PARIS ON A SHOESTRING

How to visit Paris on a budget secrets, tips and tricks

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Top Sights and Attractions in Paris

1.The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel tower is the tallest building in Paris and serves as a global icon fuelling the Parisian ideology of romance and fashion. Tourist would find the La dame de fer (iron lady) wonderful especially the Feroscope which provides details of the Tower’s construction and protective paintwork. The tower has three levels with 300 steps going from the first, second and third levels. The first and second levels are accessible through the elevator while the third level is accessible only through steps. Opening hours are from 9am to midnight daily and tourist can take the Metro Bir-Hakeim or Champ-de-Mars stations.

2.Arc-de-Triomphe

Standing in the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle, the Arc-de-Triomphe serves as a monument for the military victories of Napoleon. Underneath the arc is the tomb for unknown soldiers who died during the war. The arcs design is composed of four designs, which are the Le Départ, Le Triomphe, La Résistance and La Paix. The Arc is open 10am – 10.30pm from 1 November to 31 March. 9.30am – 11pm from 1 April to 30 September and is closed on bank holidays. There is also an entrance fee and tourist who wanted to go there should come early as locals and tourist flocks on the site, one can use the Metro Charles de Gaulle Etoile station  to arrived early on the site.


3.Opéra de la Bastille

The Opéra de la Bastille was inaugurated on July 13th 1989, is the most modern opera house in Paris, and marks the bicentenary of the Storming of the Bastille that started the French Revolution. Architect, Carlos Ott, designed who won the contest for the designing of the Opera Bastille Public Establishment (l’Établissement PuA) competition created the opera house in where the Bastille station formerly was. The opera house can seat 2,723 people each with a good view of the theatre stage. The opera is open only to guided visits, one can also take the Metro and getting off the Bastille station for easy access to the opera house.

4.Madeleine

The Madeleine church was dedicated to Mary Magdalene by the church and was consecrated in the year 1842 after it was first dedicated by Napoleon as a memorial and called it  Temple de la Gloire de la Grande Armée(“Temple to the Glory of the Great Army” . Inspired by the Maison Carree at Nimes, the Madeleine church was built in a neo-classical style, boasting of 52 Corinthian columns and has three domes and the bronze door decorated with the Ten Commandments. The church is located at Place de la Madeleine, and is open daily. One can take the Metro and drop off at the Madeleine station.

5.Invalides

The Les Invalides or L’Hôtel national des Invalides is one of France main attraction highlighting the tombs of known persona like Napoleon Bonaparte and Ferdinand Foch. The hospital was first used as a home for aged and unwell soldiers issued by King Louis XIV and were later used as a military museum. The place also houses the Musée de l’Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d’Histoire Contemporaine. The Hôtel des Invalides is located at Esplanade des Invalides 75007 Paris, opened from 10am – 6pm daily in summer, and 10am – 5pm daily in winter.

6.Notre-Dame

The Notre Dame de Paris or Our Lady of Paris is one of the most celebrated gothic church in France and is one of the first to use flying buttress for support. The Notre Dame is also the official chair of the Archbishop of Paris and also known as the cathedral of the Catholic Archdiocese of Paris. The French revolution destroyed parts of the church with vandalism and desecration resulting to the near ruined of the church, however it was saved by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc who did extensive restoration on the church. The cathedral is open from 8am to 6pm daily, admission to the church is free but a minimum fee is collected for those visiting the towers.

7.Hôtel de Ville

The Hôtel de Ville is the building of the City of Paris administration, which is formerly called as the “Place de Grève.” Étienne Marcel, provost of the merchants (mayor of Paris) at the time, bought and built the municipality and called it House of Pillar, it was only in 1533 where it was torn down and rebuilt it into the present day structure. The Hotel de Ville is a witness to some of the events that greatly influences the evolution of Paris with executions done in the centre, to the French revolution, coup of 9 Thermidor Year II and the seizing of the place during the Franco-Prussian war.

8.Tour Montparnasse

Designed by architects Eugène Beaudouin, Urbain Cassan and Louis Hoym de Marie the Tour Maine-Montparnasse (Maine-Montparnasse Tower), also commonly named Tour Montparnasse is the tallest skyscraper in Paris and the ninth tallest building in the European Union. The 209-meter high tower affords one to see major sites and attractions around Paris. Inside the tower, tourist can enjoy exhibitions, shops, bars and a cinema. Opening hours is from 9.30am – 10.30pm
and 11.30pm in summer. Admission depends on the floor and children under the age of seven are free of charge. One can take the Metro and take the Montparnasse-Bienvenüe or Raspail (line 4, 12, 13).

9.Luxembourg Palace

The Luxembourg Palace, bought by Marie Medici, the mother of King Louis XIII of France, asked the architect, Salomon de Brosse, to construct it like her palazzo in Florence, which is the Palazzo Pitti. Across the Palace is the 25 hectare Luxembourg Garden that has an orchard and a lake that kid can play their sail model boats. Since 1852, it has become the seat of the Senate, the upper house of the French parliament. Tourist can see the library ceiling by Delacroix, medallions by Van Thulden, Jean Monnier’s ceiling paintings and the neo-gothic interiors of the palace. Admission is free but visits are through appointments and the place is only open on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays.

