Oh boy, here we go. Easily the longest and most extreme day of site-seeing I’ve done in a while. We went ALL over Paris. Day 2 Itinerary: Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Sainte Chapelle and Conciergerie, Notre Dame, Palais Garnier, and Montmartre.
Starting at a wonderful 6:30 in the morning we hit up a bakery on our way to the Tour Eiffel Park. We started out this early with one goal in mind: Paris photoshoot. We came armed with my Canon Rebel t6 and a 70 in. max height tripod. From various discussions with Paris photographers, I discerned the one thing in common (besides how expensive they are) and that is to shoot early in the morning. The lighting is pretty (albeit difficult to work with) and the crowds are almost non-existent.
A little information on the Eiffel Tower for those interested: The tower was built for the World Fair of 1889 and stands at 1063 feet tall. The tower has three levels for visitors, with restaurants on the first and second levels. The top level’s upper platform is 906 ft above the ground making it the highest public observation deck in the EU. Tickets can be purchased to ascend by stairs or lift to the first and second levels. The climb from ground level to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the climb from the first level to the second. If you choose to climb the steps not only are tickets cheaper, but it is typically a shorter line.
Hours: Everyday from 9:30 -11. (this may vary depending on time of year)
Rates: 11 euros for lift to 1&2 floors (adults) or 8.50 for ages 12-24 or 4 euros for ages 4-11.
17 euros for lift to 1,2,& and 3 floors (adults) or 14.50 for ages 12-24 or 8.50 for ages 4-11
For stairs to the 1 & 2 floor it is only 7 euros for adults, 5 euros for ages 12-24 or 3 euros for ages 4-11.
I have read that if you opt for the stairs, there is a kiosk stand selling lift tickets to the top from there for around 6 euros.
So we walked over to the base and then around (as directly under is security controlled and wasn’t open yet) over towards the Trocadero palace. (Most common photo shoot place in Paris. like ever) But I had one slight detour in mind first.
I give you Pont de Bir-Hakeim otherwise known as.. the Inception Bridge.
You will recognize this popular bridge from the movie Inception (if you’ve watched it, if not… go watch it) and even if Hollywood hadn’t popularized it, I’d still say it’s way cool. It’s a double decker with pedestrians, bikes, and cars claiming the first level and trains going over on top (the metro 6 line to be specific) It’s is a mostly steel structure that was built in 1903 making it the 2nd bridge to span this spot on the river. It is also very close to Pont de Grenelle where the French “statue of liberty” stands on a small island. You will catch glimpses of the beautiful lady from the bridge, but not get a great view.
Let’s also add the stunning views of the Eiffel Tower you can get from the bridge
A cool bronze statue on the bridge.
Awesome photo spot with the Eiffel Tower!
The handsome husband lugging our tripod around for me
If it’s empty enough you can also set the tripod up to get cool photos with both the bridge and Eiffel Tower!
Couple photos on the bridge
And finally we have the ultra- romantic and classic photo on the steps of the Trocadero. This is the place my friends.
It’s got enough height and far enough back that you can great shots of the entire structure with nothing else cutting it off. Even at around 7:30/8 the steps and top plaza were teeming with photographers and people. I can only imagine how busy it gets later in the morning/ day.
After our photo shoot we chose to walk to the Louvre which was a pretty serious walk but again.. oh so lovely! I’m glad as we got to appreciate a lot of the Paris sites we would’ve missed otherwise. Here’s the bridge directly in front of the Musee de L’armee which you should recognize that golden dome from my previous post.
The incredible Grand Palais! Unfortunately we didn’t have time to check this special building out and it wasn’t included on the Museum pass so we just walked by however the history of the building is pretty interesting. It was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900 and has hosted a wide array of arts and competitions, including riding competitions, automobile exhibitions, and since this is Paris after all, tons and tons of art. It’s roof is completely composed of steel and glass (which to me almost made it look like a train station but I think that’s what they were going for.) The building was used as a hospital during WWII and as a Nazi support exhibition center during the Nazi occupation of WWII.
