With only 8 hours to explore as much of Paris as possible before seeing Jimmy Buffett preform at La Cigale, we begin with a 60 minute Vedettes de Paris Sightseeing Cruise on the Seine River. For 15€ per person, we enjoy a glass of champagne while seeing the highlights of Paris with an English speaking guide.
Notre Dame Cathedral
- We sip champagne as we float by Notre Dame, the most famous Gothic cathedral of the Middle Ages, constructed from the ruins of two churches. Rising from a stone foundation, this architectural landmark with stained glass windows, gargoyles, and ornate steeples took 2 centuries to complete. Visitors can climb the North tower of the Notre Dame Cathedral for a panoramic view of Paris.
Point Alexandre III
- Point Alexandre III, the most extravagant bridge in Paris, connects the Champs-Elysées and the Eiffel Tower. The bridge is adorned with lampposts and sculptures of cherubs, lions, cupids, maidens, water spirits, fish, sea monsters, and nymphs, each created by a different artist.
- The bridge symbolizes the new relationship between France and Russia owed to Tsar Alexandre III. Each of the pillars is topped with a statue representing a different era in France: King Charlemagne, the Renaissance, King Louis XIV, and the modern era.
- Originally constructed as a train station, the Musee d’Orsay is one of the world’s most visited museums. Here, the largest collection of paintings, sculptures, designs, and photography of the modern era can be viewed among the three floors.
- The Louvre is one of the world’s most popular and largest art museums. Reaching almost 2 miles in length, over 30,000 works of art are on display and over 400 more are in storage. The Louvre was originally build as a fortress, later transformed into a royal castle, and finally developed into the famous art museum it is today.
Institut de France
- Formerly the College des Quatre-Nations, the Institut de France holds the largest public library in France. There is a sundial located on the chapel wall.
- The Conciergerie, originally one of the grandest castles, was transformed into an administrative building when its resident relocated to the Louvre. In the late 1300’s, the castle was converted into a prison. During the French Revolution, the building became known as the last stop for prisoners before execution. No longer operating as a prison, the Conciergerie became a national monument open to the public in the early nineteen hundreds. Visitors can peak into the prisoners’ cells including the final holding place of Marie Antoinette.
- The National Assembly Building, also known as Palais Bourbon, houses the French parliament 3 days a week.
- Attracting over 7,000,000 visitors every year, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most famous landmarks in the world. Constructed for the World’s Fair in 1889, the Eiffel Tower was the world’s tallest building for 41 years.
- Once, visitors could climb the 1,665 stairs to the top of the tower. Now, an elevator takes passengers to a champagne bar on the top floor. Every 7 years the tower is repainted.
Arc de Triomphe
After the cruise, we walk down the world’s most famous shopping avenue, Champs Elyseés, meaning Elysian fields. The avenue runs directly from the Louvre into the Arc de Triomphe on avenue del la Grande Armee.
- At the beginning of the Champs-Elysees, is the Arche de Triomphe. The arch was built in the early 1800’s as a monument for those who fought in the Grande Army for France. At the base lies the tomb of the unknown soldier.
Place de la Concorde
- At the end of Champs-Elysees is Place de la Concorde. Formerly known as an execution site, the square is now famous for the gift from the Egyptians. The pink granite Luxor Obelisk was built in the early 1800’s. Framing the pillar are 2 identical fountains created from bronze and cast iron, Fontaine des Mers and Fountaine des Fleuves.
Jimmy Buffett at La Cigale
- Originally a concert hall and café, La Cigale opened in 1887. Closing twice for renovations, the concert venue has remained open since the 1980’s expanding its performances to comedy and fashion shows.
Eiffel Tower at Night
After the concert, we take the metro to view the Eiffel Tower at night.
- 5,000,000,000 bulbs light up the Eiffel Tower at night. From sunset until 1:00am, the lights sparkle for five minutes every hour. Taking photos of the Eiffel Tower at night is actually illegal, violating the artist’s copyright. However, taking photos during the day or from the top of the tower at night is legal.
The exhaustion on the journey home the next day was worth every minute we stood in front of the sparkling tower. Au revoir, Paris!