Ah, Paris, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…
My apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning for mangling her poem, but that’s the best way of expressing what I think of Paris.
I’ve posted a few comments about places I’ve eaten lately, and seeing this is “Eat. TRAVEL. Bliss.” I thought I should have one travel-related post. The first just had to be on Paris.
I’m going to take you on a walk around the heart of Paris, pointing out a few favourite places along the way. It’s difficult to limit the number of places, because there are so many, but this is a start.
The photos here were taken in winter, with much darker light, and quite a lot of rain (and freeeezing cold weather). Somewhere down the road I’ll post more photos and details about other favourite places.
The tour of some of my favourite places around Paris starts at the Musée de l’Orangerie in the Jardin des Tuileries, the green place marker on this map:
The mini-tour below goes clockwise from the green marker, at Musée de l’Orangerie. As soon as I land in Paris this is basically the walk I take, to see the best of Paris along the way. There’s so much I could say about other fabulous places along the way, or with minor detours. I’ve needed to keep this as brief as possible, for just one post. More details will need to wait for other posts!
1. View from Musée de l’Orangerie looking towards the Louvre
The starting point is in the Jardin des Tuileries, just outside the Musée de l’Orangerie. That means I would have just been to soak up Monet’s water-lily paintings covering the walls inside. Truly bliss.
2. The Grand Bassin Octagonal in the Jardin des Tuileries
From there l’Orangerie I would make my way to the Grand Bassin Octagonal, and sit on one of the chairs there, watching kids sail boats, watching people walk by, looking around, towards the Louvre, the buildings along the rue de Rivoli, down the wide avenues down towards the Place de la Concorde. Love just resting there, breathing in the air, soaking up the atmosphere.
3. Café Le Nemours, Place Colette
It must be about time for lunch, so I would head over Place Collette, on one side of the Palais-Royal (another favourite place), to Café Le Nemours for a light lunch. Typically, I would order a quiche with chevre and salad, of course served with slices of baguette, and a glass of red. Another place to sit and watch the world go by while savouring the food.
4. The Louvre
Another must-see place, at least to walk by, is the Pyramide du Louvre. I tend to find the Louvre overwhelming, and should take smaller bite-sized views to avoid that. I don’t go there every visit to Paris because of that, but I do love to walk through the courtyard here where the Pyramid is located. A beautiful place, with the stunning Pyramid, the historic and picturesque and huge Palais du Louvre, the fountains. Atmospheric, day or night.
5. Pont des Arts
Another place I must go to linger is the Pont des Arts, a pedestrian-only, wood-paved bridge across the Seine, between the Louvre and the Institut de France. Sit or stand here, looking up and down the Seine, watching the bateaux-mouches and the heavily-laden cargo vessels, seeing so many of the landmarks of Paris, including the Tour Eiffel, the Cathédrale Notre Dame, and the Île de la Cité.
6. Pompidou Centre
The photo at the top of the post is taken from the upper levels of the Pompidou Centre. I love the art there, finding it always stretches my creativity and my head. Inspiring. At the top right of the photo you can see
Cathédrale Notre Dame (another favourite place).
7. Place des Vosges
Wander on over to through the Marais to the Place des Vosges, the old square, with apartments, restaurants, hotels, and shops around the outside, and garden in the middle. Classic Paris.
Oh, I could write so much about the areas around each of these “favourite places”, and more.
8. Patrick Allain, Fleuriste, Île Saint-Louis
I would then wander over to the Île Saint-Louis, window-shopping, looking at Patrick Allain Fleuriste, a fabulous cheese shop, stopping off at Berthillon for a glace.
It doesn’t really make sense to catch the Métro to the next stop, but I had to include it in the list of things to do in Paris, with the Métro making it so easy to criss-cross the city. It’s fun looking at the character of each of the stations, reflecting the area above.
10. Café Delmas, Place de la Contrescarpe
I usually catch the métro to Censier-Daubenton, and wander up rue Mouffetard on a market day, loving walking up the narrow street, looking at all of the food shops along the way, and restaurants galore. Whatever fresh food you want to buy, you can always buy there, cheese, olive oil, breads, meats, fish, wine, and so on.
To take a break, I like to stop at Café Delmas for a coffee. Another place to sit and watch the world go by. Cars go zooming through the Place, people are always hurrying by, and the fountain in the square in the middle splashes.
11. Jardin du Luxembourg
Heading back to our starting point, another place to explore, and linger, is the Jardin du Luxembourg. While I love the Jardin des Tuileries, somehow the Jardin du Luxembourg seems more peaceful, more laid-back. I love wandering around the variety of gardens, looking at the beehives, watching people play chess, seeing the kids play on the playground, and others just sitting back and relaxing. Even on freezing winter days I’ve still seen people enjoying being here, eating their lunch, trying to catch whatever warmth could be found from the sun’s rays.
12. Église Saint-Sulpice
Every time I get to Paris I always spend some time in Église Saint-Sulpice, the second-largest church in Paris. There’s a 20-minute or so organ performance at the end of the Sunday morning service, with a regular organ recital later in the day.
13. Musée d’Orsay
The last blissful place in Paris in this list is the Musée d’Orsay. I have to get there every visit, loving see the Corots, Renoirs, Manets, and so on. Such goodness, but not overwhelming like the Louvre.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini-review of some of the highlights of Paris. I have! Such memories. It is such a rich place, with so much to see and do. I never understand how people can visit Paris for just a few days at a time. You need time to see sights such as these, but above all, to explore, to sit and soak it up, to discover fabulous little places in the back-streets, to shop at the food markets.
I bet you’re thinking: “what about …” and “why not mention … “. Hopefully I’ll get back to writing more posts digging more into the delights of Paris.
What are your favourite places in Paris? I’d love to hear.
One of my favourite places is the Opera Garnier with it’s magnificent staircase, Bastille Markets, little cafes in Pigalle and quaint shops around Le Marais…especially Sacha Finkelsztajn for delectable pastry and cheesecake, knish and latkas!…and Laduree at St Germain…La Grand Epicerie at Le Bon Marche and all the gourmet delights to be found in Madeleine.
Ah, yes, so many wondrous places, with the best of food, fashion, design, history, architecture, character. Just putting this together and about places such as around La Madeleine, the Marais, and so on gives me itchy feet, wondering when I can get back there.
What a fabulous post Andrea. Now I’m aching to return back to Paris also:-)
~Juliane at http://www.StyleNectar.com
Thanks, Juliane. One can never have too many visits to Paris 🙂 … always dreaming of getting back there ….