Paris is a timeless favorite – whether it’s your first or hundredth time there, the city always offers surprises any time of year.
This past year, my friend and BVT colleague, Christine took the flight north for a few nights in the city of lights. Since we both enjoy museums, food and meandering around city streets, Paris was a natural choice for a quick getaway of four nights.
When we visit a destination, we always have experiences like our guests would – we take tours with guides that we use and visit sites that most clients would enjoy seeing, even if we’ve been there before. This past trip to Paris was no exception and so we saw and experienced as much as we could in the short time that we were there. Our hotel (one of BVT’s new top picks for Paris!) was adorable and luxurious, in the sixth arrondissement and incredibly comfortable. It allowed us to walk to all of the sites and also be within close proximity to fabulous restaurants, bars, as well as incredible shopping.
The Eiffel Tower is a must, but with skip the line tickets so that you don’t spend half your day waiting in an interminable line to get in. The view from the second tier, where we arrived, really gives you an idea of the enormity of the city. It was loads of fun picking out the sites from above.
Visiting the Louvre is on everyone’s checklist for Paris, and for good reason. The key is having a qualified guide to navigate you through the immense number of masterpieces. Our guide expertly led us to the highlights but also stopped to explain lesser known works that had historic or artistic value. In just a couple of hours we felt enlightened, but not overwhelmed, by this colossal museum.
Probably my favorite experience was the Gothic Paris tour with the in-depth visit of Notre Dame cathedral (did you know that you can attend mass sitting in the choir stalls near the altar if you arrive at 8AM on Monday mornings?) and the gorgeous chapel of Sainte-Chapelle. We had a gloriously sunny day and our guide was thrilled that we were able to witness the stained glass windows in all of their colorful beauty.
A close second favorite would have been our guided tour of the Musée d’Orsay, a train station turned into a museum which houses art from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s. Therefore filled with a number of incredible impressionist masterpieces. Our guide led us through the many works of art, helping us understand not only the context in the period in which they were created but also the importance of the museum and its role within the myriad of museums in Paris.
After lunch in a nearby café (excellent, as always in Paris!), we walked over to L’Orangerie, the gallery commissioned specifically by Monet to house his waterlily paintings. I had never been here before and had no idea of what to expect, even though Monet has always been a favorite painter of mine. The paintings are enormous and the space is built to measure for them, to absorb them and to completely be immersed in their beauty. This small museum is well worth a visit, especially in conjunction with the Musée d’Orsay, and easily appreciated on your own.
The rest of our time was spent browsing the shops and eating excellent meals. We even were able to see one of the first evenings of Puccini’s La Boheme performed by the Opera of Paris. The singers and orchestra were excellent but the stage setting was, to say the least, interesting. (If you’re curious, you can find a recap of this bizarre performance by clicking HERE.)
Paris is a fantastic ‘stand-alone’ trip that can also include day trips to the Champagne wine region, Normandy, Versailles, and Monet’s house and garden in Giverny. It’s also a wonderful city to combine with another country- flights are easy and frequent from Paris to all of the other Mediterranean countries that we offer.
In short, if you haven’t been to Paris yet, you should plan to go soon. And if you have been there already, it’s never a bad idea to return!