My Three Most Favorite Attractions in Paris

STAFF, SERIES, EUROPE, Historic/Museums — By on July 26, 2011 at 23:28

By staff writer Estrella Azul. Photos Copyright © Estrella Azul.

In my previous article for Milliver’s Travels I covered walking through Paris. Some of my most marvelous memories are walking through secret found places, and the streets I recognized after walking down them even only once the previous day. This time around, I’ll share a little bit of what particularly attracted me.

I have to start off by disclosing how overly optimistic I was about what I’d be able to visit, how my list was a whole page long (small font size) and . . . how during my short stay I didn’t even reach a quarter of it.

However, in my humble opinion, the sights are worth waiting in (the long) lines for.

The Eiffel Tower—or, as it’s also known, the Iron Lady—is one of Paris’ tallest buildings, the most prominent symbol of the city and of France, and the most-visited monument in the World. I find it compelling how this puddle iron lattice tower (puddling was an Industrial Revolution means of iron and steel-making), designed by Gustave Eiffel whose name it bears, was built in around two years on the Champs de Mars as the entrance arch for the 1889 World’s Fair.

The Eiffel Tower, Paris - Photo copyright Estrella Azul

The Iron Lady

It was quite interesting to find out how, at the time of its being built, the tower was broadly criticized by the public. Paris newspapers of the day were filled with articles and angry letters signed by various members of the arts community (including Alexandre Dumas), who considered the tower an unaesthetic lump of iron.

The Eiffel Tower from the ground

Looking up at the Eiffel Tower made me feel tiny


The freestanding framework tower has three levels for visitors. My friend and I were too tired from walking the city to attempt taking the stairs, but if one is willing, the first and second levels can be approached by a flight of 300 stairs each. The third level, the highest, is only accessible by elevator. My fear (slight understatement) of elevators aside, reaching the top of the Eiffel Tower is a definite do-not-miss experience made even more special by the astonishing view this landmark has to offer.

View from the Eiffel Tower

View from the Eiffel Tower

The Louvre is one of the world’s largest museums. It’s also a historic monument and the most visited art museum in the world, so needless to say I had a wonderful time walking around, visiting and generally being awed by all the art surrounding me. The vast and diverse collections are indeed magnificent (Roman, Greek, Egyptian, etc.)—from paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, furniture, tapestry and china, to clocks and jewelry—and one can get lost (my friend and I are living proof) even with a map.

Louvre Museum, Pavillon de Marsan, Paris, France

Louvre Museum, Pavillon de Marsan

As I understand, when the glass pyramid entrance was constructed for the museum in 1989 it received mixed reviews. Personally, the sharp contrast from the surrounding classical-design buildings aside, and considering it averages 15,000 visitors per day, I see it as a clever way of not touching the historic patrimony while creating a spacious entrance.

Louvre Museum with the Louvre Pyramid at night

Louvre Museum with the Louvre Pyramid at night

Located on the eastern side of Ile de la Cite, the Notre Dame de Paris (“Our Lady of Paris”), otherwise known as the Notre Dame Cathedral, is a Gothic-style, Catholic cathedral that was enlarged several times as it was being built.

I must admit, looking up at the cathedral, admiring the Gallery of Kings, the famous gargoyles and grotesques, as my eyes reached the bell towers I half expected Quasimodo to wave at me.

Notre Dame Cathedral and the Charlemagne Statue in Notre Dame square

Notre Dame Cathedral and the Charlemagne Statue in Notre Dame square

Attending a religious high school (and my overall love for music) may have some bearing on the matter, but the instant the organ recital began—as I stood listening to the harmony of 7,800 organ pipes, with 900 classified as historic—I felt transported back to the 19th century.

Notre Dame interior

Notre Dame interior and the organ

While the whole cathedral is spectacular, both on the interior and from the exterior, I was simply charmed by the several mesmerizing rose windows.

