Things to do in Paris in 6 days. Visiting the Palace of Versailles. Museums of Paris. Catacombs of Paris.
04 February 2022
What is this page about
Paris is a city you must visit at least once in your life. Paris is a dream city of many people, and for a reason – this beautiful city is worth seeing and remembering it for a lifetime.
However, despite an excitement you probably will feel before going to Paris for the first time, you have to bear in mind some basic safety factors to consider, because Paris is no longer what it used to be. Paris is considered a safe city to visit, but I would recommend:
– Before reserving a hotel, read reviews about the area where the hotel is located. I always book through Booking.com as I trust this resource and reviews left by its clients. Thanks to reviews, I shortlisted several hotels, and our choice fell on an apart hotel in a good area, about 4 km from the center, but close to a metro station.
– The backpack is always in front of you, as elsewhere, since pickpockets are always present.
– Metro is a very convenient way to move around the city, but the Parisian metro doesn´t create a very pleasant impression, it´s dirty, and most of the trains are old, people there don´t cause much confidence, but, in general, nothing criminal happens.
We went to Paris for 6 not full days in 2019, and it wasn´t enough, you will need at least one week to see the most significant places.
Recommendations for visiting museums and cultural sites:
- Better to buy tickets in advance online and skip the line tickets if possible, Paris is a highly visited city (this is not a secret to anyone) and you will save time in order to see more places..
Notre-Dame de Paris
Notre-Dame de Paris is a Gothic-style Catholic cathedral and one of the most significant sights of Paris. It is located on an island on the River Seine. After a fire that took place in 2019, the cathedral is temporarily closed to the public.
- The construction of the cathedral began in 1163 and was completed in 1345. The cathedral was being often reconstructed over the centuries due to renovation needs and evolution of people´s taste.
- In the 1790s, after the French Revolution, Notre-Dame de Paris was desecrated and suffered from theft and dispersal of many of its valuable religious objects. The cathedral was used as a warehouse until in 1802, thanks to Napoleon Bonaparte, it received its status of Catholic Church.
- Thanks to the novel of Victor Hugo in 1831 “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame”, the cathedral caused much public interest.
- According to official versions, the fire of 2019 could have been caused by negligence during the repair works. The cause of the fire is the subject of an ongoing investigation.
The Orsay Museum is one of the most recommended museums in Paris. Unfortunately, we didn´t have time for visiting the museum, but the second time we will not miss it for sure! The museum contains the largest collection of works of art of the XIX-XX centuries.
The Institute of France
The Institute of France is a magnificent baroque style building that contains 5 French academies and the Manzarini library.
Tuileries Gardens are must-see gardens in Paris, as they combine several city’s attractions: the Place de la Concorde, the triumphal arch of the Carousel and, finally, the Louvre.
In old times, balls and luxurious parties for upper class members were held in the Tuileries Gardens , the gardens were surrounded by high walls that protected the privacy of aristocrats.
Les Invalides is an architectural complex originally created as a royal residence for retired French soldiers and officers. This complex contains the Museum of the Army, the Museum of the Order of the Liberation, the Museum of Plans and Reliefs and, the most important, the mausoleum with remains of Napoleon Bonaparte, several generals and family members of Napoleon. If you have enough time, I think you should definitely visit the Les Invalides in Paris.
Probably, everyone is dreaming about visiting the Eiffel Tower. Everyone wants to take a photo of it and with it, and it is likely the most photographed object in Paris. But what do we know about the Eiffel Tower?
- The tower was designed by Gustave Eiffel, from whom it received its name.
- The tower is made from wrought iron, which is treated with a special solution every 7 years (according to instructions Gustave Eiffel) to avoid rust.
- The Eiffel Tower was built to be one of the main attractions of the World Exhibition in Paris in 1889.
- The Eiffel Tower is 324 meters high and it is visible from all over Paris, day and night until 1 am, thanks to its lighting installations and a lighthouse with a range of 80 km.
- In the XX century, with beginning of wars, the city authorities used the tower as a broadcasting antenna to intercept messages with its help.
