Paris is a very chic Seine River town with 37 glorious bridges that help you move between the left and right banks of the River. The Seine River flows from Dijon in the Alps, through Paris, joining the sea at Le Havre on the French coast. The Normandy Beaches, charming Les Andelys, medieval Rouen and the harbor town of Honfleur can be reached via the Seine from Paris. You can even visit the Fécamp Monastery along Normandy’s dramatic Alabaster Coast.
The Seine River has played both a defensive and an economic role in this development of the magnificent and historic city. The river forks in central Paris creating two islands: the Ile de la Cité and the Ile Saint-Louis.
It is the most-visited city in the world. Paris is the capital of France and big decisions are made at the Elysee Palace where the president lives.
Paris has so many exciting sights to see including: the Place de la Concorde Square, Place Vendome, The Opera Garnier, Champs-Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, Trocadero, Invalides, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Montparnesse neighborhood and Place du Chatelet. You can visit the Grand Gallerie at the Jardin des Plantes if you are an animal lover.
There are 500 green spaces to relax and people watch. The Luxembourg Gardens is one of largest open spaces in Paris. Many of the most interesting monuments are illuminated at night and there is a dazzling light show at the Eiffel Tower.
It’s relatively easy and inexpensive to get around using the 380 Metro Stations; so get a 24 hour Ticket Mobilis for unlimited trips. I also recommend the Paris Pass for discounted entry into many of the museums and monuments listed in this post. The pass includes a “Batuaux Parisiens” hour-long cruise on the River. and a pass to the 56th floor of Montparnasse Tower where you can have an incredible Vino con Vista.
Since I love to scope out destinations where you can find a spectacular Vino con Vista, Paris ranks at the top of my list with magnificent chateaux and cathedrals and great public buildings. I like to stroll along either the left or right bank of the Seine because it is flanked by historic cafes and monumental architecture.
France is wine country. Since I am always searching for a Vino con Vista, I’m thrilled that Champagne is produced close to Paris. I found out that there is a winery in Montmartre. The Clos Montmartre is planted on a steep slope, which we know vines and wine-bloggers adore! At Rue des Saules and Rue Saint Vincent, you’ll need to arrange a visit to Clos Montmartre with the Montmartre tourist office near the Dali Museum. The tour is free but you must pay for the tasting. Clos is the oldest working vineyard in Paris. During Fête des Vendanges, the annual harvest festival, the grapes from the Clos are transported to the Montmartre Town Hall to be fermented and bottled into Gamay and Pinot Noir wine.
Check out the Wine Museum and tour the former limestone quarries that were mined between the 13th and 18th centuries to supply Paris with building materials. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Friars of Passy Monastary used the vaulted cellars to store their wine. the extensive collection of wine-related objects (2200) items pays tribute to wine-makers, cellar masters, oenologists and coopers. Dine in the restaurant or try a blind-tasting with the resident expert.
The Seine River has historically been a lucrative trading route and made Paris a prosperous city even in the days of the Roman Empire. Ancient Greeks introduced wine to France and the Romans spread viticulture across the land. The Seine helped the French transport their liquid gold.
Paris has developed continuously between the 16th and 20th centuries and is one of the largest population centers in Europe with 12 million inhabitants.
Paris lies 277 miles from the mouth of the navigable, slow- moving River. On this trip I took a fantastic River Boat cruise on AMA Waterways. Oak Farm Vineyards in Lodi California was well represented on the ship.The wine-maker, Chad Joseph and the owner, Dan Panella offered numerous wine seminars and tastings of their award-winning wines during the cruise.
To learn more about Oak Farm:
AMA offers many Wine Cruises with a dedicated wine host and enriching shore excursions to local wineries and private cellars. Here’s a list of some of the river cruises that I may consider in the future:
Austria’s Wachau Valley
France’s Bordeaux and Cotes du Rhone regions
Portugal’s Port wine country in the Douro Valley
Germany’s Rheingau, Franconia and Moselle regions
Here’s a link to their official site: https://www.amawaterways.com
Paris has many famous landmarks along the Seine River including: Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and the Musée d’Orsay. You can cruise on tour boats or the hop on hop off boats. In the evening, take a tour along the Seine River to witness the “City of Light” and gaze at the illuminated buildings, monuments and bridges of Paris.
