Paris is reputed to be the city of love where the Eiffel tower stands as the epitome icon of lovers all over the world. For me Paris was far more than the metal structure or lovers. To me it was the seat of Renaissance (which was glorified by the Louvre), French revolution and the iconic novel by Charles Dickens – A tale of two cities. More than that, I wanted to walk the cobbled streets and gaze at the architecture that is resplendent of an artistic era gone by. I had reserved eight whole days for my Parisian pilgrimage and I was determined to scour every possible nugget the city has to offer.
The plotting and scheming was ably aided by Google who gleefully informed me that on Wednesday the Louvre is open for the longer duration than the rest of the week. More than the Monalisa, it was the Venus Di Milo that held my fascination. Do make time to visit the oil painting section – the eyes follow you everywhere in those portraits. There are cafe’s within the Louvre where one can dine on sumptuous cosmopolitan fare. Oh and don’t miss the art and crafts shop – I thought I had stumbled into fairy land for there was colour coded sections for everything there – sequins, glitter, paints, crayons, paper……………………………
A royal Chateau
Palace of Versailles on the outskirts of Paris was an enchanting lure for the history/architecture buff in me. Then I stumbled on a bicycle tour to Versailles with picnic on the grounds. Needless to say, my imagination ran riot and I immediately enrolled for it. It’s another matter that I found it very difficult to cycle, given my state of physical inertia and ended up walking besides it rather than riding it. BTW the musical fountain come alive in the summers and Tuesday is when their glory is more regal and full as compared to rest of the days of the week.
My wine palate was in its nascent stage at the time I was going on the trip; so it made sense to include a wine tour on my itinerary. After all French wines are reputed to be one of the best in the world and its the home of the bubbly spirit – Champagne! I was not at all disappointed and the two vineyards I toured here was Moet & Chandon and Mumms – both extremely reputed wine makers. There was endlessly free-flowing wine at these wineries and I must have had more than 6 glasses that day of wine and champagne. In fact its the first time I became aware of Pink champagne- a thorough delight for my palate!
Churches in Paris
I fell in love more with the Notre Dame and Sacre Couer than the Eiffel tower. I wanted to climb up to the highest point at the Sacre Couer and was breathless and claustrophobic in the narrow spiralling stairways – only problem is you have to keep climbing as it’s a one way and there are people behind you. Damn that’s something I wont recommend to anyone. There is a tram service to carry people from the ground zero to the cathedral which is about 3-4 storeys above ground. But one can also walk up the gorgeous staircase and take in the view at all sides at leisure.
The Notre Dame is an extremely charming and elegant building by the river Seine and makes for very pretty picture as the sun drops down over the horizon. Its rose window is world-famous and is truly a sight to behold.
A glamorous affair
While searching for Moulin Rouge– the acclaimed dance and theatre performance; google came to my rescue again as it got me a great deal on the ticket pricing. Please don’t miss this show as its simply stunning with oodles of flair and drama. Warning: you need formal wear to attend the show; no flip-flops and shorts please.
I fell in love with the french baguette and would buy one from a bakery and then walk the streets munching on it. The street side cafe’s serve house wine which is cheaper than water and is a must have.
There is a really helpful city tour service called Hop-on Hop-Off which is basically a network of buses which travel from north to south and east to west. One can get on and off them at any point and keep travelling the city to enjoy its various attractions at a fraction of a cost. Best part is that these have open air seating on the roof which allows for great views though you do get chilled in the breeze. I loved the metro system too as its got a great connectivity with all parts of Paris.
Scores of artists can be seen dotting the pavements, sidewalks, parks, cafes – you name it and there is an artist there. They will offer to do your portrait, if you are into that sort of thing. I ended up picking some gorgeous pen renderings of four of my favourite buildings of Paris.
Besides the artists, you will come across mimes, people dressed as statues and covered in body paint; gives you quite a start when what you thought was a statue come alive to change its position 😉
Oh I can go on and on and on about this trip and if you do want to read more, then head over to Shibani’s blog where I have done a guest post on Paris for her blog.