Posts Tagged ‘Eiffel Tower’

Hidden Gems of Paris

May 17, 2013

Okay, they may not actually be HIDDEN, but far too many Louvre Paris people miss them none the less.  Everyone goes to the Louvre‘, the Eiffel Tower (though last week’s post told you how to skip the line and get more out of the visit), the Arc de Triomphe and you should too, but some of my favorite places are a bit less known.

Catacombs of ParisThere are catacombs in Paris.  BIG catacombs and you can tour them.  You’ll need to take the subway, there are no restrooms there and plan to stand in line but it’s well worth it.   Believed to be the source of infections in the 1700’s, bodies were exhumed and moved to old quarries outside (at the time) the city of Paris.  So many skeletons were moved an in an effort to honor the dead, patterned walls were constructed from the bones.  A bit macabre perhaps, but we loved it!

Are you a fan of the Broadway musical Phantom of the Opera?  Paris Opera House LobbyThen a visit to the Paris Opera House is a must!  Even if you are not, it’s one of the most spectacular buildings.  The outside is impressive, but so many buildings in Paris are beautiful.  But inside!  WOW!  We even got to sneak a peak inside the performance hall and saw the actual chandelier that is replicated in the Broadway musical in rather spectacular fashion.

Concerts in ParisIn many neighborhoods, you will find flyers posted outside decommissioned churches advertising classical music concerts.  I’ve been to these in Rome, Venice and Paris and they are always lovely evenings in beautiful settings.  The posters are never in English but you should be able to make out the date and time as well as the composer’s music being performed.  There are few (if any) tourists and it’s a great way to spend a Paris evening.

Get the museum pass either online before you go or at one of the less busy monuments to save yourself a lot of line time.  The line at the Louvre’ and other tourist hotspots is to buy tickets.  There is usually an express entrance for those with the museum pass.

Invest in a week long (or however many days you will be there) Paris Metro pass.  The system is easy to use and you will feel like a Parisian in no time!  The larger stations take credit cards for the purchase and that will give you maximum flexibility.

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Do your research ahead of time and plot out your days to make sure you capture as much of this beautiful city as you can in the time you have.  But also be sure to allow time to sit at a sidewalk cafe and sip a chilled Rose’ and watch the world go by.

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j’aime Paris

May 10, 2013

Yes, I love Paris.  Here are a few suggestions to help you love it as well.  Do as much research, book tours and buy tickets on line NOW – it gets busy!

Summer – particularly July – is a great time to visit Paris.  It’s warm, there are sidewalk cafes everywhere and Rose’ wine is both inexpensive and delicious!

Bastille Day is July 14th.  If you can plan your trip to be there, it’s well worth it!  Locals and tourists alike arrive EARLY at the Champ de Mars, the official site of the Bastille Day (French independence day) festivities.  Take a picnic and plan to spend the day.  We were actually on the other side of the river (both sides were lined with watchers) and as long as you have a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower, you are in for a treat!  The fireworks, set off from the Tower, are breath-taking!

Bastille Day, Paris

You can’t visit Paris without a visit to the Eiffel Tower.  On any given day, you will find the lines to buy tickets to visit the tower staggering!  Behind the scenes at Eiffel TowerThere is a fee so you will have to pay anyway, but the option I’m suggesting will cost you only a little more, give you a ton of fascinating information AND let you skip the line!  There is a tour offered called “Behind the Scenes at the Eiffel Tower”.  Buy your ticket up to 3 months in advance and print them at home.  You’ll get to see an underground bunker, the machinery that operates the elevators and learn the history of this iconic monument.  Once on the 2nd level, you can purchase a ticket at a kiosk to go all the way to the top if you want.

Very near the Cathedral of Notre Dame is Sainte-Chapelle.  Without a doubt, the most spectacular stained glass in all of Paris.  Due to the narrow Sainte-Chapellestairs by which you enter and the security, the line is always down the block.  Here’s my next “skip the line” suggestion.  On a board near the front of the line you will see posted flyers for concerts.  Check the dates – it will be in French so just look for the numbers for both time and date.  If there is one taking place during your time in Paris, ignore the line and ask the guard at the front how you buy tickets to the concert. He will send you in through security to a courtyard where a ticket kiosk sits.  Bring Euros!  When I was last there they didn’t take credit cards.  Get your concert tickets and go on with your day.

Sainte-Chapelle, Paris

Later, return about 30 minutes before the concert.  There will beConcert in Sainte-Chapelle 20 or so  people in line with you, you will have all the time both before and after the concert to wander the sanctuary taking photos without being jostled by other tourists.  Then enjoy the way the setting sun bathes the room in colorful light as the  classical concert fills this majestic setting.

Of course there are a couple of more “must do” items you might miss so I’ll have to devote next week’s blog to Paris as well.  Time to go open a bottle of Rose’!


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