Museums are just one of the many cultured things you can do in Paris. And as I mentioned in my last piece, you might want to spread out those museum days instead of doing two (or more) in a single day. Otherwise, you’ll get “arted out.” Luckily, there’s plenty else to do. My eighth day of traversing through Europe was spent taking in all the sights of Paris.
First stop, perfect for those with a morbid curiosity: Père Lachaise Cemetery. It’s hands down the most beautiful cemetery I’ve ever been to.
While a little outside the city center, Père Lachaise is definitely worth it. A number of famous artists, singers and writers are buried here, including Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors.
There’s something calming about the moss on the gravestones, the stained glass of the mausoleums and the flowers on the funeral plots. I’ve always enjoyed cemeteries because they remind me of my own mortality, which reminds me that I need to calm down or else I’m going to end up six feet under like everyone before me. (Heartwarming, no?)
Then, of course, you need to see Notre-Dame de Paris, home to the hunchback Quasimodo and one of the most famed sights of Paris. Also one of the largest cathedrals in Europe, Notre-Dame has been standing (in one form or another) for nearly 1,000 years.
Prior to seeing the cathedral, I was told it would be “life-changing.” Needless to say, I was skeptical. I honestly couldn’t tell you the difference between most of the cathedrals I’ve visited in the past. Immediately after stepping outside of one, I can’t remember a single detail of the interior. For me, they all blend into one another. With that said, this cathedral is a must-see.
I wouldn’t go as far as saying it was life-changing, but I will say it was truly grand, with some of the most beautiful stained glass windows I’ve ever seen in my life.
I honestly think this is where God shines through.
Then, of course, you have to see the Eiffel Tower. To this day, I don’t think I know anyone who’s gone to the top due to the long line, but everyone always says it’s an option.
I must say, there is something spectacular about viewing the Eiffel Tower in real life. And in the evenings it lights up every hour for 10 minutes. (A little tacky, I’ll admit, but also very beautiful.) Oh, and don’t be a sucker like me and by the bottle of overpriced champagne from the men outside. If you do, pay no more than 5 euros.
Between these sights of Paris and the city’s many museums, you’ll feel like you have a better sense of the history, culture and beauty of the city. But don’t get too caught up trying to fit everything in. Half of the wonder of Paris is getting lost in the rain, walking down its tiny side streets and discovering a little unknown cafe.
Zachary Zane traveled through Europe for a month for Hornet, documenting gay nightlife, sex, and LGBT culture in each of the cities he visited. Find the entire travel series here.
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