We arranged this journey to bring my parents to Paris. Since we had previously visited Paris with Rishi’s parents the previous year, we had some familiarity with what to do and which locations could be skipped. Additionally, I made an effort to include a few new places to ensure there would be something fresh for all of us.
Day 0 – 17 May 2023
In the evening, we embarked on our journey from home and faced heavy traffic throughout the Netherlands and Belgium. As a result, it took us an additional 2-3 hours to reach our lodging for the night in France. We had made a reservation for a stay in Saint-Quentin, which is situated close to Paris, in order to maximize our time in the city the following day.
Day 1 – 18 May 2023
By midday, we had arrived in Paris and made the decision to drive to our first destination for the day.
For our first destination, we chose to visit Sacré-Cœur, a renowned basilica situated in the Montmartre district. With its striking white exterior and sweeping panoramic views, we couldn’t resist including it in our itinerary once again. Upon arrival, we discovered a significant line extending from inside the basilica, where visitors were waiting to access the panoramic view of Paris. Opting not to wait in the queue, we chose to admire the view solely from the front of the basilica. Taking advantage of our available time, we settled on the grass and admired the scenery.
Including the Eiffel Tower in our itinerary was a must, as no visit to Paris would be complete without it. Recalling our previous experience, we returned to the Champ de Mars, the expansive public greenspace facing the Eiffel Tower. Once again, we enjoyed our Bihari delicacy of Litti while gazing at the iconic tower.
After exploring the city, we arrived at our accommodation, AppartCity Paris Saint Maurice, which provides fully furnished apartments for short and long-term stays. However, the apartment was too cramped for the four of us, leaving very little space to move around comfortably. The kitchen was also small and congested. Unfortunately, we encountered an incident where the bathroom door got stuck while I was inside, but it eventually opened after several attempts. Initially, we assumed it was due to insufficient force applied to open it. However, a few minutes later, Mummy experienced the same issue and couldn’t get out of the bathroom. We had to call the receptionist for assistance. Because it was late, the receptionist informed us that the repair would be completed the next day.
Day 2 – 19 May 2023
Due to the required repair of the bathroom door, our day got off to a delayed start. The repair technician arrived later than anticipated, causing us to wait until the job was completed before we could proceed with our plans for the day.
To avoid parking complications, we opted for public transportation throughout the day. Despite being our second visit to Paris, the metro stations remained as perplexing as they were during our initial experience.
As we strolled through the city, we came across the Conciergerie, a prominent historical landmark situated in the heart of Paris. Once a royal palace, it later served as a prison during the French Revolution. The Conciergerie is famously known for housing prisoners during the Reign of Terror, including Marie Antoinette. Being a history teacher who teaches the French Revolution, Mummy was particularly thrilled upon discovering the significance and stories associated with the site.
During our journey to the next destination, we came across a mesmerizing sculpture crafted by the acclaimed artist Yayoi Kusama in front of the Louis Vuitton headquarters in Paris. This captivating sculpture embodies Kusama’s unique artistic style, featuring vivid colours, striking patterns, and repetitive elements. It stands as a remarkable symbol of the collaboration between Louis Vuitton and Yayoi Kusama, highlighting the fusion of fashion and contemporary art. Although we stumbled upon it by chance, we couldn’t resist taking photographs of this remarkable artwork.
After some time, we finally arrived at our first planned destination of the day—the Tunnel des Tuileries. This underground passage stretches beneath the famous Tuileries Garden, serving as a convenient link between the Louvre Museum and Place de la Concorde. However, it offers more than just a practical route for pedestrians; it also transforms into an engaging display of street art. The Tunnel des Tuileries houses a vibrant collection of artwork that showcases a diverse array of styles, ranging from striking graffiti to intricate stencil designs. This hidden gem came to my attention during my research for unique and offbeat places to visit during our second trip to Paris. Walking through the tunnel transformed into an artistic journey, allowing us to appreciate the creativity and talent of these anonymous artists.
Next, we made our way to the Louvre, world-renowned for its vast art collection and historical treasures. Its exterior is truly remarkable, showcasing a grand and imposing presence. The historic Louvre Palace, adorned with intricate architectural details, serves as the museum’s home. The iconic Louvre Pyramid, a modern addition, acts as the main entrance, blending contemporary design with the palace’s timeless charm. Surrounding the museum, we discovered expansive courtyards adorned with magnificent sculptures. Although we didn’t plan to explore the museum’s interior, we couldn’t resist the chance to visit the courtyard and capture some memorable photographs.
