Back across the pond, to a city that mesmerizes me. Paris. There is as much to do in this beautiful city as there is in any other major city I’ve visited across the world, but the culture and attitude beg you to breathe, to slow down, to enjoy. So counterintuitive to how we American’s live.
What Parisians have is unique, magical and oh so creative. The architecture, the museums, the gardens, the food, the wine – have all been created for their own enjoyment, not to lure in tourists. But lure in multitudes of tourists is what all these showcased works of art has done. Sadly, to the dismay of a lot of locals. The hurry-up go-go-go attitude of westerners must be like nails on a chalkboard for most Parisians. I was once scolded by a Parisian when talking in English to my family, “When in Paris, do as the Parisians do!” In short, do not taint our culture with yours.
I may not have learned to speak French, but I have learned after a few trips to Paris, to not hurry or force the days activities. To do Paris justice, it is best to plan on being there a week plus. Spend several days getting the rush, rush attitude of home out of your system by seeing all the major sites: the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe’, Champs Elysees’, Versailles….
Then go back and do it all over again, but this time grab a bench outside the Eiffel Tower or along the Champs Elysees’ and watch the people, take in the whole of what you are experiencing. Take a long stroll along the Seine, both sides, grab a book at one of the many kiosks along the way, or better yet book a dinner cruise and enjoy French cuisine showcasing their magnificent sauces paired with an exquisite French wine. Take that book you bought and grab a seat at one of the many city gardens or French cafe’s and lose yourself into the poetry of the book and of your surroundings, while sipping a cafe’ au lait.
I do not consider myself to be an overly creative person, but in Paris I feel a desire to test that element. Being creative can be painting still life or writing poetry, or it can be simply learning to slow down enough to appreciate the true masters exhibited from past and present. Sitting in front of a Monet, allowing you to see the depth of colors, the different brush strokes, the layers of the landscape is worth every deep breath needed to force you to slow down enough to see these elements.
Where to eat: Anywhere! You can’t go wrong – whether a local creperie, a brasserie serving a baguette filled with brie cheese and jambon (ham), or fine dining on lobster at Chez Julien (circa 1780.) French macarons at Laduree’ on the Champs Elysees’ or at Pierre Herme’ (try the ice cream filled ones).
What to do: Rain or shine – and be prepared for both – walk, walk, walk. Any direction you go you come across amazing architecture, museums, cafe’s, parks….Some favorite stops: Musee’ de l’Orangerie, Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Bon Mache’ (for shopping), Luxembourg Gardens.
Check out more Paris pics in the Global Gallery.