Everyone knows, Paris is the capital city of France (if you don't, your either slightly dumb, or under the age of 7, and therefore forgiven), yet its status as one of the most visited cities in the world affords it, its own identity, like that of other "super cities".
This is a city of light, grand architecture, art, and history. Yet it is also a city of migrants, languages, expensive coffee, and a feeling that your visiting a live-in theme park.
Much of Paris is replicated throughout the world (Las Vegas has an Eiffel Tower, North Korea has an Arc de Triomphe, and Egypt has a Grand Louvre Pyramid at Giza); so when these famous monuments are actually before your own eyes they seem almost fake.
Despite the sites and attractions being so familiar, they are nonetheless a surprise as they appear from behind townhouses, or pop into view as you round a corner.
As Paris', and perhaps France's most recognised structure, the Eiffel Tower is a must see whilst visiting. However, I would recommend a night visit as apposed to during the day. There are a number of other sites to visit in order to gain a birds eye view of the city whilst the sun is shining, with the Eiffel Tower the only one offering such a view at night.
Despite being labelled a "disgraceful, gigantic skeleton" by one writer in 1889 after construction for the Exposition Universelle (World Fair) to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille; the Eiffel Tower has endured to become one of the most recognised steel structures in the world, right up there with the Forth Rail Bridge in Scotland!
For views across the city during daylight hours, head first thing in the morning to Notre Dame Cathedral, and an ascent of the towers. Not too high that you loose the detail of the sights below, the towers are a perfect vantage point for taking in sweeping panoramic views right across Paris. Also, the Arch de Triomphe will give you an excellent vantage point for surveying the Champs Elysees, and the chaotic traffic below.
Views from Notre Dame Cathedral
View from the Arch de Triomphe
With both tours providing commentary, this is a leisurely way to see the city, and its inhabitants. Whether driving over the Alexander III bridge, or cruising past the Latin Quarter, this is a good opportunity to sit back, and enjoy an audio visual history lesson of Paris.
After disembarking Les Cars Rouge in the Opera district, we couldn't help but head towards Galeries Lafayette, a well know Parisan department shopping centre. In here, you need to be wearing the 'right' clothes to shop for the 'right' clothes; needless to say my waterproof, impenetrable sole hiking boots, did not fit in!
|Inside Galeries Lafayette|
|Surprisingly his is the entrance for the less well-heeled!|
|The Grand Staircase|
|Where patrons may enjoy a brief intermission|
|The Grand Foyer|
Our 4 day Metro passes did not work, and the Paris Attraction Pass does not actually gain you entry to many places, compared with that of the museum pass. The open bus tour ticket is a must, as it is get on/get off where you like and lasts for 2 days. The driver hardly checks the ticket, however, and we managed to use ours for the full 4 days. This is a good way of getting to and from certain places, with a bus usually departing each stop every 15-20 minutes.
|Don't forget to just sit back and watch! (Coffee on the Champs Elysees)|
***More photos of Paris in the Gallery section***