But for Paris, ah, ma cherie, I have good news for you!
Aside from spending money, the best thing to do in Paris is spend time!
5. Walk along the Seine
Throw the guidebooks away for a day. Especially if that day is sunny. Take the Metro. Walk.
Go to Point Zero, which is a point in front of Notre Dame from which all points in France are measured!
Stroll along the river to admire the vendors with old postcards, prints, paintings, clothing and snacks!
Take pictures and breathe in the Paris air.
Buy an ice, if you must. But inhale the aromas of French roast coffee and baking croissants. Admire the flowers. I've never seen such blooms.
Walk over to the Place des Vosges, ordered built by Henri IV and a favorite place for Parisians today to take a picnic!
|Doors at entrance to|
Gives me chills every time I see it.
What a man he must have been.
Be sure to pay homage to General Foch who was the last of four French generals to lead the French military in La Grande Guerre, in the First World War.
Carried by a member of each of the branches of the French military, his coffin denotes the sorrow of the French who suffered enormous the destruction to home and civilians during that first global conflict.
|General Foch carried by his French comrades|
in Les Invalides
3. Visit the train stations!
I know you think I'm nuts, but really, they are a slice of architectural beauty. My favorite is Gare (pronounced not Gar, as in garage, but Garrrrrrrr) de L'Est. This Station of the East is a beauty opened in 1849 and it retains all the glorious expansive beauty of the Belle Epoch. Look at the fan windows. Admire the wide concourse. Both were innovations in their day.
Now imagine through here traveled millions of French and American soldiers from 1914 to 1919. Why?
The fronts were to the north of Paris for all Entente forces. The American front for the American Expeditionary Forces was to the north and east and the best way to get to them, if not by truck convoy, was by train. Often these train tracks did not couple and forces had to wait for hours for the arrival of another train on an adjoining track. Needless to say, the journey was long and arduous.
The cars, during wartime, were overcrowded, stinky, few seats available, without WCs (bathrooms, to Americans) and without any refreshment or dining cars.
People fled the fighting and the bombs and the invading armies on these trains. Carrying their chickens, their family photo albums, their clothes, millions boarded these trains and fled south. Many never returned. Villages were abandoned to the men fighting with sabers, rifles, flares, chemical gases and cannon.
2. Take the Metro to Montemarte and walk into the square where you will find dozens of artists selling their wares.
If walking distances is a challenge, get off the Metro at Lamark and walk up up up the stairs. Good for the gluts, you see. (Yes, then another set of steps to the square!)
Dart into the many galleries to admire works by contemporary artists.
Walk down the steps toward Rue de Caulingcourt (named after one of Napoleon I's closest friends, ambassador to Russia and famous general). Note The Agile Rabbit on your right where dozens of Impressionist painters and sculptors and writers went nightly to drink and inspire each other!
Stroll along the Rue and walk into a wine shop for your vin. Next door, buy a cheese (dozens to choose from) and a demi baguette. Further along is a fabulous shop whose owner rotisseries chickens and little potatoes in a little roaster right out there on the sidewalk!
Take them all home or to your hotel and feast!
Pack a lunch to sit in the gardens! Buy a sandwich of brie and ham, a chocolate croissant and coffee and admire what was saved for you by a Nazi general who refused Hitler's order to burn Paris in August 1944. Drop into Laduree and buy scrumptious macaroons.
Sit and imagine you are Marie Antoinette or Josephine or even Napoleon I or his nephew, Napoleon III admiring the view. Yes, on this site there once stood a Tuileries Palace where Marie Antoinette hid from the Revolutionaries and where Josephine bemoaned Napoleon's affairs. Admire what Napoleon saved and improved about Paris which include the bridges that bear his N emblem, river transportation, water availability and many roads into the capital.