Check! | 5 Must-Do's in Paris
I do a lot of business travel. So while I most certainly have the best of intentions to spend a few days carefully and thoroughly exploring the cities I visit... my work schedule often ruins all my beautiful plans. Because of this, I like to create short "check-lists" for my travels. These are things that I not only must do, but these are things that won't take up a whole day for me to check off.
Here's my checklist for first-timers in Paris:
Have a crepe under the Eiffel Tower
Visit the gargoyles at Notre Dame
Shop on Champs-Élysées
Spend an afternoon at The Louvre
Dine at a French Bistro
(1) Have a crepe under the Eiffel Tower
You simply can't skip seeing the Eiffel Tower if you're visiting Paris for the first time. If you've been to Paris multiple times... you know that you can see the Eiffel Tower from all over the city (including if you're taking the right metro lines). But for your first time... you gotta see it up close... twice. Once during the day, and once lit up at night. In the evening, the Eiffel Tower is illuminated with Golden Lighting that glows from lamps placed inside the tower's framework. Every night, on the hour from sundown until 1am in the morning, a Beacon light at the very top rotates 360-degree. There's Sparkling Lights, made up of 20,000 bulbs, that glitters for five minutes. It is incredible!
For those of you that are interested in seeing the Paris skyline from the top - you can purchase tickets to go up the Eiffel Tower (highly suggest you buying tickets online in advance). What you may not know... is that there's actually a restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, and you can have dinner there as well!
My suggestion is to visit the Eiffel Tower in the morning. There's a few carts that sell crepes. Grab one, and walk around. There are two great places for photos with the tower: across the river at the Place du Trocadero or the Champ de Mars. There's plenty of green space around the tower as well for you to lounge around and enjoy your Parisian crepe breakfast!
[credit: Conde Nast Traveler, Twenty20, Qantas, Travel and Leisure]
(2) Visit the gargoyles at Notre Dame
Notre Dame Cathedral is a magnificent gothic masterpiece - both inside and out. It is located in the Île de la cité in the heart of the 4th arrondissement. Notre Dame de Paris is the proud owner of many stained glass windows, including rose windows, two of which are 13m wide across the diameter, which puts them amongst the largest in the whole of Europe. The towers, which stand at 69m high and house many gargoyles and bells, inspired one of Victor Hugo’s most famous tales, "The Hunchback Of Notre Dame", the story of the famous bell ringer, Quasimodo.
Open 7 days a week, visiting is completely free. However, there is a fee for a tour of the cathedral's great towers, one which consists of an almighty 422 steps. The view from the top is beautiful and is the only one of its kind, including the famous gargoyles. By definition, a gargoyle is a carved or sculpted mythical figure, usually designed with a spout of some sort that carries water away from the building, just like drainpipes do on modern houses. How far the water spurts from the building depends entirely on how far the gargoyle projects out. Of all of the figures on the cathedral, the Styrga is perhaps the most photographed. It sits with its head in its hands, sticking out its tongue.
As you all probably know, the beautiful Notre-Dame caught fire in April 2019. Burning for around 15 hours, the cathedral sustained serious damage, including the destruction of the flèche (the timber spirelet over the crossing). The Notre Dame has been closed to visitors since that tragedy and massive rebuilding efforts are underway. The French Parliament passed a law requiring that it be rebuilt exactly as it appeared before the fire, with reconstruction beginning in 2021 - in hopes that it can be completed by the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
[credit: Architectural Digest]