A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about paris

As Audrey Hepburn famously said“Paris is always a good idea”

sunny 11 °C

I walked up to the Eiffel tower one autumn evening with a picnic in tow to pick up from where I left off during my last visit. Found a nice spot on the lawn to settle down only to notice that all around me were book-readers, star struck-lovers, dog-walkers, joggers, mothers, babies in strollers and leisurely walkers. What else could I have asked for? The sounds of random chatter and laughter surrounding me, the wafting smells of yummy food from picnickers baskets and the sight of the twinkling lights on the Eiffel Tower.
Couldn’t have spent my evening in Paris in a better way.

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Early next morning I sat mulling about a decision to pay a visit to Montmartre as I dug into croissants and coffee and eventually decided in favour of seeing the Sacre Coeur. When I got off at the Montmartre bus-stop, I found most of the cafés still closed, the neon lights of the Moulin Rouge off, the souvenir peddlers nowhere in sight and the tour buses that bring the crowds yet to arrive. There was something so beautiful about quietly walking around a touristy and busy part of this city when the day was still about to start and for that brief period the entire place felt like it was all mine to enjoy and explore. I wish there was more time to idle away on the back alleys of Montmartre and get to know the place for more than just the clichéd and well documented experience that most people are subject to when they visit.

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The Sacre Coeur stands on the summit of the highest point of Paris and the white-domed Basilica acts as a beacon when you hike those steep stairs to get to the top of the hill. Built out of travertine stone, the structure is pristine white inspite of constant exposure to the weather and pollution. The inside of the church is a true sanctum of peace (unlike the experiencing the evening service at Notre Dame Chapel) and I even attended the morning service conducted by nuns.
Please note : Photography is strictly forbidden within the church.

As the day wore on, I hopped on a train and decided to pay a visit to the place I had been reminiscing about these past two years - the Pont Alexandre III . This bridge is truly as beautiful as the city that houses it and I have zero qualms in admitting that this is my favourite sight in all of Paris.

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Paid a visit to the Musee de L'Orangerie and realized to my extreme surprise that Monet’s “WATER LILIES” are much more beautiful and so much bigger than I had earlier imagined looking at the pictures. Walking through the two elliptical rooms that house the murals, I couldn't imagine that this was the work of a single person and he created not one but eight of them!!! It is said that some of them were painted when his vision was failing him.

Stumbling upon this museum was a happy surprise since the original agenda for the day was to visit the Tuileries Garden. It is strange that with so much information available and a million people giving you specific ideas about what to see and what not to see and how to spend your time while in Paris. As I walked about this compact and intimate museum and explore it at my pace, I completely fall in love with it and find myself recommending a visit here to every friend who has been planning a Parisian vacation.

I learnt while at the museum, that Monet had donated these murals to the French Government as a way to offer solace to people of Paris after the First World War. Such a novel thought isn't it?!
A few lesser known works of Renoir, Manet and other Impressionist masters are housed at the L'Orangerie too, but I would highly recommend a visit to the Musee de'Orsay housed in an old train station on the opposite bank of the Seine.

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Walked past the Tuileries gardens on my way to Notre Dame and came across the Pont de Arts or what was famously known as the "Love Locks Bridge". Crossed over the bridge that had at one point held more than a million padlocks snapped on by people in love which now stands desolate. There was an ordinance passed and during the summer of 2015 and the city council cleared the bridge off the locks since the additional weight (45 tonnes!!) was causing structural damage to the bridge.
There is a small section to the side of the bridge on the Left Bank where I noticed people putting up new locks.

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Spent the evening submitting myself to the charms of the historic wonderland for bookworms nestled in the shadows of the Notre Dame chapel - Shakespeare and Company. I made friends with the pet dog Colette while I sat on a couch in the Oak Room reading books and celebrated the experience by buying a novel the title of which is the same as this little furball. I so dearly wanted to take pictures inside this magical place but photography is prohibited inside and guess we'll make do with memories.

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I walked back to my hotel after what had been perfect autumn day packed with enough moments in the sun that allowed me to walk around-take in the sights-make pretty pictures equaled by times where I had to duck indoors to the immediate comfort of mugs of choc-au-lait or coffee because of the cold. I remembered thinking that I idealise Paris to unbelievable levels and I know that my romantic notion of this city that was born out of books and movies and solidified by Google surfing only seems to be getting stronger with each visit. I’m pretty certain that daily life in Paris may not be as romantic as I believe (as I said to R&D my charming neighbours one evening), but we all need some romance in our lives and I am very happy with my affair ;)

I will never bid you adieu Paree. Instead a tout l'heure.

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Posted by Ceej 00:05 Archived in France Tagged paris l'orangerie Comments (0)

Paris in spring

C'est Magnifique!

overcast 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.

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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.

Louvre Museum

Standing in the courtyard you already get a sense of what to expect inside.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Notre-Dame

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.

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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.

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Eiffel Tower

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.

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Right from the first day I was hit by this idea that all of this is normal for Parisians! That awe I felt when I heard the bells tolling at the Notre Dame at dusk, the joy I felt walking along the Seine, all those lampposts lighting up cobblestone paths. Al these treasures are simply a part of the fabric of a Parisians lives and since their face doesnt wreath into smiles while passing by it I'm somehow certain they might even be used to them being in the background! What would that be like, to live in a place where you could expect to see so much beauty on a day to day basis?

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
Sowmya CJ

Posted by Ceej 14:28 Archived in France Tagged paris eiffel spring path cafe seine notre lamps cobblestone paree Comments (2)

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