Paris in a day
About this time last year I was going to travel to Europe for work and I was going to be near Paris. Naturally I jumped at the chance to see this iconic city. I also knew I would have limited time available and could not stay longer than the weekend. So, I prepared to do Paris in a day!
This was going to be a challenge. The old carpenter’s adage of ‘measure twice, cut once’ sure was appropriate in this scenario. I only had a weekend, minus about one day of travel which gave me one full day to pack as much of Paris as I could. Pre-planning was going to be key. To compound this bravery this was also my first time in Europe, I didn’t know much French, and I was going alone. I was realistic and knew that I wasn’t going to get the full experience from each attraction. Having this in mind while planning made things easier to manage. Browsing the net for help on putting my ‘Paris in a day’ itinerary together I came across a nice tool on a site called visitacity.com . This site had customizable itineraries based on your length of trip, sites, and activities – just what I was looking for!
Creating an Itinerary
Using the visitacity.com site was simple. You just choose your city and your plan based on length of stay. Once done it takes you to a page with several types of plans. In my case I chose ‘Paris in a Day Out – Parks & Architecture’ out of the ‘Paris in One day’ plans. Before you go any further, I’d advise you to register yourself to the site to be able to save your plans. Once registered and logged in, you can now take a base plan and modify it to suit. Which is what I did. I took the aforementioned plan and removed sites I was not interested in (or had to give up in place of others) and added some custom ones of my own. The beauty of this site is that once you select your destinations it’ll put them in the best order to visit them and maximize your time. When you’re done adding / removing the attractions, save the plan and you can now see it under the “My Plans” menu button on the top left. Also, don’t forget to modify each attraction’s desired duration as you prefer. Add your hotel to give you the full picture of your day. Now that my itinerary was complete, I downloaded my plan as a PDF using the site’s ‘Get as PDF’ button.
My Itinerary as an example
I chose to visit three main sites which I always wanted to see: The Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and Alexander Bridge. I also wanted to do some shopping for family and myself so I chose one of the most beautiful stores you could ever shop at, Galeries Lafayette. There were two other things I always wanted to experience, one was eating a freshly baked croissant from Paris and two buying a designer cologne from a local French store.
I highly recommend that you add a bakery to your plans so that you may experience this heavenly morsel. The bakery I chose was not at random, I did a little digging and found out the best bakeries to visit in Paris and Le Grenier a Pain was one of the best and it was also very close to my other destinations – perfect! I made sure I added the bakery as the first stop of the day.
The fragrance store
Call me eccentric but a fragrance that is married well with your body chemistry is something to behold. My sense of smell is very sensitive, which can be a blessing and curse at times. I always wanted a foreign cologne that worked well with my body chemistry. Matching a cologne to your body’s naturally emitted scents can be difficult, but when found it is beautiful (for you and others). I searched for French fragrance makers and picked Serge Lutens. After much deliberation I went with ‘Un bois sépia’ (Sepia Wood) out of their ‘La Peau du Bois’ (a touch of wood) line. I could not be happier finding this cologne. I went through many test strips to finally select this Serge Luten offering and it was worth it. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, but the store location itself was incredible. Nestled beside other high end stores inside an incredible building was this quaint and dark store. The female attendants were beautifully French and very helpful, although we had to make do with signs and gestures which was fine by me as it was also entertaining. Suddenly Paris in a day was looking doable.
This is the store of all stores. This place had floors upon floors of merchandise of every kind. Every brand and type of product could be found, from a 20,000 Euro bottle of Cognac to spices. The building was opulent and everywhere your eye landed it was greeted by a splash of colour. The smell of treated leather and delicious spices filled the air. You could spend days in this collection of stores and never see it all.
I was looking for a unique gift for my father. He’s a big leather fan so I looked for a new wallet for him and found just the right one. I also picked up a nice back-pack which I loved the second I laid my eyes on it. Mission accomplished.
Arc de Triomphe
Now onto the main attractions… the beautiful Triumphal Arch! Such a beautiful monument was meant to be savoured slowly. This highly detailed work of art stood strong in the middle of a massive round-about. Cars swirled around it like fish carefully swimming around a whale as not to disturb it. There must have been six unmarked lanes of traffic so it looked a little hectic to say the least. Although it was a cloudy day, it only added to the mystique of this landmark. I won’t forget it anytime soon.
This giant stands visible from almost anywhere near the center of Paris. As I walked around my other destinations, I could see it towering over other buildings. I couldn’t wait to see it up close and now that it was next up on my list I started walking towards it. It certainly looked closer than it actually was. It took several minutes to get near it and really start to appreciate it. It was incredible and the closer I got the more people I started seeing. To my surprise the Eiffel tower was actually light brown! For some reason I always thought it was black or dark grey. Such beauty and strength.
- Paris has an incredible subway system, get familiar with it before going, use it exclusively when you’re there. Buy an unlimited ride pass for the length of time you plan to visit. This way you can hop on and off the subway as you wish to get you everywhere.
- Use a back-pack to carry any purchases you make during your day trips. Get rid of the bulky and flashy bags/boxes of your purchases and put the in the back-pack before leaving the store.
- While Paris is a very safe city I was warned before going that petty crimes were the only things to worry about, as such prepare for this and put your wallet in a front pocket or the like. Don’t pull out a large wad of euros when paying for things, only carry what’s necessary. Hide a credit card somewhere on your person so you have a back-up plan in case anything happens.
- Try to blend in with the crowd as much as possible, don’t carry your massive camera around your neck, use a more subtle camera and only take it out when you intend to take a photo.
- Be watchful of your surroundings and stay away from any areas which you think look fishy. While you should stop and take in each attraction, walk with a purpose from place to place.
This is a memory I’ll keep with me for the rest of my days. There are too many experiences to include in this post from interesting people, customs, street performers everywhere, amazing architecture etc. If you ever get a chance to visit this city, do it! As you may tell from this post, Paris in a day is possible and very rewarding. I leave you with this video of some street musicians on the way to my first stop of my trip, enjoy.