Back in September I decided to make myself a travel bucketlist of 50 places to visit as I creep towards the grand old age of 50.
One of those locations was Paris and during our Al Fresco holiday to La Croix du Vieux Pont in half term, I finally got to visit the city that has been eluding me for years.
Having driven from Caen to the campsite, we weren’t that confident about driving in Paris as even the outskirts were a little hair-raising, so we decided to book the coach tour that they offer, which drops you at the Palais des Congres, a short walk to the Arc de Triomphe.
The Arc de Triomphe is the biggest arch in the world and was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to celebrate his victory at Austerlitz. It overlooks the world-famous Champs-Elysées, and sits in the middle of a huge, busy roundabout, although is accessible via a subway system underneath, so you can see it up close.
What many people don’t realise is that you can go inside the Arc de Triomphe and climb the 284 steps to the top for just €8 for adults (children are free).
There is a small museum, gift shop and toilets inside but the main reason to climb is for the view.
Even on a murky day the sight from 50 metres above Paris is breathtaking from every angle and we spent a good half an hour just admiring the views before heading back down the stairs to pay our respects at the tomb of the unknown soldier.
From the Arc de Triomphe we walked to the Eiffel Tower which took around 15 minutes, past beautiful buildings and historic statues.
We took a slight detour to the Place du Trocadero, as it is one of the best places to view the tower.
Since the terror attacks, the Eiffel Tower is well protected around its base and we had to queue for around half an hour just to get past security. Once inside we made the decision to buy tickets to walk up the stairs to the first and second floor, rather than pay more to use the lift.
Isaac and Eliza both shot off up the stairs, whereas I took it at a more leisurely pace with Sebastian and we counted 347 steps to the first level.
We had a bit of a break once we reached the first floor, with the kids fascinated by the glass floor before heading up the next flight of stairs.
All in all, we climbed 669 steps, just to get to the 2nd floor. I have to admit that Sebby and I were the ones that found it hard work, but the trick is to take it slowly and stop when you need a break. We did look on enviously as the lift went past us a couple of times!
The views were worth it though!
Thankfully, the next stage of our trip to the top was by lift and after a short queue we hopped in and admired the sights through the glass window as we headed to the top, 280 metres above Paris.
As you can tell from the photo – it was a little breezy!!
We made sure we took in everything we could and pointed out famous landmarks before heading back down the way we came.
We were all a little tired once we reached the bottom and in need of a sit down, so we headed back towards the river and bought a hop-on / hop-off day ticket to Batobus river cruises.
The river cruise is a great way to see Paris as it has 9 stops all along the Seine, allowing you to visit famous locations including the Eiffel Tower, Musée d’Orsay, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Notre-Dame, Jardin des Plantes / Cité de la Mode et du Design, Hôtel de Ville, Louvre and the Champs-Élysées.
The boats themselves are comfortable and warm and look a bit like a huge conservatory on the water which offers a panoramic view from the river. There is a small standing area at the back of the boat if you prefer to be outside.
We decided that Notre Dame would be our first stop and hopped off the boat and took the short walk across the river. Sadly we only got to see the outside as the queue to go inside was huge and the kids weren’t keen on hanging around.
After a walk around the outside of Notre Dame we headed back to catch the boat, with our next stop being the Louvre.
The plan from the Louvre was to catch the boat back to the Champs-Élysées, however, we decided to walk through the gardens to Place de la Concorde to look at all the sculptures on display.
The kids were particularly fascinated by what appeared to be a football sculpture in the middle of the path.
From the Place de la Concorde, we headed back to the Arc de Triomphe and along the Champs-Élysées and back to the Palais des Congres to catch the coach back to the camp site.
We spent just over 8 hours in Paris and walked a staggering 12 miles. We may not have seen it all, but we gave it a good go!
Have you been to Paris?