Overflowing with enticing options at every turn, La Rive Gauche, including the historic students' stomping grounds, is now a salubrious mix of great tourist attractions, lovely shopping, and nice restaurants. Wondering how to spend your time and where to eat when you're visiting the Eiffel Tower, Place des Invalides, and the Musee Rodin? Check out my suggestions!
Paris' Left Bank is home to some of its most stunning sites - the Eiffel Tower, Napoleon's Tomb, and the famous Rodin Museum, housed in the sculptor's former home. Depending on how much time you have, you could make a day of it or, like us, do the agenda below, and then come back for more (this is certainly not everything - just one day, which could easily be split into several!)
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Starting point: The Eiffel Tower
If you aren't staying in the Left Bank, start your day with a metro ride or a nice walk across the Seine. Arriving by metro, be sure to exit at the Trocadero stop, not the Eiffel Tower stop - it's slightly less crowded, and you'll start at an elevated point that's great for pictures (see us, below!).
Continue down the steps and into the Champs de Mars Parc (a great French Revolution name, eh?)
BEWARE OF SCAMS. Visiting the Eiffel Tower is an incredible and unforgettable experience. However, as with all major tourist attractions through the world, it is a hotspot for low-level crime. This should not in any way deter you from visiting. I never felt even remotely unsafe. The French Police are EVERYWHERE. But, just be smart.
They are always changing, but while we were there, these were the scams that we saw:
Imperial War Museum and Napoleon's Tomb
Never doing anything halfway, Napoleon's final resting place does not disappoint. Originally a home and hospital for the veterans of France's many 17th-century wars, it's now home to Napoleon's tomb and a massive imperial war museum. Begun in 1671, its transformation into almost a shrine to the Emperor was complete when he was interred here in 1840. His tomb lies behind a stunning 17th-century church and under an incredibly ornate dome.
The Imperial War Museum
When you've finished viewing Napoleon's Tomb, continue into the impressive Imperial War Museum. Stay until your Husband has gotten his fill (even this history buff couldn't make it through the whole place). There is a lovely gift shop full of Napoleon-themed merchandise. Imperial tea towels, galore (I am the proud owner of two).
A very easy walk from Les Invalides, the Rodin Museum is an absolute treasure. It houses not only the sculptor's work, but also his personally art collection, acquired during his lifetime while he lived in the stunning mansion.
After finishing the interior, take a turn around the grounds - more beautiful sculpture await! And the building itself is stunningly situated in perfectly manicured grounds.
No day in Paris would be complete without some luxury shopping. Depending on your shopping stamina, you'll want to plot your course accordingly. One can't miss stop is the Hermes on Rue de Sevres - opened in 2010 in a former hotel swimming pool, the store itself is worth a visit, even if you don't spring for any merchandise. And, if are looking to buy, the sales people do a wonderful job making the shopping experience feel personalized and comfortable. I taught a lovely young Frenchman the word for "stirrup" as we looked at scares (amazing hand gestures had been involved up 'til that point!). A bit closer toward the River are a number of other nice boutiques, including a COS branch (one of my personal favorites).
One of my personal favorites in France is my recommendation for a casual dinner - Au Vieux Colombier (65 Rue de Rennes, 75006 Paris) sits at a busy intersection with stunning views. Make sure to get a window seat and try the escargot.
Jardin du Luxembourg
Finally, stop by the Jardins de Luxembourg for an after dinner stroll. It's just as gorgeous as you're expecting, and so much better.
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