A week in Paris: Champs-Elysees, Louvre, La Défense

September 13, 2013

My week in Paris was spent living in the suburbs, in Sèvres. I was staying at my Uncle's house, but I had the opportunity to pop into the centre of Paris on a few different occasions. The first morning I woke up to the beautiful Parisian skyline and watched the sun radiate a warm good morning to all of its citizens.

I can certainly think of worse ways to start my day; the only problem was trying to convince myself that it wasn't all my day was going to consist of!

Having dragged myself out of bed I got myself ready, got my things together, armed myself with a map, and began my mission to tackle the tourist sites of Paris. I started off with the obvious destinations and took the metro to The Champs-Elysees. I walked up from the metro station, followed the stairs towards the signs indicating 'sortie'. As the sunlight soaked the exit, I walked a couple of paces before being faced with the imposing Arc de Triomphe. It's safe to say I didn't have trouble finding my first destination, and nor had all the other tourists. Predictably busy, I didn't choose to enter into the museum, but walked around it admiring the arch, and its intricate design, nonetheless.

After observing my surroundings I followed the avenue of the Champs- Elysees. It was bizarre seeing these famous monuments and tourist attractions for the first time in the flesh having seen them so many times in photos. The amazing thing I found about Paris is how easily accessible and navigable everything is. Following the avenue introduced me to so many museums and buildings along the way. Every few steps I felt as if I was consulting my map to work out what the grand buildings were that I could see in all directions. 

Eventually, after a few diversions on the way, I arrived at the Tuileries Gardens. 
It wasn't long before I recognised the famous Louvre and its older buildings that surround it.

It was a wonderfully sunny day so I made the most of it sitting by the fountains whilst having some lunch, soaking up the atmosphere, and admiring the wonderful view in every direction. That's another thing about Paris, it almost seems like it was designed with the greatest amount of foresight and the most efficient and thorough planning officers; I never looked up, crossed the street, or walked round a corner to be hit with an aesthetic anomaly.

After my first sample of Paris' delicious lunch, and perhaps a little ice cream, I consulted my map once more. I decided to explore a slightly different area that I hadn't heard much about. La Défense is the business district of Paris and probably the equivalent to Canary Wharf. It, too, has impressive modern architecture, but not solely new...

The fountains were beautiful, but one of my favourite things about La Défense was the view. I find it incredible how Paris is essentially built around one long avenue, (Champs-Elysees.) The symmetry is really impressive; when standing by the arch in this financial district you can see the Arc de Triomphe. The same applies from the other direction, if you stand behind the Louvre you can see the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and the Arc de Triomphe. The way that old and new have been seamlessly incorporated was something that I very much admired.

And I left it at that for my first day of exploring Paris. 
Part 2 to follow, and my first post exploring Versailles is linked here.

Have you been to Paris? Did you visit all of the popular tourist attractions, or did you find some other areas off the beaten track?

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