I still remember the first time I visited Paris… it was a very cold winter evening in 2004, at that time I was finishing my major in telecommunications in Rennes (Brittany). Besides de darkness, wind and cold, Paris was for my tourist’s eyes no more than a famous tower and other 3 monuments, a luxurious avenue and some people drinking coffee in a bar. The point was that I arrived to Montparnasse train station and I only had 24 hours to visit it all. The day after a low-cost airplane ticket should take me to Spain to spend Christmas with my family. Main target? Some pictures in the Eiffel Tower and of course a hot coffee in a bar…. But during the trip from Rennes to Paris, I’ve met some other guys (also students), planning to visit as much as possible in a very short time. I remember that we started a discussion about public transportation in Paris and how to go to the major sights and monuments, we’ve listed at least 10 of them when we were passing the city of Le Mans (around 1,5 hours from Paris) and also remember VERY WELL that we were still discussing about it after we took Metro Line 6 from Montparnasse to Bir Hakeim station (Eiffel tower). During my second visit I realized that because of this stupid discussion I’ve missed the beauty of this elevated metro rail that offers a magnificent view of the city.
Walk to the tower… follow the crew!
We were a very crazy group of 12 when we abandoned the metro, the Tower was just in front of us and the cold and wind were killing our dreams to climb to the summit…
So, what to do?
Here is my first advice to those who are thinking to do a short stop in Paris to “visit all”: if you haven’t booked your ticket in advance, don’t climb the Tower. You’ll spend at least 3 boring hours in the queue and the rest of the city will remain in the pallid pictures of your tourist guide. If you decide to visit the rest, just go to the Tower, take some pictures and go directly to Trocadero, the monument that is right in front, crossing the river. You will need to go up to the top of Trocadero to have a beautiful view of what Parisians call “rive gauche” –left side of the seine river-. More pictures there and go to the avenue that is behind you try to find the bus 22nd and stop at Charles de Gaulle Etoile (or take the metro, Line 6 in Trocadero and do the same), the Arch of Triumph and Champs Elysées Avenue are there for you… Pictures, pictures and more pictures. One of the most practical and beautiful ways of transport in Paris is public bus, it allows you to avoid the metro stairs and transfers enjoying the view of the city; but unfortunately for your next destination there is no direct bus nearby. So, take metro Line 1 in Charles de Gaulle-Etoile and take Chateau de Vincennes direction, then stop in Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre Station. We’re not going to invite you to enter to the museum if you have not booked your ticket in advance, consider that this is one of the largest museums in the world (60 600 square meters) and the richness and beauty of each one of the objects exposed worth a dedicated visit (consider at least one day for your next time schedule). So try to go out of the station as soon as possible to avoid the crowded spaces inside the Carrousel du Louvre shopping gallery, once you’re outside, take as many pictures as you want… dedicate a minute to admire this wonderful monument that has been decorating Paris from the 12th century and that has been transformed from fortress to royal palace, also holding the national academy of arts and the National Assembly. At this time your day would be finishing… Take your breath, put all your forces together and try to find the Seine River. In the avenue named “Quai François Mitterrand” take any of these busses 27, 69 or 72 and stops for 27 in Pont St-Michel, and for 69 and 72 in Châtelet station, you’ll easily find the beautiful cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris. Once you’re there; you can enter for free, take your time to admire this magnificent building. Just behind the cathedral, you’ll find the island of Saint Louis… this is the last destination in this really fast tour, once in the island you can sit in one café to admire the city by night.