Although it seems a bit sacrilegious, I stopped in Paris for a 24 hour layover between Nice and Scotland. It was just enough time to visit all my favorite spots in the city and enjoy some Parisian wine. I stayed in La Marais, which spans portions of the 3rd and 4th arrondissemonts and is home to exceptional architecture and quaint cafes. I was just a few blocks from the Seine and a five minute walk from the Notre Dame, making it the perfect place to be.
After an hour of being in Paris, I was reminded of the colliding worlds that exist within the city. There is the busy hustle of tourists, the rushing Seine and the liveliness of the streets and shops. There is also quiet alleyways you can turn down and peaceful cafes where one can sit for hours to enjoy wine while people watching. It's how it all fits together that makes Paris such a unique and wonderful city.
The weather has been unusually rainy in France recently, causing the Seine to flood its banks and the city to close metro lines and art museums, notably the Louvre and Musee D'Orsay. I adjust my plans accordingly and skip a planned trip to Versailles in favor of a picnic at the Eiffel Tower and an afternoon at Les Invalides. With 24 hours in Paris there is a lot one can do, but these are the top five things I recommend:
- Just walk. Walk the streets of Paris until your feet are sore and then walk some more. It's the best way to see the buildings and enjoy the vibe of the city.
- Grab dessert. Whether it's getting macarons from Ladurèe (fyi-the line is always out the door) or a gourmet eclair from L'Èclaire de Génie, getting dessert is a must in Paris. I took my eclair to go and ate it at a fountain in the Tuileries.
- Pick a museum. Of the hundreds of museums in Paris it's hard to choose which ones to visit, often the over eager tourist (me on my first ever trip to the city) will attempt too many and burn out. Instead, choosing one or two allows you to really enjoy the works of art and wealth of information, and you are still fresh eyed at the end of the day. I picked Les Invalides and explored the world of Napoleon Bonaparte and the various French wars.
- Have a long lunch. Arguably the best part about Paris are the street cafes that offer delicious, low cost lunches and endless glasses of wine. It's a great location to people watch and, unlike the U.S., waiters expect you to occupy the table for a large portion of the afternoon and don't hurry your culinary experience.
- Read. If the weather is nice, the numerous parks in Paris offer the opportunity to relax, spread out a blanket and enjoy a good book. As I mentioned in a previous post, I read Tender is the Night during a previous trip to Paris and it was the best break from touristing. Top locations to read include Luxembourg Gardens and the Tuileries.
No matter how long you stay in Paris, it will never be long enough. I've put it back on my places to visit and hope to do so for a few more days than this trip allowed.