Patricia Schultz’s “1000 places to see before I die” book lists Paris as a single “place,” but includes 22 places in and around the city that are worth seeing or experiencing. I’ve been to 16 of them. It was going to be 18, but I decided to skip the Rodin and Picasso museums because they are under renovation. It wasn’t 16 on this trip, but cumulatively over all trips to my beloved Paris. I added two new places on this trip – the cemetery and flea market.
Arc de Triomphe – can be very crowded; but I stood in line, walked to the top and was rewarded with an excellent view. I recommend doing this on a clear day!
Basilique du Sacre-Coeur – there are two excellent reasons to make the trek up to Sacre Coeur. First is the view, second is the church itself. It is one of the most impressive cathedrals I’ve ever seen. Warning – do not even attempt to take pictures inside or you will be asked to leave.
Paris is a beautiful city and this is one of three places where everyone needs to go to experience the view.
Centre Georges Pompidou – this is one of my least favorite sites in Paris. I don’t really understand the attraction. It doesn’t fit with the rest of lovely Paris. I’ve only been once, and choose not to return.
Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise – famous cemetery where famous people are buried. I was struck by the very old next to the very new. This is one example of a recent burial next to one from hundreds of years ago. The grave site on the left has old iron fencing and lots of moss growing around it. I wonder if any of that person’s family is still around to visit??
Tour Eiffel – another place with long lines, lots of people; but everyone should experience this. I went at night for the first time because I wanted to see Paris at night from the highest point. It was a good night, despite the cold wind and crowd. Bonus – there is a very small champagne bar at the top, and yes I did have an over-priced (plastic) glass of champagne.
L’Hotel Nationale des Invalides – not my favorite place in Paris. I was there 15 years ago though so my memory about it isn’t that great. This is where Napoleon is entombed.
The Louvre – huge….really huge building with lots of art. This is where Mona Lisa lives, but she is much smaller than I expected. I love art, and appreciate the opportunity to view priceless works of art; but this is just too much. I’m not sure how you could ever possibly get through the whole collection. Besides, how many pictures of baby Jesus do you really want to see? I prefer smaller museums, like the Orsay……
Musee d’Orsay – the building is an old train station and has lots of character. I didn’t see every piece, but I saw enough to really enjoy my time at this museum. They recently expanded their impressionist collection – and it is amazing. I recommend this museum.
Notre Dame – fantastic! I waited in yet another long line to walk to the top. Part of the draw of Notre Dame is the location. It is more centrally located than some of the other places with fabulous views. My hotel was only a few blocks away, so I had the opportunity to walk by Notre Dame every day. It felt very special to be in the same neighborhood as this famous cathedral.
Ste-Chapelle – this was a weird experience for me because it was the first time that I went to visit a place for what I thought was the first time; but I quickly realized as soon as I was inside that I had been there before. I wonder how many other times that will happen to me?! The cathedral has beautiful stained glass that depicts major stories from the bible.
Bateaux Mouches – “booze cruise!” Weather permitting, I recommend a boat ride on the Seine. It is another great way to see and experience the city.
Ile St-Louis – one of the islands in the Seine. I ate dinner at a restaurant here, and found an excellent gelato shop.
Marche aux Puges de St-Ouen – this is a huge flea market. Most of the stalls are permanent, and some of them look like mini antique stores. I really didn’t go to a Paris flea market to buy a dresser, but I did see lovely stuff. I didn’t find anything I had to have….and thought prices were high.
Musee de l’Orangerie – this is one of my favorites! The upper floor is two rooms, each with 4 huge panels of beautiful Monet paintings; that were painted just for this building. I was there almost 3 years ago, and they allowed photographs ….lucky me! I visited again in March 2012 and they no longer allow you to take pictures.
The bottom floor has a variety of other art – Picasso, Renoir, and people I have never heard of.
Cathedrale Notre Dame de Chartres – the stained glass is beautiful, the ceiling is ugly, and the building is damp and cold. This is not in Paris, and I’m not convinced it is worth a special trip to see. I visited it because it was on my way to someplace else. Perhaps I’ve seen too many European cathedrals to appreciate them all.
Chateau de Versailles – while I may have been to too many cathedrals to appreciate them all, I am not tired of castles. Versailles is one of the most beautiful castles in the world. (Sorry, no pictures, but you can find good ones here.)
The princess in me tried to image what it would be like to live in such a place. I am worried I would get lost.
I was there in late winter, so the gardens were not yet blooming; but I could picture in my mind what they would look like – and it was gorgeous! Some of the fountains were going and they are spectacular. I think I’ve run out of adjectives – go and visit Versailles! This also isn’t in Paris, but worth the trip and not difficult to get to.