A day in Paris

Louvre pyramid
Louvre pyramid

I noticed Lonely Planet tweeting earlier today about an article advising people what to do on a day in Paris.
Of course there is so much to do in Paris that a day just can’t possibly be long enough, but I didn’t agree with their choice of things to do, so here goes with mine. Note that these activities are geared towards people who have a vague sense of history and culture, but no in-depth knowledge of or special interest in paintings, for instance.
First of all, should you be lucky enough to be staying in a litle hotel near the Gare de Lyon as we once did, you will probably be quite close to the Seine. You can either cross a bridge to catch a batobus at Jardin des Plantes or walk along to Notre Dame Cathedral, which isn’t too far. Once there, it may be enough to sit outside and admire the architecture, or you might want to walk round the interior and/or go up to the top of the tower. Just being around the place where the Hunchback of Notre Dame operated will perhaps be enough!
You can go on towards the Louvre from there either on foot or (if the day is getting warmer and your companions grouchier) by batobus.
I suggest the Louvre as the best museum to visit because (a) it is awe-inspiringly massive, (b) it has some extremely famous things in it and (c) ‘The Da Vinci Code’. You can download a ‘Da Vinci Code tour’ from the Louvre website before going there. It takes you to some of the most famous works of art in the museum including the Mona Lisa.
Lonely Planet suggests the Musee d’Orsay instead, but this museum was not a hit with my family – the only things they seemed to like being the old station features and the roof terrace from which you get a great view of the Seine. They weren’t impressed by the Impressionists!
It’s a good idea to have lunch at this point in the tour.
After lunch and perhaps a wander in the Tuileries gardens, I offer a choice of activities for the afternoon
One is a cruise down the Canal Saint-Martin from the Parc de la Villette to the Bastille, and the other is a visit to the Eiffel Tower. The canal cruise means travelling up to the Parc de la Villette by metro. There are other attractions at Parc de la Villette which could occupy some time if you have to wait for the canal cruise to start. The cruise itself involves plenty of locks and tunnels, although the canal boat moves fairly slowly and small children could get impatient.
To get to the Eiffel Tower you can catch the batobus again. If you spent the afternoon at the Eiffel Tower, you might be able to fit in an evening cruise on the river or canal as well, if available. We’ve found it helps get round the queues if you book a special trip to the Eiffel Tower with a tour guide who explains how the lift works and describes some aspects of the way the tower was used as a signalling station.
To round off the day, an amazing thing to do is to take a batobus from the Eiffel Tower to the Jardin des Plantes at sunset. The view of Notre Dame cathedral silhouetted against a blazing red sky is lovely, and will make you want to re-visit Paris again and again – as if you didn’t already…

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