Spring has to be one of the best times of the year to visit a city. It won’t be as touristy as in the summertime but the sun is already shining, the locals start coming out of the darkness of winter. Paris awakes again in April. So my friend Lina and I decided to spend a few days in the city before heading to Normandy.
Walking along the Seine (river) is part of the Parisian charm. There are the “rive gauche” and “rive droite”, in the middle flows the river and the many bridges take you to each side. I think the presence of a river in a city makes it easier to live in. Capital cities are stressful, the current and the freshness brought by a large stream are relaxing. And what a delight to sit by the “quais de Seine” in the summer by yourself, with a lover or your friends, enjoying views and sunsets. It won’t be the beach but there is a very charming atmosphere there. You usually stumble upon so many beautiful buildings along your walks, like Notre-Dame de Paris or the Louvre. In the daytime or by night, you can take your time and watch the boats. Some people live on their boats and they sure look like home. I personally like the idea of living on a boat or even just to sit there for a drink on a hot evening.
If you are not afraid of walking up a hill and the many stairs of Montmartre, it’s a jewel on top of the city of lights.
There are little streets you can get lost in, there is a square where artists exhibit their paintings or will draw a portrait of you (not always so accurate, pick the right one hehe), but of course the main attraction will be the Sacré-Coeur. This white basilica is impressive by its size and its presence but the best part of it, in my humble opinion, is its “Frenchness”. There are always artists playing music down the stairs looking over the city. It’s a very crowded and popular area but in the morning it is usually alright if you want to go inside the basilica or to sit down and breathe in the Parisian vibe (and pollution, let us be honest).
Down the hill, you can find the Pigalle area, which I always really like. There are a lot of students, nice bars and restaurants. Check out La rue des martyrs or le Moulin Rouge, if you’re around.
If you enjoy the sight of the Eiffel Tower, you should obviously go to the Trocadéro.
If you walk down the water jets, ponds and statues you will end up by the river. If you continue straight ahead you will go to the Champs de Mars and under the tower, but we went for a stroll by the river banks, of course. It is a good spot for photographs.
The walk from the bridge took us to the Jardin des Tuileries and Louvre. There are many parks in Paris, which makes it almost livable with some “unpolluted” air.
Another park that I absolutely love is le Jardin du Luxembourg, where you will see the Sénat. There are so many alleys and trees/statues/fountains/ponds and even a beekeeper in the summer, you will find a spot for reading or chatting easily.
We had a picnic at the park with students and pupils on their lunch break, very relaxing. The ducks even joined in.
So from the Louvre to Saint Michel we basically walked along the river again. Following the Seine will take you to so many places, don’t hesitate to try it. And at night the lights will mesmerise you.
We decided to spend most of our time outside considering the lovely weather. There are so many exhibitions and museums to discover, don’t think twice and go to the Louvre for all its collections or try the Musée d’Orsay (my favourite) for some amazing impressionism. The MAM (modern art) is also incredible but you can discover smaller museums like the Musée de la vie romantique (not far from Pigalle) with George Sand’s belongings and a fantastic garden to have a tea.
Art is in the streets of Paris for free if you look around curiously. I’m pretty much a child in the city always looking at the details nobody sees, being a noticer and observer is part of the Paris experience.
Try sitting at a table outside a café, a bistrot, a brasserie. Sit in order to face the street and observe passers by, while enjoying a drink. There you are, being a real Parisian.
Oh and don’t listen to the old rumors, Parisians are very friendly and will help you if you are polite. They don’t bite!
Paris is very romantic, but it’s also a good place to think or reflect on life or as we say in French “un endroit pour philosopher”. So, accept the invitation and become a philosopher for a few days in the city of lights.
Refaire le monde à Paris…
Bon séjour à Paris!