UNDER PARIS SKIES
Updated: Sep 15, 2019
Ultimate Paris Itinerary in 3 Days
You cannot resist Paris, the world’s most visited city, after you listen to "Under Paris Skies" performed by Frank Chacksfield. It tempts you to waltz into the famously fashionable and romantic city Paris.
Paris may not feel as romantic as it is portrayed in the movies, but it certainly draws the maximum tourists. It was our first time in Paris in 2018 and we went imagining a very glamorous backdrop which did get a bit shattered when we saw the crowd, noise, smoke and felt a bit unsafe. It took us a while, and once we got the hang of it, the City of Lights did leave a unique mark on us with its fashion boulevards, historic monuments and the iconic art pieces of the Louvre. We even explored beyond Paris and visited the famous Versailles.
Day One in Paris
Place de la Concorde | Obelisk of Luxor | Tuileries Gardens | Champs Elysees| Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile | Eiffel Tower | Seine River Cruise | Pantheon
We arrived in Paris in the morning, refreshed, had lunch and started our tour by taking a bus to the famous Place de la Concorde. Located between the Champs Elysées and the Tuileries Gardens, the Place de la Concorde is the largest squares in Paris decorated with statues and fountains. During the French revolution the square was the site for the guillotine and among the famous victims were King Louis XVI, and his wife, Marie Antoinette. At the center of Place de la Concorde is one the oldest monuments of Paris, the Obelisk of Luxor – a gift to France from the Ottoman rulers of Egypt in 1829.
To the east of the Place de la Concorde is the magnificent Tuileries Gardens, which once belonged to Catherine of Medici (wife of Henry II). We walked towards the west alongside the canopy of trees on the famous Champs Elysees, stopping briefly to enjoy Nutella and banana crepes. It was a beautiful sunny evening of August but was unbelievably crowded as we hustled to view some of the high-end fashion shops including the iconic Louis Vuitton store, mega clothing and music stores, French cafés including the famous Le Fouquet’s and Ladurée.
The long walk led us to the intricately carved and most prominent Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile, which stands proudly at the center of the Place de l’Étoile, at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. Commissioned by Napolean in 1806, the Arc de Triomphe was built to celebrate Napolean’s victory at the Battle of Austerlitz. If you’re looking for an incredible sunset spot in Paris, climb the 300 stairs to the top of the building.
From Arc de Triomphe we took a bus to the Seine River Cruise near the Eiffel Tower. Taking the Seine River Cruise was basically a way to absorb the whole of Parisian feel in one go. The one hour cruise along the banks of the river Seine is a fantastic way to capture the beautiful architecture, view the top sights – the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Alexandre iii bridge, the Tuileries garden, the Paris City-Hall, the Conciergerie, the Orsay Museum, and of course the famous Eiffel Tower. Adding a champagne-fueled cruise down the Seine River to your itinerary will add Parisianess to your trip. We took the Bateaux Parisians Cruise Quick Entry Ticket from the Eiffel Tower stop.
The Eiffel Tower was our obvious next stop. Somehow, it didn’t give any of us the wow feeling we were expecting, until we saw the spectacular shimmering display of lights on the Eiffel Tower. After sunset, for 5 minutes, every hour the Eiffel Tower is illuminated where golden, effervescent sparkles for several minutes on the structure. I would have shared the video, but apparently it is illegal as the light show images are technically owned by the artist, Pierre Bideau, a French engineer who developed the contemporary luminous system in 1985.
We headed back to the hotel and got a glimpse of the Pantheon on our way back. Just like Rome, Paris has its own Pantheon in the Latin Quarter. The building was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve. The Pantheon is also where you’ll find Foucault’s Pendulum that traces the path of the Earth. You can take a self-guided tour of the Pantheon.
Day Two in Paris
Louvre | Notre Dame | Saint Chapel | Banks of the Seine
Even though we were on a short trip to Paris, The Louvre was a must see for us. It in fact got highest number of visitors (10.2 million) in 2018, and it feels great that we were among those who added to that number. Paris indeed is a magnet that attracts travelers to the city, and the Louvre adds more meaning to the art enthusiasts.
The Louvre, one of the world’s largest palaces turned into the museum with its iconic glass pyramid is a must visit for art lovers. The two galleries of the Louvre extend westward from the original square the Cour Carrée (Square Court), one along the river and the other along the rue de Rivoli.
