As Spring quickly approaches, Paris is starting to feel more alive. If the sun is up and shining, people are everywhere! Children, students, businesspeople, and tourists alike jump at the opportunity to enjoy the fresh air whenever possible. After experiencing two months of rain and wind, I notice that I am much more appreciative of plesant days because I can continue to explore downtown and everything it has to offer. If you ever visit Paris, especially in the warmer months, and want to soak in its culture and beauty, here are a few "must see" places I have come to love:
1. Montmarte/Sacre Coeur
Sacre Coeur, or "Sacred Heart", is one of many churches in Paris. What is unique about this particular church is its unbeatable location. Situated on top of a hill overlooking the city, Sacre Coeur offers visitors incredible panaramic views. It is one of my favorite places because you can enjoy the view for free!!, take your time admiring the inside of the church, especially the stained glass, intricately painted ceilings and massive organ, and walk through the adorable area of Montemarte. Montmarte is known for being the home of numerous artists including Van Gogh! The cobble stoned streets are lined with gorgeous apartments, cafes, creperies (the best!), and shops for all of your souvenir needs. In the middle of the main area is a plaza where artists set up stands to sell their work and even paint new pieces right there! It is my number one place because whenever I am missing home and feeling stressed or disconnected from the city, I know I can go there to feel the true Parisian lifestyle and maybe even have a tasty snack or window shop.
2. River Seine
I love the River Seine because it meanders right through central Paris. During the day, there are boat tours carrying tourists from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame. As you walk or bike (Paris has bike rentals around the city) along the water, you can see house boats and beautiful bridges with intricate designs or love locks attached to them. At night, dinner cruises pass by and you can see the historic museums and buildings including the Louvre, Hotel des Invalides, and Musee d'Orsay, lit up at night. You can even see the Eiffel Tower sparkle at the top of every hour! Watching the lights reflect off nearby buildings and the water is truly a unique experience. The river itself is unlike any other place in the city.
3. Top of Arc d'Triomphe
Before I arrived in Paris, I had no idea that toursits can climb to the top of the Arc d'Triomphe. Not only can you go to the top, but you can also enjoy an incredible view of the famous Champs-Elysees shopping street, the Eiffel Tower, the Grande Arche of the La Defense business district (where I attend school). The best part is that as a student and temporary resident of the EU, it is free! For tourists, it costs only 6 euro, so it has been a great place to take friends who have visited me.I'll leave this view up to your imagination so you can enjoy the same surprised feeling I did when I first saw it.
The best thing about these three places is that they are very accesible for tourists and free for students! I reccommend visiting these places before paying to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower because they provide incredible views for less money and provide a more enjoyable experience.