It was also only a 20 minute walk to the Eiffel Tower and after we checked in we headed there! Our first stop was the American Cathedral since it was on the way, it was incredibly beautiful inside and completely free to enter! After about 10 minutes further of walking we reached the Eiffel Tower area. It was so grand to walk up and see the Eiffel Tower up close and in person. There is a water feature called the Trocadero that we walked to in order to get full photos and honestly it was less crowded than I expected! I was able to get quite a few photos without many other tourists in them. When we were there the water fountains were all on, but I read that early in the morning around sunrise the Tower reflects across the pool area.
On our way home we at at Bistro Des Champs right on Champs de Elysees. They had a lovely outdoor seating option that seemed to be common for the restaurants around and allowed for great people watching! We both ordered Croque-Monsieurs, which are basically ham & cheese sandwiches, and a glass of champagne. It came to about 25,00 Euros each in total and the atmosphere of being right on Champs de Elysees was well worth it!
Our plan for this day was to see EVERYTHING. From what I researched we could see almost all the major landmarks in the city by walking down both sides of the Seine River. We first came to the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais. They have exhibits inside, but we just visited the outdoor area. On the opposite side of them is a beautiful park too. We looped around them toward the Pont Alexandre III bridge. This bridge allows for foot traffic as well as cars. It has incredibly ornate gold accents all across it and is definitely the most ornate of the bridges we saw.
Some of the foot bridges have vendors with locks you can purchase and attach!
We crossed here and moved forward toward the Louvre Museum. This area was more crowded than the others we had been in thus far and we did not go inside the museum. I read this museum alone could take an entire day so we just stuck to seeing the pyramids to save time.
The last stop before we headed back down the Seine toward our hotel was Notre Dame Cathedral. We weren’t sure what to expect to see since the fire occurred, when we got close you could still see the cathedral and it was stunning, but there was a massive crane working and large fencing around the entirety of it. Though it was not like it was previously access wise, it was still a sight to see.
The museum had an intimidating line, but it moved pretty quickly totaling about 45 minutes of waiting. 2 adult tickets cost 28,00 Euros. We were on the hunt to find a clock window that made for a beautiful silhouette photo that even the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have taken advantage of! However, once we were inside we were able to appreciate so much more than just the clock. There were two levels of sculptures, my favorite being the Ernest Barrias’s Les Chasseurs d’alligators ou Les Nubiens, Monet paintings, a temporary Van Gogh exhibit that featured his famous self portrait, along with many other beautiful works of art. To find the clock you have to go to the top level and past the first clock located in the cafe area, the one accessible for photos is in the last exhibit wing of that floor. We spent 45 minutes inside because we were getting tired, but we estimated you could do the whole museum in 3-4 hours.
In total it took about 30 minutes and we arrived just a few steps from the famous Moulin Rouge in the red light district of Paris. We thought we might check out one of the shows, but sadly tickets were around 150,00-200,00 Euros each! I think it would definitely be a fun experience and something worth budgeting for next time.
Since we had made it all the way to this area we decided to walk over to Montemarte, a neighborhood well known for the Sacre Couer Basilica. It’s an easy walk through town to the bottom of Montemarte, but a bit of a trek up multiple flights of steps to the top. This being are rest day we chose the tram ride up for 1,90 Euros each. This Basilica completely exceeded my expectations, yes there were a lot of tourists around but it rivals Notre Dame in beauty.
They offer an option to walk up 300 steps to the very top of the building for panoramic views of the city. Us always being on the hunt for the best photos thought this was a great idea! I will be very honest; this was not a great idea for me whatsoever. You walk all the way to the basement area of the building, walk through a ticket booth, and enter a small (think 1 person wide) staircase with small rectangular windows only every 10 steps.
This is just the first half of stairs. I made it this far with some deep breathing, then we came out to an open walkway and stunning views. I was thinking okay if this is halfway then it’s definitely going to be worth it at the top!
So we embark on the second half and about 10 steps in I realize there’s no window. Looking up and seeing only walls and concrete and looking down to see only walls and concrete was too much for me. I immediately told my mom to turn around and basically had a panic attack in the open walkway. I wouldn’t normally consider myself claustrophobic but in this situation I think the lack of windows and distance in the that tiny stairwell was just too much for me. You might be thinking okay cool you don’t want to go up, just go back, right? Well, the fun part about that is the stairs are one way up and one way down on the other side of the viewing area. I knew there was a 0% chance of me not only making it up the last half, but also back down the whole thing, so we started back down the wrong direction. With the exception of one guide telling us it was one way, people were very nice and let us go through. Once back at the ticket booth we had to get across the gate and finally I was back in open air. I googled the view from the top and it did look spectacular, but I definitely would caution you if small spaces aren’t your friend this might not be the view to go for.
I’m glad my mom pushed that we go because it wasn’t nearly as bad to climb up! The stairwell area is open, the stairs are metal, and there are 2 areas to stop in and walk around along the way. A few times I still had to just look straight ahead and follow my mom or the group ahead of us, but it was a significantly better experience. I would say that getting up to the top, even with stopping on both floors between, took only about 15 minutes.
At the top you can see all of Paris in every direction; the Eiffel Tower, Montemarte, the business area, everything! At the beginning and end of the stairs outside you can see the underneath of the Arc and all the details up close, plus there is an eternal flame burning in remembrance of the unknown soldier that we had no idea was there. If you’re hesitant about going into these stairwells now, I would highly recommend starting with this one! The view is very worth it and if I can do it right after my Sacre Couer experience, you totally can too!
To celebrate the fact I made it up to the top we got French crepes from one of the carts on the corner of Champs Elysees, they seem to always be there in the evenings. I ordered Nutella with strawberries, my mom got Nutella with bananas. It was so cool because he actually makes them right in front of you and they tasted incredible!
The one thing we couldn’t seem to make happen was staying up long enough to see the sights lit up. We snuck out at a time we thought was late to snap some pictures at the Arc de Triomphe in a dress I brought with me, but it still wasn\’t even close to sunset! It got dark at around 10pm and we were already so tired by 8pm every night. I think it would be worth it next trip to take a mid day nap and go back out later in the evening.