You must plan to take the morning tour to be able to absorb the enormous art collection at the museum. The Louvre is incredibly large and you need to plan what you want to see. We had a few favourites we wanted to cover during this visit, especially inspired by Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s “Apeshit” song video which included the famous Mona Lisa, The Winged Victory at Samothrace, Portrait of a Negress, and Venus de Milo. Monalisa is a hype, so try to focus on other beautiful paintings. We spent 4-5 hours at the Louvre and perhaps covered less than half of it, but was indeed worth it.
After a delicious lunch at a French café, we decided to spend the afternoon at Notre Dame and the Banks of Seine. Notre Dame constructed between the 13th century and 15th century the Cathedral it is a masterpiece inside and out. We were indeed fortunate to explore this majestic Gothic structure which brought nearly 14 million tourists a year. Unfortunately the devastating fire in April 2019 destroyed this historic monument and currently remains behind police barricades until reconstruction.
Notre Dame was built on the ruins of two earlier churches converted into a single large scale building initiated by Maurice de Sully, bishop of Paris. The flying buttresses were one of Notre Dame’s most emblematic features. We were indeed lucky to view the famous aspects of the cathedral – Towering Spire, sculptures of the Twelve Apostles, Queen of Heaven, Flying Buttreses, Central Nave/ Vaulted Ceilings, Grotesque Gargoyles, Golden Chalice, Emmanuel Bell and the Beautiful Stained Glass Windows.
You can also take a 10 minute walk from Notre Dame to the Sainte-Chapelle to admire the gold pillars with Fleur de Lis designs, high-ceiling, stained glass windows with striking colors of purple, blue and pink. If you are a fan of the game series Assassin’s Creed, its eighth game ‘Unity’ has a 3 minute scene at Sainte-Chapelle, and you can visualse this for real when you visit this royal medieval Gothic chapel.
We strolled on the banks of the Seine admiring the quintessential Parisian Roofs, the famous “bouquinistes”, the sun bathing tourists as we ended second day of our tour. For book lovers the famous left bank of the Seine is a must visit to explore shops lined with booksellers that have plied their trade since the early 1900'. You can stop by one of the local grocery stores and pick up some freshly baked bread, cheese and a bottle of wine.
Day Three in Paris
Chateau de Versailles | Garden of Versailles | Eiffel Tower | Montmartre | Sacre Coeur Basilica | Moulin Rouge
We are always wanting to make most of our trips, so we dedicated day 3 to explore beyond Paris. We took the morning train to the famous Versailles, an extravaganza of Louis XIV. Despite reaching by 10:00 a.m. we were late to get tickets for the Chateau de Versailles. It was so crowded that we only got tickets for the Garden of Versailles. Do purchase your tickets in advance to make sure you can visit both the Chateau and Garden.
The 800 hectare Garden of Versailles with its grand fountains, manicured lawns and canals it is an impressive site. The two French gardens, the ‘Petit Parc’ and the ‘Trianon’ and the 300 hectares are a grand view from the terrace. The immaculate clipping of the topiaries by the gardeners was an interesting site. It’s fascinating to know that this magnificence characterised by two key achievements the Embroidery patterns and the Grand Canal was designed and conceived by a humble gardener, Le Nôtre, without any specialized training.
On our way back we were tempted to hang out on the lawns of the Eiffel Tower. The hot sun unfortunately had dried the grass but the energy of the local musicians, the chilled beer and watching people lazing in the sun was all worth it. We took some pictures of the memorial nearby and headed back to our hotel.
Our last stop was the hillside neighborhood of Montmartre, by visiting the highest point in Paris - the Sacre Coeur Basilica, at Montmartre. The basilica was built in the 1800s and consecrated in the early 1900s after WWI. This spot gives you a great view of the city. You can go up inside the dome for a 360-degree view.
Montmartre is one of the oldest and most interesting neighborhoods of Paris. We enjoyed the view of a beautiful sunset from steps of the Basilica. We were also lucky to witness football acrobatics by freestyle street artist Iya Traore who wowed the crowds with his acrobatic ball juggling skills. Wandering around Montmarte through the cobblestoned roads you can check out quirky antique shops, the open-air artists square and paintings. You surely don’t want to miss the famous the Moulin Rouge – the most popular cabaret show in the world, when you are at Montmarte.
Even though Paris is overrated it is must visit once in your lifetime. In fact, you will fall in love with the city and will surely visit it a couple of times as there is so much historic prominence and beautiful places you cannot possibly see in one short visit.