Directly across from the Grand Palais, is the smaller but just as beautiful Petite Palais that was built around the same time. Both buildings together, were built to replace the 1855 World Fair Palais D’Industrie which previously stood in this spot. While the Grand Palais has had a multitude of uses throughout the years, the Petite Palais was built with the foresight to remain a permanent art museum following the Universal Exhibition and it now houses the Museum of Fine Arts. This museum is actually FREE to visit however we had our eyes set on the Louvre and didn’t find time to make it back to this building when it was open.
From the Grand/Petite Palais we meandered our way through the Tulleries Gardens and right into the Louvre courtyard. Standing in the middle of the two is the Arc de Triomphe du Carousel which was built at the same time as the larger Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysees. This one is about half the size although the detail on it is still beautiful.
Standing in line to enter the Louvre.
Braden’s photo of me taking pictures of sculptures 🙂
The main courtyard of the French Sculpture wing under one of the smaller pyramids.
We arrived at the Louvre around 9:30 (about a half hour after opening) and there was already a fairly large line for both ticket holders and non-ticket holders. I think we probably stood in the queue for about 20 minutes to go through security and then we were in. We started off to the left of the main entrance which is the wing for French Sculptures and painters. Then we decided we’d hit up the big things before the museum got too busy as we had the French wing practically to ourselves.
My favorite sculpture in the French artists wing
Looking out under the glass pyramid at another part of the Louvre.
Selfie under the main pyramid
Goofy selfie under the main pyramid
Enter the very busy wing for Greek, Turk, and Italian artists. Apart from the obvious Mona Lisa, I really wanted to see this statue after visiting Greece (where it was originally found) earlier this year. It is called the Winged Victory of Samothrace (the Island is came from) and is a depiction of Nike, the goddess of victory. The statue is just over 8 feet tall and is presented on the box of a ship as it is most commonly thought to represent a water victory. It was definitely crowded around her but I still had to take the time to take it from all angles. Truly a beautiful statue.
A very elaborate hall in the Roman/ Italian painters wing.
A zoomed in picture of the Mona Lisa. haha There was kind of a line to get closer for a better picture of a selfie, but we still had much to see and this was enough for me.
And apart from the winged victory this was probably the coolest thing I saw in the Louvre and we stumbled upon it completely by accident. It was in this massive hall of paintings on the left and right and we’d already been wandering for sometime so we were just kind of glancing at them here and there but then we spotted this one! “Liberty Leading the People” was painted by Eugene Delacroix in 1830 and is painting that frequently comes to mind when thinking of the French Revolution. Out of all the pieces of art we saw in the Louvre, this was the one that touched me the most. Truly an incredible work of art.
Selfie in front of my favorite painting in the Louvre
At around 11:30 I’d about had enough. (sorry Braden!) so we headed for the exit when I made the mistake of having to use the restroom. Word to the wise, use one of the smaller restrooms throughout the exhibits (even if there is a small line) if you have to go, because the toilets near the main entrance to the galleries have a 20+ minute wait time. Trust me it took forever!
Posing in front of the mass of people outside the Louvre! Pretty busy mid-day!
While the art inside the Louvre is no doubt incredible, the architecture of the palace itself is what held me the most intrigued so here’s a bit of history on the building itself:
The Louvre palace was originally built as a fortress in the late 12th century under Philip II. (Remnants of the fortress can still be seen in the basement of the museum.” Due to the urban expansion of the city, the fortress eventually lost its defensive function and, in 1546, was converted by Francis I into the main residence of the French Kings.The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. In 1682, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles for his household, leaving the Louvre primarily as a place to display the royal collection. From then on it was used to house art collections collected during Napoleon’s reign and beyond. The final shape of the palace was determined by 1874 and has largely remained the same. The pyramids were not added until 1989.
