A weekend in Paris! #parisinjuly2023

Paris in July, now hosted by the lovely Emma of Words and Peace, is here again! And I have something to share, for I recently got to actually visit Paris for a weekend, together with my son. It was a bit nuts, but I couldn’t resist taking the opportunity while my sister was visiting with her family. I spent a college term in Paris many years ago, so it was also a chance to get to see some of the places I remembered, and share them with my son.

My husband drove us an hour over the border to the TGV station in France, and from there with the fast train it’s only 2.5 hours to Paris. We arrived around noon, and after meeting up with my sister and eating at a cafe we went to see a couple of my favorite things: the unicorn tapestries in the Musée de Cluny, and the windows in the Sainte Chapelle.

On the doorway of the Sainte Chapelle are also many charming carvings, like the one of Noah’s ark.

We were staying at an Airbnb studio apartment in the Marais district. It was a fantastically central location, but extremely noisy from the restaurants below, particularly on Saturday night as they were having some kind of Pride celebration that involved pirates and mermaids whooping and yelling a lot as well as loud music.

It was also very hot, so we went out to walk around until quite late that evening while it cooled off. There were tons of people lining the quays of the Seine.

I did not remember these grotesque faces on the Pont Neuf but they were fun to look at:

We crossed the river and went to Notre Dame as the sun set, looking at the construction. You can’t get very close, but you can go all the way around. There are photos posted on the barrier wall, showing what the inside looked like after the fire and some of the work in progress. What a massive project it is! Here you can see how the flying buttresses are being held up by wooden frameworks, just as they must have been during the original construction.

The next day our primary goal was to visit the Musée d’Orsay, so we headed there first thing to stand in line for when the doors opened. My son wanted to see the Van Gogh paintings, but sadly most of them were away on loan for an exhibition in Amsterdam! We did get to see a wonderful special exhibition of pastels, and spent most of our time in there.

Many famous names (Degas, Manet, Cassatt, Redon) were represented, as well as not-so-famous ones that were often even more intriguing. I especially liked the mysterious images by an artist named Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer; below is his “Woman with a medal.”

Later that day we went to see the Eiffel Tower from the outside, and then went to Montmartre where we went inside Sacre Coeur (there was a service going on, but we could walk around quietly) and then climbed the tower for a great view of the whole of Paris.

Below are three views of the Eiffel Tower: from underneath, at sunset from the opposite side of the Seine, and in the distance from the top of Sacre Coeur.

On our last morning, I wanted to head over to the Latin Quarter, which was where I actually spent most of my time during my college course, including eating lunch in the Jardin du Luxembourg most days. I remembered this as a lovely place, but sadly, my son was unimpressed by the formal gardens and found them quite boring. So after sitting for a short time at the fountain we moved on.

On our way out, I asked for a picture of me with George Sand, one of the many statues of famous people from various centuries dotted around the grounds.

It turned out that what my son really wanted was to hang out at sidewalk cafes, which is a most Parisian thing to do, so we spent the rest of the morning doing that!

On our way back to the Marais, I managed to persuade him to do a selfie with Notre Dame in the background.

We exited Paris that afternoon, just in time to miss the upheavals of the following week protesting another incident of police brutality.

I’d been interested to see a monument commemorating the abolition of slavery in the former French colonies in the Jardin du Luxembourg, something that was definitely not there when I was a student in the 1980s. There have been complaints that this insignificant monument tucked away in an obscure corner of the gardens actually represents a wish to forget the horrible crimes that were and continue to be committed. Still, it was a sign to me of how things have changed, even if there is a long way to go.

Perhaps someday, our greatest and most significant monuments will be to those who work tirelessly for peace and justice. I hope so.

Even with that somber finish, it was a wonderful visit, and I’m so glad we got to make it. Have you ever been to Paris, or would you like to go? What do you remember, or what would you most like to see?

Join the Enchanted Circle

The Enchanted Circle newsletter offers subscriber-only content about my writing and reading life. You'll also receive a separate monthly blog post summary (unsubscribe any time). And I'll send a free gift!

Unsubscribe anytime.

