20.04.2014 4 °C
There’s nothing quite like Paris on a day in spring. As I walked down cobbled streets looking at beautiful buildings dotted with a terrace here - a balcony there sporting beautiful flowers in bloom, I found myself falling in love with what is arguably called the most beautiful city in the world.
As I sat on park benches in the warm sunlight that was still attempting to pierce through the last remnants of winter, watching the parade of Parisian life go by - it dawned on me that the only way to truly discover this city was by walk. I made it a point to stroll over the bridges that cut through the Seine especially at dusk most evening. I loved the sight of the wrought-iron lamps flicker to light and the way the streets look in that golden glow. Every single time I have gone for a walk back home after this holiday, and I mean EVERY TIME - the joy I felt walking on the cobblestone streets keeps coming back to me in waves. It never ceased to amaze me that everywhere you turn in gay Paree, there are two things in abundance - ART and BEAUTY. It is said that it will take several lifetimes to unravel all the things this city has to offer. I'm taking a shot by compiling some of the most famous places I visited during my stay at the City of Lights and the most beautiful sights I saw.
Standing in the courtyard you already get a sense of what to expect inside.
If anyone ever wanted to understand the meaning of the term "a wealth of history", they need to just step into the Musee de Louvre. There are 3 wings at the Louvre - Richelieu , Denon and Sully. Denon (where the most expensive and famous residents are housed is easily the most visited). The description under all the works of art is written in French, so the Nintendo audio guide in English that we procured at the information counter was very helpful. I'm sure there are works of art and artefacts in this museum to keep any historian happy for years.
Most people have a tendency to make a bee-line to visit the Louvre's most famous resident - THE SMILING LADY, but in my opinion - there are so many other works of art displayed within the same walls which are breathtaking, especially in the French and the Italian Renaissance sections. Throughout my childhood I've been obsessed with Greek mythology and still remember reading about "Nike" and learning to my surprise that it is not only the name of a famous shoe brand but the name of the Greek Goddess of Victory. I believe the day I laid eyes on “The Winged Victory” was almost a moment that brought me a full circle.
Before we move forward, let me describe my visit to the smiling lady's chamber. The Mona Lisa is tucked away in a distant corner of the Denon wing past the Da Vinci paintings in the Renaissance wing. My reaction upon seeing her for the first time was how small the painting is (atleast in comparison to all the other works of art housed at the Louvre). The section is partially cordoned off and the painting is housed behind enforced bullet proof glass.
A small bit of caution - You will never have a moment alone in peace with this famous lady. The Mona Lisa will always be crowded regardless of whatever time you choose to visit and you will definitely be pushed around.
After spending entire day wandering around the Denon wing we decided to spend the evening being Parisians, sipping wine accompanied by cheese and crackers and conversation. When we could absorb no more art, we left the Louvre and found ourselves at the closest Monoprix where we proceeded to pick up by some wine(bad!) and some cheese(yum!). We wandered back towards the Louvre and found ourselves a nice sunny spot in the Tuileries Gardens in front of the museum(yes sunny even at 8:30 PM!). Even here we could not escape ‘art’ as there are numerous statues and decorative touches throughout the garden and later in the evening we were treated to the sight of a distant Eiffel Tower flickering to light as we sat on the compound surrounding the Louvre which was also by then lit up and immediately reminded me of the setting from Dan Brown's DaVinci Code.
Arc de triomphe
When you see this magnificent monument up close, you can only then fully appreciate its beauty and begin to understand why it has such a significant place in French history. The ornate carvings that adorn the walls and ceilings are intricate and makes one wonder at the depths of the artists talents who created this monument. It takes 284 steps to get to the top but I’ve heard that views over Paris are breathtaking from the top. It also forms the perfect setting for the most exclusive shopping destination in the world - Champs Elysées. Oh one walk through this entire street is enough to make you feel that there is not enough money in the world to buy everything that you little heart might desire.
I finally found the peace to immerse myself in prayer at this 800 year old chapel. No matter what religion you follow, I'm sure at this cathedral you will experience emotions that touch the core of your being. The architecture of this cathedral is truly marvellous and the stained glassed windows are absolutely beautiful. Sitting in the courtyard listening to the church bells was an experience like no other and the memory of which I will carry in my heart for the rest of my days. We wanted to go up the tower to visit the famous gargoyles, but were told that it is only allowed at certain times before 4 PM.
After long days spent on foot, I still found enough strength in my legs to explore these beautiful stalls filled with old books(most of them in French), near Pont Neuf on the banks of the Seine. There are postcards along with books and posters for sale. Some of them are used postcards and letters with addresses written in the most beautiful handwriting and posted decades earlier.
What can I say that’s not been said before about the Eiffel tower? It is afterall Paris's signature monument . I would highly recommend going here in the evening when there is still sunlight and have a small picnic on the lawns of the Eiffel tower and make pretty pictures. If you stay long enough, you get to see the lights come on "twinkling" and light up this beautiful monument.
À tout à l'heure Paree!!! Looking forward to be back meandering around your cobblestone streets along the Seine to sit on the lawns of the Eiffel, laying in the grass, sharing a kiss, sipping some wine and reading a book. Hopefully to stay and explore whatever you have to offer for a full year
Wish You Safe Travels