- The Eiffel Tower is currently the most visited monument in the world with over 7 million visitors every year.
Some people think that lifting the tower is a must if you’re in Paris, but I don’t think so. It offers a beautiful view of the city, which can be admired from many spots of Paris. More beautiful view opens up to the tower itself. It is simply spectacular, especially at night.
You can lift the tower on foot and by elevator, but you can only walk up to the second floor (1665 steps), and then take the elevator. The price in this case will be slightly lower. Prices vary depending on the floor you want to go up to. Tickets can be purchased, for example, on the official website.
- The Basilica Sacré-Coeur in Paris is a Roman Catholic Church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The building is located on the Montmartre hill, which is considered the highest point of the city.
- The Sacré Coeur is a political and cultural monument created as a national punishment for a rebellion that took place in Paris in 1871.
- The construction of the basilica took place between 1875 and 1914, although the building was officially completed in 1923.
- Its architectural style is a result of inspiration from both Romanesque and Byzantine architecture.
- The ceiling of the church is decorated with the largest mosaic in France, covering an area of 473.78 m². This mosaic represents the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
- There is the largest bell in France called “Savoyard” inside the basilica, with a diameter of 3 meters and a weight of 18,835 kg.
Entrance to the basilica is free, you can also lift the dome by walking 300 steps. You can reach the church by funicular or on foot.
After visiting the basilica, you can walk to the wall of love, where thousands of couples are taking pictures. It is written “I love you” in all languages on the wall. Next, we follow to the legendary Moulin Rouge.
- The Moulin Rouge cabaret was founded in 1889. Due to its location in a trendy district, the cabaret quickly became famous, inspiring world-famous artists. In the early years of its existence, a lot of parties were held in the Moulin Rouge, where famous dancers performed. At that time, the famous band that we know as “French Cancan” was born.
- After the fire of 1915 that destroyed the Moulin Rouge, the cabaret was restored only 10 years later. At that time, the actress, singer and dancer Mistinguett became the co-director of the cabaret.
- During the World War II, the theater was transformed into a dance club. The cabaret lost all its splendor, despite the performance of Edith Piaf and Yves Montand in 1944.
- In the 1950s, the Moulin Rouge was renovated. Georges France, who led the work, opened a new cabaret in 1951 in the presence of the President of the French Republic, Vincent Auriol.
Where to eat in Paris
We also had lunch in this area in a restaurant chosen randomly, called La Crémaillère 1900. What can I say about restaurants in Paris? Wherever and whatever we ate, we liked the food everywhere. It seems like the French people have it in their blood – they can cook a masterpiece even from simplest ingredients and it will taste like the most delicious thing you have eaten in your life. We were eating two hours and enjoyed every bite. I recommend you to take different menus, each has three courses, including dessert. That way you will try all French dishes. We took two menus (17 and 27 euros) and tried 6 courses. The frog legs and snails in garlic were simply delicious! Bourguignon beef and duck confit – no words.
The Opéra Garnier, also known as the Palais Garnier or the Paris Opera, is one of the most significant buildings located in the 9th district of Paris. Napoleon III ordered its construction to the architect Charles Garnier, who designed it in the Second Empire or Napoleon III style.
Since its opening in 1875, the opera house has been officially known as the National Academy of Music or Opera House. In 1978 it was renamed the National Theater of the Paris Opera.
This majestic building is imperially beautiful outside and especially inside. If you have time, I recommend you to visit the opera. The Opéra Garnier offers tours for different occasions:
– Self-guided tour with audio guide for 14 euros
– Guided tour for 18.50 euros
– Free online tour through the Google Arts & Culture platform.
Catacombs of Paris
On the third day we went to visit the famous catacombs of Paris. This place doesn´t attract everyone as many are simply afraid to go down there, it seems so ominous and with reason, as we are talking about a cemetery where bodies of 6 million people are piled on top of each other bone to bone, skull to skull! The tunnels of the catacombs are 300 km long, but the route open to public is only about 1,5 km. You know, visit Paris and not to visit the catacombs … We just couldn´t miss it.
