Friday

I love Paris







I will try and recollect my first images of Paris here, because those images vary to a very large extent, now that I have been a regular to Paris.

Paris is a pretty small city compared to many other European capitals. The Govt had mooted an idea of extending its boundaries to the suburbs in order to make a “Greater Paris” area, aka London, but this seems to be stuck in the pipeline despite President Sarkozy taking this on himself and making it a priority!

We reached Paris on a warm sunny day. The trees were alive with new leaves, people were seated on sidewalk cafes chatting amicably, and drinking in outdoor terraces – window gazing and ambling lazily on the streets – it’s easy to love spring in Paris. I absolutely love this city. A thriving megapolis Paris also has many hidden treasures. We discovered this cute little village like lane where we strolled along under blossoming trees and a canal cris-crossing at intervals never once being cut off by any vehicular traffic. Now that is never possible in a Bombay:)

The slight nip in the air saw the evenings receive light showers. That made it comfortable if you are snug in a jacket to walk about with pleasure. I was warned well in advance that I was not likely to find any food (veg) to my liking, so I was so well prepared to last out on bread and cheese that when I stumbled on eateries I was so gloriously delighted to find great tasting veg food! Minus the French onion soup though!

On a wintry afternoon I discovered the crepes guy making hot crepes that melted in the mouth with maple syrup – o so so so yum! Meethinks the French spend more time eating compared to any other country including Italy. Not surprising, giving the gourmet foods on display and the glorious cheeses and wines! But the one thing that stood out for me was the formal attitude of the waiters and waitress in the patisseries and cafes and lounges and restobars. I've never come across one with an attitude that could be described as remotely 'casual'. Always propah, always formal stiff and starched- a sunny smile could do wonders in the winter chill am sure:)

I was also warned about the rude French folks who would neither be helpful nor polite. And of course that they wouldn’t speak English no matter what! And once again I was so pleasantly surprised. They spoke English, they were courteous, charming and above all very helpful. Wonder why the Parisians have earned themselves such a -ve brand equity.

Anyway moving to what is an absolute must in case you are visiting for the very first time, take in this gorgeous city at face value. It is indeed the land of romance and love – and you will find young and old smooching, hugging, holding hands, in a tight clinch anywhere and everywhere. Lovely isn’t it!:)

Ok coming to the sites and sounds- of course the Eiffel Tower, is a must see, this colossal landmark, although initially hated by many Parisians, is now a famous symbol of French civic pride. It looks beautiful at night when lit

Notre Dame Cathedral, this famous cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture (12th century marvel), stands on the Île de la Cité is the symbolic heart of the city.

Luxembourg Gardens, are a beautiful 25 hectares green oasis on Paris’s fashionable left bank showing off many statues, fountains and flowers, it is one of the most popular destinations for relaxation.

Louvre Palace-Museum, home to Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. The Louvre is more than simply the largest museum in the world. The stones of the building are a collective symbol of French identity. It has an unparalleled collection of items covering the full spectrum of art through the ages of 800 years of history. There is much to see here, please wear sensible shoes for the immense lengths you will be walking here.

Arc de Triomphe, This world-famous landmark structure has served ever since the days of Napoleon as a symbol of victory for triumphant French troops returning home.

Pantheon, this ancient church is the resting place for many of France's greatest heroes.

If you like some expensive entertainment, the Lido on the Champs Elysées is a good choice. We went to the show Bonheur, which is still playing. I guess you can compare it with the Moulin Rouge, but it's better actually.

I've been to both and the Lido is more glamorous and there are more dancers. You really can't compare the show - it's just different. In the Lido the stage moves all the time. They have great dancers, clothing, light, water and even a real horse in their show.

It costs a lot of money, but for the Lido is more worth it than the Moulin Rouge.

And once you have done all these- make sure you eat in the sidewalk cafes, sip wine in the evenings at restobars, lounge about in some cozy cafes and bars, explore the cuisine and try your hand at new foods, get yourself going on the Parisian culture of etiquette and fine living:)

Its always au revoir for Paris for me – goodbye till we meet again:)

14 comments:

mathatheist said...

sounds lovely. would love to be there someday.

melinda said...

O I love Pari too but have not been as lucky with my experiences in the french capital:(

sheila said...

