Paris: Illuminated - Choosing "This or That" in the City of Lights
I've had the distinct pleasure of visiting Paris a couple of times. What strikes me about the city is it's endless ability to provide something to do around every corner. Restaurants, shops, tourist sights and an unending supply of hidden moments. It's an amazing city that I find charming and enchanting. But what do you do when the charm starts wearing off? Here are five alternatives to consider when visiting the City of Lights.
Considering it's one of the cities greatest and most visited landmarks, there is one place in all of Paris that you won't see the very landmark you've traveled thousands of kilometers to see and that's when you are on it.
Consider instead the Tower at Montparnasse. The views are arguably comparable and it's also cheaper than the Eiffel Tower's summit ticket. Sometimes, you can buy an attractions pass that includes Montparnasse admission.
You'll still want to visit the Eiffel Tower, because the photographic opportunities are not worth missing. It is prime pick pocket territory though, so keep an eye on your belongings.
No doubt that you want to visit the Louvre. However, the crowds can get unbearable. Consider going as early as you can. There are multiple entrances, so use one that isn't used as often, such as Galerie du Carrousel and you can save some time with crowds.
As you find your way to the Mona Lisa you're going to get hit with one of Paris biggest secrets - the painting is tiny. And everyone you've ever met and their dog is in that room ahead of you trying to get a look at the painting behind bulletproof glass. Going first thing in the morning in low season helps...but not massively.
Consider instead Napoleon's Rooms. Grand, vast, beautiful and opulent. Worthy of a jaw drop!
If the Louvre isn't your thing and getting up close and personal is, consider instead another portrait hanging over at the Musée D'Orsay of the famous Vincent Van Gogh or his massive Water Lilies installation at Musée L'Orangerie. And if those are too mainstream, Paris definitely has some quirky museums for you to explore with significantly less crowding.
Speaking of opulence, Versailles is often on folks' "Day Trip from Paris" radar. And don't get me wrong, the place is gorgeous. You can rent a paddle boat out on the lake, roam the gardens - there's a lot to do. But it is incredibly busy and crowded. When we went it felt a little bit like I was cattle being herded through.
If crowds and stately palaces aren't your thing, or you've already been to the Palace, consider instead Provins. A medieval city classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you're going to feel like you're visiting Belle's village from Beauty and the Beast. If you like roses, the town is famous for them.
One of the city's free activities (as long as you don't want to visit the bell tower or the crypt), Notre Dame is an iconic Paris landmark and no matter what way you look at it, worth a visit. It is definitely stunning.
But just across the square you'll find another church to consider - Sainte-Chapelle. While entrance isn't free, this church boasts 1,113 stained glass windows, each one depicting a time in history from the Old Testament to the time the relics housed at the church arrived.
It's iconic. It's central. It hosts an assortment of activities and sights around it's banks, including Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and Musée D'Orsay (not to mention all those street vendors) and a river cruise best done at sunset. It is your wayfaring point that anchors you among the streets of Central Paris.
But consider instead that Paris has some canals. One of which is St. Martin Canal. Originally ordered in 1802 by Napoleon, the canal was built to help provide Paris with fresh water. Tours by boat are possible or there are several instagram worthy iron foot bridges along the way that you can use to watch as boats navigate the locks through the area. There are also plenty of restaurants popular with locals along the 4.5km stretch that connects the canal from the Seine to Canal de l'Ourcq.
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