Exploring the hidden gems of Paris: 3 day itinerary

Exploring the hidden gems of Paris: 3 day itinerary

Having been here in Paris for 9 months – where does the time fly?! – I thought it would be appropriate to share some of my favourite places that I think everyone should visit when coming to this magical city. Off the beaten track, the places listed here will no doubt provide you with delightful experiences and fantastic memories.

This blog post is based on my entry on a new-and-upcoming website, called Marco, where travellers like myself write about particular trips we’ve been on. There are so many great things about this website. For starters, you can find real inspiration from reading other people’s entries, and be fixated on stunning photographs posted. Without doubt, another great factor of the website is that when you enter the weekly competitions, you have the chance of winning $1000! Think of new amazing places that could take you to!

You can check out my entry here. If you could vote for me, that would be great – just click here to vote, and don’t forget to choose ‘Explore the hidden gems of Paris‘.

DAY 1

Les Jardins du Palais Royale, Paris

WANDER THE BEAUTIFUL JARDIN DU PALAIS ROYALE

Located a stone’s throw away from the infamous Louvre, Le Jardin du Palais Royale is hidden within the busy rush of the city. Here you can stroll around the beautiful garden, appreciating the symmetrically lined trees and colourful flowers; or you can sit and enjoy people watching from many of the various reclining chairs around the central fountain.

L'Arc de Triomphe at night, Paris

ASCEND L’ARC DE TRIOMPHE FOR STUNNING VIEWS OF THE CITY

Whilst the majority of guides will point you in the direction of the Eiffel Tower, I believe that you can get even better views of the city from the Arc de Triomphe. There’s no better time to go than at sunset and into twilight. It is from the Arc de Triomphe that my breath has been taken away with these exquisite views.

DAY 2

Canal Saint-Martin, Paris

SIT BY THE CANAL SAINT-MARTIN

Many people have never heard of the Canal Saint-Martin in Paris, and it is indeed another hidden gem of the city. Situated in the 10th and 11th arrondissements, the area surrounding the canal is super cool and hip. Parallel to the canal are a plethora of cute cafes and shops, and also a ton of vibrant street art work. Exploring this area of Paris will make you feel as if you have been transported to Amsterdam.

The Sainte-Chapelle, Paris

VISIT THE UNSURPASSABLE ROYAL CHAPEL, THE SAINTE-CHAPELLE

The Sainte-Chapelle is often overlooked by those coming to visit Paris. Built to house the sacred relics of the Crown of Thorns in 1248 under the patronage of King Louis IX (aka Saint Louis), for me the Sainte-Chapelle is one of the most beautiful places on earth. The upper chapel is surrounded by the most exquisite stained-glass, which one can look at for hours. In addition to visiting the chapel during the day, you can also attend various classical concerts in the evening – another must do.

DAY 3

The Promenade Plantée, Paris

 ESCAPE THE RUSH, AND STROLL ALONG THE PROMENADE PLANTÉE

The Promenade Plantée offers walkers an unparalleled and unique experience. Often off the beaten-track for tourists, the promenade provides visitors with expansive views of the city – you become one with the various buildings and architecture, yet remain a flâneur simultaneously. It is a surreal experience – hardly do you find a place within a capital city wherein you feel totally separated from the buzz and rush; but whilst uniquely being right in the middle of it.

If you can think of any other hidden gems of Paris that you would like to share, just let me know!

Once again, here is the link for voting – don’t forget to choose ‘Explore the hidden gems of Paris‘.

A guide for the weekend

To all, I am so sorry for the belatedness (is that such a word?) of this post. This week has been so busy. Now that I am properly in the whole ‘Au Pair schedule’ with the family and school, I’m finding it hard to find the time to just have a few minutes to sit and write to my heart’s content. Luckily, I have managed to snag a few minutes from the day to write this post. This weekend saw the visit of my boyfriend Malek to Paris! It was so nice to see him, as we’ve been apart for over a month now. For those who don’t know, Malek is also an au pair but in Madrid! – he copied me, I swear!

