Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Paris for beginners -Part 1
This blog post is really for my friends M and A who are going to Paris for a week. They are quite lovely people - well traveled and have an amazing perspective on the world. I believe the last time they were in Paris, they might have been roughing it a little more.
In any case, here is my best what to see in Paris advice. Take what you can from it and throw the rest away.
Welcome to a city that is full of amazing stuff - croissants spilling out of shop doors, dogs clad in Chanel, millions of instagrammable shots everywhere you look and tourists, scads of tourists.
Be a tourist for a few days, take in the city by bites, there is no need to see it all in a purposeful way. Make it fun, not a trudge.
Paris is a bunch of cities in one. Pick a few things that appeal to you - gardens, fashion, art, technology, revolution, food and focus on them. No need to be greedy. Paris will always be there. Focus on those things and do them well.
Interested in gardens and adaptive reuse? Visit Parc Andre Citroen, Parc de la Villette, Viaducts des Arts, Canal St. Martin, Bercy, Bois de Boulogne, Giverny spring to mind and don't forget the Jardins des Plantes.
Interested in Markets - pick three to see - one with a great view is the Marche Au President Wilson, Posh Organic Market - Boul. Raspail, Ethnic Market - one on the Canal, Covered markets are worth a look as well... The Quai de la Mégisseries and others close by have great plants. From this you get a sense of how Parisians try hard to eek out a little green in the smallest of balconies.
Outdoor Art - Musee Rodin, Pompidou and the sculpture garden located at Quai St. Bernard on the Seine.
Understanding Hausmann - walk the Grands Boulevards, at least for bit - Start at Opera, look down the Avenue, go towards Madeleine, marvel at the square and the poshness that surrounds. If you are strong willed, walk up Boul. Malesherbes to see the grandness of the streets. You can stop anywhere along the way to rest your feet. Contrast this with the Marais and its medieval feel.
Find the best box of chocolates - you know my favorites - Foucher, Jean Paul Hevin, La Maison du Chocolat, compare and contrast. Do the same for macarons - you don't have to order a whole box, it is perfectly okay to order one or two.
The maps that you get from the hotels are remarkably well designed and should be used in conjunction to those you use to navigate on your phone.