On our third day in Paris we planned to tackle the Louvre. You could literally spend an entire week there and still not see everything. We opted to explore the museum on our own, as opposed to a guided tour. This allowed us to go at our own pace and visit the specific exhibits we were most interested in.
Because the museum is so expansive, it can be a little overwhelming to even know where to begin. Luckily the Louvre offers a number of thematic trails designed to give you an overview of the many collections. Each trail is based on a selection of works that typify a period, an artistic movement, or a theme. We chose the "Masterpieces" trail—one of the most popular for first-time visitors. The trail explores the museum’s three great ladies—the Venus de Milo, the Victory of Samothrace, and Mona Lisa.
Nearly six million visitors from every country and culture flock to the Louvre each year. But what I found even more interesting was the universal interest everyone had in these masterpieces, no matter their background or nationality. They truly seem to strike a chord in the hearts of everyone.
After spending the the morning exploring the Louvre, both the exhibits and the grounds, we were off to our next Parisian wonder—Notre Dame. On our way we passed the famed love lock bridge. The saying goes, lovers write their names on a pad lock, attach the lock to the bridges, and toss the key into the Seine as a pledge to their eternal love for one another. Although I wouldn't describe myself as overly romantic—I was so excited to see the bridge and to add to the love lock collection with Adam. AMH + BDR!
It was fun to see all the different locks from near and far—and the amount of locks is astonishing. It's certainly on my must-see list if you're ever in Paris. Check out the video of Adam and I tossing the keys to our lock into the river. So much fun! Now, it was on to Notre Dame. It's a little bit of a trek but we made it there just before sunset.
The cathedral is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and among the largest and most well-known church buildings in the world. It certainly lived up to the hype and grandeur. It was interesting to compare the architecture and famous gargoyles to the design of the National Cathedral in DC. Both are true architectural wonders—but Notre Dame even more so given that it was opened in 1345 and the National Cathedral 645 years later in 1990.
We headed to dinner, anther perfect afternoon of site-seeing in the books, as we watched the sunset over the Seine.
We ended the evening with a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I'm always excited to see a city from the highest vantage point. I realized Adam and I had been to the top of quite a few landmarks recently—which is funny considering he has quite the aversion to heights. It's definitely something I enjoy and hope to continue the trend on future travels. Below are just of few of the buildings, churches and monuments we've ventured to the top of. (Read more about our trips to the top of the Old Post Office, Washington Monument, National Cathedral, and Rockefeller Center // Updated April 2014.)
Measuring 1,063 feet, the Eiffel Tower stands tall above the Paris skyline. We opted to go around 9:00 p.m. to get a night-time view of the city. I've heard good things about going in the day as well. No matter what time of day you go, I'd recommend purchasing tickets in advance online, as the ticket line can get pretty long. We did still have to wait in line for the elevators to the top—but it was well worth it once we stepped out onto the platform and got our first glimpse of the city of light. Illuminating the night sky, the Eiffel Tower is even more beautiful from the steps of the Trocadero gardens. We couldn't get enough!