My favorite thing about Paris was how there were amazing places in every corner. When I took this picture, it was because we had gotten tired of walking in the heat, and turned off the main road to look for somewhere to sit. We found this amazing courtyard, and of course, I started taking pictures. Within a few minutes though, the residents became a little peeved, and told we had to leave because it was a private courtyard. Oh well.
I would definitely recommend going to Sacre Coeur in the morning to beat the rush (although it was still pretty busy when I went). The church is very crowded, so I wouldn't try to actually pray or use it as an actual church, and many tourists were taking pictures inside even though you weren't supposed to.
Another upside of going in the morning is the fog that covers the city is so dreamlike and makes for the best photos. You could also probably go in the late afternoon while the sun is setting, but I'm not sure if the church is open then.
Notre Dame is another church that you definitely can't miss. We originally planned to attend mass there, but we were still jet-lagged, and couldn't get up early enough. I really regret not making it, but being in the church was close to that experience. It was a lot quieter than Sacre-Coeur, although there was a much heavier flow of tourists.
The stained glass was to die for, and they made some amazing silhouettes photos. If only I could've used my silhouette!
At the time, Sainte Chapelle was under renovation, and not very impressive. Most photos make the ceilings look very tall, and they weren't actually. It may have been because of the renovation, but I'm not sure they could have changed the level of the floor somehow. Anyways, I was a little underwhelmed, especially having seen Notre Dame's stained glass already.
When we bought tickets for Sainte Chapelle, it was only a few more euros to also see Le Conciergerie, a prison where Marie Antoinette was held before her execution. I think it was more interesting than Sainte Chapelle, and the architecture was amazing. They had some model cells of what it would've been like for peasants as opposed to nobles - I've always been curious about prisons, executions, and death throughout history, so that was one of my favorite parts.
If you're going to Paris, you have to spend a good amount of your time at art museums of course. We spent a day at the Louvre, but it wasn't really my kind of art, and I had a terrible headache from the lack of air flow in the museum. You can only look at so many paintings of the Crucifixion, nobles, and nude deities. The Louvre used to be used as a palace before the French Revolution (but don't quote me on that), and they weren't very big on having many windows then.
I enjoyed the Musée d'Orsay infinite times more. The fact that it was an old train station gives it more character, and fits perfectly with the more modern style of artwork displayed in it. At one end, there's a giant clock face that I'd been wanting to take a picture in front of for ages. When you look through it, you can see Sacre Coeur and Montmartre, which is the highest point in the city.
Later at night, we went out for a walk near the Louvre. There's a mini Arc de Triomphe, called the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, and the Tuileries are a very lovely walk. It was about to rain, as you can tell by the overcast sky, which was a great change from the scorching sun we walked under all day. There's something I really love about the way the air feels right before it's about to rain. We don't get a lot of rain where I live now.
It's incredible that there's a city with so much history; almost every building is older than the U.S! The architecture plus the gardens made me feel like I was in a Jane Austen novel.
There was so much beauty everywhere. We stayed in someone's flat through AirBnb (highly recommend, it saves you a lot of money!), and their building had gorgeous lighting throughout the day. One time when we were going out to dinner, I finally got a chance to set up this portrait, and it's been one of my favorites since then. I'm in love with how soft the lighting is, and the French-ness of it all.
I'm very interested in art, so visiting Giverny was a no brainer. We took the RER to Vernon, then rented bikes for the day, and biked to Giverny. It's all flat, and not very far - so much better than taking a taxi. You really feel like a local, and the countryside is too beautiful to experience from inside a car.
Monet's garden is very popular, so I would get there as early as possible. You'll be able to get better shots of the famous Japanese bridge, as well as enjoy the garden without screaming kids and sweaty tourists. The nearby town is perfect for lunch, and we had a sublime (and reasonable!) meal at a small restaurant.
Some places I didn't get to go to/didn't get very good pictures were:
-The Place Du Tertre: I'm not very comfortable pointing my camera in other people's faces, particularly artists, so I wasn't able to get any photos. The atmosphere is very lively, and there are many talented artists who will draw your portrait!
-Shakespeare and Co Bookstore: This bookstore is amazing. It's pretty small, and you're not allowed to take photos inside, although I did sneak a few with my phone. Most of the books are in English, and there are several nooks for reading. One has notes from people all over the world stuck on it. If you have a spare afternoon, I would suggest spending it reading here.
-Les Puces Saint-Ouen: Les Puces are a collection of different flea markets in the Porte de Cligancourt. The area is a little sketchy, so make sure to keep track of your belongings, and carry smaller bills. When you first get off of the subway stop, you see a smaller market that sells copies of designer bags and sunglasses. This is not the flea market. Keep following the swarm of people, and you'll know when you see it! There are different markets for different things - some are for furniture, art, or smaller knickknacks you can actually take home in your suitcase. Haggling is okay, but do be polite and don't lowball. Most of the vendors will treat you better if you speak in French/attempt to speak French.
-Pere LaChaise Cemetery: On my last day I really wanted to visit the cemetery, but found it was closed. I can't say how wonderful or terrible it was, but many famous people are buried here, including Oscar Wilde. I've heard it's not at all depressing, and very beautiful.
-Le Pantheon: I also didn't make it here because of a train delay. Based on pictures though, the architecture seems worth a trip.
Have you guys been to Paris before? What was your favorite part or where do you want to go the most? Next time, I'll be posting my photo diary for London.