As of today, the Louvre is THE largest art museum in the world and contains more than 380,000 objects and displays, 35,000 works of art in eight curatorial departments with more than 652,000 sq ft dedicated to the permanent collection. It is the 2nd most visited museum in the world and averages 15,000 visitors A DAY. (It gets busy ya’ll)
Hours: Monday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday: from 9-6 p.m.
Wednesday, Friday: from 9- 9:45 p.m.
Closed on Tuesdays
Rooms begin closing 30 minutes before museum closing time.
Ticket cost: 15 euros for same day entrance
Included in Museum Pass
From October- march the first Sunday of each month, admission is FREE
Every Friday from 6 p.m. admission to the museum is FREE for under-26s of all nationalities on presentation of valid ID.
From the Louvre, we decided to walk along the Seine to our next destinations: The Conciergerie, Saint Chapelle, and Notre Dame. This maybe one of my favorite areas of Paris. With the sun shining, there were different spots with lounge chairs our and people sun bathing! It was just peaceful and happy down on this pedestrian path.
The Conciergerie palace from the outside.
A candid Braden snagged of me acting the tour guide and pointing out sites along the Seine. To my left is the Conciergerie and behind me, that bridge is Pont Neuf, the OLDEST bridge still standing in Paris today. The design and construction for that bridge began in the mid 1500s and the bridge was completed in 1606. We actually walked underneath it on our way to the bridge we actually crossed over.
As soon as we crossed over the bridge we saw the entrance to the Conciergerie so that would be stop 1. Again apart from a short security line, there was next to no wait. You enter underneath the building into the “Hall of the Guards” which is the largest standing structure from the medieval palace. This building served multiple purposes through its life but it started off known as the Palais de la cite and was the palace home of medieval kings from the 10th to the 14th centuries. It was abandoned by Charles V in 1358 when he moved into the Louvre Palace. Apart from this grand hall, there are 3 surviving towers from the medieval period.
Perhaps the more interesting history of this building comes from it’s role in the French Revolution Reign of Terror. The Conciergerie dungeons became a prison, in fact it became the main penitentiary of a network of prisons throughout Paris, and was the last place of housing for more than 2,700 people, who were summarily executed by guillotine. The dank dungeons were a stark contrast to the beautiful architecture of the palace above. The quality of life of the prisoners was based mainly on their personal wealth and the whims of the jailers. The most famous prisoner was Marie Antoinette who was interned here from August 1 1793 until her execution on October 16th of the same year. On the tour, you can walk around the cell Marie Antoinette was kept in, as well as the site of her chapel she used to pray in.
Apart from the small chapel and information on the revolution, there are kitchens you can visit. Without an audio guide, the tour takes around an hour.
Practical information: Hours: Open everyday from 9:30-6
Ticket costs: Included in the Museum Pass OR
9 euros for full price, 7 euros reduced
Combined ticket with the Saint Chapelle for 15 euros full price, or 12.50 reduced
Which brings us to stop 2: The Sainte Chapelle : The most beautiful building I’ve ever stood in.
Practical information: Hours- From October 1-March 31: it is open from 9-5
From April 1- September 30: it is open from 9-7
Cost: Included in the Museum Pass (skip the line)
Full price 10 euros or combined ticket with Conciergerie for 15
The Sainte Chapelle was consecrated on 26 April 1248, a decade after construction began. It was commissioned by King Louis IX of France to house his collection of Passion relics, including Christ’s Crown of Thorns—one of the most important relics in medieval Christendom. Along with the Conciergerie, the Sainte-Chapelle is one of the earliest surviving buildings of the Capetian royal palace on the Île de la Cité. It has one of the most extensive 13th-century stained glass collections anywhere in the world.
This is a real, unedited photo guys. Just amazing
Proof I was there, a photo of me in the stunning Sante Chapelle.
