Paris. I always thought visiting Paris would be cliché and over-the-top. It was never on my bucket list of places to see, but when a flight deal came up for return tickets for $634 ea (that’s CDN), my husband and I figured ‘why not’. We extended the invitation to my parents to join us on the trip, which they did. After much coordination (for various reasons we all had to catch different flights home on different dates) and 8 individual flight bookings, we managed to leave on my Mom’s birthday from Vancouver to Paris. We booked an adorable, cosy little ground floor flat via AirBnB in the Montmartre area (18th Arrondissement). Our place was a brisk 5 minute walk to the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur and great neighbourhood shops and cafes.
In total we spent one week in Paris. We used the Hop-on Hop-off Tour Bus to get oriented for our first day – it stops at all of the major attractions and really gives you the chance to navigate the landmarks and figure out where you want to visit during your stay (this is a LifeHack Tip Jeddy and I have discovered when first arriving in new cities). We used this Hop-ortunity to enjoy being driven around all of the major neighbourhoods and starring the stops we wanted to revisit… and it worked perfectly. Once we identified where we wanted to stop, we used the rest of our ticket duration to make it happen. Once our Hop-on Hop-off tickets expired (you can buy 1 or 2 day vouchers), we hit the local Metro to navigate the rest of the city. The Paris Metro is excellent – easy to navigate and it extends like arteries throughout all of the Arrondissements and hits all of the major visitor sights including the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. We used our remaining 5 days in the city to sightsee as much as our legs could carry us (one day we walked nearly 18km… but we averaged 12-16km per day). All in all, we accomplished a LOT. We visited:
- The Louvre (on two separate days… you really need a week alone to do this. Also – get audioguide!)
- Eiffel Tower (twice – once at night and once during a mid-afternoon picnic)
- Chateau Versailles (takes about 45 mins via the RER train line)
- Notre Dame Cathedral
- Latin Quarter (walkable from Notre Dam on the Il de Cité)
- Sacre Coeur Basilica
- Musée de l’Homme (Museum of Man)
As an Art History and, well, general History enthusiast, Paris was a dream. Walking down pathways and through gardens that have existed longer than our country has been ‘discovered’ by Europeans is pretty humbling. I couldn’t stop thinking about all of the people who’s steps I was tracing when I wandered the halls of the Louvre or the gardens around the Petit Trianon (and Grand Trianon at Chateau Versailles).
I would recommend Paris to anyone. We saw lots of families, students, seniors and singles travelling on the Metro and at the sights. The Parisians are [for the most part] welcoming and willing to chat. My French is rusty but I know enough to get around. You can manage just fine without a lick of French… but I would recommend learning the basics before arriving. Overall it was a fantastic and memorable trip. I cannot wait to return to Paris and maybe even explore the lesser-known countryside to escape the hustle and really immerse myself in the culture.