Day 2 of Writing 101 and the challenge it to come up with a list of things that one likes.
The problem is that I like rather a lot of things so I thought that instead of burdening you, dear reader, with a list of obscure antiques and other fripperies my heart craves that I would instead give a summary of what, for me, are the Top 10 Things I like in Paris.
The Top 10 Things I like in Paris
- Musée de Cluny – My absolute favorite museum in all of Paris. Medieval treasures! The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries! A complete, intact Roman bath house attached to a wonderful building constructed in the late 1400’s! What is there not to like? Please don’t visit because no-one seems to know about it even though it is a tiny walk into the left bank from the Île de la Cité. A lovely half day adventure
- The Louvre – If you have the luxury of time then try for at least 2 uninterrupted days inside. Going online and use the layered maps to choose a pathway can help you to see so much more and make the most of the time. The fabulous rooms and spaces are in themselves spectacular and the artworks and treasures are indescribable. Thursday’s late opening gives you a chance to wander through the splendor at night and is often less busy.
- Saint-Étienne-du-Mont and the tomb of St Genevieve – The patron saint of Paris, St Genevieve’s tomb is a wonder of 19th Century Gothic fantasy inside one of the most delightful churches in Paris. The beautiful marble carvings that fill the church are just lovely and if you enjoyed the movie “Midnight in Paris” you will find the steps where the main character journeyed into the past attached to the church.
- Canal St Martin – A barge trip up through the locks along the Canal St Martin is surprisingly unknown by most tourists. Go down to the quay at Bastille and you may find that you can depart that day or you may need to come back the next day (so French!). It is worth the wait. The barge passes beneath la Bastille and then finishes its delightful journey at the Bassin de la Villette. It was so charming that I and my companions blubbed.
- Musée d’Orsay – To see all of the impressionist pictures familiar from books and cards in real life is something you must do. To suddenly see what is familiar in its original size, color and texture is unbelievably exciting. Most people do not realise that the place also is full of wonderful examples of Art Nouveau decorative arts as well. If you have time to enjoy a meal behind one of the huge clocks in the restaurant on the top floor you will not be disappointed.
- Parc Montsouris – One of the major parks conceived by Haussmann for the pleasure of the Parisian populace. Created on the informal “English” park model, this park is an unexpected delight. Its meandering walks, beautiful lakes and asymmetrical layout are entrancing. There is even a Punch and Judy show in a charming little theatre near one of the entrances.
- Jardin du Luxambourg – Marie de Medici knew what she was about when she had this place constructed. No wonder it has been the Flâneur’s Mecca for centuries. The cool green of the newly leafing chestnuts is a pointillist’s dream and the formal gardens with their statues and riots of flowers delight the senses. Sit on one of the seats and watch the Bon Ton of Paris wander by.
- Opera Garnier/Palais Garnier – Imagine falling into a giant king’s (and a very rich giant king’s) jewelry box and you would be in the Opera Garnier. You don’t have to go to the Opera to see this wonder of the most opulent style. So dazzlingly beautiful with dozens of different types of marble, stunning mosaics, ormolu and gilding it makes Versailles look positively plain. Wander about it for a mere nothing and you can imagine for a moment how beautiful the Belle Epoque must have been.
- Château de Vincennes – Not quite in the heart of Paris but still just 1 metro ticket away, this massive medieval castle was the home of the ancient kings of France until they built the Louvre. Strangely undervisited, this fabulous fairy-tale castle with its huge central tower, moat and walls is wonderfully intact. You can even see traces of the original paint in some of the rooms showing how rich the original medieval interiors must have been. You can roam about a large part of it at leisure and I do not know of another such place so complete and fascinating.
- Musée Rodin – What better way to see Rodin’s works that in the grounds of his own home. Rodin obviously did pretty well for himself as his residence is, in itself, a wonderful 18th century mansion. With delightful grounds filled with his bronze works, including The Thinker, and the interior of his house filled with his art and sculpture it is well worth the short step across the road from Napoleon’s tomb. A few lesser known Van Goghs and a Munch or two on the walls were an extra bonus.
I realise that this may well not match your idea of Top 10 Paris or that you may have “been there and done that” but I hope for some that this might give you a few fresh ideas for when you next plan to visit the La Ville Lumière.
Here is a gallery of images I snapped of the places mentioned.