DIY Paris: Eiffel, Versailles, Louvre
Hello Francophiles! I’m very excited to present you with the DIY Paris series and to share the five unforgettable days that we spent in this city. I know Paris can be a little bit intimidating especially for first-timers (like I had been when I first set foot there) but fret not because I’m going to lay out our very own itinerary for you to follow or just get ideas from. Sometimes things don’t turn out as planned so just be open to a few adventures and misadventures along the way. The key point is to group the tourist attractions you want to see into areas or districts (in this case, into arrondissements) and visit one area per day so you wouldn’t need to go back and forth. We followed this trick and it worked for us. So without further ado, here’s how we explored the City of Lights!
10 AM | We arrived from Dubai at midday so the moment we dumped our luggage at the hotel, we were out of the door! First stop was Champs-Élysées, an avenue full of haute couture shops and restaurants.
It was a nice spring day but Mr. Sun wasn’t in the mood just yet, as opposed to our own. Hey, we’re finally in Paris!
Here’s a lovely photo of what embodies everything I love about all things French! Macarons, anyone?
And here’s a quick peek at the iconic Arc de Triomphe, but we’ll save that for later.
12 PM | Moving on, first we had a quick lunch at some Chinese restaurant nearby. I know what you’re thinking, we’re in France and still we chose to eat Asian food. Haha! Next stop, Musée d’Orsay, which was a railway station back in the day and is now home to an astounding collection of art nouveau and impressionist masterpieces (my personal favorite art movement).
We purchased the Paris Museum Pass at a newsstand outside the museum but we were quite hesitant to do it at first. But after giving it a lot of thought, we finally gave in and it was one of the best decisions we made on this trip!
Being the art geek that I am, I can’t help but feel so ecstatic being surrounded with all these treasures. It felt being transported to my past life. And Kent can’t keep his eyes on the artworks too! Monet, Cézanne, Renoir, Degas – oh my heart!
To this day, I still can’t believe we missed Van Gogh’s Starry Night in the Orsay, but all the more reason to come back, right?2 PM | A short walk from the Orsay Museum is Musée Rodin, which was formerly a hotel but now a dwelling place for Auguste Rodin’s works – sculptures, paintings and sketches.
Le Penseur, or The Thinker, Rodin’s most famous sculpture depicting philosophy in general can be found in the serene grounds of the Rose garden.
I found his works rather poetic if you ask me. If you’re into architecture and sculptures are your thing, this place is for you.2:45 PM | A few meters down the road is the Hotel Des Invalides, a museum with the largest collection of military art from the Middle Ages to present day. We were not that interested to see war memorabilia so we skipped this one. But hey, you can still admire it from the outside!
If you’re a fan of Napoleon, you would find his final resting place there, including the coats of arms of the Kings of France.
Hotel des Invalides / 129 Rue de Grenelle, 7th Arrondissement / Admission 9.50 Euros – Included in the Paris Museum Pass
3 PM | We finally made our way to Parc du Champ de Mars, a public greenspace with the most beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower, in my opinion.
Somebody pinch me please! Every daydream that I had all comes down to this one magical moment. It’s everything, and more! I wished we had brought something – a piece of fabric to sit on and maybe a picnic basket with french goodies to eat but then we were on a time crunch because we had a 3:30 PM schedule for the Eiffel Tower.
Also, it took us a while to look for that perfect little spot to capture the Eiffel with the cherry blossoms! It’s springtime after all!
3:30 PM | We headed to the La Tour Eiffel, just across the park for our afternoon reservation. We booked our tickets online prior to the trip because it would take a long time to wait in queue if you just purchase them on the spot.
The view from above was breathtaking! This one right here is the view of the Trocadero.
The tower has three floors. We chose the ticket that allowed us to explore the first and second levels because that was the cheaper option. You can always buy a new ticket for the third level if you decided to climb up higher. It was cold and windy that day so the summit was a no-go for us. Anyhow, the second level wasn’t that bad. It provides a great view nonetheless, with a viewing deck, some exhibits, a gift shop and a restaurant.5 PM | Descending from the Eiffel we made our way crossing the Pont d’Ilena towards the Trocadéro, another monumental square with an equally amazing view of the Eiffel as that of Parc du Champ de Mars.
We explored a little bit around the area and would have waited to watch the sparkling lights of the Eiffel but then it rained so at that point, we had to call it a day. What a great day it had been!
7 AM | We started the day early because we were headed to Marie Antoinette’s estate, the Chateau de Versailles. It was a 45-minute train ride via the Suburban train from the city. Once we got there, the clear blue skies and the soft chilly air greeted us a fine morning!
We skipped breakfast so we had to fuel ourselves before the long day begins. Good thing there’s Angelina to the rescue! It’s located at the right wing of the chateau and a definite must-try for everyone that comes to Paris. We loved their signature hot chocolate and for me, I paired it off with their delectable bestseller, Mont Blanc.
I’ve always adored period cliches like the 16th century romanticism. I’m a romantic through and through so seeing these french shabby chic ruffles and laces everywhere sets the butterflies in my tummy into a frenzy!
And then there’s The Hall of Mirrors! My, my! Bucketlist, checked!
11 AM | The entrance to the Chateau was included in The Paris Museum Pass but unfortunately we had to pay a separate fee to enter the gardens and see the Paterre. We paid 9 Euros each but it was definitely worth it. André Le Nôtre’s astonishing design had me gasping in awe all throughout the day. The palace grounds extensively spans two thousand acres including the gardens making it the “world’s largest royal domain”. We were not able to visit the other parts of the estate including the canals and Trianon palaces as you needed at least a bicycle for that. Anyhow, we very much enjoyed our limited stay there, had a hearty lunch in the vicinity before heading back to the city.
2 PM | We decided to rearrange our itinerary and headed straight to the queen of all museums, Musée du Louvre. A little tip here, if you’re coming to the Louvre via metro, get off at the Palais Royal Musee du Louvre Metro stop and pass through the underground entrance towards Le Carrousel which has a much shorter queue than passing through the glass pyramid’s main entrance. You would also see the inverted pyramid from Tom Hank’s Da Vinci Code movie from here.
To tell you the truth, I was flabbergasted at the very sight of how massive the museum was! We literally didn’t know where to start. It has three wings – Sully, Richelieu and Denon and has a total of four levels! We had to devote at least an hour just to find Monalisa! Another tip: try to maximize your time by choosing only the artworks you want to see because seeing everything in one day is IMPOSSIBLE. We had to come back another time and still didn’t get to see half of the galleries.
This experience was truly one of a kind. I had to keep pinching myself time and again just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. We ended the day just hanging out by the green chairs at the Tuileries Garden nearby and had dinner at a local fastfood.
There you go, that’s how we spent the first two days in Paris. I hope this has helped you in planning your own Parisian adventure, in one way or another. Will be posting more Paris itineraries in the coming days. Thanks for reading!
This post was inspired by Camie Juan’s Travel Guide: What to Do in 48 Hours in Paris. <3