City Segway Tours, and Montmartre Impressionist Walking Tour & Musée d’Orsay Ticket. All we had to do was show up at the appointed time and location, taking the guesswork out of planning.
We found Paris to be an architectural mecca, a gastronomic utopia, and a historical wonderland that feeds your soul, your intellect, and your culinary curiosity. It is also a blank canvas for artists and photographers.
From the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe to Notre-Dame, Paris is a city with a plethora of opportunities to capture moments and create lasting memories. Armed with our cameras, comfortable walking shoes, and a mission to see all that we could, we set out to discover Paris through our midlife lens.
Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe, which honors those who fought for France, is located at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, one of the most famous streets in the world. Standing approximately 162 feet tall, it has one of the best views in all of Paris. You get a bird’s-eye view of the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Élysées, the Sacré-Cœur basilica, and the Grande Arche. At night, with all the city lights, it is simply spectacular.
Since the Eiffel Tower opened for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, it has had over 250 million visitors, making it the most visited “pay-to-see” monument in the world. Whether you are in it and taking in the view of Paris, or you are looking at it from anywhere in the city, it is a sight to behold. In anticipation of your visit, download the “La Tour Eiffel” app (available for iPhone and Android) for a full guided tour.
Basilica of the Sacred Heart
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Sacré-Cœur) is open to visitors seven days a week. Its magnificent bell tower houses one of the largest swinging bells in the world, weighing in at 19 tons, and its melodious tones can be heard throughout all of Montmartre.
Clos Montmartre vineyard
It’s not every day you find a vineyard in the city. Tucked away in the 18th arrondissement is Clos Montmartre, a small vineyard on Rue des Saules about the size of a city block. With wines pressed, fermented, and bottled in the town hall, a bottle will set you back about €45, but it is for a good cause, with all the proceeds going to local charities. October is the best time to go, during Fête des Vendanges, the five-day harvest festival.
No trip to Paris would be complete without indulging in a few baked goods: macarons, fresh-baked baguettes, croissants, crepes, and éclairs. We tried them all, not to mention coffee, cheese, wine, and foie gras. It is one of the most delicious cities in the world.
While today at the top of Montmartre you’ll see street artists painting and tourists having caricatures done, it was once home to world-renowned artists like Picasso, Monet, Renoir, and van Gogh. We took a very intimate and informative walking tour with an Expedia Local Expert guide, and walked in the footsteps of these impressionist legends.
Located on Ile de la Cité in the middle of the river Seine is Notre-Dame Cathedral. It is over 800 years old, and took 200 years to complete this fine example of French Gothic architecture. There are displays of artwork and furniture, but not to be missed are Notre-Dame’s organs, including a 17th-century organ with all of its parts still in working order. The best time to visit is early morning, Tuesday through Friday.
Room with a view
What’s the first thing you do when you settle into your hotel? Check the view of course! We stayed at the four-star Terrass Hotel in Montmartre. We had rooms with terraces, views of the city, and glimpses of the Eiffel Tower. Who could ask for anything more?
While the outside is massive and quite impressive, it is inside the Louvre that will take your breath away with its collections that are among the finest and richest in the world. The Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo reside here along with over 35,000 artworks exhibited. Note: photography is forbidden with flash throughout the entire museum