I will just describe the main events, so to speak. I traveled with my 63-year-old mother and 16-year-old niece.
Day 1 - Tuesday
We departed early in the morning (6 am) to Paris so we arrived there almost sleepless. Even though, we went for a stroll in Montmartre, since our hotel was located there. We lunched at Café des 2 Moulins, on Rue Lepic, and I was a bit disappointed: way too loud (the music and some of the people there talking out loud) and lots of tourists coming in just to take pictures!!! The menu wasn't very interesting as well (nor very French I'd say). I ended up with the sensation that the café lacked genuineness, that is, I found it very tourist-oriented (maybe as a consequence of the success of the film "Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain"). Anyway, in our last day in Paris I got back there in the afternoon just to drink a pastis, around 3 pm. It was calmer and I found it quite pleasant. Then we strolled around, we passed by Clos Montmartre, two windmills that are still standing from old Montmartre times, Place du Tertre, Rue Norvins, the Sacré-Coeur and finally we went down to the Boulevard the Clichy to see the Moulin Rouge glittering. We were exhausted, and finally we got back to the hotel.
Day 2 - Wednesday
We got up early and headed immediately to the Tour Eiffel. When we got there, around 9 am, before opening (9.30), and the line to go up was already enormous and got more and more huge as time passed. Overall, we've been about 1 hour and some minutes waiting in line to buy the tickets and pass through security. After opening the line advanced rather fluidly. We went up to the 2nd floor and it was literally PACKED with tourists. It was almost impossible to move around without bumping into someone or get shoved by someone. Terrible experience in comparison to the one I had in May 2013 on a very rainy day, where it only took me 10 minutes to get into the tower and it was nearly just me up there. Anyway, the views are worth of the waiting time, especially the one over the Champ de Mars - very impressive. We then proceeded to the Trocadéro and from there to the Arc de Triomphe (we only admired it from the outside that day, we let the inside and the top to another day). We then took the Avenue des Champs-Elysées and stopped at Ladurée for a café crème and a gateau in the salon the thé. We continued then by Avenue Montaigne just to do some window shopping: the major fashion maisons and flagship stores of Dior, Chanel among others luxury brands are located there. From there we went straight to Les Invalides, passing in our way by La flamme de la liberté and Pont Alexandre III, to visit the Musée de l'Armée and Napoleon's tomb. Thankfully, no lines in there!
Day 3 - Thursday
We spent the day in Versailles (gardens and château). I made a thread about it here: tripadvisor.com/…57621092
Day 4 - Friday
We started off the day visiting Notre Dame. We only visited the interior and did not climb the towers (too many steps). No lines to get into the cathedral at the time we got there. Once inside, a mass was going on, the chants were marvelously beautiful and definitely enhanced the overall experience. At one point I just closed my eyes and focused on the chants. Overall, a very emotional experience. From there we walked to the Sainte-Chapelle (there was a "normal-sized" line, so to speak, to go through security, and we bought a ticket that included as well a visit to the Conciergerie, where Marie Antoinette, among others, were imprisoned during the Revolution. Then we visited the Marché aux Fleurs and went through Île de Saint-Louis until Place de la Bastille, from there to Place des Vosges and finally we wandered around in the narrow streets of the Marais, which I found a very lively and pleasant place to take a walk, with all its boutiques, cafés, shops and fashionable people.
Day 5 - Saturday
The Louvre! As we did the day before for the Tour Eiffel, we got there around 8.30 am and there was already a significant line (Pyramid entrance), but not as big as the one at the Tour Eiffel - yet! After opening at 9 am the line advanced fluidly but the line at that time was like two times bigger than at the time we got there. Once inside, there's lots of ticket booths and vending machines, so it's quick and easy. We visited the Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Italian painters' wings. Da Vinci's Gioconda (Mona Lisa) was surrounded by an immense crowd of avid picture takers of paitings and selfies with the said lady. I don't get their point, but OK. So, to get to the neareast point possible to admire the painting was not a very pleasant experience with all the shoves and jostles (the same, but in a slightly lighter version, applies to the statue of Venus de Milo). My favorite part was the Galerie d'Apollon, which I found more beautiful and impressive than the Galerie des Glaces (in the Château de Versailles). I felt relieved when I finally got out of the Louvre - it was HOT and loud inside (lots of loud teen school groups) - and could breathe again. We headed towards the Jardin des Tuileries and we soaked up the sun and people-watched while sitting on the benches around one of the fountains/lakes over there. Definitely the best moment of the day and so relaxing! Then we headed to Galeries Lafayette, we did some shopping and we went to the rooftop. Amazing views over the Tour Eiffel and the Butte Montmartre from there. And on top of it one can relax on the benches while contemplating this magnificent view of Paris.
Day 6 - Sunday
We headed to Musée d'Orsay before opening. The line was already significant and it just went bigger as time passed. Once inside it's easy, There are plently of ticket booths and no relevant waiting time. I was especially interested in the impressionist gallery and the works of Edgar Degas, and thankfully I was able to leisurely appreciate them. After the museum we went to Saint-Germain-des-Près, stopped and Les Deux Magots, and then visited the Jardin du Luxembourg. We had a good time relaxing there, sitting around the fountain and looking towards the Palais du Luxembourg. The array of colourful flowers and birds flying around us was delightful. I absolutely fell in love with Parisian gardens. We then profited from our Musée d'Orsay tickets to get a discount on the tickets to visit the Palais Garnier (the "old" Ópera). It's a really beautiful building from the outside as well as from the inside and the view from the balcony towards the Avenue de l'Ópera is breathtaking.
Day 7 - Monday
Well, we had planned to visit the Centre Pompidou, but by this time we've had enough of museums, long lines and long waiting times, so we decided to skip it and leave it for another visit. Instead, we went to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and then we went for a walk along the sidewalks that border the Seine to see the city from another perspective. Instead of taking a boat tour, packed with tourists and guides yelling what one can read on books, we did the walk and enjoyed the calmness of the riverbanks, stopping here and there on a bench to relax and to contemplate the buildings, all the bridges and the flowing of the river. It's a pity though that some parts of it are full of locks keys. Anyway, it's a great walk to do in my opinion. We ended the day window shopping in Rue Saint-Honoré, Place Vendôme and buying chocolates at Fauchon's store on Place de la Madeleine.
Day 8 - Tuesday
Montmartre is definitely my favorite place in Paris, so we decided to profit from our last hours in the city in it. We went to Coquelicot buy some food (I ate a delicious croque monsieur) and we ended up luching at Square Rictus, where the "Je t'aime" mural is located, next to Place des Abbesses. We finally headed to CDG airport to come back home, with the certainty of coming back to Paris.
As to security concerns:
- The said "petition girls" are still alive and well. We got approached several times, namely in Tour Eiffel, Arc de Triomphe and Sacré-Coeur. A no and keep walking was enough to deter them.
- We came across a gold ring scammer in one of the quais near Musée d'Orsay. No and keep walking also applies.
- My mother got her bag open by two gypsies inside Charles-de-Gaulle - Étoile métro station, but there was nothing of interest inside of it for them to steal - thankfully.
- In comparison to May 2013, I saw more police patroling near the main tourist sights, as well as the military holding machine guns at Tour Eiffel and some other places - maybe because it was Easter, I don't know.
So, that was it. Looking forward to visit again.