In Paris, there are many beautiful bridges that cross the Seine. The oldest bridge is the Pont Neuf which means “new bridge”. It was completed in 1607 under Henry IV. The newest bridge is the Pont Charles de Gaulle that was completed in 1996. The closest metro station is Pont Neuf. I love the elaborate Alexandre III bridge. The Pont Alexandre III is a deck arch bridge that spans the Seine in Paris. It connects the Champs-Élysées quarter with Invalides and Eiffel.
I also love the Statue of Liberty Bridge.
Here are some of my favorite sites in Paris:
- The Avenue des Champs-Elysées (the name refers to the ‘Elysian Fields’ where happy souls dwelt after death according to Greek myth) links the place de la Concorde with the Arc de Triomphe. It is arguably one of the world’s most famous streets and is one of the most expensive strips of real estate in the world. The Avenue has symbolized the style and joie de vivre of Paris since the mid-19th century. Enjoy a three-course meal and a glass of wine at one of the charming cafes overlooking the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysees, .
At the bottom of Avenue des Champs-Elysées, there is an 11.8 ft tall bronze statue depicting General Charles de Gaulle in full military gear. He looks like he is ready to march down the broad avenue to the Arc de Triomphe in a liberated Paris on August 26, 1944.
The Avenue is known for its theaters, cafés, and luxury shops. There is an annual Bastille Day military parade, and it is where the Tour de France cycle race ends. There are plenty of shops, restaurants and hotels.
Throughout history, the Avenue has been the site of military parades. There were victory parades of German troops in 1871 and again in 1940 celebrating the Fall of France on July 14, 1940. These parades were certainly not celebrated by the locals.
2. The Arc de Triomphe was erected by Napoleon in 1806 as a memorial to a great army in 1836. The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile lies at the étoile or “star” of the juncture formed by its twelve radiating avenues. Inspired by the Arch of Titus in Rome, the Arc de Triomphe has an overall height of 164 feet, width of 148 feet, and depth of 72 feet.
There was the Paris victory parade in 1919 marking the end of hostilities in World War I. Buy a ticket and climb to the top for a great view!
3. Centre Georges Pompidou opened in 1977 as a contemporary art museum. The exterior is covered with water pipes, air ducts and electricity vents. Street performers entertain visitors on the square in front of the museum.
The National Museum of Modern Art occupies the top three floors and is the largest museum for modern art in Europe. It was designed in the style of high-tech architecture by the architectural team of Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano, along with Gianfranco Franchini. The project was awarded to this team in an architectural design competition. The results were announced in 1971. The sculpture Horizontal by Alexander Calder was placed in front of the Centre Pompidou in 2012.
4. The French Baroque Les Invalides L’Hôtel national des Invalides: The National Residence of the Invalids and Napoleon’s Tomb is a complex of buildings containing artifacts, arms and armor and monuments related to French military history. There is a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building’s original purpose.
The buildings house the Musée de l’Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d’Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the burial site for some of France’s war heroes, notably Napoleon Bonaparte.
Louis XIV initiated the project by an order dated November 24, 1670, as a home and hospital for aged and unwell soldiers: the name is a shortened form of hôpital des invalides. Shortly after the veterans’ chapel was completed, Louis XIV commissioned Mansart to construct a separate private royal chapel referred to as the Église du Dôme. The domed chapel was finished in 1708.
Because of its location and significance, the Invalides served as the scene for several key events in French history. On July 14, 1789 it was stormed by Parisian rioters who seized the cannons and muskets stored in its cellars to use against the Bastille later that day. Napoleon was entombed under the dome of the Invalides with a monumental ceremony in 1840.
5. Musee du Louvre dates back to the 13th century. It was originally built as a fortress for Philippe Auguste. Remnants of the fortress are visible in the basement of the museum. Due to the urban expansion of the city, the fortress eventually lost its defensive function and in 1546 it was converted by Francis I into the main residence of the French Kings.