This was one of those places the Museum Pass saved us at LEAST AN HOUR of standing in line. There was still a short security queue but once we were in the main courtyard, there was NO WAIT to enter. You actually enter into a lower chapel, which served as parish church for all the inhabitants of the Conciergerie palace, and from there take stairs up into the larger chapel.
Looking up at the exterior of the chapel.
Then from there, it was a short easy walk to the Notre Dame which I had dreamed of seeing since I was a little girl wearing Esmerelda PJs to bed and throwing gypsy themed birthday parties. You have to pass through a security line to get into this main courtyard and from here you will see a longggg line. The Notre Dame cathedral is FREE so everyone gets in the same line however since there aren’t tickets, the line moves at a pretty good pace.
Note: As this is an active cathedral, you will want to be respectful in your attire and quiet when inside. Luckily I was wearing a shirt I could easily pull up to cover my shoulders, but women if you wear a tank top, you will be asked to cover your shoulders with something.
A cool statue on the outside of the cathedral
Looking up at the towers of Notre Dame.
First views upon entering the Notre Dame Cathedral.
The interior of the cathedral. We chose to sit down for a minute after just standing in the long outside line. It was pretty surreal to stand in this beautiful cathedral.
A bit of history: Construction of the cathedral began in 1163 and took almost a century to complete the current structure with the western towers and rose stained glass window not being added until 1250. The cathedral is FREE to visit and is open everyday from 7:45 to 6:45.
Other visits involving the Notre Dame cathedral include:
The Archaeological Crypts: open every day but Monday from 10-6. Included in the Museum Pass, normal admission: 6 euros. We didn’t have time otherwise we would’ve checked it out.
The Towers of Notre Dame: From October 1-March 31: open from 10-5:40.
From April 1- September 20: open from 10-6:30
Cost: 10 euros, included in the Museum Pass although there is no priority line access
We had wanted to climb the towers however due to a Special Mass happening on BOTH of the days we were in Paris, access to the towers was by reservation only (meaning we’d have to buy tickets online even though our Museum Pass covered normal tickets) so we had to pass on climbing the towers of Notre Dame… I’m still pretty disappointed so not going to talk about it much.
A large stained glass in the cathedral.
The entrance for the towers is on the side of the cathedral so we passed it on our way to the back which is almost as cool as the front and A LOT less crowded. From here we walked over the bridge on the opposite side of the Isle de la cite and hopped on a metro that would take us to the Paris Opera House for our next stop.
The beautiful Palais Garnier, otherwise known as the Paris Opera house.
The Palais Garnier is a 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera and was the primary home of the Paris Opera and its associated Paris Opera Ballet until 1989. It is called the Palais Garnier, in recognition of its opulence and its architect, Charles Garnier.
The Opera is perhaps even made more famous as it was the setting of the original 1910 novel “The Phantom of the Opera” by Gaston Leroux and all the subsequent novels and musical that were derived from it.
Seflies in front of the Palais Garnier Opera House
This building is NOT included in the Museum Pass (although it is included in the Paris Pass) so we’d have to buy tickets there. There was about a 45 minute wait line to enter the building. This was a security check line so ticket holders and non-ticket holders alike HAD TO WAIT. We had multiple people trying to cut the line since they had previously bought tickets. Thankfully we were behind a couple groups that had their tickets already also and spoke up each time telling them to go to the end of the line.
Once inside, there were ticket kiosks with no wait that we purchased self-guided tickets through. (Admittedly I’m not much of a tour gal as I like to do things at my own pace and without a giant group getting in all my photos) Audio guides were also available but for quite a bit more so we forgo those as well.
Open everyday from 10-5 PM (however closed on some holidays so double check your dates)
Costs: Full price 12 euros, from age 12-25: 8 euros
Audioguide: 5 euros each
Guided tours looked to be around 15.50 for full price tickets but the hours differ
Looking out at the auditorium with the glorious ceiling and boxes.
A goffed up Pano of the ceiling by Braden.
