Paris, France Notre Dame and its Neighbor City walk by Tara Anbudaiyan

An icon of Paris and gothic architecture, Notre Dame is well worth the visit, especially if you try to avoid the crowds. Minutes away is the Latin Quarter, with countless shops, cafes and monuments of its own to discover. But first, to market we go.

Marché Maubert

 
Start your morning by perusing one of the oldest Parisian markets, Marché Maubert, to mingle with locals, sample French delicacies and do some shopping. Open Tuesdays & Thursdays, 7am-2:30pm, and Saturdays 7am-3pm.

Marché Maubert

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From the market, walk five minutes and cross the Seine to behold the majesty of Notre Dame cathedral. Arrive around opening time (8am) and you should have few companions. The cathedral is free, but pay the small entrance fee to the Treasury to see ornate liturgical objects, sculptures and more within several quiet rooms. It may appear there is a line at the entrance, but it's usually people gathered, not waiting. The only line is to walk to the top of the towers, which we do not recommend given the wait time.

Notre Dame de Paris

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Musée de Cluny

 
Walk eight minutes back into the Latin Quarter to Musée de Cluny, the National Museum of the Middle Ages. The collection is housed in a 15th century home with remains of Gallo-Roman baths dating to the 1st century. Note the sculptures preserved from Notre Dame, having just visited, along with colorful tapestries and objects that help better understand the era. Entry included in the Paris Museum Pass.

Musée de Cluny

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After your walk through medieval times, break for lunch - Compass & Key recommends Le Coupe-Chou or Chantairelle - as you continue exploring the Latin Quarter.

ChantAirelle

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source: Triposo

 
After lunch, if you're up for more exploration of the Latin Quarter, Compass & Key highly recommends spending an afternoon at nearby Jardin du Luxembourg. Watch children sail their model boats and admire the sculptures and fountains. Set back in the trees is a small cafe, perfect for an afternoon glass of wine. The Jardin du Luxembourg, or the Luxembourg Garden, located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, was created beginning in 1612 by Marie de' Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France, for a new residence she constructed, the Luxembourg Palace. The garden today is owned by the French Senate, which meets in the Palace. It covers 23 hectares and is known for its lawns, tree-lined promenades, flowerbeds, the model sailboats on its circular basin, and for the picturesque Medici Fountain, built in 1620.

Jardin du Luxembourg

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Close your day by admiring Notre Dame again, this time from the sky, at the excellent rooftop Lebanese restaurant, Le Zyriab. Housed in the stunning Institut du Monde Arabe, pause on your elevator ride up to study the metal screens framed in the windows that move to adjust the natural light. Dinner reservations are essential as the institute is closed when the restaurant opens at 7:30pm. If you can't make it in the evening, just ask to visit the rooftop to take in the views.

Le Zyriab

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