Paris is a gigantic, fascinating city with an uncountable number of things to do for anyone engaged in life at all. History, culture, music, food, art… Paris is a significant hub for them all. I’ve only visited twice, but those visits built upon a lifetime of reading, research and dreaming (and idealization), so I’ll share what I’ve discovered in my short visits.
The first thing I recommend doing, on day one of your first visit, is to experience a few of the more touristy activities. It’s important to settle in and to get the ‘lay of the land.’
If your flight arrives before evening… have a cappuccino to prepare for your first day. Paris is known for its cafes, and there’s one on every corner, it seems. I started my trip in the San Michel area, near Notre Dame Cathedral, and stopped first at Cafe Le Petit Pont. It’s a great location to people-watch and soak in all the beautiful, historic surroundings.
This beautiful and historically significant cathedral is a must-see. The interior is covered with amazing art and sculpture, and you’ll feel the reverent, peaceful atmosphere as you walk through. Outside, you can walk up the stone stairs and tour the turrets, which provide an excellent opportunity for getting photos of gargoyles and aerial shots of the city. Down below, spend some time people-watching in the plaza, or have another cappuccino at one of the cafes nearby.
Another classically touristy but enjoyable activity is taking a tour of the city by boat. You can catch one along the quay at Notre Dame. You’ll travel the Seine and pass by much of the city, with a view of major landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower. A tour guide offers trivia and history. On a sunny day, you’ll see people all along the quay enjoying the weather.
I even caught a group of couples dancing to French music!
Walk Along the Quay
Head downstairs to walk along the stone path that runs next to the Seine. You’ll see street performers, tourists, joggers, couples holding hands, and more. It’s a relaxing way to spend an hour or so. I caught a photo of this balloon floating on the river. It perfectly captures the serenity of the day.
Shakespeare and Company
This bookstore is famous for many reasons. It’s near Notre Dame and a good side trip that will get you into the San Michel area. Go, buy a used book, or listen to a reading.
Jardin de Tuileries
This “touristy” garden is a delight. There’s whimsy and delicate beauty everywhere. Walk it to the end, and you’ll arrive at the Louvre, where the plaza and park area offer more great people-watching opportunities.
If you visit any of these places, comment and let me know what you think! And if you’re curious for more, see my other posts on Paris.
~Page Light Studios