By Kathy M. Newbern and J.S. Fletcher ©2009
It’s not often you’re privy to a Parisian’s inside view, so we took full advantage of our meeting with Marina de Frishing over lunch at Hotel Lutetia Paris on the Left Bank. She is senior sales manager for this and two other luxury Paris hotels: Hotel Concorde Saint-Lazare and Hotel du Louvre, so she knows what guests want – they want to see and do all of Paris.
But since that’s a mighty tall order, we asked her to pare it down to just the Top 10 Must-See Sites. Here they are in no particular order with our commentary added:
1. The Eiffel Tower.
The first time we saw this icon of romance lit at night gave us chills. We were taking a cruise on the River Seine – oh so romantic. Tip: The Tower puts on a ten-minute, flashing light show each evening starting five minutes after each hour from sunset until 1 a.m. Don’t miss it.
2. The Louvre Museum.
Plan your visit. Talk with your concierge about the best time to avoid the crowds, or, better yet, book an after-hours tour that some operators offer. Allow time to linger on the grounds. The 70-foot, glass-and-metal pyramid is way cool.
3. Monmartre and Sacré-Coeur.
Stroll among the street artists, locals, tourists, and street hawkers in this busy neighborhood where the centerpiece is the lovely basilica. You can view it inside and out, and there’s even a crypt. If you climb the steep, spiral stairs, you’ll be rewarded with the second-highest viewpoint in Paris after the Eiffel Tower. Tips: Beware of pickpockets as streets here are crowded. And, you can use your metro ticket to take the short ride up – the streets are steep – on the funicular.
4. See the bridges.
Don’t miss the city’s beautiful bridges nicely viewed on a River Seine cruise, such as the popular Bateaux Mouches or even the affordable Batobus. Tip: Take a bottle of wine, some food and a blanket and dine like a local on the pedestrian bridge Pont des Arts late day. The light and the people are delightful. Also for a short time in the summer, walk a stretch alongside the Seine turned into Paris Plage, or Paris Beach, complete with sand.
5. The Champs-Elysées and Arc d’Triomphe.
This is the ultimate street for the true shopaholic, and the people watching is likewise fantastic. Pop into the beautiful and historic Laduree store for the most famous of French cookies, the macaroon that comes in wide varieties of flavors and colors. They are beautifully boxed, too, for a great take-home gift, or purchase one of the store’s trademark totes as a souvenir. At the arch, you can climb to the top for some nice views down several boulevards and of the Eiffel Tower, but be very careful crossing the street as the traffic can be insane.
6. Place des Vosges.
This spot in the 4th Arrondissement was originally known as the Place Royale. This is a big square – Paris’ first – with plush grass, gravel walks, fountains and lots of trees alongside palace-like mansions, chic boutiques and antique shops.
7. Notre-Dame Cathedral.
See this beautiful Gothic church and study its gargoyles, then stand on “Point Zero,” an actual marking on the sidewalk out front. It is from this point that the distances to Paris from all of France are measured. (America’s Point Zero is outside the White House). If you stand here, you’ll return to Paris, some say.
8. Take an excursion to a Paris outskirt, such as the palace at Versailles or Giverny, home to Monet and those art-inspiring lily ponds. There are only a few of his paintings in the house (all copies) there, but the grounds and their tranquility are the true drawing card. Before coming, view Monet’s works in these Paris museums: Orsay, Marmottan and l’Orangerie.
(Photo right: Versailles. credit Kathy M. Newbern)
9. The Paris Opera House.
Also known as Palais Garnier or Opéra Garnier, it took 14 years to build, and some call this the best-known building in all of Paris (but we guess Eiffel is a “tower,” right?) Just seeing this Neo-Baroque architecture is memorable enough, but ask your concierge if there are any performances planned (though ballet is mainly here now since opera moved to Opéra Bastille). Inside is a museum with costumes and set models, a seven-ton chandelier, and ceiling painting by Marc Chagall.
10. The Orsay Museum.
The works of the Impressionists alone are worth the visit but there’s so much more including the building itself, a beautifully restored train station. Tip: The entry lines move quickly, but once inside, skip the ticket counter lines and use the lobby ticket machines that accept credit card or cash. Inside, pace yourself with a break for coffee in the lovely little cafe under the huge clock on the top floor. (Clock photo right by JS Fletcher)
We were lucky enough to have seen all these places in our visits. This year our Paris stay came after our stops in Southampton to see the Celebrity Equinox naming, Salisbury, Stonehenge, London (we came up with a London Top Ten Sites there as well), and the Abercrombie & Kent African safari. All very, very good, but Paree, the City of Lights – oooh, la la!
©2009 By J.S. Fletcher and Kathy M. Newbern. Award-winning freelance travel journalists, Fletcher and Newbern often incorporate their romantic travels into their other business, YourNovel.com, where they put you and your sweetie in your own personalized romance novel “wild” or “mild.” Therefore, they love visiting Paris, one of the most romantic cities in the world. They are also the creators of the award-winning travel blog/podcast/radio report, YourSpaReport.com.
We will be reporting on our trip to Paris in a series of articles accompanied by slideshows designed to give you a look at what we saw and did. Go to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
If you want a little taste of what it’s like to be in Paris, take an armchair trip in one of YourNovel’s eBooks: Two Paris Short Stories, personalized to make you the star.
You might also enjoy these:
- Other Stories by JS Fletcher
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- Stories by Kathy M. Newbern, Luxury Travel Examiner
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International Travel Examiner J.S. Fletcher and spouse, Kathy M. Newbern, report on luxury destinations, spas and cruising around the globe. They are award-winning members of the Society of American Travel Writers and operate YourNovel.com, their personalized romance novel business.