I will always love Paris and the City of Light (as she is lovingly called) will never cease to amaze and surprise me. What I love the most about Paris is that no matter how many times I visit, I always see something new. I had the luxury of living in Paris years ago in my early twenties as an exchange student at the University of Paris -Sorbonne, and ever since it has been my dream to bring my own daughter Sophia to Paris and show her my most favorite city on earth. Thankfully, I was able to bring her to Paris this past summer on a mother-daughter trip along with my own mother, sister and niece. It was a whirlwind trip exploring London, Lille and Paris all within a little over a week but I accomplished my goal. Sophia fell in love with Paris just like I did the moment I laid eyes on its beauty.
We only had three full days in Paris and given the large amount of amazing things to do and see, I had to carefully craft a plan of action of what I felt should be the highlights for Sophia and my niece Hanna. Since all of us grownups have been to Paris many times, we wanted to ensure that the trip was focused exclusively on the girls meaning it was important to not spend too much time walking around museums or at fancy places to eat. I wanted to give the girls an overview of the best of Paris, all that we could squeeze into three very long, full days.
The list was long and I had to cut it down based on how large and how spread out everything is in Paris. I needed to also ensure that we had enough time to get to each destination without killing our legs from all the walking. The metro helped us get around, yet I soon remembered how much walking there is even inside the metro and how many stairs! Our legs ached and throbbed by the end of our three days but we sure gave the girls a taste of Paris, hitting these must-see destinations along the way:
- The Louvre
- The Notre Dame Cathedral
- The Eiffel Tower
- Montmartre and the Sacré-Cœur
- The Arc de Triomphe
- Jardin du Luxembourg and the Latin Quarter
- As many outdoor cafes as we could possibly find for a coffee or a glass of wine for the adults and a kiddie cocktail for the girls.
I would have loved to show Sophia where I lived at the Cité internationale universitaire de Paris way out in the 14th arrondissement but alas we ran out of time. I also would have loved to go to more museums but even the Louvre didn’t last long with two tween girls. I decided to save the rest for the next time.
We purchased metro passes as well as a Paris Pass Lib’ Mini which included a reserved entry time/date to see the second level of the Eiffel Tower (the top floor was already full months before!), tickets for a day of the hop on hop off bus (which we never used and chose the metro instead) and an hour ride on a Bateau Parisien where we would get to see Paris by looking up from a boat floating along the Seine. It ended up being a great deal, saving us a lot of time and unwanted disappointment (It was so crowded at the Eiffel Tower in early June that all the passes had sold out by 9 am so if we hadn’t reserved our spot months beforehand we would not have been able to go).
After a little cafe time and lunch near the Eiffel Tower, it was time for us to walk over to the Port de la Bourdonnais where we would be catching our afternoon cruise along the Seine.
Once again, given the mid-June crowds, we were quite pleased we had our tickets in advance. One thing I’ve learned about Paris and travel throughout Europe in general is that July and August are only worse in terms of crowds as it is high season and also it can be very hot that time of year. I was grateful that we had chosen a less busy time and only one day in Paris was exceptionally warm reaching almost 90 degree F (out 32 C). It was brutal trying to sleep in our top floor, sun-filled apartment that night (of course they had no air conditioning).
We were first in line to board the bateau but soon realized that getting the front seats on the boat wasn’t worth the effort as crowds of tourists stood in front of us the entire ride guiltily snapping selfies. One Italian man even recorded multiple selfie videos of himself right in front of my view. He was really starting to get on our nerves as he was so focused on himself that he was clueless how rude he was being to the rest of the passengers. Instead of get annoyed, we decided to just keep looking up and that made all the difference. The view of Paris looking up from the Seine is quite unique and we gained a completely different perspective of this architecturally amazing gem of a city.
As we cruised down the Seine heading towards Les Invalides and the Musée d’Orsay, I craned my neck up and snapped away.
I adored the views of the infamous Notre Dame Cathedral, one of my favorite places to get a view from above of Paris and of the gargoyles.
There was also the fun people watching shots of all the locals and tourists hanging out down by the banks of the Seine. I even saw a man fishing!
Before we knew it, our hour was up and we were back at the Port de la Bourdonnais. I was sad our ride along the Seine was over so quickly. There is something so utterly romantic about cruising down the Seine especially if you can do it at night when Paris lights up. But alas, our time in Paris was drawing to a close. We only had one more night before it was time to say our goodbyes. That common pang of sadness about leaving Paris shot through my soul. Yet I know I will be back soon as Paris will always have a special place in my heart.
If you go:
I highly recommend purchasing a Paris Pass Lib’ Mini to get your time and date set in advance for the Eiffel Tower. If you have an extra day, then enjoy the Open Air Bus tour around the city and for sure take a ride on a Bateau Parisien. www.parispass.com
Thanks to my friends and fellow bloggers at WordPress for the inspiration to look up.