Stained glass and rose windows of Notre Dame

Stained glass and rose windows, Notre Dame

Somehow, months later, I still can’t believe it was reality and that I have actually been to the city I’d dreamed of visiting ever since, as a child, I could pronounce the name “Eiffel Tower.”

———

Estrella in the Greek Amphitheatre ruins,
Taormina, Sicily


Estrella Azul is a young emerging writer, passionate about reading, floral art and photography, with an artistic personality and a soulful outlook on life. She is a Hungarian girl living and writing from Cluj-Napoca, Romania, the capital of historical region Transylvania. Estrella is our European correspondent, and she dreams of embarking on a round-the-world trip. To read more of her creative writing, her thoughts and daily happenings, visit Life’s a stage – WebBlog©.

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    24 Comments

  • Julia
    Twitter: wordsxo
    says:

    Great choices, and I’m glad you’re writing about Paris again! I have to say, I love your three places–and it must have been unbelievably difficult to choose just three! Some of my other favorites might be: St. Chapelle with its incredible stained glass. Incredible. Also Sacre Couer and Musee d’Orsay. Thanks for bringing back wonderful memories!

    • Estrella Azul
      Twitter: EstrellaAzul
      says:

      Thank you, Julia! I’m happy to be writing about Paris again, I had too much to say when I wrote my first article about it.
      You’re right, it was in fact difficult to narrow it down to just three as everything I’ve seen is still fresh in my memory – I’m glad I could bring back wonderful memories for you too!

  • Ann
    Twitter: AnnHolly
    says:

    Wow – lovely pictures. I love Cathedral Rose Windows – and your pictures are lovely…you really did see a beautiful Paris I’ve never been to Paris, but next year I hope to do a quick stop! Thanks for sharing more of your trip…

    • Estrella Azul
      Twitter: EstrellaAzul
      says:

      It’s my pleasure to share more of my trip, thanks for stopping by, Ann!
      Those rose windows are truly amazing, I’m not sure my photos really captured their true beauty quite like I would’ve liked it.
      *fingers crossed* for you to visit Paris next year, it’s worth flying across an ocean to see and experience all of that beauty first hand 🙂

  • Ann
    Twitter: AnnHolly
    says:

    ….dang! I repeated myself, but your pictures do bear repeating….

    • Estrella Azul
      Twitter: EstrellaAzul
      says:

      Ann, a long as you’re repeating that you liked the photos and not that you hated them, I certainly don’t mind – repeat away 😉

  • Estrella Azul
    Twitter: EstrellaAzul
    says:

    @ Everyone:

    Notice that pigeon in the Notre Dame and Charlemagne Statue photo? The one I captured in full flight mode?

    Not sure if camera shyness or what else its problem might have been, but there I was concentrating on taking pictures when – that very pigeon flew right at me!
    (and okay, I’ll admit, I let out a little squeak – but it really startled me…)

  • Betsy
    Twitter: betsy_v
    says:

    Estrella,
    What a great article!.. Your pictures are beautiful, and you have made me want to visit Paris, and see it all for myself.
    I would love to hear that organ, I bet it was beautiful!
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience! It was not only informative, but very enjoyable too!

    • Estrella Azul
      Twitter: EstrellaAzul
      says:

      Thanks, Betsy! I’m glad to see you’ve enjoyed my article while finding it informative.
      I actually have a recording of the organ, but it simply doesn’t do it justice (the downside of mere point and shoot cameras, not the best sound quality)

  • Hi Estrella,

    I love Paris, too. Did the Eiffel Tower vertical hoof after traversing the town for 6 hours, then hoofed another hour back to the hotel.

    Neat walk up. Every landing has some historical info. The coolest place. Also, Eiffel was criticized for not making it a solid structure. Other engineers said it would fall down.

    As it turns out, porous structures are stronger because they can sway as necessary.

    This migrates into the theory of women needing all those drugs to make their bones more solid. Not true. Bones are meant to be porous and the Eiffel Tower is basically an “osteoporotic” femur and it stands strong.