Having arrived extremely late on the Friday night, the weekend began slowly, and after a breakfast/brunch on Saturday we headed to the Sainte-Chapelle. Yes, I know how much I go on about this chapel, but Malek’s never been there and he did take the time to read (definitely not forced at all…) to read my dissertation on many occasions, and so I thought it would be nice to take him there so he could see at first hand what I am so passionate about! For the first time in my experience, there was a pretty long queue, but the wait was well worth it. Oh, how I have missed you ma belle Sainte-Chapelle! I cannot believe how much has happened since I last visited in February to standing in there this weekend. So surreal. Sadly a large part of the north wall and western rose window were being conserved so that was all closed off, nevertheless one was able to have a beautiful view of the stained glass.

Malek in the Sainte-Chapelle
Malek in the Sainte-Chapelle

We also spent a bit of time just wandering around the Seine and taking in the sights. It was such a beautiful day, it seemed silly not to spend as much time outside as we could! We spent some time walking around the Jardin des Tuileries, which was especially pretty on this autumn day.

Malek enjoying the sun and Seine.
Malek enjoying the sun and Seine.

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The pretty colours of autumn in the Jardin des Tuileries.
The pretty colours of autumn in the Jardin des Tuileries.

 

Jardin des Tuileries.
Jardin des Tuileries.

 

We also ventured toward Monmatre, because I wanted to show Malek the amazing views from the Sacre-Coeur. For those who don’t know, Montmartre is in the 18th arr. of Paris, and its pretty much all on a hill. This meant that, bien sûr we had to stop and have a coffee on the way up! We explored some of the many roads of Montmartre, and found some really cool places that we have to go back to again at some point. There were a few piano bars, which is amazing! What could be better than a cocktail and live piano? Not much. Once we managed to make our way through the hordes of tourists, we got to see the beautifully anticipated views of little ol’ Paris.

 

The beautiful walls of Concorde Metro
The beautiful walls of Concorde Metro

 

Concorde mosaics up close
Concorde mosaics up close

 

Some tranquil music whilst walking around
Some tranquil music whilst walking around

 

A beautiful street of Montmartre
A beautiful street of Montmartre

 

Crowds of people sitting in front of the Sacre-Coeur taking in the amazing views!
Crowds of people sitting in front of the Sacre-Coeur taking in the amazing views!

 

On Sunday we headed towards the south of Paris, and went up Tour Montparnasse. I had never heard of the tower until I read a blog post by Lost in Cheeseland. Tour Montparnasse is a bit of an anomaly on the Parisian skyline, as it seems to be one of the biggest buildings around. However, the fee is pretty cheap – for us is was just around €11 to go up. There you experience an observation deck (which you get to be elevator thank goodness! Montparnasse Tower claims to have the quickest elevator in Europe) and then climb a few floors to get to the terrace floor which is where you can see some more spectacular views of Paris. I would recommend going just before sunset, so you still get to see the city during the last few minutes of daylight, and see the sun setting – how romantic!

 

Malek taking a photograph whilst trying not to drop his camera from the great hight!
Malek taking a photograph whilst trying not to drop his camera from the great hight!
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A handy guide to help you make the most of your visit and the skyline.

 

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Tour Eiffel
Tour Eiffel

 

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Jardin du Luxembourg
Jardin du Luxembourg

 

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To end our lovely weekend and Malek’s time here in Paris, we decided to pay the Eiffel Tower a visit at night time, and boy did she do her best! It was lovely to see the tower all light up and sparkling (something Malek thought I was making up!). We had a cheeky bottle of Champagne, but I must admit that we couldn’t finish it, because me being me decided that we should have the cheapest €6 Brut Champagne, and so it was of course un-drinkable. Next time I think we should splash out for at least a bottle costing €10! I had an amazing time having Malek here with me, and it was so much fun being the tour guide and showing him the places that I like to go to and see etc. In November I shall be going over to Madrid where Malek is currently working – the guide becomes a tourist!

A cool beam of light from the Eiffel Tower
A cool beam of light from the Eiffel Tower

 

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Back from Paris, back to reality

Exterior of Chartres Cathedral
Exterior of Chartres Cathedral

 

Exterior of Chartres Cathedral
Exterior of Chartres Cathedral

So for some reason WordPress deleted a post that I wrote last week about the last two days of my Paris trip! How annoying. Anyway! So, I have returned from my Paris trip and it was amazing! It really does make a huge difference seeing the objects that you’ve been learning about in person. As  mentioned in a previous post, I went to Paris in the summer and went to some of the places that I returned to on my HoA trip. It was really interesting coming back, with the new knowledge that we have been learning about in the last few weeks, and I cannot believe how I experienced the same spaces in a new light.

