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Meandering Paris–Come Walk with me

Meandering in Paris
Meandering in Paris

Thomas Jefferson got it right when he said, ““A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.”

While I’m not sure I have learned the “point of life” from walking around Paris, I’ve certainly seen a lot of history and beauty.  It’s the best way to spend time in the City of Light even on  a rainy day.

This blog post is a series of snapshots of random sights and scenes from walks around Paris during September 2017.  I hope to capture and convey the spirit of this marvelous city and why I love it so.

Quintessential Paris: The Sidewalk Cafe

As I wander the cobblestone streets of Paris I often stop at a sidewalk cafes.  Paris has 20,000 side walk cafes, made possible when Baron Haussmann tore down much of the  city and built wide boulevards with expansive sidewalks making the outdoor cafe a fixture and part of daily life.

Whether taking time to sip a glass of wine or enjoy a meal that awakens dormant taste buds, it’s all part of the experience.  So…walk, walk, walk,  but be sure to slow down, sit down  and watch the world go by .

Side walk cafe Paris
Famous sidewalk cafe in Paris

Street Performers captivate me

I never tire of the street performers.  The fellow with the electric guitar captivated me for quite a while. We often see the same performers trip after trip.   The fellow pictured below in the colorful garb hangs out near Place Vosges, my favorite Paris Park.   His operatic voice is memorable.  We bought his CD to bring the sound of Paris home.

Street performer, Ile Saint Louis
Street performer, Ile Saint Louis
Singer near Place de Vosges
Singer near Place de Vosges in the Marais

Lunch at Le Train Bleu for authentic French dining experience

One has to eat and this time we enjoyed a travelers lunch at Le Train Bleu.  The elaborate restaurant pictured below can be found in the Gare de Lyon. Yep, a train station.  When Le Train Bleu opened in early 1900’s, it was the epitome of elegance.  Recently restored, it evokes an era gone by when train travel was especially posh.

Our experience was authentically French, including the slightly snobbish waiter.

Le Train Bleu
Le Train Bleu at Gare de Lyon
Le Train Bleu
Le Train Bleu at Gare de Lyon
Looking at train station Gare de Lyon from door to Le Train Bleu
Looking at train station Gare de Lyon from door to Le Train Bleu

Stylish Construction Site

I love scenes like this.   A huge mural covered construction site  delights the eye while the work progresses  behind the screen.  Makes me smile.  I particularly like the bell man.  I assume the mural is hiding  a hotel.  Will check it out on my next trip.

construction site in Paris
construction site in Paris

Palais Royale

On my walk I headed to the Palais Royale, a park and a historic area of Paris with a high end shopping arcade, gorgeous garden and gobs of history. This is the scene I encountered–an exercise class staged around the fountain.  Not a shabby site to work those abs, huh?    After the class moved on,  I took a closer look to make a different kind of photograph.

Exercise class at Palais Royale
Exercise class at Palais Royale
Palais Royale
Palais Royale

Passages in Paris

I’m a little obsessed with the Passages in Paris.  These are interior walkways with shops and restaurants, built in the late 1800s and early 1900s on the Right Bank.  The Passages  made it possible for folks in their Paris finery to shop, lunch and meander without getting wet during frequent Paris downpours.  They were the precursor to shopping centers, don’t you think?

At one point there were over 100 Passages but now one can meander about 20.  I try to find one or two each trip.  Here’s one in the neighborhood where the Indians live.  Just having spent three weeks in India in March, I was drawn to the colors and food and culture of this Passage.

I took a few minutes to capture the graphic roof detail.

Passage in Paris
Passage in Paris
Ceiling Detail of Passage.
Ceiling detail of Passage

Many of the Passages are marked with sidewalk signs like this one.  For more about Passages check out blog posts:  Paris Passages: A Touch of Glass  and Paris: Five New Discoveries.   Many tourists sadly miss the Passage experience. I try not to.