    Making our bones denser makes them weaker.

    The coolest place. Also the carousel down the way. I’m a carousel fanatic and ride them wherever I stumble on them.

    Thanks! G.

    • Estrella Azul
      Twitter: EstrellaAzul
      says:

      G, thank you! It’s so good to see you also enjoyed the article.
      Exciting to find out you’ve been to Paris and that you walked so much. You should check out my last post about Paris where I talk about exactly that, walking through the city and how much I loved doing that even though I could barely walk by night. Plus it has a photo of one of the many carousels I saw 🙂

      I know, the Eiffel tower was questioned regarding many aspects, including structurally. Your point is spot on as wind resistance is so important while building anything (though those are in motion, just think of Formula 1 cars’ aerodynamics).
      Oh, and that sway – I felt it! (although that might just be from being overly sensitive to motion)

  • Wonderful pics, Estrella. Brings back memories. My three favorites were the Louvre, Notre Dame, and a little unknown plaza where my daughter and I discovered a nice little kebob shop and a fantastic pastry shop – our first introduction to French hospitality and food. Both were delicious.

    Unfortunately our tour did not take us to the Eiffel Tower, but it looks spectacular lit up at night on the river tour. Looks spectacular in your pictures too.
    ~jon

    • Estrella Azul
      Twitter: EstrellaAzul
      says:

      Thank you!
      I like how two of our favorites coincide – they’re quite impressive, probably why they’re as famous.
      Glad to read about hospitality and food both being delicious. I also liked the food and everyone I met was very hospitable.

      Too bad that you didn’t get see the Eiffel Tower up close and personal. But you’re right, it does look spectacular, at any time of day, from any angle.
      I liked looking at it at night as its lit, but found it looking tacky in those ten minutes every hour when the newer, flashlamps are on… But that’s just me 🙂

      • The Eiffel Tower may well have been one of my favorites too had we been allowed to get near it. The schedules of package tours are not exactly flexible. If I ever get back to Paris we will make a point of seeing the Tower.
        ~jon

        • Estrella Azul
          Twitter: EstrellaAzul
          says:

          Yes, I can imagine. Though it seems a bit weird to me that they wouldn’t include it since it is the most visited monument in the world.
          That’s a great plan, Jon, it’s most certainly worth both the long wait (we stood in line for nearly two hours) and the admission fee.

  • I really need to get out to Paris. Your three picks sound and look wonderful. The Louvre sounds particularly interesting. Thanks for the peek and for piquing my interest!

    • Estrella Azul
      Twitter: EstrellaAzul
      says:

      Love your opening, Donald – I think everyone needs to visit Paris at least once in their lifetime. I couldn’t begin to fully describe the Louvre experience, but suffice it to say we were there for over 5 hours and still haven’t seen everything.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Fery says:

    Hey!
    Really great article, and really great pictures as well. I’ll make sure to visit these places when/if I go to Paris 😀

    • Estrella Azul
      Twitter: EstrellaAzul
      says:

      Thank you so much, they’re all worth visiting (I’ll sure re-visit if I ever manage to go back)
      And, I had a good camera my friend let me borrow so I’ll only take half the credit for the photos! 😉

  • Nessa says:

    A very lovely article and such beautiful pictures. i never made it to Paris but i’d love to.

    • Estrella Azul
      Twitter: EstrellaAzul
      says:

      Thanks, Nessa! I’m keeping my fingers crossed you’ll get to Paris someday – it’s a wonderful city and all worth it!

  • Liz says:

    I’ve found your site via Ann’s blog and I’m loving the articles on Paris! We’re going for the first time this coming summer…and I love your tips 🙂

    • Estrella Azul
      Twitter: EstrellaAzul
      says:

      Thank you, Liz!
      It’s such a great feeling to see that you’re getting the most of my Paris articles, and the tips are useful.
      Hope you’ll drop by after the trip as well and let me know how it went!

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