Some of my favorite moments in Paris weren’t even in the city’s center. Most people know of Montmartre and almost everyone knows Versailles – never did I expect these two places to capture my heart! To me, these are the two locales that made me fall in love with history and with traveling. They are both so grand and familiar, yet quaint and undiscovered.
Montmartre is a neighborhood that is part of Paris but toward the outskirts of the expansive city. It holds the famous Sacre-Couer and Moulin Rouge! But what you might not see beyond the famous sights are its twisting, cobblestone walking streets and the artful culture embedded in the shops and markets. I only spent half a day in this area of Paris and could have spent a week simply taking strolls and engaging with the locals.
Although I missed out on the Moulin Rouge, I did get to visit the Sacré-Coeur and WOW! When you approach the Sacré-Couer from below and view the cascading marble steps ahead of you, it is like you are in a picture. A picture with lots of other tourists of course, but beyond that factor, it is dreamlike. You can choose to take a cable car to the top or climb your heart out. I chose to walk in order to get the most tactile and lived experience as I could. I feel that visiting monuments can often be mundane and corrupted by the atmosphere of tourists and this feeling that you just want to see the famous part and get out!
But as a traveler, a writer, and a historian, I have learned to take a moment when visiting the popular and famous sites to connect to them. I think of what has happened there, how long it has stood, who else may have been in my place a long time ago. Living through history by visiting places with so much of it is one of the biggest perks of traveling! I gain so much perspective – I promise, you will feel more grounded and less a part of the tourist bustle if you give yourself that moment.
After visiting the Sacré-Coeur, I walked not too far to find storybook streets and shops! I think this was the biggest attraction of Montmartre – the simple, everyday feel of its atmosphere. It wasn’t bustling or touristy like the center of Paris, rather it was quaint, quiet, and full of artistic touches! I remember strolling past an outdoor art show and perusing local merchandise at shops! I bought a fantastic red scarf while in Montmartre that, to me, embodied my trip to France. All local, not even a tag on it! It was a lovely change from touristy and high-end shops.
If you’re looking for local in Paris and to escape from its sometimes stressful hustle and bustle, Montmartre is a must see. There weren’t even cars whizzing by the streets I walked, only lovely locals!
For fun, I figured I would include a series of (blurry) photos of me trying the delicacy that is escargot when I had lunch in Montmartre…
I promise it wasn’t as bad as it looks! But, as a plain and picky eater, I was proud of myself for trying!
While Montmartre is cozy and quaint, Versailles is its absolute counterpart. Or so you would think…
I spent most of my time at the Palace of Versailles, but driving through the area (which is a little bit out of Paris), I noticed how calm and quiet the town looked. It was crazy to be driving through the tree-framed streets with small, sweet-looking buildings lining the sidewalks and then be met with the most luxurious palace on Earth!
It was quite difficult to take any great pictures at Versailles for a variety of reasons. There are SO MANY PEOPLE! Plus, you’re moving quickly through everything you see at the palace. To get an idea of the number of visitors…
Those are probably about a quarter of the buses that filled the parking lot. Yeah, it was crazy to me too. Nonetheless, this place touches you with its magic. My written description would never do justice how ornate, majestic, convoluted, and inspiring the architecture and atmosphere of the Palace of Versailles.
As most (hopefully) know, the Palace of Versailles was ordered to be constructed by Louis XIV and was the center of France’s political power up until the French Revolution. Louis XIV is the ultimate example of absolute power and how does one show that they are the most powerful person in the state? By building insanely ornate palaces.
Even if you don’t love history, you need to visit Versailles to see its sheer size and extravagance. To give you an idea of the inside…
If you thought any of those were gorgeous, you would also adore the extremely expansive grounds of the palace, covered in greenery, statues, and water features.
I wish I had better pictures because I definitely don’t do Montmartre’s charm and Versailles’s extravagance justice! I mean, I wouldn’t complain if I had to return…
I hope this post was enjoyable and that you are inspired to visit these sites when in Paris! Don’t forget to pin this post on Pinterest!
Read about my Adventures in Paris: https://airplanemary.com/2018/02/16/adventures-in-paris-part-1-getting-to-know-the-city-of-lights/
Thanks for reading!