To celebrate Enea's first year, we decided to organize a trip to France, to discover the Champagne area. We had already been to Paris in the past, so this time we decided to dedicate 2 intense days to it, visiting lesser-known places, which are sometimes overlooked on the first visit and others which are particularly famous and instagrammable.
Paris and books: a perfect combination! Many of you will have heard of the famous Shakespeare & Co. bookshop. We tried to enter twice, but with the queue we gave up.
If you also love books, we recommend two very particular libraries to include in your tour: the first is the Richelieu National Library. Its recently renovated round room is a truly evocative place: 20,000 volumes in a single room of impressive dimensions.
Opened to the public in 1935, it has several tables and some armchairs for reading and is accessible for free (a card is required to read). A few steps away, take a look at the little-known Galerie Vivienne, among the most elegant covered passages in the city. The bas-reliefs on the walls and the mosaics on the floors are very particular.
The Sainte-Geneviève Library, a few steps from the Pantheon, is also worth a visit. Don't be scared by the queue outside: it's only for those who want to study. Guided tours are organized on some days of the week, but it is still possible to enter for a quick look at the reading room.
The neighborhood around the Sorbonne University is truly characteristic, I often found myself with my head upwards, observing the elegant buildings that characterize it.
Finally, the Opera Garnier is also a special place to travel through time and rediscover the ancient splendors of Parisian shows. The opulence of the interiors will leave you speechless. The main staircase is truly majestic, surrounded by golden stuccoes and statues.
Visit the side rooms on the first floor, which house the foyer and small library, before heading to the stage. It was closed during our visit (without warning) so we didn't get to see it.
Finally, if you are looking for a moment of break, we recommend three small gardens, where you can stop and observe the comings and goings of the people and the beauty of the place. The first is located on Place des Voges. Initially called Royal, it is surrounded by elegant buildings and a quiet enclosed garden. The small garden of the Hôtel de Sens is a typical example of a perfect French garden, decorated with colorful tulips. Finally, the garden of the National Archives in the Marrais district.
If we talk about the most instagrammable neighborhoods in the city, we must necessarily start from Montmartre. You will undoubtedly find numerous views that will capture your attention and will also be an opportunity for a pleasant walk.
Starting from the bottom of the hill, stop in front of the Montmartre Carousel: from this alternative point, you can capture the Basilique du Sacre Coeur in the background. From late morning, the carousel is in operation and could also be an opportunity for the little ones to take a ride. From here you have two alternatives, take advantage of the convenient funicular just a few steps away (particularly if you have a stroller), or climb the long staircase that will take you to the top.
From here, you can reach two very picturesque buildings: the Maison Rose, a place housed in a candy pink house (closed even though it was almost midday). A few steps away, in a very crowded street, you will find the picturesque Le Consulat, almost impossible to find without tourists except in the early hours of the day.
Continue your walk, a few steps separate you from the Moulin Rouge district, which is undoubtedly worth a short visit.
We then continued up to Arc de Triomphe, the best point to photograph it is undoubtedly the traffic island at the end of the Avenue des Champes Elysées.
The symbol of the city certainly could not be missing from this collection: the Eiffel Tower. It can be photographed from a thousand and more angles in the city, we have collected here for you the ones we liked the most. Let's start from the Debilly Passerelle.
It's not particularly popular as an observation point, so we managed to take several photos without too much trouble. Second stop at Rue de l'Universitè: it is now a rather well-known point, so for the perfect shot without anyone, an early wake-up call is necessary here. We then continued towards the Trocadèro gardens, looking for shots that were a little different from the usual: here you can give space to your imagination and even if they are always very crowded, you will find several spots for shots without other tourists. We took advantage of the staircases and statues that decorate the Palais de Chaillot.
If you want to see it well from the other side, our advice is to organize a visit to the Montparnasse Tower. Here, from the top of the 56th floor you can enjoy one of the most beautiful views of the city and Eiffel Tower. The advice is to go towards sunset to enjoy a truly unforgettable view and perhaps wait for darkness to fall to watch the city light up.
Paris is undoubtedly world famous for its splendid museums: during our first visit we spent entire days there. This time we only passed by the outside of one of the most evocative ones: the Louvre museum. Its glass pyramid shape is iconic, it is one of the museums I would gladly return to for a visit in the future.
Less classic, but modern and colourful, the Pompidou national center of art and culture is striking for its unusual and colorful shapes which are very reminiscent of the shapes of a ship.
We cannot fail to mention the colorful and original bars and shops that color Paris: in the city you can find several particularly evocative ones. The first is Le Voltigeur: huge teddy bears and profusion of flowers. We also stopped here for a mid-morning snack. Not far away is La Favorite: a real feast for pink lovers.
We were left speechless by the devastation that still looms over the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Although 4 years have already passed since that tragic event, the works are still in progress and will certainly take a long time to complete (estimated reopening December 2024).
A few steps away, there is the Gothic-Roman church of Saint-Séverin: it will certainly not be like visiting the majestic Notre-Dame, but there are several aspects in common, which make it interesting for a visit.
Finally the famous and unmissable Galeries Lafayette are a true historical institution for shopping in Paris. Whether you love shopping or not, I recommend you visit the historic location on Boulevard Haussmann for two reasons. The first: admire the art nouveau dome, inspired by the Parisian theaters of the time and the second enjoy an unmissable (and free) panorama from the building's terrace.
Before your trip
- How to reach it? Paris can be reached by various means from Charles de Gaulle airport. When we arrived, it was already evening and it was raining cats and dogs: we therefore opted for the taxi. We spent €55 for the three of us with luggage, stroller and arrival under our accommodation, it can therefore be a reasonable price (fixed rate: CDG – Paris Rive Droite/Rive Gauche: €55/62). On the way back, we opted for the RER B, in this case the cost per adult is around €15 starting from Les Halles
- How many days? We only dedicated two days to Paris, having already been there in the past and having included it in a broader tour that led us to discover the Champagne territory
- Where to stay? We preferred to stay in a spacious apartment a few steps away from Les Halles, perfect for 4 adults and a child. The prices of hotels in Paris are particularly high, this solution is valid for at least two couples, as it has two double rooms and large lounge and kitchen spaces
- Where to eat? We only dined out one evening at Le Petit Chatelet it is a few steps from Notre Dame, next to the Shakespeares & Co bookshop. In an informal setting with just a few tables, you can enjoy classic French cuisine.If you want to get away from French cuisine, you can instead pop into Japan with lunch at Kodawari Ramen set like a small Japanese alley, it offers delicious ramen close to the classic taste. Reservations essential, excellent for a quick lunch