Top 10 Things To Do In Paris

Paris, France is one of the most fabulous cities in the world. Here are a few ideas of things to do there.

1. Eat a fresh, warm eclair right from the oven on your way to the Metro. The Paris Metro (the subway) is among the world's oldest, but still one of the best. No building in Paris is more than 500 yards from a Metro stop. So, wherever you stay in the city, you can get anywhere without ever getting in a car.

So get up, shower, have a croissant at l'hotel and then head out for the Metro. On the way, you absolutely must stop at a patisserie (pastry shop) and have an eclair right from the oven. It's a taste you will never regret or forget!

Then, on the Metro, you can go anywhere in Paris. While in the car, you can say things like Pre St-Gervais and Noisy-le-Sec. If you're from anywhere in the world that doesn't have a subway, you may find the Metro one of the highlights of your trip to Paris. Oh, and be sure to stop at a train station - other than Gare du Nord, which on a good day is a tad seedy - and have a latte. The have the best lattes in the world - or maybe it's just the ambiance.

2. Have French Onion Soup while reading Gaston Leroux in the shadow of the Paris Opera House. Don't count on it being the BEST french onion soup you've ever had - might even be the worst but it's worth the story you have to tell to friends back home. When lunch is over, you can mosey on down to l'Opera (called Opera Garnier) for a look.

Building on this masterpiece was completed in 1875 after nearly twenty years. It was designed by Charles Garnier after he entered and won a competition to design the building. His design reflects the years he spent in the Academy in Rome. This building inspired Leroux to write the Phantom of the Opera in 1911. It is indeed built above an underground lake, which made the perfect home for this fascinating character.

3. Buy a rosary, light a candle at Notre Dame. Even if you aren't Catholic, pick up a rosary from Our Lady of Paris and give it to a Catholic friend. The cathedral of Notre Dame is one of the world's greatest examples of Gothic architecture, complete with gargoyles. Building was started in 1163 and continued for nearly two hundred years. Notice the three main entrances, all shaped differently. Walk around the entire building and then take a look at it from a distance. Don't miss seeing the enormous rose windows inside. See them at night from outside.

If you're up to it, climb the practically straight-up steps 223 feet to the top of the west facade and look out over Hugo's gargoyles and the city itself.

Check out the spot on the far end of the Place du Parvis, where a bronze plaque marks Kilometre Zero. From this spot in front of the cathedral, all distances to all parts of France are calculated.

4. Look for the Highlander's houseboat along the Seine. Once you've walked along the Seine and seen the houseboats with the cathedral in the background, you'll always smile when you see Duncan MacLeod's boat on the Seine. Walking along the Seine, day or night is an experience you won't soon forget: artists painting, vendors selling books, tiny Left Bank bistros, watching the sun set over Notre Dame.

5. Try to make the gendarme smile at the Louvre. A trip to Paris wouldn't be complete without a stop at the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. The gendarme there rival London's palace guards for friendliness and helpfulness. There is no dotted line to follow to find the Mona Lisa and asking "Ou est le Mona Lisa" won't even earn you a smile. But once you find her, you'll be impressively unimpressed. She's really rather anticlimactic but you'll be able to say you've seen her. Don't forget to look for the spot where Saunierre died.

6. Look for lingerie on the sidewalks in Pigalle. Don't miss a trip to the Paris red light district. There, you'll see the Moulon Rouge with its famous windmill and you can even take in a cabaret. If you find red panties on the sidewalk, you might not want to pick them up. But Pigalle is not just about peep shows and strip clubs. This Montmartre neighborhood, while known for its more risque qualities, was also home to Toulouse Lautrec's studio. Picasso also lived here at one time and you can see the art of Salvador Dali.

7. Hear the guard's footsteps on the marble at Place Charles de Gaulle. Visit the Arc de Triomphe early in the morning and stop and listen to the solitary guard's footsteps on the marble. You'll have to get there before the traffic though, but it will be worth it. The Arc is the center of the most amazing traffic roundabout and crossing to the arch has been termed vehicular roulette. There is tunnel access to the arch - use it.

The Arc de Triomphe is the largest triumphal arch in the world, though you'd expect one larger in Rome. Napoleon passed under this arch. Victor Hugo's coffin was placed here for public tribute. And after the humiliation of Nazi storm troopers passing beneath this arch, it was also the spot of great jubilation as the liberation parade passed. If you can get there while it's still quiet, the guard's footstep may not be the only ones you hear.

8. Then, stroll east down the Champs-Elysées and look for posters from home in the travel agents' windows.

Walk all the way down Paris's main boulevard, until you reach the Egyptian obelisk at Place de la Concorde, and reflect on those who lost their heads on the guillotine there - Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette, and Robespierre.

The Champs-Elysées is probably one of the most famous promenade in the world. Here you will find everything from Yves Rocher to Planet Hollywood. From the Virgin Megastore and Disney store to Lido and Sephora. This is where Parisians come to celebrate New Years Eve and the street comes alive with the Tour de France.

9. Feed the birds in Champ de Mars at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. You must see la Tour Eiffel. It is of course the most recognizable monument in all of Paris and can be seen miles from the city. Go up in the elevator for a fabulous view of the city - or walk up if you want bragging rights. The tower is 1,040 feet high.

See it lit up at night and, if you have your significant other with you, kiss in the bushes.

10. Get lost. The very best way to see Paris is to just get lost there. Get off the Metro at random spots and wander the side streets. Remember, you'll never be far from a Metro stop and a way back to where you started. But you'll see things that aren't in the books and brochures. Savor the flavors of this fabulous city.

Bon Voyage.

© High Speed Ventures 2011