Mee am sure you would have seen this- I find it most amusing! For all the la di da attitude the parisians carry they are just like the Asian counterparts and no different:)
These chic, savvy Parisians buy their face creams and ear plugs and all household related nick knacks at sales just as a delhite or a bombayite would with equal pushing, shoving and elbowing:)
So no li faluting settings or premium prices here! These ladies love a bargain, and they pack the narrow aisles of CityPharma elbowing each other out of the way to reach their favorite products, sold at half or less the price they’d pay elsewhere. I found this very amusing:)

Raj said...

Contrary to the impression created by the best-selling book French Women Don’t Get Fat, not all French people are svelte:)

Traditional eating habits have changed, waistlines are expanding and obesity is on the rise in france. And voila they have a fat-fighting baguette. It contains a special mix of grains and fibers designed to make people feel full longer. This baguette comes pre-divided into six parts, three of them to be eaten with breakfast, two with lunch and one with dinner. While a bit dry, it is perfectly palatable. So their secret is now available to all of us:)- that why I love Paris so much- wink wink

gita said...

Meeee!! You forgot Andre?!:) the beautiful store for classy sexy or casual shoes, you get all types here and we simply love this store:)

Anon said...

You've obviously not been to Madrid - which beats Paris hollow in my opinion!! Try it some time - you'll loooove it!!! I've always thought La Gei Paris is rather overrated, but then a batchmate who was posted there is probably to blame for that. Long story - some other time!

Sangeeta

Anon said...

The 4 of us (husband + kids + I) live in Clichy la Garenne which is a popular and multi-cultural suburb really near Paris (we've got the metro and can be in Paris's centre in less than 1/4 of an hour). We like playing tourists in Paris ourselves, as there are so many places to discover and others that change:)

Gilda

Mike said...

Paris is The city of lights! If you travel by flight in the night you feel that lots of Stars are present on earth, actually because of lots of big malls, hotels and bars in night Paris look like city of light. Only because of its nightlife, millions of visitors come every year.

Jim said...

When does a city lose its "realness" and start to become a Disneyland-type attraction? Could we say that when the number of visitors or tourists exceeds its regular number of inhabitants, then it risks this demise ? To my mind Paris was great pre crass commercialism invasion, now , it seems to be only catering to the demands of the perennial waves of tourists...

RavneetSingh said...

No matter how much people trash Paris..you cant help but acknowledge this city:) I think trashing something good these days has become fashionable!

It is not surprising at all to me that Paris is dubbed the eternal city, Paris is sensual, vital, beautiful, youthful, and lovely. A perfect place for a traveller. It reflects a sense of timeless essence- shows off very proudly its many moods, lifestyles, sights, sounds, flavors, and history in so many unique ways.

My memories are always fresh about Paris:)

Anon said...

I had the worst Indian meal of my life in Paris, last May. I was dragged kicking and screaming to a restaurant (the name of which I never got) on the last night of a long weekend trip. Rotten food, even worse atmosphere, and for the first time in probably ten years, I got sick from a meal. IN PARIS!! I was too nauseous even the next day to eat my obligatory chausson aux pommes for breakfast.

Never again. I had wanted to go to a Moroccan restaurant, but as the guest of someone else, was not able to insist. The whole experience was made even more annoying by the fact that I go to India every year and get all my Indian food cravings satisfied at the source. I don't even eat Indian much in the US anymore because I'm now so picky about it. Being forced to eat this trash in Paris, of all places, was just tragic.

Julie

gita said...

After we normally wrap up on dinner, we go seeking lazy hangouts in paris. So we get to beautiful café’s and here one can unwind for the day and rest feet. These Paris coffee houses serve up more than delicious coffee and sodas..

Brian said...

Paris is definitely one of our dream destinations and hope to cover it by next yr..
What is the best time to visit this beautiful place?

Mee said...

@mathatheist - you'll be thr sooner than later am sure:) its right next door to London:)

@mel -awwwwww:(

@sheila- wow thats a new imagery for me:)

@ Raj - fat-fighting baguette!! u kidding?!

@gita- I splurged big time at Andre- some lovely shoes :) we purchased

@Sangeeta- I LOve Paris:) will go to Madrid one day too and cross check notes with you:)

@gilda- so so true:)

@Mike- its so ethereal at times, so romantic

@Jimmy- but even London sees this influx as does Milan or any other large city of a country...not sure I agree thr

@RS- my saviour, lets not be so harsh:)

@Julie- very tragic- am sorry:(

@Gita- aha! Nostalgia- such wonderful street side cafes and wine bars:)

@Brian -PAris for me is a round the yr romance:) but guess the best mnths would be springtime:)