A pano of the 1979 seats within the auditorium
Braden and I in front of the main staircase.
Beautiful ceiling along one of the main corridors.
A beautiful chandelier in the opera house.
The outside balcony along the South side of the building.
A view looking down at the metro station we arrived at from the balcony.
THE most beautiful corridor we stood in, in all of Paris. I’d say I even enjoyed this hallway more than the famous hall of mirrors at Versailles. It was truly stunning. This room is the Grand Foyer, and acted as a drawing room for Paris society.
The stunning Grand staircase details.
Yours truly descending the grandest staircase I’ve ever had the pleasure of walking on.
Next up: Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur Basilica. Above: Photo of stained glass and religious statue within the basilica.
We had to walk a little ways to the metro stop that would take us to Montmartre (we stopped at a Starbucks along the way where we tried a Caramel Popcorn Frap… it was interesting and legit tasted like caramel popcorn. haha) Once we got off at the closest metro stop, it was another 10 minute
walk climb up dozens of stairs and steep roads to get to the Basilica which sits at the butte of the Montmartre neighborhood, consequently the highest point in all of Paris.
The central dome of the Basilica. Entrance to the Baslica is similar to Notre Dame. It is free to the public but again, if you can be modest, it is recommended and above all else, silence is requested within the chapel.
Hours of operation: Everyday from 6-10:30 PM for tour visit or prayer.
Mass are given Monday-Friday at 7:00 AM,11:15 AM, 3:00 PM (fri only), 6:30 PM, and 10 PM
Saturdays at 7:00 AM, 11:00 AM, and 10:00 PM
The Sacre Coeur Basilica (sacred heart) was began in 1875 and completed in 1914. However it would not be formally consecrated until after WWI in 1919. Construction costs were estimated at around 7 million Franks and was entirely paid for through private donations.
The inside painting of the dome
Standing in front of the Basilica
Access to climbing the dome info:
Every day from 8.30a.m. to 8p.m. (May to September) and 9a.m. to 5p.m. (October to April). These times are subject to change and can vary according to the weather.
Admission: 6 euros (adults), 4 euros (children 4-16)
There are appox 300 steps to climb the dome. We didn’t climb the dome, as frankly we were pretty exhausted and the admission cost was not included in our Museum Pass.
There is also an archaeological crypt here but it is currently closed for security reasons.
Looking up the hill the basilica sits on.
Finally, perhaps the real reason we even went to Montmartre, the sinking building. This building is just to the right of the basilica when standing and looking up at it in front. Of course this photo is all about perspective as you have to turn your camera in order to get this capture. It sure is cool though and fulfilled all my expectations. I was absolutely thrilled to get a photo of it! (ask Braden, I wandered around looking for a way to get onto the grass for like 20 minutes before just zooming in over the fence that protects the grass. haha)
Sitting at the base of all the steps leading to the Basilica. Montmartre seems to be everyone’s favorite area when talking about Paris. It was cool but a bit hilly for my tastes. Honestly we didn’t spend too much time exploring either, just walked up from the metro stop and then back down.
There is a train that will take you up the hill to the basilica and give you a bit more insight to the Montmartre neighborhood called the Petite Train. It is a 40 minute guided tour that will pass popular sites such as Moulin Rouge and take you to the Sacre Coeur Basilica all the while imparting information about the various artists like Van Gogh and Picasso that graced this neighborhood. It operates daily from 10-6 PM and costs 6.50 euros/ adult.
Day 2 costs:
Hotel: $120 for 2 people
Museum Pass: 4 day pass= $42/ day for 2 people
Breakfast:6 euros for bakery snacks
Lunch: 14 euros for 2 sandwiches and bottle of water from Louvre
Dinner: Panini and quiche from bakery along with a chocolate bread for 11 euros
Opera tickets: 16 euros
Metro tickets throughout the day: 11 euros for 3 trips total
Day 2 total: 220 for 2 people