The Louvre is the largest palace in the world that has been converted into the world’s largest art museum. There are seven centuries of painting from the 13th century to the 19th century with 400,000 works of art including Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. The most famous works from antiquity include the Seated Scribe, the Jewels of Rameses II, and the arm-less duo of the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the Venus de Milo. From the Renaissance period you can admire Michelangelo’s Slaves, Mona Lisa and works by Raphael, Botticelli, and Titian. French masterpieces of the 19th century include Ingres’ La Grande Odalisque, Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa, and the work of David and Delacroix.
The collection was increased under Napoleon and the museum was renamed Musée Napoléon. After Napoleon’s abdication, many of the works that were seized by his armies were returned to their original owners. The collection was further increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X.6. The Louve Pyramid is amazing.
Architect I. M. Pei was awarded the project and proposed a glass pyramid to stand over a new entrance in the main court, the Cour Napoléon.
Make sure you get tickets before you go to the Louvre to avoid waiting in very long lines!
7. Tour Eiffel : On Quai Branly, face au Pont D’Iena, you will find a magnificent iron lattice tower that was built by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 World Fair. It was held to commemorate the centennial of the Revolution.
The Eiffel Tower was the world’s tallest structure at 1,050 feet until Manhattan’s Chrysler Building was completed. Initially opposed by Paris’ artistic and literary elite, the Eiffel Tower was almost torn down in 1909. The tower’s salvation came when it proved an ideal platform for the antennas needed for the new science of radiotelegraphy. Today, the highlight of a visit are the amazing views over Paris. The Eiffel Tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world and 6.91 million people ascended it in 2015. The tower has three levels for visitors, with restaurants on the first and second levels. You can get to the top by elevator or climb 704 steps to the 2nd level.
8. Notre Dame “Our Lady of Paris“: En face du 25 rue d’Arcole
If Paris has a heart, then this is it. The cathedral of Notre Dame stands at the tip of the Ile de la Cite and was started in 1163. It is a masterpiece of French Gothic architecture. It has been a Catholic Parisian ceremonial focal point for seven centuries and served as the coronation headquarters for Napoleon I and Pope Pius VII. The cathedral treasury contains a reliquary, which houses some of Catholicism’s most important relics, including the purported Crown of Thorns, a fragment of the True Cross, and one of the Holy Nails. The crown of thorns were originally at Sainte-Chapelle.
There are a trio of main entrances that are each shaped differently. Above the arches there are ornate statues called The Gallery of the Kings; the 28 statues represent the kings of Israel and Judaea. You can climb 387 steps of the north tower for a spectacular view of Paris. This will bring you to the top of the west facade and face to face with many of the cathedral’s most frightening gargoyles.
Notre Dame is located on the Ile de la Cité, an island in the middle of the Seine River. It is close to many of the main attractions of Paris and is easily reached by foot. You can also take the metro line 4 to Cité.
9. Musée d’Orsay has an incredible collection of Impressionist art in a beautiful Beaux-Arts train station that has been converted into a museum.
The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography.
It houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world, by painters including Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin, and Van Gogh. Many of these works were held at the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume prior to the museum’s opening in 1986. It is one of the largest art museums in Europe.
10. Montmartre is a large hill in Paris’s 18th arrondissement. It is 430 feet high and gives its name to the surrounding district. Montmartre has been a setting for several hit movies so you can get tickets for the “Movie Tour”.
The area has a nightclub district and the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret that inspired Toulouse-Lautrec’s distinctive style of painting.
At the top of Montmartre, visit the glorious Sacré-Cœur Basilica. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. The basilica is located at the summit of the butteMontmartre, the highest point in the city.
Sacré-Cœur is a double monument, political and cultural, both a national penance for the defeat of France in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War and the socialist Paris Commune of 1871. The basilica was designed by Paul Abadie. Construction began in 1875 and was completed in 1914. The basilica was consecrated after the end of World War I in 1919. Climb 234 steps up a narrow spiral staircase to the dome where you can obtain one of Paris’ most spectacular panoramas. Instead of walking up the hill, take the tram. I learned that lesson the hard way!
Many artists had studios or worked in or around Montmartre, including Amedeo Modigliani, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Suzanne Valadon, Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro, and Vincent van Gogh. I like the Salvador Dali Museum (Espace Dali) at Montmartre. Espace Dali presents the only permanent exhibition in France devoted to the master of Surrealism with 300 works of art including: melted clocks, Alice in Wonderland, Romeo and Juliet and the Mae West Lips Sofa.
