Paris promises something for everyone – sophistication, beauty, culture, history, cuisines, art, escape and that nebulous quality called ambiance. Hopefully when you visit Paris you’ll carve out time to do more than rush to the major tourists sites; the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Muse d’Orsay.
A Visit to the towers of NOTRE DAME is a must. TIP: May to October the lines to enter Notre Dame and to climb up into the towers can be long. If you arrive late in the day there will be long lines to enter both the Cathedral and to visit the towers. Arrive at 9:30 A.M. to avoid the crowds and admire the Gothic masterpiece from inside and above.
Climb the 300-plus winding steps to get a close-up view of the Cathedral’s flying buttresses spires and roofs. The gargoyles, including monkey monsters, elephant, griffin and birds adorn the outer walls and keep watch on the streets of Paris below. The views of Paris below and spread out before you are spectacular. Look down to the Seine River, the bridges and rooftops of Ile del la Cite, and enjoy the sweeping views of Paris’ landmarks: the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, the Arc de Triomphe and gardens galore. You can imagine Victor Hugo’s fictional character in his novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Quasimodo, in the narrow stairway you’ll climb and in the belfry ringing the magnificent bells. When I visited in June, the towers opened at 10 A.M. so my girlfriend and I arrived at 9:30 A.M., which gave us both time to visit the interior of Notre Dame while the other one kept the place in line.
Only when you curb the urge to rush through Paris at a frenetic pace can you fully appreciate the ambience of Paris. Sit, watch, smell, taste, sip and savor the flavors, fashion and sensations of Parisian daily life.
I lived in Paris (in the 6th arrondissement) for four years and return often. Let me offer you a glimpse of the Paris I love: It is waking up to the chiming bells of the St.-Germain-des-Pres church, meandering along the Seine River watching the barges as they cruise up and down, strolling through the Tuileries Garden near the Louvre to visit my favorite Maillot sculptures, wandering the quaint streets of the Left Bank, stopping to see where Hemingway lived near Place Contrascarp, sampling cheeses and fruit at the open markets at the rue de Bucci and the rue Mouffetard. These are just a few of my favorite things to do.