When we were there in 2019, we had to queue for 4 hours (but it was worth it)! Please buy tickets in advance, for example here, the tour per person will cost you 29 euros. By the way, they also offer 40 minutes online tours for only 5 euros. So how and why did the catacombs of Paris appear?
There were serious public health problems associated with city cemeteries at the end of XVIII century, thus the city authorities decided to relocate bodies deep underground. They chose an easily accessible place, which at that time was outside the city: former quarries under the plains of Montrouge. The first evacuations of bodies were made from 1785 to 1787 from the largest cemetery in Paris, the cemetery of the Holy Innocents.
The new burial site was consecrated as “Paris Municipal Crypt” on April 7, 1786, and received a mystical name “Catacombs” following the Roman catacombs that fascinated the public since their discovery. In 1809 the catacombs were open to the public by appointment.
During World War II, the catacombs´ tunnel system was used by Parisian members of the French resistance, and German soldiers set up an underground bunker in the catacombs under the Lycée Montaigne in the 6th district.
The catacombs of Paris have been mentioned in many novels, films and even computer games, for example:
– Disney cartoon “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”
– Games: Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed: Unity
– Wells Robison’s novel “The Counterfeit “, etc.
After the catacombs, you can move forward to the Luxembourg Gardens and the palace, and then to the Pantheon.
Inspired by spirit of mausoleums, we went to the Pantheon to “visit” the great people of France.
The Pantheon in Paris is a mausoleum of the XVIII century, the tomb of the eminent persons of France.
The Pantheon of Paris was built between 1758 and 1790 by order of King Louis XV. It was originally designed as church, but Louis XV did not live until completion of the church.
By the time the building was completed, the French Revolution had begun, and the National Constituent Assembly voted in 1791 to transform the church into a mausoleum for remains of eminent French citizens, based on model of the Pantheon in Rome.
The Pantheon was returned twice for church use during the XIX century, until the French Third Republic finally decreed in 1881 that the building be used exclusively as a mausoleum.
By December 2021, remains of 81 people (75 men and six women) were in the Pantheon. The most recent (November 2021) was placed Josephine Baker, an American-French dancer, singer and actress. She died in 1975.
The entry fee to the Pantheon is 11,50 euros per person. Children under 18 years free of charge.
Museum of Middle age
The Pantheon is located in the famous Latin district of Paris, which is usually recommended for a visit. There is the Museum of the middle Ages (Cluny Museum) in the Latin district, which contains a famous collection of tapestries “The Lady and the Unicorn”, and Gothic style sculptures, some them originally come from buildings such as the Notre Dame de Paris or the Abbey of St. Denis. The museum contains around 23.000 works and objects, and only 2.300 date from Roman Gaul to the XVI century.
The Lady and the Unicorn is a modern name given to the cycle of six tapestries created in Mille-Fleurs style, which means “thousand flowers”, woven in Flanders from wool and silk according to drawings made in Paris around year 1500. The collection displayed in the Cluny Museum is considered as one of the greatest works of art of the Middle Ages in Europe.
We left our visit of the Louvre museum for the most cloudy and rainy day. Don´t queue like we did and buy a ticket online for 17 euros. For under 18 year old children entrance is free. In total, we spent 6 hours at the museum (of course, you are going to have lunch here), and all this in a runner mode. It is simply impossible to see everything in one day!
So, why should you visit the Louvre at least once in your life?
- Louvre is the largest museum in the world.
- Its premises cover an area of 73.000 square meters – this is almost 15 km of galleries, distributed over more than 400 rooms. The best way to prepare your visit to the Louvre is to select the collections you want to see first using the museum map.
- The Louvre contains the largest art collection in the world, with almost 500.000 pieces. Masterpieces, antique sculpture and antique objects are distributed over three wings of the museum and divided into eight departments.
- Finally, the Louvre is the most visited museum in the world. Nearly 10 million people pass through the galleries of this former Royal Palace each year.
On the left: Venus de Milo
The Venus de Milo is one of the most representative works of art from classical Greece. A Greek peasant from the island of Melos accidentally found her in 1820 and just one year later she was already placed in the Louvre. The Venus de Mil represents the goddess of love and beauty Aphrodite as believed, it was created around the I century BC. Its author is unknown, but experts believe that it could have been Alexandros of Antioch.
