January 12, 2018
Trip Report: Two Days Exploring Paris in January
I had a couple days to explore France’s capital after taking a discounted Air Canada Business Class flight from Montreal to Paris and checking into the Le Dokhan’s hotel. I’ve been to Paris too many times to count at this point, well over a dozen. But I decided to visit again since it’s been a very long time since I last explored the city in winter.
The Eiffel was a 15-minute walk from my hotel so I went there first. The weather happened to be absolutely perfect for photography when I arrived. As you get closer you’ll notice a giant perimeter setup around the tower. You must have a ticket to enter the area under the tower or to go up. The last time I was in Paris this was not the case-anyone could take leisurely strolls under the Eiffel. It’s unfortunate that security in Paris has come to this. If you want to go up the tower, make sure you buy tickets ahead of time online. There was a massive line to buy tickets at the entrance, as is typical in France because they consistently understaff ticket counters.
You’ll find the Seine river immediately adjacent to the Eiffel tower. Various bout tours depart from docks all over the river during all hours of the day. You can also find special bout tours with live music or dinner service on board. I’ve haven’t done one of these yet but I’m sure I’ll eventually get around it.
Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is located about a 15-minute walk from the Eiffel tower. It marks the beginning of the famous Champs-Élysées where you can find just about every brand of merchandise you’re looking for. Make sure you purchase a ticket for the Arc de Triomphe online if you want to climb to the top. There was just one agent selling tickets at the counter and a massive line of people waiting in line when I visited.
The Sacre Coeur is a hundred year old church sitting atop a hill in Paris. You can enjoy panorama views of the city from here. The area is full of musicians and artists in warmer months, but they were scarce in January (it was very cold out).
The Sacre Coeur is located on a large hill called Montmartre. As you walk up you’ll find countless small shops throughout the neighborhood. I stumbled onto this little square with Christmas lights still up and artists working their craft.
Deep under the city of Paris you’ll find the Catacombs. This network of old mines and tunnels contains the bones of 6 million Parisians. The Catacombs were built in the 18th century as a result of overcrowding in the city’s cemeteries. They emptied the remains from existing cemeteries and stacked the bones underground.
This was my first time visiting the catacombs and I didn’t really know what to expect. I thought it would just be a couple rooms with bones. It turned out to be many, many tunnels lined from floor to ceiling with bones on each side. It’s definitely worth a visit as I can’t think of anywhere else that has something like this. Again, make sure you purchase tickets online. You don’t want to know how long the line was to buy tickets at the door…
Notre Dame is a medieval Gothic church and is iconic to Paris. It’s worth checking out if you’ve never been there. Entrance is free, and the lines aren’t too bad to get inside-I’m guessing because you don’t have to wait an obnoxious amount of time just to buy a ticket.
Paris had several Christmas markets when I visited. I stumbled across this one near Notre Dame. They sold the typical Christmas goodies, crepes, hot wine, hot chocolate, etc. The whole area was lit up with Christmas lights and I particularly enjoyed this ornament at the entrance.
This is Damien, one of the cheese merchants at the market. He sold me some excellent goat cheese
Chestnuts roasting by the open fire 🙂
The Tuileries Gardens extend from Place de la Concorde to the Louvre museum. It a beautiful spot in the summer full of plant life, open air statues, and wildlife. It wasn’t quite as nice in January since all the leaves were gone, but it’s still worth seeing if you want to go for a stroll.
I walked from Place de la Concorde, down through the Tuileries Gardens, and to the front of the Louvre. You can also take the metro and get off right underneath the Louvre. As always with Paris, buy your tickets online unless you want to spend an hour+ in line. I didn’t go inside this time around as I’ve seen the exhibits before. Just know that the Louvre is massive. This photo doesn’t even encompass all museum’s wings. You won’t be able to see it all in one day even if you walk at a brisk pace. If you’d like to do some shopping instead of looking at artwork, you’ll find a large mall and food court under the Louvre to keep you busy.