10.Panthéon

The Pantheon, formerly the Church of Genevieve, is the final resting place for famous people like Mirabeau, Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Zola, Jean Moulin, Gaspard Monge, François Fénelon, Claude Louis Berthollet, the Marquis de Laplace, Louis David, Baron de Cuvier, La Fayette, Sadi Carnot, Marcelin Berthelot, Jean Jaurès, Louis Braille, Jean Monnet, Pierre & Marie Curie and André Malraux. The pantheon was an early example of neoclassicism and patterned upon the Parthenon of Rome. The site is open daily, from 9.30am – 6.30pm in summer, and from 10am – 6.15pm in winter. Tourist can take the metro Cluny la Sorbonne or Luxembourg (RER line B).

11.National Assembly

The National Assemble, also known as Palais Bourbon was built for the legitimized daughter of Louis XIV and Françoise-Athénaïs, marquise de Montespan – Louise-Françoise de Bourbon, duchesse de Bourbon. During the French revolution, Napoleon enlarged the Palais and after, during the Boubon restoration, the Prince de Conde, the grandson of the Duchess de Bourbon seized the Palais and rented it out to the Chamber of the Deputies. Presently, the museum holds some of important artifacts like the minutes of the trial of Joan of Arc, Codex Borbonicus (a picturesque Aztec codec written by an Aztec priest.) One can go there through riding the Metro:  Assemblée Nationale or Invalides (line 8).

12.Bibliothèque nationale de France (French national library)

The French National Library is one of the most extensive libraries succeeding from being the royal library up to the imperial library. The library holds everything about France, its cultures, traditions that are published in France. The new Bibliothèque Nationale de France – François Mitterrand (BNF-François Mitterrand) library can hold up to 3,600 readers in one time. Opening hours depends on the type of visits one would avail of. Individual visits are by appointment, at 2pm Tuesday to Saturday, and 3pm on Sundays. Group visits are by appointment. One can take the Metro and get off the Quai de la Gare or Bibliothèque François Mitterrand station.

13.Sacré-Coeur

Located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city of Paris, the Basilique du Sacré Cœur is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Paris. One trivia on the basilica is that, since it is made of travertine stones, which produces calcite, a mineral that makes the churches exterior to remain white. The funicular of the church runs from 6:45am to 11pm, The Crypt and Dome are open from 9am – 6pm during winter, and from 9am – 7pm during summer. The Basilica, however, is open daily from 6:45am to 10:30pm. Take Anvers metro station to reach the Basilica.

14.Sainte Chapelle

The high point of the Rayonnant period of Gothic architecture, the Sainte Chapelle or also called as “The Holy Chapel”, built under the order of King Louis with radiant stained glass windows, which lighted the whole church. The Chapel first built to house precious relics including that of Christ’s crown of thorns and the Image of Edessa. One of the most notable on the chapel is the 15th century rose windows. The church suffered damages during the French Revolution and two thirds of the windows are authentic, the rest restored under the directorship of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. The chapel is open daily and one can take the metro and get off Cité or Saint-Michel station.

15.Saint Germain l’Auxerrois church

The Church of Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois is the Church of the Kings of Paris and Church of Louvre. Things to look on the church are the: wooden statute of St. Germain, a stone carved of St. Vincent, Flemish altarpiece carved out of wood, and the churchwarden pews that seated higher ranking and famous people. The church also bears witness to the massacre of thousands of Huguenots by Parisian mobs in the year 1572 and with which Parisians now observe as St. Bartholomew‘s Day Massacre. The church is open for public except during masses. Take the Metro and get out on the Louvre-Rivoli (line 1) station.

16.Conciergerie

The La Conciergerie is the former royal palace of the Kings of France and had become the prison cell during the French revolution. Today, the Concierge serves as a national historical monument for France and is still use today for some of Paris trial courts. The Concierge, also known as, “antechamber to the guillotine,” bears witness to thousands of prisoners executed by the Tribunal during the French Revolution. Some of the notable personas are Queen Marie Antoinette, the poet André Chénier, Charlotte Corday, Madame Élisabeth, Madame du Barry and the Girondins. The place is free of charge for people under the age of 18, opening hours is from 9.30am – 6.30pm from 1 April to 30 September, and 10am – 5pm from 1 October to 31 March.

17.Opéra Garnier

The Palais Garnier also known as the Paris Opera houses 2,200 seats and is a landmark of Paris’ opera house, design by Charles Garnier in 1861. A fire destroyed Salle Le Peletier, the chief and fiercest competitor of Palais Garnier, making the Palais, the chief venue for opera and ballet. Marc Chagall painted the ceiling of the Palais and visiting tourists can see bronze bust of many of the great composers, Mozart, Rossini, Beethoven, and Philippe Quinault in the opera house. The opera is open daily from 10am – 6pm in summer and from 10am – 5pm in winter. Tourist can take the metro and alight from the Chaussée d’Antin, Opéra or Auber (RER line A) station.