Hypothesis: You can do Paris’s major attractions all in one day. Results: Possibly yes.
8:00AM – 8:30AM | Notre Dame de Paris
There are a ton of Notre Dame’s in the world but only one of them is the Notre Dame de Paris. Coming at 8am might not have been the best idea because the light is super weak and it was hard to see inside the church, but I did beat the line. The coolest part of the church (in my honest opinion) is the front, the inside looks the same as any other cathedral. With only 30 minutes inside and having done a full circle around the cathedral, I think my time was done here.
Since visits to the Cathedral are free, I wouldn’t mind coming back sometime to see the Notre Dame de Paris in the stronger afternoon light.
8:50AM – 11:30AM | The Eiffel Tower
In the spring, the Eiffel Tower doesn’t open until 9:30am but I figured getting there a little early only meant I had a better chance of beating the line. When I got there (note 40 minutes before opening), there was already a 150ish person line forming. We started going through security at 9:00am, I was through security by 9:25am and got my ticket by 9:45am (not bad eh?) Hit the second floor by 9:54am and, because I spent some time wandering the second floor, the summit by 10:30am. Basically, arriving at 8:50 I got up the tower in about an hour after the tower opened that day – which for someone who didn’t have pre-booked tickets and went to a major tourist attraction, was pretty good!
One thing the Eiffel tower does REALLY well (not just the line) is their app. Because they know there will be long queues, there’s a free app that goes over the history of the tower, talks about Gustave Eiffel, and gives some other fun facts/interesting tidbits. So while waiting in line, you can still engage with the Eiffel Tower. However, the numbers for the audio guide aren’t easy to find around the tower, so just listen at your own pace.
I was surprised to learn that:
- The telecommunications industry saved the Eiffel Tower
- Annually, the Eiffel tower elevators travel a distance equivalent to traveling around the world twice!
- The Eiffel Tower is painted THREE gradations of Eiffel Tower brown with the darkest shade on the bottom. It also used to be Venetian red and a more red-brown. Eiffel Tower brown helps the tower blend into the Parisian skyline
If you don’t visit the Eiffel tower for the joys of standing in an extremely long line, go for the views views views
Slightly ahead of schedule I decided to walk to the Museé de l’orangerie. Bless that Paris has such great weather.
12:00PM – 2:30PM | Musee de l’Orangerie
Probably one of my most favorite experiences in Paris! The Musee de l’Orangerie specializes in French impressionism paintings (my favorite style) and was built specifically to house the full panoramas of Monet’s Water Lilies. I tried to take a pano of the room, but nothing compares to being there, completely engulfed by Monet’s work.
One day I want to paint one of the rooms of my future house in the style of Monet, so I can again be surrounded by the cool pastel colors, the wispy brush strokes, the feeling of lightness and air in Monet’s paintings. Of all the art museums I’ve been to, the Musee de l’Orangerie ranks near the top and I highly recommend visiting!
3:30PM – 6:00PM | Macaron Class
Making macarons in Paris… who doesn’t dream of doing that! (or some other baking/cooking class in a major cuisine hub). I booked a Macaron class with Le Foodist (a small business that does other cooking classes and market shopping classes) and I arrived early (Hah!), but the door was locked, which made entering all the more awkward. Our guide took us to the kitchen and after triple checking we washed our hands, we were led to a table with all our ingredients. We were making 4 flavors of Macarons that day: Chocolate, Vanilla, Lemon Curd, and a savory macaron of chives and goat cheese. Everyone paired up and we essentially followed the provided recipe with our guide helping us along the way.
after two hours of hard work… the result is:
Haha well they’re not perfect – our batter was a little undermixed – but they still tasted right. The aesthetics are just a bit off.
Things I enjoyed about this experience with Le Foodist: small classes, hands on, interactive, tasty (though the macarons were definitely too sweet), one of a kind experience. However, it didn’t meet expectations; I did not get the quality I was expecting compared to my wine and cheese class. I wished we talked more about the Macaron and French Baking (history? trends?). I felt that the guide was pretty unwilling to answer questions as she gave me short responses and didn’t bother to elaborate. This was extremely frustrating. Yes I came to learn how to make Macarons, but I could have figured that out in my own kitchen with enough experimentation; it’s the information and experience that I can’t get by myself.
6:30PM – 9:00PM | The Louvre
Everyone’s got to do the Louvre and everyone knows there’s no way to see all of it – so I prepared in advance to only see part of it by downloading these handy museum guides off the Louvre website: one for the “highlights” of the museum, one for the “Da Vinci Code,” and one for epic love stories (ugh I’m such a romantic). I decided to take my chances and NOT buy a ticket for the Louvre because it was free for under 26YOs on Friday evening (aka tonight). I thought if I went late enough, there’d probably be minimal line and I’d get in for free! Because how many people are spending their Friday evenings at a MUSEUM? – Well quite a few actually. The Mona Lisa, and some of the other key works, still had a ginormous crowd around it, but it wasn’t too bad.
A quick explanation of the photos:
- Top Left: Entrance to the Louvre. I would later try to climb onto this and touch the tip like so many other children but I ended up slipping down and missing the tip (the first time I tried) in front of all these children. #embarassing
- Top Right: Sculpture of Diana. This and another with Cupid and Psyche were some of my favorites that night!
- Bottom Left: The two best things to do in the Louvre. Follow a museum guide so you have a personal tour guide and sit on the floor and draw.
- Bottom Right: Crowd around the Mona Lisa around 8:00PM on a Friday night. Apparently clubs aren’t the only packed venues on a Friday evening.
Totally worth my Friday night! My only regret is not buying tickets in advance to see the special Vermeer exhibit which was showing the Milkmaid. I’ve also had a fascination with Vermeer ever since I read Chasing Vermeer as a kid. Ironically I booked tickets for the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam where some of the paintings were on lend from.
I think next time I visit the Louvre, I’ll give it a whole day. There’s so much to be seen!
In conclusion; can Paris be done in one day? I think my recap suggests yes! but definitely not how I recommend doing Paris because I was absolutely exhausted by the end. 😂 So worth though! Especially since I only had one day left and that day was dedicated to Versailles.