The first day of vacation is usually difficult, especially if a long plane flight is involved. On my trip to Paris, I started it with a late night flight from Newark, NJ that flew all through the night and landed early the next morning in Paris. This meant that I had a total of two hours of sleep on the plane and a full day ahead of me.
Running on two hours of sleep in roughly 30 hours, I was finding it difficult to be excited at my first view of the Eiffel Tower. However, it was hard not to be impressed when I spotted it from atop the Arc de Triomphe and saw the larger-than-life structure dwarfing the buildings surrounding it.
There are many famous places to visit in Paris. Naturally everyone will want to visit the Eiffel Tower, then there’s the Louvre and Notre Dame — although not everyone will agree to climb to the top of Notre Dame with its nearly 400 narrow, steep, circular stairs.
The view from Notre Dame — if you do decide to make the arduous climb — is wonderful. In the distance you can see the white dome of Sacre Coeur at the top of Montmarte. If you take a walk around you’ll find the hunchback’s bell, and if you’re legs can still carry you, there’s yet another flight of stairs so narrow that people can’t be going up while other come down.
But the more beautiful parts of Paris were the less populated ones. By crossing the River Seine from Notre Dame you'll arrive at the Latin Quarter on the left bank.
Just steps away from the cathedral, in Paris’ Latin Quarter, is the famous Shakespeare and Company bookshop. Although not the original one, which closed during WWII, this store was known for being a base for many of the Beat writers.
There are plenty of people by Sacre Coeur, but the streets of surrounding it in the Montmartre district are less busy and beautiful. To the left of Sacre Coeur is a market with various artists peddling their paintings of Parisian landscapes. We bought a lovely piece from an older man in a chapeau who was willing to let us talk him down a bit on the price. And if you continue to walk downhill you’ll hit the main street where Moulin Rouge sits.
As you might imagine, Paris is replete will art museums, but once you get tired of looking at paintings and sculptures, you can always take a visit to the Army Museum (Musee d'le Armee), which is right next to Napoleon's surprisingly large tomb (you can see how small the people at the top of the picture are in comparison).
And outside of the city limits is another hotspot: Disneyland Paris. While it’s not as grand as, say, Disney World, it was worth it just to see the differences between the Paris park and its American counterparts: not only are there some different rides, but this castle is pink.