On the right: Winged Victory of Samothrace
The Winged Victory of Samothrace is perhaps the most significant sculpture of the Louvre. The sculpture was found at the end of the XIX century on the island of Samothrace (Greece) and was created around 190 BC according to experts´ opinions. Its author is an anonymous artist (possibly Pythocritus of Rhodes). The sculpture represents Nike, the goddess of victory, it was probably used for commemoration of a military success of the Antigonids against the Seleucids.
The crowd of people who desired to admire Mona Lisa distributed over three rooms. Young people were taking selfies with her for their Instagram. Some people even managed to get close to the diva. As for me, it was much more interesting to observe all this excitement around her than Mona Lisa itself. And according to her face expression, she was surprised as well. Why does she drive people so crazy?
Mona Lisa or La Gioconda is one of the most important portraits in history. Painted by Leonardo da Vinci in the XVI century, it is the most visited portrait of the Louvre.
- Mona Lisa’s famous smile causes interest as it’s not her real expression. Depending on the angle from which we contemplate the picture, you can argue whether she is smiling or not. This phenomenon is called “inaccessible smile” and is also present in other paintings of the artist. This illusion is created with a technique called sfumato, a technique that tricks our brains.
- In 1911 she was stolen. Years later, Mona Lisa was found and returned to the Louvre. Since then, La Gioconda has been guarded and stored in a bulletproof display.
- It is not known exactly who this woman was. The most common version – the painting represents Lisa Gherardini. It is believed that Lisa was wife of Francesco del Giocondo, a nobleman who ordered the painting from Leonardo da Vinci.
- The Mona Lisa has twins! The Prado Museum in Madrid contains a “copy of the Mona Lisa”, it was made at the same time and in the same place as the original one, by one of Leonardo da Vinci’s students. There is another work called “Mona Lisa de Isleworth.”. It is not currently confirmed that this work belongs to Leonardo, but its owners are trying to prove that fact.
Finally, we left the sunniest day for visiting the Palace of Versailles, as it is about a long walk through endless gardens. Versailles can be easily reached by train from Montparnasse. Tickets for the Palace of Versailles can be purchased in advance on this website. You can buy a ticket for 18 euros, but you have to queue. As for us, we didn´t spend much time waiting. The price includes an audio guide.
The Palace of Versailles is one of the most outstanding achievements of the European architecture of the XVII century. It was originally built as a hunting lodge for King Louis XIII; however, his son, King Louis XIV, decided to move the royal residence from Paris to Versailles in 1682. The hunting lodge was turned into a royal complex with richly decorated halls, gardens and magnificent fountains.
During the decades, the French royal family continued to decorate the palace and rule from Versailles. During the French Revolution the royal residence was forced to move to Paris. The most important of all peace treaties was signed in the Palace of Versailles – the one that finished the First World War.
The gardens of Versailles are considered to be one of the largest and the most magnificent gardens in the world – it is a true work of art. Built by order of Louis XIV in 1661 and designed by André Le Nôtre, the gardens were considered as important as the palace and took over 40 years to complete.
Trees for the gardens were brought from all over France, and thousands of people worked together to make the gardens of Versailles as beautiful as they are today. Gardens with gorgeous paths, fountains, sculptures, flowerbeds and groves are true embodiment of a French design of the XVII century – their beauty is simply breathtaking.
The Palace of Versailles is one of the most prestigious monuments in the world, declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Historical Monument. The palace contains more than 700 rooms, familiarizing us with life of the French monarchy in its most influential years.
The Palace of Versailles contains over 60.000 pieces of art. Some of the rooms that can be viewed in the palace are the grand apartments of the king, the apartments of the queen, the hall of mirrors, the history museum, the battle gallery, the royal chapel, the royal opera house, the royal chamber…
Museum of mankind
And finally a life hack. You can take a picture of the Eiffel Tower from such an unusual angle from the Museum of Mankind. Indeed, it´s beautiful in any weather and at any time of the day!