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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Top 9 Must-Do in Paris, Part 1

Monday, March 2, 2015

What are your top favorite things to do in a city you love? 

Over the years I have visited Paris, the City of Light, many times.

Part 1

In the beginning, I chaperoned students 
and, as such, saw many of the same key tourist sites repeatedly. 
Yet, there were always a few things new or different on each trip. 

Eventually, I began to travel only with friends and family. 
That's when I realized there are nine things that I must do each time I'm in Paris. 
No trip to Paris feels complete without doing these things.

This is a very personalized list of things to do,
not a list of the most visited sites in Paris.
These are the things that make my heart sing!

For some of you making plans to travel to Paris this year, 
perhaps you will find some ideas to help you make your trip memorable
and make your heart sing. 

My top five (#1-5) are in this post. 
Come back for Part 2 (#6-9) in the next post.

Have lunch in the Musée d'Orsay Restaurant

The restaurant is located on the first floor (2nd floor to Americans) of the museum. 
There is a more casual cafe on the ground floor, 
but for just a few dollars more, dining in the first floor restaurant 
is an experience never to be forgotten. 

Look at the gorgeous chandelier, heavy carved wood paneling, 
layer upon layer of crown moldings, and exquisite mural over the door. 
This is just a glimpse of the magnificent setting for the restaurant that has 
oversized windows opening onto a terrace that overlooks the Seine River. 
Just think of the thousands of Parisiennes and dignitaries who have 
walked on the parquet wooden floors since the restaurant first opened 
as part of the hotel attached to a train station that was 
renovated and re-envisioned as the Musée d'Orsay. 

The prices are very reasonable for a Paris restaurant 
and do not wreak havoc with the budget. 
Reservations recommended. 

Dining on a fixed-price three-course menu in 
this beautiful setting makes me feel like I am truly in Paris. 

Visit the Musée d'Orsay collections 

The Musée d'Orsay includes several Impressionist works by Monet, 
one of my favorite artists. 
Yet, I think the renovated train-station-to-museum architecture 
is what keeps bringing me back over and over. 
Photos inside are no longer allowed, but, 
as you can see from my photo date stamp, this photo
was taken before the ban and shows the grandeur of the building. 

So, my top two must-do things in Paris can be done on the same day. 
A Paris Museum Pass helps save time and money. 
Just show the pass at the entrance and 
skip the long lines of regular ticket holders. 

Attend a classical music concert in Sainte-Chapelle 

Even if I an unable to visit Sainte-Chapelle during the day 
to see its spectacular stained glass windows, 
I always try to attend a classical music concert in the evening. 

Concert programs vary, and I don't think I have 
ever heard the same concert twice. 
The ones I've attended have had four to eight musicians. 
Sometimes the instruments included a cello, or a harp, or violins. 
I have always been thrilled at the performance. 

The concert takes place on the first floor (2nd floor) surrounded 
by the beautiful stained glass windows. 
Concert goers sit on backless long wooden benches 
that I never found to be uncomfortable. 
Seating for regular price tickets is on a first entered basis. 
In recent years, the organizers have added a special price 
ticket that guarantees a seat in the first 2-3 rows. 
The venue is intimate, and seats beyond the first 2-3 rows 
are just as good as the first 2-3 rows. 

Concert entrance is through the gold-topped gate and the Palais de Justice. 
This is the view just after emerging from the Cité Metro stop. 

Visit Carrousel du Louvre 

Located under the Louvre courtyard and naturally lighted
by an inverted glass pyramid, the Carrousel
leads to entrances to wings of the Louvre museum,
but also leads to shops, restaurants, news stands,
and public services in the center of the 1st Arrondissement.

Easy to reach with free access and extended hours makes
le Carrousel a great place for
a super nice public bathroom,
a la Poste,
an ATM machine,
a buffet for a meal, and
a little shopping.

  Le Carrousel is great to visit anytime,
but it is an especially nice place
to spend hours on rainy days.
Get some euros from the ATM, buy postcards
and gifts for family, sit at a table having lunch
from one of the buffets while writing postcards,
pop into a la Poste to mail the postcards,
and freshen up in the super nice restroom.
Then head into the Louvre for my #5 must-do in Paris.

