Paris, the one city which undoubtedly features in the Top 10 cities to visit for a majority of the world population. A city that is so familiar yet so enigmatic at the same time. It is a place which holds something for every type of visitor – new and returning alike.
My first time in the City of Love was like a dream come true. I had made a list of places to visit, things to do, culinary treats to savour and the like but unsurprisingly, I just managed a handful of experiences. What I learned on my maiden visit was that no amount of research actually prepares you for any particular place, especially one so rich in history and culture like Paris.
I landed at Charles De Gaulle pretty early on a Monday morning but spent a couple of hours trying to get information, buying a new SIM card and figuring out the best way to get to my Air BnB. I didn’t have enough time to plan out these little necessities due to my hectic work schedule and I would highly recommend any first timers on a tight schedule to have these things sorted out in advance to save time.
Here is a chronological list of things I managed to do with 4 full days in Paris:
- Bike Tour : The first thing I did in Paris was to embark on a 5-hour evening bike tour around all the major attractions in the city that ended around midnight. It also happened to be the best thing I managed to do on this trip. It was an amazing experience and a must-try for those short on time but wanting to see as much as possible. I got the chance to have a quick fly-by of all the must-see places and was able to decide which ones needed a detailed visit. There are a lot of tours available on Air BnB and I booked my tour with Boutique Bike Tours.
- Marché des Enfants Rouge : My Air BnB host was thoughtful enough to make a to do list around the Le Marais and she highly recommended a meal at Marché des Enfants Rouge. Went out early hoping to get some breakfast but stopped for a bite at one of the very pretty cafes around the area and couldn’t explore the market. I fully intend to visit on my next trip. Had a hearty brunch at Le croco du Marais.
- Parc André Citroën : Paris has so many pretty parks to explore but this park was suggested by a Parisian for its non-touristy vibe and it was definitely worth visiting. I took an Uber from Le Marais which turned out to be pretty expensive but the ride was amazing. One can enjoy a leisurely stroll, a quiet picnic or even a hot air balloon ride.
- Avenue d’léna : Just a few stops from Javel metro, I got off at Léna metro, strolled down Avenue d’léna and wandered around the farmer’s market at Place d’léna. It was a long stretch of vendors selling locally produced items, from flowers, fruits and food to clothes and souvenirs. Even if you don’t intend to buy anything, a trip to París would be utterly incomplete without visiting a farmer’s market.
- The Eiffel Tower : Just a short walk from Avenue d’léna is the Eiffel Tower. Walking towards this magnificent structure from Trocadero and across Pont d’léna is highly recommended. You will get to admire the beauty in its entirety. Here again I couldn’t ascend the Eiffel Tower as I had not booked a ticket in advance and waiting in line would have meant wasting precious time so I happily put that aside for next time. If you really have to get to the top then consider buying tickets ahead of time. I just wandered around the perimeter of the Eiffel Tower and indulged in a leisurely lunch and a photoshoot.
- Montmartre : So much to explore on this hill, from artsy things to nightclubs. One visit will never be enough to feel the magic of this place but it will do for a start. I had originally planned a very detailed itinerary but as usual lost track of time and got lost in the little streets of Montmartre. Don’t miss the Sacré-Cœur Basilica and the amazing view of Paris from the hilltop. And if you have a sweet-tooth, take a pitstop at Biscuiterie de Montmartre for their specialty macarons, or buy some for gifting.
- Musée du Louvre : Not much of an art fanatic but I really wanted to see the Mona Lisa so I made a trip to The Louvre. Recommended to buy tickets in advance but there are self help kiosks inside so doesn’t make much of a difference. It is pretty darned huge and will take several days to complete a proper tour so stick to one wing at a time. The Mona Lisa is housed at the Denon Wing and that’s where I went, took me about 3 hours to just take a rough tour.
- Champs-Élysées : The first time I passed Champ-Élysées was on my bike tour, then whizzed past it when I took the Uber to Parc André Citroën and finally a leisurely stroll on my third night in Paris. I may have overdone it but I have no regrets. It is an impeccably manicured stretch with rows of cafes and stores on either side.
- Arc de Triomphe : My stroll ended with a view of the magnificent Arc de Triomphe standing at the western end of Champs-Élysées . Here again I was too tired to even think about going up the arc which promises a magnificent view.
- Versailles : Spent an entire day at Versailles exploring the Palace of Versailles and the Garden. If you’re pressed for time be sure to get your tickets online and opt for a skip-the-line one as a normal entry ticket will have you waiting in line for at least 45 mins. It can be incorporated as a full or half day-trip from Paris as per convenience.
- Notre-Dame de Paris : Spent the last evening in Paris visiting this famed Cathedral. I did not enter the cathedral this time, Paris was overwhelming so I’m saving it for my next trip.If you’re an early bird, be sure to visit the cathedral in the morning before the crowds begin.
- Seine : Strolling past Notre-Dame de Paris , I spent the entire evening walking along the length of the Seine River and then towards Napoleon’s Tomb at Les Invalides . The river bank is a very happening area with different groups of people gathered at any time of the day, especially in the evenings.
On paper this list might seem too little for a 4-day trip but believe me when I say that I was dog-tired at the end of each day, mostly because I walked a lot. París is best experienced on foot and I would recommend an unfailing reserve of stamina if you want to get the real feel.
Before I reached Paris, I had an endless list of things I wanted to do but everything changed the moment I set foot upon this marvel of a place. I was totally mesmerised by the laid-back vibe of the city and completely dove in head first.It was so relaxing just to be sitting on a bench and watch people living like they had all the time in the world. So I did just what Parisians like to do best, I did nothing for most of my trip. I just revelled in the beauty of the moment and I would do it all over again.
Au Revoir París.
Here are a couple of videos I posted on YouTube :
To prepare for this trip, I did a lot of research online and also bought a few travel books to help me with my itinerary. I personally found Lonely Planet France (Travel Guide) to be a comprehensive book which greatly helped me with my plans.
Most of my photos and videos were taken with my iPhone 6s as I am more comfortable with phone photography but some were shot using the Sony A6000 mirrorless camera . The Sony A6000 is so lightweight and portable that it doesn’t feel like a camera at all. For those who like to travel light, this is the perfect camera.
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