Travel 101: Paris Stop Over

For the life of me, I would never had thought that I would actually be writing a travel itinerary of Paris …

{not a favorite of mine – hell, it doesn’t even make it into Penelope’s “o.k.” books}
So, here I am … and really who could resist my charming and ever obliging Director of Retail Banking’s request, despite my hectic travel schedules (both work and leisure).
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Paris is best explored by foot with assistance of the Metro – if they can do it in 6″ high Christian Louboutin stilettos … every reason you have to offer now are mere excuses !!!
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If you’ve got a day, it’s best that you start witMusée du Louvre (Métro to Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre)
Well, unless it’s a Tuesday … the Louvre is close.
Otherwise it’s prudent to start your morning early and though the Louvre opens only at 9 am, the queues are long. However, good news is there are 12 entrances, and typical of the usual straw hat, large designer shades, Christian Louboutin havaianas strutting tourist, the main entrance where I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid takes center stage, is often where they all end up at. So unless you are one of those, hunt for the other 11 entrances which a 3 year old will outdo you any day on an Easter egg hunt. 
The highlights of the museum are the Mona LisaVenus de Milo, and Winged Victory – though throwing caution to the wind – let me say this once, like Paris, Leonardo da Vinci has multiple doctorates in marketing.
The Mona Lisa if you must know is secured behind a clear glass with a space clearance of a Cessna like runway length with throng of tourist that forms a beeline to steal a glance – or shall I say squint? – at what appears to be a very small postal stamp size (from the distance you are standing) portrait for a few seconds before you are urged to move along.
In any case, given the clout it has, you should still part with your Euros and I suggest that you take a self guided tour of “Masterpieces of the Louvre”; a 1-1/2 hour to 2 hours exploration aided by pamphlets and audio tapes to guide you.
Upon leaving Louvre, walk south towards the river and head east along the River Seine. Paris’s greatest island on the Seine, the Cité, will emerge before you. From here cross over Pont Neuf – the oldest and most evocative bridge in Paris – and walk down the steps emerging on your right along Pont Neuf to Square du Vert. Stop and take in the spectacular view of both the Louvre and Pont Neuf from here.
Continue east – past Place Dauphine (picnic square) and Quai des Orfevres (quay) – to Sainte Chapelle; a gothic chapel which gleams with a kaleidoscope of colorful lights passing and reflecting on the stained glass windows depicting far more characters from the Bible in varied Biblical scenes, which I am naturally incapable of identifying. Definitely worth a visit as the lights are somewhat surreal. 
Continue east along the quay to the Pont St-Michel. Cross the bridge to the LEFT BANK of Paris, arriving at the Latin Quarter. Centering on Place St Michel, this is a square with a huge fountain and a statue of St Michael fighting the dragon. Not much of a fan for legends and mythical stories, please do not expect me to research about this.
{ read: I am no Lonely Planet or Frommers. Besides, this is totally FOC – so live with the inadequacies or hop on to their forums! gaahhhHHHHH – humanoids! }
Have lunch at a cafe in the Latin Quarter, sit back and enjoy the character and ambience it has to offer. 
Then continue along quay St Michel until it becomes quay de Montebello… or, when you have the Notre-Dame staring across from you over the Seine River. This is the best vantage point for Notre-Dame and undoubtedly one of the most photographed view of the Notre Dame. Cross Pont au Double to visit Cathédrale de Notre-Dame
After Notre-Dame, take the Métro to the Place de la Concorde – an octagonal traffic hub dominated by an Egyptian obelisk from Luxor. You can’t miss it. It’s pink in colour. OK, OK, not entirely inspiring and lacks any architectural poignance, but let’s cut it some slack given that it dates >1000 BC. Though like the Mona Lisa where there’s really nothing much to it, you just have to look at it when you’re in Paris! However, the gem lies in the spectacular view (and 3.2 km walk!) of Champs-Elysées that begins here… leading all the way to Arc de Triomphe. 
As it has been a long day, oh yes, I shall be reasonable and spare you the 3.2 km walk by suggesting that you take the Métro to Franklin D. Roosevelt, continue west from the station to get to the busiest and most commercial part of Champs-Elysées. At the end of the broad boulevard is Arc de Triomphe where you can ascend it for a panoramic view, if you don’t plan to go up Eiffel Tower. 
From here take the Métro to the Champ de Mars-Tour Eiffel for the world’s most famous (overrated???) transmission tower … the one and only Eiffel Tower
As it opens till 11pm , there’s no hurry and yes, stop “accidentally” steeping on the heels of those in front of you in your attempt to get “volunteers” to “drop out” of the line that snakes through the park leading its way towards the towers. However, it is nice to time it as the sunsets; and preferable be on a deck observing Paris glow and gradually twinkle in the lights of the night.

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the best places in most cities are in the neighboring suburbs … 
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So, if you have the time, other places that are definitely worth visiting are: 
Musée d’Orsay 
(Métro to Solférino) 
In my opinion, this is THE museum to visit, not the Louvre, but you got to do the Louvre and see the postcard sized Mona Lisa once a lifetime. Orsay has the world’s greatest collection of Impressionists including Monet and Van Gogh and houses Gauguin and Degas.  The Museum is a converted train station – very pretty and full of character – and the restaurant is to die for but pricey. Alternatively try the Cafe on the 5th floor behind one of huge iron clocks
Basilique du Sacré-Coeur 
(Métro: Montparnasse-Bienvenüe) 
The Church of the Sacred Heart, with its many cupolas, is brilliant white and synonymous to Paris’ skyline as the Eiffel Tower is. At 80m the dome provides for one of the greatest panoramas in all of Europe, extending for 65km on a clear afternoon. As you head towards Sacré-Coeur, you will come across place du Tertre where dozens of young and hopeful artists waits to have your portrait taken. Famous artists have “graduated” from place du Tertre.
The ‘red district’ – Place de Pigalle – continues here. A hip and trendy neighborhood with burlesque theaters and bourgeois buildings, prostitutes and artists, Pigalle is one of the most expensive real estate in Paris with tenants such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Johnny Deep. This is the home of Moulin Rouge and the exclusive and elegant Opera Garnier – even if you’re not an opera fan, the grand foyer is a must visit! Opulence does not begin to describe it.

Centre Georges Pompidou 
(Métro: Rambuteau or Hotel de Ville) 
This is an intriguing (or monstrous?) architecture curiosity where all the insides of a building (pipes, ventilation ducts, etc) is on its facade. It draws a large crowd daily, being a museum (the National Museum of Modern Art), a shopping arcade and a public library. Attraction however, remains the Centre Georgees Pompidou exterior for tourists – the colorful building with ample of Miro sculptures in the courtyard and a lovely garden adjacent to it.


7 thoughts on “Travel 101: Paris Stop Over

  1. I love the airport and Musee d'Orsay … but realistically its one hell of great marketing lah… And being mugged (or molested – not in Paris, but Morocco), it does give you some unpleasant memories about the place … so we are entitled not to like Paris that much!:p

  2. yes! yes! cocoon made of humansOMG -twenty of them came, separated me and another friend, hands all over us!the publication? the most corporate one ;P don't think so my clients would be too happy to reveal who does their ads…

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