As the sun melts beyond the horizon, the sky begins to put on a radiant show of color and the city comes alive with lights from every direction. You can hear and feel the change from day to night, from work to play, descend upon the city.
I have adored Paris since I was little, there is an alluring charm that speaks to the girly girl romantic deep inside of me. Yes, I know it's hard to believe, but I do have a girly side! I've been to Paris quite a few times and I fall more in love each visit. Now that I have the majority of the "tourist" attractions under my belt, I have the ability to spend more time in the places that call to me and have been able to dive a bit deeper to find the heartbeat of the city.
Day Time Adventures
The Louvre - My suggestion is to plan a full day here if you can! In the future, I'll plan a trip to Paris to ONLY visit the Louvre (and eat) to satiate the art history geek inside of me! A few things to note - the museum is closed on Tuesday with extended night hours Wednesday and Friday. In high season (summer) the line to get in can be extremely long, so plan accordingly and get there early! I'm a nerd so I always get the audio guides for art museums - I highly recommend it - you can move at your own pace and take in the art as much or as little as you need!
Centre Pompidou - Home to the largest collection of modern and contemporary arts in Europe, celebrating 40 years this year! Yet another place I could get lost for hours, maybe even days. On my most recent trip to Paris, I spent another full day here with my mother to explore everything from Jeff Koons to Marcel Duchamp (one of my personal favorites). The architectural design of the building alone is worth the visit! The BAD-ASS restaurant and bar at the top boasts amazing views of the city and the Eiffel Tower. It's the perfect place to have some champagne after a day of exploring the museum. Mom and I saw something quite disturbing (something that looked like poop on the floor) while moving through the gift shop and it had us laughing all day! We started calling the museum "Le Poopie-Doo."
Père Lachaise Cemetery - My favorite place to find inspiration and spend some alone time. Strange, sure, but as a lover of music, literature, art, poetry etc. it's the perfect place to get lost for an afternoon. You will find the graves of some of the most artistic and creative minds of history: Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Eugène Delacroix, Chopin, Colette (personal hero and inspiration), Abelard and Heloise, the list goes on. Find your own inspiration - wander with no agenda and see which graves speak to you - from death comes life and back again.
- Sacre Coeur + Montemartre - I suggest you take a morning to wander around Montemartre, one of the most rebellious neighborhoods in Paris. As you wander you'll find shops, cafes, but most importantly you will feel the artistic and laissez-faire nature of Paris. Sacre Coeur was built as an offering to Jesus Christ and for over 125 years it housed people praying around the clock. To get to the basilica, walk up from the 9th Arrondis and take your time to take everything in as you climb uphill. It is a tough climb, filled with stairs and beautiful rolling lawns, but when you get to the top and turn around you will be awestruck. Sacre Couer is located on the highest point in Paris and the whole city is there before you.
Night Time Adventures
Opera Bastille - I will be honest, I am a huge fan of the Ballet, but the Opera has taken some much to grow on me. I went to the Sydney Opera House and fell asleep during a performance of The Barber of Seville. However, seeing La Boheme, an Italian Opera set in the Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1840s, while in Paris was enlightening, to say the least. This experience opened my mind to a new level of appreciation and understanding for this beautiful performing art. It doesn't hurt that a visit to Opera house is the perfect excuse to wear something fancy and feel sophisticated for a night out.
Eiffel Tower Evening Tour- If you want that HOLY SHIT experience, then there is nothing better than doing the Eiffel Tower at night. We used a private tour company to skip the line, so we could enjoy the sunset and watch the sky light up with every color imaginable before our eyes. The tour meeting place is easy to find, and I suggest arriving early to enjoy piping hot mugs of traditional mulled wine while you wait. The view from the top is stunning. At night, you'll see the lights that frame the Avenue des Champs-Élysées from the Arc de Triomphe all the way down, over to Sacre Couer, the Louvre, the Notre Dame in one sweeping, breathtaking view. The City of Lights comes alive before your very own eyes; plus it's one of the most romantic things you could ever do! I saw a couple get engaged at the top, it was beautiful, romantic, and for a girl who isn't even sure about marriage, it was a enchanting moment that I still dream about. If there's a man out there who's daring enough to try and snatch me up - THIS IS THE WAY TO DO IT!
Le Escargot - I LOVE escargot and if you do too this restaurant is a must. It is absolutely necessary to book in advance for the weekend if you want to eat before 11pm! The vibe is perfect, it's a great mix of locals and tourists - so feeling overwhelmed by the French menu and tradition dishes won't be an issue. The staff are extremely attentive from the second you walk in, until you walk back out through the beautiful double glass doors, which is different from the usual French dining experience as an American. The restaurant decor is stunning and classically French, it transports you back in time with deep red velvet seats, close, intimate seating and lush greenery that covers the alfresco dining area all the way into the front room. I enjoyed the 24k gold dusted escargot to start the meal; something I will NEVER forget, I still dream about them!
I could go on and on, I want to share everything I enjoy about Paris but that would end up taking to long and I need to keep a few of my secrets for myself!
People always ask me "what's your favorite city", and while I don't have one, I truly feel that I will never be 'over' Paris. I hope to one day have a pied-à-terre in the 9th arrondissement to call my very own. Each visit, I stay a little longer allowing me to create a completely new experience; even when I return to some of same spots over and over. I feel the love, creativity, and history of the city rush over me; it moves through the city's cobblestone streets, classical architecture, and sound of Parisian French spilling out of the cafes. Paris fills me up in a way that makes me feel at home even though I'm 1,000s of miles away. I hope that if you find yourself in this beautiful and romantic city that you wander, take your time, soak it up, there is NO wrong way to enjoy this city. Even if you don't do anything I've recommended, I can almost certainly guarantee that your heart will be filled with love for this metropolitan french city!