Even though I had a very tight schedule, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to visit Paris, one of the most iconic European cities. As a result, I found myself with less than 24 hours to see dozens of sights.
To make the most out of my time, I purchased a day pass to the French bike-share company Velib, allowing to move from one point to another more quickly. Luckily on this early-April day, the weather was just warm enough for a pleasant ride.
After arriving at the Orly Airport, I took a 1-hour bus ride to the city center, where I dropped off my luggage and set off for my first (and last!) evening in Paris. From the hotel, it was a short ride to the majestic Arc de Triomphe, from which I descended down to the Seine River via the famous avenue Champ Elysses. The bike path continues along the river, surrounded by beautiful historic buildings. (Grand Palais museum)
With the end goal of getting to the Eiffel Tower, I crossed the Pont Alexander III bridge and arrived at a pretty park surrounded by military buildings (Esplanade des Invalides)
From there, the riverside bike path in the opposite direction took me directly to one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. The Eiffel Tower has a pretty unique style, even by today’s standards, and I can definitely see why it was hated when first constructed at the end of the 19th century. I walked around it to snap some selfies, then hopped on the subway to explore another part of town. (Pont de Bir-Hakeim)
As soon as I exited the subway station, I noticed tourists taking pictures. The sun was just about to set, highlighting the bright and colorful Moulin Rouge in the dark. It looked so much newer than in the movie — they must have renovated it! (Moulin Rouge from Blanche Station)
The protected bike lanes in the middle of the road, coupled with a downhill slope back to the river created a perfect opportunity for a ride back downtown: on my way, I tried to pay attention to how surroundings changed from one neighborhood to another. Finally, I found a bike dock at the top end of Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis and decided to continue on foot. This is a historic street that extends north from the infamous Rue Saint-Denis. As I walked down this busy pedestrian street, I noticed many stores with Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern background, including several Turkish restaurants. Further south was Rue Montorgueil, a pedestrian-only street with lots of bars and shops, ending at a large square including a park, an old church, and a modern shopping center. I continued walking through the Chatelet neighborhood and hopped back on the subway right by the glamorous Hotel de Ville, making it back to the hotel just in time for bed. (Hotel de Ville)
Next day started with a quintessential Parisian breakfast: croissant, jam, and coffee. Shortly afterward, my bike and I were back on the road, hit with an unexpected pour of rain. As the rain settled, I had arrived at the Concord Square, featuring an obelisk and full-size Ferris Wheel, as well as a line full of tourists. From there, I entered my favorite park in Paris: Tuileries Garden. Pools, gardens, comfy benches, a view of the Eiffel and a bike-friendly pathway to the Louvre — what else would I want? Too bad I didn’t have any time to sit down and enjoy it… couple minutes later, I was shocked by the long line of people trying to get into the most popular museum in the world. Visiting Louvre was not on my checklist for this short trip, but I took note of this as mental preparation for my next trip. (Louvre Museum)
As I exited the Louvre complex, I walked by the river towards my next stop: Notre Dame.(Seine river, Pont Neuf)
Picturing the life-like gargoyles from the cartoon with a background of the emotional songs from the musical, I enjoyed walking around the medieval cathedral. To make the most of my time, I decided to take the subway to Montmartre, the sacred hill dedicated to Christian martyrs. (climbing up Montmartre)
Walking up the hilly streets and climbing up the stairs was rewarded with a beautiful white church (Sacré-Cœur) and a great view of the city below. I passed by a cute square lined up with many artist booths and pretty little stores. I also got to feel some of the ‘Amelie’ vibe in this neighborhood, as there are some recognizable streets and stores from the iconic movie. (360 views from Sacré-Cœur)
I biked back down to the riverside and met with my wife to spend a little bit of romantic time before my flight. Another 1-1.5 hour bus ride later, I was at the Charles de Gaulle airport. With lots of memories in a very short amount of time, I was already planning my next visit to this charming city! (Pont de la Concorde)