If you want to experience the true essence of Europe, go to Paris! It is one of the most diverse cities I have ever come across. In my years of flying experience, I have always looked forward to a layover in Paris, and every time I leave the city, I leave with lifetime memories to cherish.
Paris is done best in pieces. You don’t have to check out every attraction in just one go. Instead, bucket-list a few for every trip and enjoy them to the last morsel. There is only one caveat to visiting Paris – you dress fashionably in the fashion capital of the world.
Art & Architecture in Paris: Museums, Cathedrals, Palaces
While in Paris, no matter where you head out to, you will end up in a museum; they are everywhere! You don’t have to be an art buff to enjoy these. My favorite museums and cathedrals to check out during a layover in Paris are:
- Louvre Museum: Paris and Louvre are synonymous. You can’t leave the city without looking at the Mona Lisa and admiring her simile from every angle. This is where you witness 5000 years of history, under one roof, including the works of Michael Angelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Egyptian History, and so much more.
One of the most interesting features of this place is the Louvre pyramid. Make sure you get the signature ‘holding the tip of the pyramid’ picture while you are there.
My advice to you is, don’t try to cover the whole museum, it will take you the entire day, and still, you won’t be able to cover it all. Earmark 2 hours and then revisit it on your next trip.
- Centre Pompidou: If you are more into contemporary art, skip Louvre and head to Center Pompidou. It is a fantastic reflection of modern art forms, including visual arts, photography, films, and much more. My favorite masterpiece here is the Frida Kahlo painting, which says a lot about her awe-inspiring life.
- Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris: Finally, visit the cathedral to delve into spirituality or simply click some pictures against the colonial architectural backdrop. You can take The Choir Tour that depicts the scenes from the Life of Christ or simply look at the stained glass artwork and the beautiful sculptures here.
Paris is sprinkled with beautiful buildings and art galleries. The best way to explore is to rent an electric scooter and scoot through the streets. You will encounter unmatched beauty everywhere you look.
Paris Uniqueness: Things that make Paris what it is
Museums and Cathedrals can be found all over Europe; however, some things are only found in Paris. These places deliver blog-worthy images and memories for life. Some are only a few minutes en-route stopovers to bigger attractions, so you don’t have to spend hours.
- I Love You Wall: Parisians have never shied away from expressing their love. In fact, they speak all 250 languages of love and boldly display their love on the ‘I love you wall.’ This is a must-capture art installation as you stroll through the northern suburbs of Paris. Try to find the hidden heart, a fun game we played when we were there.
- Shakespeare & Co.: If you are a bibliophile like me, then the smell of books will lead you to this place on a late afternoon in Paris. You wouldn’t expect a long queue outside an independent bookstore anywhere else in the world. And this is why Paris is unique.
This book store has been in existence for time immemorial and has been home to many notable writers such as Ernst Hemingway, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and many more. This store has been recreated after the original one closed during the Nazi occupation.
- Eiffel Tower: Of course, you can’t forget the topmost attraction coming to everyone’s minds on even the slightest mention of the city – the Eiffel Tower! It is the first place on most people’s bucket list when they land in Paris. Although there is nothing wrong with that, but the tower is quite far from all other attractions. So, keep in mind, that if you are heading there, plan everything else for another time.
Also, ensure that you book your tour tickets to the top of the tower in advance. You will not find these on-spot. But once you are at the top, the view will be worth it all. If you catch a glimpse at night, the tower is all lit up and a sight to admire.
The nearby attractions can fill your entire day. The crew and I had a fun time picnicking at the Champ de Mars. You can take a sheet and a basket of French sweets and enjoy the tower view from the park. After you are done picnicking, you can even go for a carousel ride at Trocadeŕo. It is a day well spent.
- Cabaret & Moulin Rouge: Paris is one of the most glamorous cities globally, and rightly so. If you want to spend an elegant evening in Paris, head to a cabaret show or catch the celebrated Féerie show at the Moulin Rouge. You have the dinner and show combo option also so that your whole evening is booked for an effervescent song, dance, and entertainment extravaganza!
Eat Everything French: Cafés, Bistros, Bakeries
While you are in France, you have to taste the delicious pastries, invigorating coffee, and mouthwatering French cuisine. Don’t just head to the fine dining restaurants; try the cozy cafés and intimate bistros. The food is tastiest here and made with a lot of love. Some of the cafés we loved eating at are:
- Holybelly: So, the name tells you all. The food here is divine. You get a fair share of seasonal dishes and some constants on the menu. Go for their breakfast or lunch menu, and I am sure you will forget all other places to eat at. My favorite there is the pancakes and eggs savoury stack, with bacon and maple syrup. I love to pair it with their organic homemade cherry cooler. And the best part is, this place has plenty of vegan options, so food preference is not a hurdle here.
- Café des Anges: If you want to enjoy the traditional bistro experience, look no further than Café des Anges. You get everything here from entrées to the main course. I loved their mega cheeseburger with beef patty oozing with parmesan and cheddar. The cheesecake melted in my mouth, and their chardonnay was exquisite.
- Maison Landemaine: French pastries are the sweetest way to relish the city of Paris. Maison Landemaine has been my favorite pastry shop in Paris. Here, you get to taste the soft and delicious pastries in mind-boggling variety. I love their Apricot and Pistachio Square Tart. The sweet dough blends so well with the almond cream that you can’t just stop at one.
Attractions near Paris: A little on the Outskirts
If you have a longer layover in Paris, or you have experienced the city several times, you can plan to see a few attractions on the outskirts on your next visit.
- Versailles: It is not just a palace; it is a whole city with palaces, gardens, cathedrals, and much more. Although the Palace of Versailles is the most majestic attraction here, the city deserves its very own layover. You must be prepared to start early, head to the city and spend the whole day just there. However, it is a terrific way to spend a layover in Paris.
- Disneyland: Again, it will take your whole day, and it is not just for the younger fans. You can meet your favorite characters in flesh and blood, admire the iconic Sleeping Beauty castle, enjoy the fireworks at night, ride through Star Wars’ galaxy far, far away, and so much more! My only advice to you is that if you plan to go to Disneyland, then don’t plan anything else in that layover.
À Bientôt Paris – Will Miss You Till Then
Paris is never complete; every time I am at the airport, I am already updating my to-explore list for my next layover in Paris. I have yet to visit the city’s famous galleries and shopping centers, including the Galeries Lafayette at Champs-Elysées.
Also, now that I am pretty familiar with the city, I plan to stroll through the beautiful alleys and streets to find a deeper connect with the city. I also plan on taking the famous Seine River cruise at night but let’s see where Paris will take me the next time.
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