Paris, also known as the City of Light, was at the forefront of the Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century — not only because of its “enlightened” artists, poets, and philosophers, but also because it was one of the first European cities to illuminate its streets at night.
If you’re looking to add some Parisian light to your life right about now, you’re in luck. With a little help from the internet, there’s no reason you can’t virtually experience the best food, museums, artwork, architecture, and entertainment that Paris has to offer, right from the comfort of your sofa. Here’s how to plan your perfect digital day.
Start the day with le petit déjeuner, which directly translates to “a small lunch” and traditionally consists of something light. Popular choices for this simple breakfast might include a baguette with butter and jam, a slice of quiche, thin crepes, or flaky croissants with a café au lait (coffee with milk).
If you don’t have the option of getting takeout or delivery from one of Paris’s many chic cafes, don’t sweat it. Chef Cédric Grolet shares his secrets for making a perfect pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant).
If you’re up for a challenge, take a stab at making your own croissants — a baking endeavor not for the faint of heart. Or pick up a dozen at your closest grocer and indulge while taking a virtual stroll from the Montmartre neighborhood to Sacré-Coeur Basilica. About a 50-minute walk at a casual pace, you’ll twist and turn down cobblestone streets, past popular spots like La Maison Rose (an adorable pink cafe), and finish with a panoramic view of the city from the Sacré-Coeur.
After a leisurely morning, it’s time to uncover the artistic treasures of Paris through all kinds of (virtual) tours of its famed galleries and exhibits.
Start the afternoon off right by stepping into one of the world’s most visited museums. The Louvre offers several online tours so you can travel through its halls straight from your laptop. Explore the medieval fortress in which it was built, uncover its ancient Egyptian artifacts, and marvel at its intricately painted ceilings. Want a closer look? Connect your computer to your television to really dive into the details.
Or, immerse yourself in the artwork of the Musee d’Orsay. Smaller than the Louvre, the museum holds an extraordinary collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art from renowned French painters like Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne and Edgar Degas. The gallery’s official Youtube channel showcases 36 different works of art from the museum with discussion and commentary from art experts.
Next up is a stop at one of Paris’ most iconic monuments. It wouldn’t be a trip to the City of Lights without witnessing the Eiffel Tower first-hand, so get up-close and personal through a 360 VR Tour.
But wait — before you take in The Iron Lady in all of its glory, don’t forget to pack a picnic basket filled with the necessities: a baguette, several types of cheese, dips with crackers, fresh fruit, and some French wine. Spread out a blanket on your living room floor, and voilá, it’s as if you’re sitting on the grass of the Champs de Mars!
It’s time to put on your finest, pour a glass of bubbly from Champagne, France (of course), and get ready to settle into an evening of elegant entertainment at the Opéra Garnier.
As one of the last virtual stops along our Paris tour, Palais Garnier has been entertaining patrons for over 350 years. Right now, you can enjoy replays of not only operas but also some of their most popular ballets and symphonies on the Opéra national de Paris website. Let the striking costumes, beautiful music, and vibrant visuals transport you straight to the front row of this incredible 2,000-seat theatre.
Loosen your tie — it’s time for the cabaret! The cabaret originated in Paris in the late 1800s, with the Moulin Rouge being one of the first establishments to host these extravagant shows. Though the iconic venue doesn’t stream its performances, there are plenty of other feather-and rhinestone-studded filled acts to choose from on Cabarets-world TV.
And finally, you’ll definitely want to take one last look at the Eiffel Tower before bed. Every night, the Iron Lady shines with a thousand twinkling lights, providing a completely different experience after dark. Its warm yellow glow will lull you to sleep — rest that you very much deserve after a long day of exploring!
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Photos from Pexels
If you can’t get enough of virtual Paris, don’t fret — there are still more sights and attractions to tour that you can experience from afar.
Maybe you’d like to take a run along the Seine, or stroll through the stunning Jardin des Tuileries, or even take an evening drive through the Parisian streets. Perhaps you’d like to wander down the beautiful Champs-Élysée to window shop until you hit the majestic Arc de Triomphe. Or, although a terrible fire raged through Notre Dame de Paris in 2019, maybe you’d like to take a 3-D look inside the culturally-rich cathedral while also learning more about its past, present, and future.
Whichever route you choose, “bonne exploration virtuelle!” (Happy virtual exploring!)
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