I visited Paris for the second time at the end of September. The first time I left feeling slightly disappointed by the city, mainly due to the weather and the strikes which prohibited us from certain tourist attractions but my second visit far exceeded my expectations and now I can't stop dreaming about living in Paris!! There is so much to see in the different arrondissements and each one has a very different feel to the next. It is virtually impossible to thoroughly explore each area but here are a few highlights that are not to be missed:
You will be in art heaven visiting the iconic 12th century Louvre. What used to be the royal residence has housed thousands of art pieces since 1793 - dates that are incomprehensible. Some famous art works to look out for include the Mona Lisa, The Winged Victory of Samothrace, The Venus de Milo, Liberty Leading The People and The Coronation of Napolean. Not to mention the incredible steel and glass pyramid structure entrance which needs no introduction. Another must when visiting the Louvre is Café Marley, it overlooks the beautiful pyramid and is the perfect people watching spot and surprisingly not as pricey as you would think especially if you are stopping for a coffee and a croissant.
Arc de Triomphe & Champs Elysees
Probably one of my favourite parts of Paris. Avenue des Champs Elysees is 1.9kms of shopping heaven which leads up to the beautiful 213 year old Arc de Triomphe, one of Paris most famous monuments, which has a great panoramic view of the city from the top.
Musée Yves St Laurent
If you are a fashion lover this is a MUST when visiting Paris. I had no expectations when going to visit the late Yves St Laurent's haute couture fashion house, mainly because I didn't know too much about the luxury brand. The museum is located in the exact fashion house where Laurent built the icon brand as we know it today. It showcases the unchanged haute couture salons where clients would receive fittings and where fashion shows were held up until 1976, the history behind his 1965 AW collection, prominent pieces that showcase his signature style, a homage to how he explored the history of fashion through his designs and my favourite part, his studio as it was when he was designing. It far exceeded my expectations and is a historic part of French fashion.
This one is a no brainer when visiting Paris and needs no explanation but some of the best views of the Eiffel Tower, in my opinion, are from the Champ de Mars and surrounding side streets, the Trocadéro, Avenue de New York along the Seine river, Pont de l'Alma bridge which leads to Princess Diana's memorial and the beautiful Pont Alexandre III bridge. And don't forget to make time to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle for 5 minutes every hour on the hour after sunset - one of my favourite views.
This is such a cute restaurant in the 16th Arrondissement across from the hotel that we stayed at on the corner of Avenue Kléber and Rue de Belloy. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and closes at 2am every night. We personally loved it and had two dinners here (which I NEVER do on a trip) because of how vibey and lively it always was. They have the best pizza, burgers and cocktails - the marble tables are also a plus!
Galeries Lafayette Haussmann
The flagship store is in the 9th Arrondissement and is an upmarket, French department store. It was founded in 1894 and is overwhelming to say the least. Inside the main fashion store you can shop renowned fashion brands while enjoying the beauty of the Art Nouveau glass Coupole dome.
Vintage Market Stalls
When visiting the Notre Dame - which is currently closed and under construction - walk along Quai de Montebello, which runs along the Seine, and browse the vintage market stalls. I could spend hours doing this! They have vintage Elle and Vogue fashion magazines, vintage books, old French postcards, vintage prints and paintings and Parisian souvenirs. Make sure you have cash as they don't accept payment via cards.
Palace of Versailles
Versailles is about a 30 minute train outside of Paris and is definitely worth the journey. Expect a lot of people so buy your tickets online beforehand and make sure you arrive before the opening time so you can get a head start on the line - also check the weather and make sure it isn't raining and take an umbrella incase as the line is outside and you will want to explore the vast palace gardens and you might get stuck in a downpour. The Palace of Versailles was the principal royal residence of France from 1682, under Louis XIV, until the start of the French Revolution in 1789, under Louis XVI and houses some of the most important and significant French furniture, art and history. This is definitely a day trip as the grounds are huge and take a good few hours to explore.
Enjoy your trip to Paris!