We then went into the Musée d’Orsay, a prestigious art museum housed in a former railway station, renowned for its vast collection of 19th and early 20th-century artworks. Notably, it showcases a rich assortment of impressionist, post-impressionist, and art nouveau masterpieces. During our visit, we were drawn to an exhibition that explored the artistic relationship between two influential French artists, Édouard Manet and Edgar Degas, during the 19th century. The exhibition presented a collection of their works, highlighting their shared interests, creative influences, and impact on the development of modern art. We immersed ourselves in the artistic connections and differences between these two masters. Following the exhibition, we devised a strategic plan to start our exploration from the top floor and work our way down, ensuring that we experienced the best of the museum first. Knowing that it would be impossible to see everything in a single visit, this approach allowed us to fully appreciate the museum without regret. Inside, we marvelled at the masterpieces of iconic artists like Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, and Degas, among others. The collection included famous pieces such as “Starry Night Over the Rhône” by Van Gogh, “Bal du moulin de la Galette” by Renoir, and “The Dance Class” by Degas. The museum’s exhibits encompassed a wide range of artistic mediums, from paintings and sculptures to photography, decorative arts, and furniture. Beyond the remarkable collection, the Musée d’Orsay’s architecture itself captivated us. The stunning Beaux-Arts-style building, with its soaring glass roof, allowed natural light to flood the exhibition spaces, enhancing the museum’s grandeur and elegance.
We proceeded to Pont Alexandre III, a truly iconic bridge that spans the Seine River. This renowned structure is celebrated for its grand and elaborate design, symbolising the city’s architectural magnificence and artistic legacy. It was named after Tsar Alexander III of Russia and was inaugurated in 1900 for the Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair). The bridge’s elegance is evident in its exquisite sculptures, intricate lampposts, and gilded embellishments, reflecting a blend of Beaux-Arts and Art Nouveau architectural styles. At its centre stands a majestic gilded bronze statue called “La France de la Renaissance” (France of the Renaissance), while four magnificent Pegasus statues grace each corner. Ornate elements, including cherubs, nymphs, and mythical creatures, enhance the bridge’s romantic and enchanting ambience. As we strolled along the bridge, we were captivated by its ornamental beauty and enjoyed the magnificent view of the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
We decided to take a leisurely stroll to Trocadéro, a well-known square known for its breathtaking views of the Eiffel Tower. It was one of our favourite spots to admire the iconic beauty of Paris’s most famous landmark. Along the way, we bought some wine and fries, creating a perfect setting to savour the view with snacks and drinks.
After returning home, we had dinner and rested before heading out again with the intention of witnessing the sparkling Eiffel Tower. Recalling our previous visit, we knew the tower would sparkle until 1 am, so we aimed to arrive around 10 p.m. As we approached the tower, we were delighted to see it already sparkling. We parked our car and settled in at Champ de Mars, despite the chilly weather, knowing we had about 40 minutes to enjoy the spectacle again. However, to our surprise, when it was 11 p.m., the tower’s lights went out instead of sparkling. Perplexed, we inquired with the beer and wine vendors, who informed us that the sparkling lighting schedule starts in June and lasts until August. Sadly, since it was still May, we missed the sparkling display. Fortunately, we hadn’t saved this experience for the last day, and we decided to return the following day to catch the sparkling show as planned. With this in mind, we headed back home to prepare for the next day’s excursion.
Day 3 – 20 May 2023
Our day’s itinerary consisted of just two planned activities, and we prepared ourselves accordingly to ensure we would arrive at the palace at the designated entry time.
Our day began with a visit to Versailles Palace, a historically significant royal residence renowned for its grandeur. Originally built as a hunting lodge by Louis XIII in the 17th century, it was later transformed into an opulent palace by his son, Louis XIV, the Sun King. Since we had missed obtaining tickets on our previous visit, Versailles Palace was a top priority this time. To make the most of our time, we decided to skip the gardens since we had explored them extensively during our last visit. The palace itself is a masterpiece of French Baroque architecture, boasting ornate designs and a vast scale. The interior was equally impressive, featuring lavish decorations, intricate artwork, and opulent furnishings. The Hall of Mirrors, a particularly iconic room, mesmerised us with its seventeen mirrored arches reflecting the gardens outside, creating a breathtaking optical illusion. Although the Hall of Mirrors lived up to our expectations, we found the rest of the palace slightly less opulent. I recalled The Palais Garnier, the Paris opera house, which struck me as even more extravagant. Versailles Palace played a pivotal role in French history, serving as the official residence of the French monarchy until the French Revolution. As Mummy is a history teacher, we opted for audio guides to delve into the palace’s rich historical significance. Upon exiting the palace, I realised I had forgotten to take a picture in the beautiful courtyard as I was waiting in line for the audio guide. Feeling disappointed, Rishi came up with the idea of requesting the ticket checkers to let us revisit the courtyard, which was at the beginning of the tour route. With a little convincing, they allowed us entry, and I happily captured the pictures I had missed earlier.