Passage du Ponceau
Passage du Ponceau

Le Hangar

I also like to find restaurants not frequented by tourists.  You know, the little hole in the wall place where only French is spoken.  This is one that a friend recommended and it did not disappoint.  It is right around the corner from the Centre Georges Pompidou–a major tourist destination.  Nearby  I spotted the sign  for Musee de la  Poupee. We didn’t have time to visit, but I am curious about it.  Next trip?

Le Hangar
Le Hangar
https://www.centrepompidou.fr
https://www.centrepompidou.fr

 

Musee de la Poupee
Musee de la Poupee

MUSÉE DES ARTS ET MÉTIERS

Speaking of interesting museums, we did visit the  MUSÉE DES ARTS ET MÉTIERS for history of design and innovation.  I was drawn to the camera displays. If you are intrigued with the history of the world’s major inventions,  this vintage Paris museum is one to add to your list of places to visit.

MUSÉE DES ARTS ET MÉTIERS
MUSÉE DES ARTS ET MÉTIERS

Center of Paris: The Seine

I always expect to see something new by the Seine.  This time a small soccer field covered with a cage   to keep the ball from flying into the water drew us to get close to watch the active folks.  What a great use of a tiny piece of land.

Soccer by the Seine
Soccer by the Seine

Shopping in Paris

Fortunately it doesn’t appear that the Internet has taken over the shopping scene in Paris.  Window shopping is a national pastime.   I think this  shop is for those who know that wearing athletic shoes in Paris screams “Tourist” and for those impossibly chic Parisian women I aspire to look like.

shopping in Paris
shopping in Paris

This stunning church is new to the Paris skyscape.  Located not far from the Eiffel Tower, this Russian Orthodox  Church stands out with seven dramatic gold domes.  Makes me think of Hersey Kisses. We didn’t go in.   Visiting this building is  another “next time” item.  I’m sure they offer tours or at least a spot for a quiet moment of contemplation. For more about this new structure, read this article from the Guardian.

Russian Orthodox Church in Paris
Russian Orthodox Church in Paris

Top Paris Tip

Speaking of quiet moments, my Number One recommendation for something special to do in Paris is to attend a concert in  Saint Chapelle on Ile de la Cite for serene contemplation of the gorgeous historic windows while savoring  beautiful music.  Going there never fails to calm and inspire my spirit.  For more about this experience click on these links.  Repeat Visit: Concert at Sainte Chapelle   or  Saint Chapelle is a Stunning location for a concert.

Saint Chapelle
Saint Chapelle before the concert started
rose window of Saint Chapelle
Rose window of Saint Chapelle

#Paris #Parismeandering #Parisflaneurs #ParisTouristTips

 

Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.

Comments

4 Comments
  1. posted by
    Margaret Idema
    Dec 11, 2017 Reply

    Hi Susan, I love the mixed “flavor” of this post with sights, people, restaurants, etc. I’ll be checking in with you (or your blog) next time I want to go to Paris. These are some great out-of-the way ideas!

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      Dec 11, 2017 Reply

      Thanks, Margaret. Paris is full of surprises and wonderful places. Hope you get there soon.

  2. posted by
    Barb Rohwer
    Dec 12, 2017 Reply

    Another great blog Susan. Having recently returned from this great city and having re-visited your blogs on Paris, we discovered the Grand Canal. “One Fine Stay” (our “go to” rental agency) suggested a tour company called “Localers”. These small (2-6 people) tours offer many choices from an Canal Saint Martin Food tour, the Paris Catacombs, Paris WWII, and about 30 more. We loved our guide that walked us through her neighborhood on the “Canal…tour”. Keep walking and keep posting Susan!

  3. posted by
    JULIE M HAWKSWORTH
    Dec 13, 2017 Reply

    Such a great blog Susan, you really captured some great Paris moments, wonderful photography, funny and very enjoyable to read, thank you!

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