Carousel du Lourve
Most notable for its big glass pyramids and feature spot in The Davinci Code movie, it also plays host to a bunch of historic pieces like the Mona Lisa but personally the pyramids were the highlight for me, looking almost alien against the late setting sun. It also seemed like my work is never done being roped into doing group shot photos for a class of excursioning school students!
Arc de Triomphe
All roads may lead to Rome but in Paris it seems like they all lead to the Arc’. With 12 roads firing towards one helluva roundabout it makes the Normanby 5 ways look like a Macca’s drive-thru. Of course there’s also all the chaos and flinching that would come with no lane markings and European drivers.
Photo tip: For best photos and viewing of the Arc’ (and the crazy traffic), its better to get off a stop before Charles de Gaulle-Etoile eg. George V – especially late in the afternoon to get a nice glow on it from the sunset.
Even with the hours in the day dwindling, the good thing about those long upper Northern hemisphere days is everything stays open late, especially round tourist spots. Daylight till long after 10pm also gives you a little sense of security and a little more confidence when wandering to and from metro stops but do still keep your wits about you, places like the Eiffel Tower are notorious for thieves and scammers.
Travel tip: As always, keep all belongings on you or in your hands at all times. If you have to put something down like a handbag or backpack, stand one foot in the straps or stand on it if it’s a shopping bag or put it between your legs, this includes when you’re sitting down. At the very least this will slow them down if they try to swipe it. Thankfully it hasn’t happen to us but better to be safe than sorry right?
To top it off, this of course is Paris’ biggest and most famous landmark, it is a very bright candle for the tourist moths so there wont really be a time when the place is empty (even early in the morning) for you to have some picnic blanket time with your “main squeeze”. Different times of the day you may get less hawkers but in general be prepared to be bothered by at least 10 times in an hour by people trying to sell you stuff like cheap/rebottled warm champagne, wilted roses or take you on a “tour”. Another problem is the line to go up the tower… well the line for the tickets THEN the line for the tower. “9-11″ style security exists here as well so be prepared for at least an hour of standing around. Even late at night the line was still snaking its way around the base of the tower. The couple food stores also had quite long lines. Prices are inflated with the usual tourist tax and you get your choice of baguette or… baguette. Ingredients were however fresh and it made for easy eating on the grass areas. If these few factors haven’t deterred you too much then its certainly worth it come 10pm when the tower lights up like a Christmas tree and “twinkles” against the sunset.
Photo tip: Check local guides for sunrise/sunset times as you will find sunset is around 10-10.30pm in May.
Sainte Chapelle church
Don’t know much about churches but love the architecture and massive stained glass windows then this is the place for you. Sainte Chapelle has the largest collection of 13th century stained glass anywhere in the world. Even with the on going restorations, 95% of the place is accessible and viewable. Getting in early is again the key as the lines form quickly as you compete with other tourists and school excursions. The downstairs section and entrance may seem a little lack lustre till you climb the narrow spiral staircase to enter the upper chapel…. And whoa, you can almost hear the angels singing. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. Being essentially “just” a room, a budget of an hour or 2 will be more than enough time here.
Travel tip: The #4 Metro line will get you to the Cite’ stop with no problems, then its just a short walk. Entry fee is E7.50 Euros. Check the website for opening times as these vary through out the year.
Next up we pretend we have a platinum card, impractical taste in clothes and head to the shops!