My advice on how to spend your free time in one city depends on the amount of free time you have during your Winter Europe Seminar. If you have a free afternoon or morning, you can visit any attraction you want to visit. The attractions won’t take a lot of your time. The attractions that won’t take a lot of time for tourists include monuments, some museums, walking down streets and gardens, eating at cafés and restaurants, and shopping at malls. I prefer having a free afternoon over a free morning because then I don’t have to rush to make sure I get to the travel company on time. Having a free afternoon is more relaxing because you finished all of the things that you were required to do.
If you have a whole day free, I recommend you visit the Palace of Versailles, Louvre Museum, Disneyland Paris, and Reims Champagne Region. For the first time tourists of Paris, France, I recommend visiting these attractions: Louvre Museum, Eiffel Tower, Bateaux-Mouches, and Palace of Versailles. Three attractions I have visited all three times I have been to Paris, France are the Eiffel Tower, Bateaux-Mouches, and the Palace of Versailles. The one place I have not been to yet but want to visit is Disneyland Paris.
A common question people ask is what type of transportation you should take. It depends on the person and the transportation conditions in Paris. If you don’t prefer crowded places, then the metro may not be the best fit for you. You are better off taking Uber. Uber takes you everywhere you want to go. It is definitely a good idea to take Uber when the metro lines are down. If you do not mind the crowds, then I would recommend taking the metro lines when they are working. Figure out how to go to the places you want to visit using the metro lines by starting off with the nearest metro line and figuring out where you need to get off, including the metro lines you need to switch to on the way there.
For example, the places I resided in during my trip was in the Marriot Rive Gauche Hotel and Conference Center. The metro line I took was line 6, the closest metro stops to my hotel was Saint Jacques or Glacière. I took the metro stop I am familiar with which is Glacière. If I want to go to the Eiffel Tower. I would stay on line 6 and get off on Bir-Hakeim. The best part about this metro line is I do not have the hassle of having to switch metro lines.
Why would I want people to see the Eiffel Tower?
1. It is the most recognizable symbol for France. When most people think about France, the Eiffel Tower is what comes to people’s minds.
2. It is the perfect place to take pictures.
3. The light show. The Eiffel Tower lights up at night. The Eiffel Tower lights sparkle every hour as night.
The one thing I always wanted to do when I was in Paris, France was to go all the way to the top of the Eiffel Tower by elevators. That is what my group did. We went through security and bought adult tickets. They charge everyone the adult ticket prices because of the long lines of people. We took the elevator to go on the first floor, then we walked around to the elevator to take us on the second floor. We took pictures on the second floor. The group was spread separately throughout the line to the top, so we had to take different elevators. We walked around the top floor. Personally, going to the top floor of the Eiffel tower was a scary experience because I am afraid of heights. Going with a group and riding the elevator with someone, especially on the top floor was comforting. The view on each floor was an exciting experience as I was looking down at my surroundings at different floors.
Bateaux Mouches is usually included in most travel packages. The travel organization will give you a ticket to ride on a boat cruise. You go to this place where the guards check your tickets so you can enter the building. Then, you walk around the building to use the restroom and go shopping while you are waiting for the boat to be ready. You will wait in line. You can sit in a seat or stand on the boat.
I have been on the Bateaux-Mouches three times. My first time was during the day. The second time was during sunset. The third time was at night. I liked all of them equally, but I preferred the boat cruise at night.
The best time to ride the boat cruise depends on what you want to see. If you want your pictures to be less fuzzy, then definitely take pictures during the day. The sun will blind you if you are riding the boat cruise on a sunny day. If you want to see the first Eiffel Tower light show of the night while you are on the boat cruise, then I recommend you ride the boat cruise at sunset. There is something special about riding the boat cruise at night due to the spectacular illuminations from the lights and fewer people. One thing that I would advise people to bring would be warmer clothes because it is colder in the water.
Why would I encourage people to go to Bateaux Mouche or any boat cruise?
1. Since it is included in most travel packages, it is not an additional expense.
2. The boat goes at a decent pace for people who like taking pictures.
3. It is a perfect way to go sightseeing.
Palace of Versailles
I have been to the Palace of Versailles three times: Once in June 2011. The second time in January 2018. Third time in January 2020. Most tourists including myself spend most of the time in the Palace and the Garden because we do not have enough time to explore everything in the Palace of Versailles.
If I had a whole day to spend in Paris, France, I would take the RER C to C5 Versailles – Rive Gauche to go to the Palace of Versailles. I would explore everything in the Palace of Versailles such as the gallery of coaches, the palace, the gardens, the park, and the estate of Trianon. I would eat at the restaurants Ladurée, Angelina, and more.
The most common place where I would eat an affordable lunch is at the Grand Café d’Orléans at the Palace of Versailles. For lunch, I had a ham and cheese sandwich, caramel popcorn, chocolate mousse, and a can of Orangina.
Why would I push people to visit the Palace of Versailles?
1. For historical and cultural reasons.
2. The people you are traveling with are going to push you to go with them even though you have been there before. You won’t regret spending time there.
I have never been to Disneyland Paris, but here is what I would do if went there: buy one ticket for 2 parks: Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park, walk around both parks, go on the roller coaster rides, and buy Mickey or Minnie Mouse Ears and uniquely French Disney souvenirs. Since my favorite Pixar movie is Ratatouille, I would eat Émile Menu at Bistrot Chez Remy. I would also eat A Lion’s Favorite Feast at Restaurant Hakuna Matata.