For the last few weeks in ‘Death and Devotion’, we have been focusing on the Gothic architecture in Paris, focusing on St Denis, Chartres Cathedral (just a little outside Paris) and Saint-Chapelle.

It was great to see Chartres in person. I have never been there before, and it was incredible to get the opportunity to explore. The cathedral was a popular pilgrimage site back in the Middle Ages due to possessing a relic believed to be of the Virgin Mary – a contact relic in the form of a tunic, believed to have been worn during the Nativity. When at Chartres, we saw the fabric that is believed to be this tunic. I am not an active religious person as such, but have been brought up as a Catholic and would still consider myself to be one; so for me, seeing this relic was incredibly moving. Not only because it is believed to have been worn by the Virgin Mary, but because of the sheer power that it would have had for medieval believers back in the day. Walking from home, where ever that be, all the way to Chartres to see or hopefully touch the relic, seems incredibly to me. Yet, so many people do these types of pilgrimages today.

Another aspect of the Gothic cathedral was the various portals around the exterior. We must have spent over 30 minutes on each facade discussing what was going on iconographically. Having studied these sculptures for before coming, it was great to see them and apply the knowledge that we have been absorbing the last few weeks!

Next term I am doing a module called: ‘The cult of the Virgin Mary’, and one of the places we explore is Chartres Cathedral! So who knows if I’ll be back again.

Inside the Sainte-Chapelle - Isn't beautiful!
Inside the Sainte-Chapelle – Isn’t beautiful!

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Ah, the Sainte-Chapelle. One of my favourite religious spaces! If you haven’t been, you must. The expansive stained glass seems to absorb you into the space, creating this amazing mixture of light and colour. Our tutor, Emily, has been working on PHD which revolves around the Sainte-Chapelle, focusing on the wall-paintings. It was great to have someone so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the Sainte-Chapelle to bring everything we’ve been learning together. Emily’s enthusiasm has definitely made it’s mark on me, and I absolutely love this chapel. We were lucky enough to be allowed to go behind and under the Tribune and see a painting that Emily has been working on un-earthing (I’ll include this image when I post my photos from my trip in another post!).

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As well as seeing the amazing religious spaces in and around Paris, we went to the Cluny Museum to explore their collection of medieval art. During one of the afternoons, me and some friends ventured off to the Lourve to look at the various medieval objects there. What is sad about the Lourve’s collection, is the fact that they’ve labelled the medieval works as ‘decorative arts’. I don’t know about you, but these objects are far from such a label! Ultimately, all the various pieces of stained-glass, liturgical objects, bibles, reliquaries etc all had a fundamental purpose, hence why they were created. They were all vehicles to accessing the divine, and all had the function to help the religious believer to connect to God. Also, pretty much all of the objects on show would probably have been used during the mass, so how the Lourve have come up with the title of ‘decorative arts’ to label them, I have no idea.

Overall, the Paris trip was incredible. It was informative, interesting and fun. On the last night we had a massive meal where all the different modules came together to wine and dine. For those who think the medieval period is nothing more than part of ‘the dark ages’, how wrong you are. You only have to set foot in the Sainte-Chapelle to see that this notion is literally the opposite!

Paris awaits

Sainte-Chapelle exterior
A photo I took of the Sainte-Chapelle exterior
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Some of the amazing stained glass windows in Sainte-Chapelle
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Inside Sainte-Chapelle. Isn’t it incredible?!
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A blurry photograph of a bust reliquary found within the quiet Notre-Dame treasury.
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Inside to Notre-Dame Cathedral. Look at those vaults!
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Inside Notre-Dame Cathedral. The lighting is extremely atmospheric in there – very awe-inspiring.
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Notre-Dame photo-bombing one of the many bridges with love locks.

Three weeks today, myself and my fellow students on the ‘Death and Devotion’ module will be travelling to Paris for the week, and I cannot wait! I was lucky enough to go to Paris in the summer with my family, and going again with the department will be an incredibly enriching experience. We will be heading to Sainte-Chapelle, Notre Dame Cathedral, St Denis and venturing out to explore Chartres Cathedral. I have never been to St Denis or Chartres, so it will be great to experience some new, as well as familiar sites.