"Tour Eiffel 360 Panorama" by Armin Hornung - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tour_Eiffel_360_Panorama.jpg#/media/File:Tour_Eiffel_360_Panorama.jpg
Paris; getting there in heart and mind
A friend of mine who is in her late twenties recently said to me she was going to Paris for the first time and as she knew I had been on a recent visit asked me if I had any recommendations of places she could visit. As soon as she said it I felt a twinge of jealousy almost, resentment even, that she would have all the wonder and excitement of discovering and exploring that city for the very first time.
It brought back vivid memories to me of how I had first encountered Paris as a 16 year old backpacker, some forty years ago now. I was straight out of the Valleys of South Wales and had never been abroad before and had only once previously visited London, for a weekend when I was 13. If ever travelling was an education that trip of mine as a 16 year old to Paris and then on to elsewhere in Europe was a graduation on a grand scale. Recently my father who is now in his late eighties and suffering from early dementia said to me “I remember that fist time you want to Europe, you came back a different boy than the one who went”
Since that first trip of mine back in the 1970s the city has changed a lot and if anything these days is a bit less uniquely “French” and is now more a globalised city, much like anywhere else in the early 21st Centenary. There are things I miss about the old Paris, such as the little three-wheeler Nicolas delivery vans plying the streets delivering wine in much the same way milk used to be delivered in the UK, but there are still many wonders in that city of light so I thought I would share in this blog a few of my own thoughts of places to visit based on experience.
"Tour Montparnasse seen from Arc de Triomphe" by Ввласенко - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tour_Montparnasse_seen_from_Arc_de_Triomphe.jpg#/media/File:Tour_Montparnasse_seen_from_Arc_de_Triomphe.jpg
I don’t think this is all that well known by many British tourists and is certainly not as famous as that other tower in the city but you will get the best few of Paris from here, better than Sacre Cour and better than the Eiffel Tour. People say it is the best view of Paris as it is the only place in Paris you cannot see the Tour Montparnasse :-/ which is not, it has to be said, the most aesthetically pleasing of buildings, but the view is second to none, look.
"Eiffel Tower from the Tour Montparnasse, 1 May 2012 N1" by Getfunky - Flickr: Paris. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eiffel_Tower_from_the_Tour_Montparnasse,_1_May_2012_N1.jpg#/media/File:Eiffel_Tower_from_the_Tour_Montparnasse,_1_May_2012_N1.jpg
The Eiffel Tour
This is also obviously worth a visit. There are three different stages or platforms to the tower and if you are feeling energetic you can walk up to the first stage and even the second stage which is fun and a little exhilarating. At the tower though watch out for long queues and pickpockets . :-( A walk I would recommend from here which is not too long and takes you through some of the key sights is start at the tower up to the Trocadero up Avenue Kléber to the Arc de Triomphe then all the way down the Champs Elysee to the Place de la Concorde ( or Place de la Revolution as I still prefer to call it). If you carry on if you fancy a longer walk you will get to the Louvre. The Tower is also a good place to access the Bateau Mouche (Fly Boats) these are tourist boats that go up and down the Siene but again they are another very good way to see the sights of the city and not so strenuous as walking.
"Trocadéro canons à eau 2" by Siren-Com - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Trocad%C3%A9ro_canons_%C3%A0_eau_2.jpg#/media/File:Trocad%C3%A9ro_canons_%C3%A0_eau_2.jpg
Chatelet: A Favorite Walk
A favourite Paris walk of mine is to start off at one of my best places in the city; Chatelet – Les Halles, (Easy to get to on the Metro) this is a little like the Paris version of Covent Garden, an historic commercial centre of the city and where you can get everything that makes for the Paris experience good food, coffee, wine and somewhere to sit and watch the world go by.
"RuePierreLescot" by Minato ku - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:RuePierreLescot.JPG#/media/File:RuePierreLescot.JPG
Start off and take in Chatelet them walk toward the Pompidou Centre which again is worth a look and a quick visit depending what is on there. After you pass the centre turn right and you will be able to walk to the Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) which will be straight in front of you, where there is normally some sort of exhibition outside then if you continue straight on you will reach the famous and awe inspiring Notre Dame Cathedral. If you are down that area another place worth a visit is Sainte Chapelle in the Conciergerie which has some amazing stained glass windows if that is what you are in to.
"Sainte-Chapelle-Interior" by Michael D. Hill Jr. - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sainte-Chapelle-Interior.jpg#/media/File:Sainte-Chapelle-Interior.jpg
Anyway, that is enough to be going on with, main thing with Paris is take in the city not just the sights because sometimes the sights can get in the way of seeing the real city.