The Eiffel Tower and the Seine

The City of Light unveiled her charms to us during a whirlwind layover in Paris. Though our time was short, we seized the opportunity to experience some of the French capital’s most renowned landmarks on foot.

After landing at Charles de Gaulle Airport, we effortlessly navigated the metro system into the city center. Pro tip: make sure your phone’s operating system is fully updated if you plan to use transit apps during your travels. Having to update our phones before utilizing transit slowed us down during our already limited time. The metro whisked us away, our anticipation building with every stop closer to our first destination – the iconic Eiffel Tower.

Glimpsing the wrought-iron lattice piercing the skyline, we hurried toward the famous monument. Though the surrounding gardens were fenced off in preparation for the 2024 Olympics, the tower itself offered ample opportunity for photos. We opted to admire its grandiose architecture from the ground rather than ascending to the top, content to bask in its majesty from the ground.

Arc de Triomphe

We continued our walking tour to the Arc de Triomphe, the imposing triumphal arch in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle. We happened upon a military ceremony unfolding at the base, though its purpose eluded our research efforts. Observing the soldiers added to the enchantment of our short day in Paris.

We continued walking to the Champs-Élysées, this famed boulevard lined with luxury boutiques, cafés and theaters. We meandered along, admiring the Parisian ambiance, until arriving at the Place de la Concorde. Here, the iconic Egyptian obelisk stood sentry, though much of the area was cordoned off for Olympic preparations.

Louvre Gardens

Continuing through the courtyard of the Louvre, we caught a tantalizing glimpse of the museum’s iconic glass pyramids before pressing on toward the River Seine. Our wanderings brought us to the Île de la Cité, one of two natural islands in the river. This small patch of land held particular significance, as it offered an up-close perspective of the beloved Notre Dame Cathedral while it is undergoing extensive renovations in the wake of the 2019 fire.

Construction on Notre Dame as of June 2024

Seeing the progress made in rebuilding of the iconic church was both heartening and surreal. The storied cathedral symbolizes Paris’s resilience and determination to preserve its heritage for future generations. We felt privileged to capture this moment in its lengthy restoration through our lenses.

Our Parisian self-tour concluded on the Île Saint-Louis, a slender island in the Seine just east of the Île de la Cité. As day slipped into evening, we sat at a cafe, raising a glass to the marvels we had witnessed on our that day. Though we had merely skimmed the surface of Paris’ treasures, the afternoon kindled a longing to return.

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