Tour the Medieval Louvre 

In the mid-1980s archeological excavations for the Louvre renovations
unearthed the foundations, moat, and walls of the medieval Louvre
that existed from around 1190 to the early 16th century.
Of all the treasures in the Louvre, touring the
Medieval Louvre is still my favorite section of the Louvre.
Markings of the stone masons that cut the stones for the walls
are visible all through the stone column foundations.
Entrance to the Medieval Louvre is from the
Carrousel du Louvre.

Another pair (#4 & #5) of must do things in Paris that can be done in the same day.

Top 9 Must-Do in Paris, Part 2,
will be my next post about my top #6-9.
Very possibly, #6 can be done on the same day as #4 & #5 in le Carrousel.

See the following websites for detailed information about my top #1-5.

Musée d'Orsay Restaurant

Bon Voyage



  1. There is so much to see and do in Paris; I was only there nine days after having lived in Nice for a month, then spending three more weeks touring Italy and the southwest of France with my husband. We then went up to Tours, La Loire, then Paris, but by that time, we were spent. But we did all we could in 8 days, but it was not enough. I need to go back and I was supposed to go this May with students, but the trip was cancelled. I want to go back but something makes me afraid, with all the happenings in Paris in January, and also in the world.

    OH JUDITH, PARIS, this is our city!

  2. How wonderful to have gone enough times to have a list of must-dos! I still want very much to go to Paris. Perhaps talk my eldest daughter in going with me some day? Your list sounds very much like the kinds of things I would especially enjoy. I'll be back for Part II.

  3. Judith,
    Enjoyed seeing what you included for must dos while in Paris. We are including the Citroën Champs-Élysées Showroom and Le Conservatoire this time.

  4. Judith, your top three are definitely mine too! Every time I'm in Paris! Have never toured the Medieval Louvre, so will add that to my Paris notes for my next visit. Looking forward to the rest of your list.

  5. Judith, it's been many years since my husband had a business trip to Paris. As soon as he called me to tell me about it, I told him there was no way he could leave me at home! And it truly was a great trip and I've often thought about returning. Your post just got added to my Pinterest. Glad to see it on Maria's party!

  6. Judith: Thanks for these recommendations, I'm planning a trip and this is so very helpful!

  7. Morning Judith,
    Been a while since I have been by, but just had to come to see what you had to say about Paris.
    Forty Three years ago we lived in Germany and we got to visit Paris for a weekend, and I shall
    never forget it. Such an amazing thing when you see things you only saw in your History books
    at school......pinch me moments! I love Paris too. It is truly a beautiful and amazing city,
    sans the traffic, oh my!! We thought we might die in the Arc' De' Triomphe traffic circle, so we
    parked the car and walked everywhere we went. lol Maybe it has changed by now!
    We did go to the Louvre and see Venus de MIlo and the Mona Lisa and of course, other amazing art work, and saw the typical sites, the Eiffel Tower, of course,, the Sacre Coeur, the Notre Dame, the Bastille monument, the Seine River and all it's artists, and the Pont Alexandre III bridge, and of course, the Arc de Triomphe, which is such an amazing site as you come into Paris. It was a whirlwind trip I have to say, but I have wonderful memories and pictures of it, and still have my metal souvenirs of most of the sites, right here in my computer room. Decided to take them out a few years back when French things got so popular. they had been packed away for years.
    Thanks for indulging me in this wonderful stroll down memory lane, and many blessings on every
    trip you make back to Paris. These were a lot of really great ideas for those that have more time
    to spend there especially or have been there numerous times.
    Thanks for sharing it, shall look forward to Part 2.

  8. Thank you, Judith! Even if I never get there, visiting them through your blog and their web sites makes me long to see them in person and make some memories!

  9. So happy to have found your blog, as we are planning a European trip very soon. We will only be in Paris for a short time, but we want to see as much as possible. Thank you for sharing!

  10. Sounds fabulous! Thanks for haring at HSH!

  11. Judith!!!! Thank you for these ideas!!! I haven't done most of these, and I'd love to, and... I'm going to Paris again soon! I love visiting the Marais, the streets behind the Champs d'Elysees where the real designer shops are these days, and I pick one or two new museums/site.... And eat/drink/laugh for hours with my friends there, most importantly! And, if you hop over to my blog and leave me a comment, I am going to share, just with you, a special secret place in Paris that I just discovered. It was quite an experience... Till soon! ~ Rose


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