What is so beautiful about Paris is that everything is within reach due to the well connected transportation system. So, you are always one train ride away from a world renowned tourist attraction.
If you're visiting Paris for the first time, prepare to be wowed by some of the world's most famous attractions. Here are my top picks of the 5 places to visit in Paris.
1. The Louvre museum
See that small painting right behind me? Yap, that's the famous Mona Lisa!
The Louvre museum is home to the most famous painting in the world. The Mona Lisa is a small painting of a smiling woman at one end of the Louvre museum in Paris, France.
It attracts around 6 million visitors per year. Commonly, the museum is so crowded as tourists push through to have a glimpse of the half portrait of the famous portrait painted by Leonardo Da Vinci.
To get a good view of the Mona Lisa, my friend and I arrived towards the end of the day after most of the tourists had left. I have to say that it is amazing how such a small painting has managed to capture the world's eye.
2. Chatelet Les Halles
In Paris, train stations have developed such an iconic status that they could be turned into museums. Chatelet Les Halles is one of them.
Known as the world's largest underground station, Chatelet Les Halles is a must-visit for all tourists.
In a single day, about 750,000 people use this station to connect to all corners of Paris and beyond. Furthermore, within the station is a large mall that is home to several shops from designer stores to local outlets.
As soon as you exit the station, you will be welcomed by even more activity from small food vendors to street performances, and of course, more world renowned stores such as Sephora, Gap, Forever 21 among others.
A tour within the station and the entire Les Halles area is definitely worthwhile.
3. Eiffel tower
Originally, the Eiffel tower was built for temporary use during the 1889 World exhibition.
The structure was meant to commemorate the 100 years after the French Revolution.
It was meant to be destroyed after its 20 year contract, but was maintained for its great beauty.
Today, it is the most visited (paid) tourist attraction in the world and draws 7 million visitors a year.
At a fee, you can take the elevator up the tower.
And of course, the higher you go, the more expensive it is.
You will find restaurants at the top of the tower, where the fortunate dine with a view of Paris as a backdrop.
I recommend a visit to the Tower at night for it's truly incredible. For one, it's less crowded and two, on special occasions (most of the year really) the Eiffel tower is light up that it shines like a million diamonds. Also, at night, you will avoid being run over by couples as they pose for cheesy wedding photos. Welcome to the symbol of love.
4. The Love bridge
The love bridge is a famous bridge in Paris where couples attach padlocks. Upon locking the padlocks, the key is thrown into the famous Seine River. The act symbolizes eternal love.
Lately there has been major controversy surrounding the famous bridge as the Paris city council says that the padlocks are too heavy and are weighing the bridge down.
So, there are future plans to take down the padlocks and already (in 2015), 40,000 kgs of padlocks were removed. So, you might want to see it before it's all gone.
But even after it's gone, the Love bridge will be remembered for drawing millions of tourists with a promise of eternal love.
5. Versailles chateau
Located 19km outside of Paris, the Versailles chateau was home to several French kings up until the 1789 French revolution. Today, it is a world renowned museum that depicts the luxurious life of Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette, the last residents of the castle.
A walk through the castle takes you back to the 18th Century, as you truly witness what life was like back then. Take a tour through the famous Hall of Mirrors, Marie Antoinette's chambers (have a glimpse of her bed in particular) and Louis XVI's chair (its amazing how small he was).
But above all, a walk through the gardens and the farmlands fully stocked with chicken, sheep and goats is truly mind-blowing. This experience is truly a walk through history.
Other notable places and activities that you shouldn't miss out on include:
- The Notre Dame Cathedral which still opens for church services to this day
- Musee D'Orsay (you will find the concrete story behind the creation of the Eiffel tower.)
- Disneyland Paris
- The seine river (the famous river that flows through Paris into the English channel)
Have you visited Paris before? What are you must-see places?