Montmartre is primarily known for its artistic history and the white-domed Basilica. There is also an church on the hill, Saint Pierre de Montmartre. This is where the Jesuit order of priests was founded.
11. Sainte Chapelle was built for Louis IX to contain the relic of the crown of thorns, one of the most important relics in medieval Christendom. This exquisite Gothic Holy Chapel was built around 1238 and consecrated on April 26, 1248.
Sainte-Chapelle is considered among the highest achievements of the Rayonnant period of Gothic architecture. Climb the spiral staircase to the upper chapel. On each pillar, there is a 14th century statue of an Apostle. The magnificent 13th century stained glass windows contain 1134 scenes.
12. Get a combined ticket in advance for the Chapel and the Consiergerie to avoid long lines. The Consiergerie was a gothic Palace of the medieval French Kings.
It became one of the principle places of detention during the French Revolution and Marie Antoinette was the most famous prisoner.
13. Saint-Germain-des-Prés is one of the four administrative quarters of the 6th arrondissement of Paris. It is located around the oldest church in Paris, the former Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Visit the Saint Germain des Pres Church and Abbey. Here are some important facts about this Church:
Saint Germain des Pres is one of the oldest Romanesque churches in France.
King Childebert I founded the abbey in 558AD. He built Saint-Vincent-Sainte-Croix Basilica, as the abbey church was then called, on the ruins of a Roman temple. Its initial purpose was to shelter a piece of the True Cross and Tunic of Saint-Vincent, (the Patron Saint of Wine-growers) that the king brought back from Spain.
The first bishop, Germanus, dedicated the basilica on December 23, 558AD, the very same day Childebert died. The abbey was renamed Saint-Germain in 754AD in order to pay tribute to the bishop, who was buried in the chancel. It became known as Saint-Germain-des-Prés in order to differentiate it from Saint-Germain-le-Vieux on the Ile de la Cité.
All Merovingian kings were buried in the church until the 7th century, when Dagobert I founded the Abbey of Saint-Denis in the north of Paris. The Normans destroyed the abbey when they besieged Paris in 885-886AD.
The residents of the this part of Paris are known as Germanopratins. The quarter has several famous cafés, including Les Deux Magots, Café de Flore, le Procope, and the Brasserie Lipp. For a spectacular Vino con Vista, sit at Les Deux Magots at 6 place Saint-Germain-des-Pres and gaze at the oldest church in Paris.
Some of the other interesting attractions in this neighborhood include: the École des Beaux-Arts, the famed school of fine arts, and the Musée national Eugène Delacroix, in the former apartment and studio of painter Eugène Delacroix.
14. Where to stay: My absolute favorite hotel in Paris is the Four Seasons Hotel George V. This art-deco landmark was built in 1928 and is nestled in the Golden Triangle of Paris, just off the historic Champs-Elysees. It is considered one of the most prestigious hotels in Paris and even one of the most luxurious in the world! Find three of the best restaurants in Paris under one roof.
For a special treat, use your points for an oversized suites with Eiffel Tower views. This is Paris’ finest dining destination! where you can indulge in some of the finest restaurants in Paris! There are three restaurants that have collected a total of five Michelin stars among them: Le Cinq, Le George and L’Orangerie. Check out the intimate bars and legendary wine cellar.
“The third Michelin star for Le Cinq for the second consecutive year rewards the very essence of today’s cuisine. We strive to continuously evolve our style and techniques to instill an emotional connection with our guests.” Christian Le Squer Chef, Le Cinq
There is an amazing new spa, an elegant swimming pool and a courtyard for your Vino con Vista. Order some amazing wine from their wine cellar.
Here’s the link For the hotel: https://www.fourseasons.com/paris/
For this trip, I used my points for a Junior Suite at the magnificent Marriott on the Champs-Elysees.
Meet me at Cafe Fouquet’s on the Champs-Elysees where I’ll be blogging from this historic destination at www.vinoconvistablog.me
Do you need some restaurant reservations?