29 thoughts on “A weekend in Paris! #parisinjuly2023

  1. I got to visit once in 2016? and it was lovely. I also saw many of these same things. How unfortunate that the Monet paintings were on loan! One of my favorite memories was sitting on a stone wall by the Seine drinking coffee with my sister and mother. When I was there the Eiffel Tower had a giant football (soccer) ball suspended from it because it was the World Cup or something. 😂 I absolutely loved Notre Dame when I was there. How crazy the fire was. 😞

    1. I hope we can return when it’s repaired. Seeing the extent of the damage, it seems a miracle that it’s still standing.

  2. That looks like a lovely trip Lory. Thanks so much for sharing it with us, and all your wonderful pictures as well. Like Any above I’ve only visited once (2010) and for a short two day trip (f which I was sadly ill for one) but I did manage to visit some places including the Eiffel Tower Notre Dame and Versailles. Could relive some of that through your pictures!

    1. Whoa, one day to see the Eiffel tower and Notre Dame AND Versailles? That was a power trip. Hope you get to go back someday!

      1. Ha ha ha; well the Eiffel tower was the evening we arrived, Notre Dame was the next morning after which I started to feet not so great and had to go rest, and Versailles the third morning just before we started

        1. Still a lot, if you weren’t feeling well. At least you got to see 3 of the biggest attractions.

  3. Thanks for sharing your experiences and for including such lo lovely images

    1. I was so happy it worked out so well … lately my travel plans seemed to always go wrong, but maybe this broke the jinx.

  4. Ton fils et toi, tout les deux se sont amusés bien, il me semble! Une belle tournée au métropole, et voilà beaucoup de photos pour rappeler votre visite. Chouette!

    Apart from a brief weekend visit as a student in the 60s I’ve been to Paris several times since, in fact mostly to accompany school trips when I used to teach, when we’d visit the usual sites by coach – Notre Dame, Louvre, Pompidou Centre, Champs Elysée – offer the hordes frites in a cheap restaurant, visit a hypermarket, and discourage night visits to hotel rooms by us adults patrolling the corridors in shifts.

    Otherwise the visits comprised brief stops when taking trains to Italian destinations or the odd more romantic weekend to see for example the Musée d’Orsay, the Rodin Museum or Sacré Coeur, but mostly to wander the streets and banks to absorb the vibes. Coincidentally our own son, who’s a film grip, is off to Paris for a few weeks shooting mostly street scenes with a camera crew. We don’t envy him with continental Europe the temperature it currently is.

    1. It was hot! And air conditioning is a rarity in Europe. Hope your son can cool down somehow.

  5. There is another monument Les Fers Brisés (slave ankle chains) in Paris that pays homage to General Dumas, a man I read about some years ago, he was the father of the well-known author of The Count of Monte Cristo.

    If you’re interested, author Tom Reiss wrote a fascinating account of this man in his book Black Count, Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Cristo. Here’s a link to my review.


    1. I have had that on the radar for a while, I’ve really got to read it. Especially as I’m now nearly done with The Count of Monte Cristo!

  6. You really packed in the high points of a tourist visit to Paris. What a great place!
    best, mae at maefood.blogspot.com

  7. Wow, Lory, I’m amazed at how much you packed into such a short trip. I’ve been to Paris four times now, and I now have a list of my favorite places to go in Paris. One is the Musée d’Orsay. I like to have a picnic on the ground of the Eiffel Tower and watch the lights come on at night. And I love to see the outdoor sculpture gardens at the Musée Rodin. I’ve never seen the unicorn tapestry. If I ever go back, I’ll see if I can take a look.

    1. I need to go to the Rodin Museum, I’ve never been there. Also I like the idea for an evening picnic at the Eiffel Tower. We did fit in some high points though – you must see the unicorn tapestries, they are huge and amazing.

    1. Oops, no I did not see any former comment. I remembered the Ste Chapelle from my previous visit and insisted we go there.

  8. It’s been many years since I’ve been to Paris, and this brought back memories. It’s funny to see things through the eyes of our kids, isn’t it – the things they’re interested in don’t always match up with our interests (but then it’s fun when they do!).

    1. No, having children is an object lesson in how someone who shares your genes can be utterly different from you! We did have some interests in common, though, which was fun.

Comments are closed.