PARIS ... mais oui!
Paris – it had been quite a while since my last visit to the city of love. Recently, I preferred other cities such as London and Madrid, also because of professional reasons. So, why not visit Paris on a gorgeous early spring weekend? The journey on the high-speed train THALYS takes just a little less than 4 hours from my home city of Düsseldorf – comfortable, fast and more sustainable than a plane. Good for my carbon footprint!
A little bit of Greece in Paris
I have already told you about my stay at the fabulous new 25hours Hotel Terminus Nord and my flying visit to Montmartre. This time, it`s all about my other undertakings on this glorious weekend in February. The church of La Madeleine is my starting point. This beautiful chapel with its Corinthian columns reminds rather of a Greek temple. La Madeleine is located right downtown Paris – I did not go inside since I preferred to enjoy that wonderful weather. And just between us – I am not really a churchgoer. Anyways!
Watching out for Madame Deneuve
From La Madeleine, I stroll along expensive boutiques (worth to have a look at KENZO) towards Place Vendôme. On your way, you may sip a coffee at the passage Village Royal with its colorful umbrellas – rather expensive but hey, that`s Paris! The Place Vendôme makes me always think of French diva Cathérine Deneuve and the famous movie of 1998. Madame Deneuve is a true symbol of the elegant, a bit snobby Parisian lady. I love the obelisk at Place Vendôme, the shops are really fancy and more for window shopping only. As I said, Paris is not the cheapest place on this planet, but I did not intend to shop here anyway.
Where to look first in Paris?
The French capital wins over with its architecture and its beauty. Sometimes all the pageantry is simply overwhelming, the famous Opéra Garnier is a great example. Golden statues sparkle on the historic building under the spring sun.
This Sunday, traffic is not as awful as during the week. Therefore, you can walk relatively relaxed. And the good thing is that there are so many parks and gardens to take a deep breath -away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Have a look at the court of the Palais Royal with all its art and splendid gardens. My big favorite is, of course, the „Jardin des Tuileries“ between the Place de la Concorde with the Egyptian obelisk and the world-famous Louvre, which, by the way, has by far the most beautiful Metro station with many works of art. On this glorious day, it seems like „tout Paris“ is on the move, over and above all those tourists from all over the world that keep visiting the city. It would be so nice to sit down for a while after all the walking, but all chairs at the Tuileries are occupied. So I continue my walk to the courtyard of the Louvre museum with the famous glass pyramid. This piece of art has created lots of debates, but why? I love the contrast between old and modern architecture. And the good thing: here are some small walls to finally sit down and rest the tired feet.
No Time for Mona Lisa
Visiting the museum? No. Again, the day is too beautiful to spend it inside and quite frankly, I am not a big fan of old art. Haven`t we already seen pictures of the Mona Lisa so many times? I always prefer modern art (with better-looking people… sorry, Madame...) and whatever you are looking for, Paris has a total of 173 museums. Enough said?
Famous Churches and Cafés in paris
Time to go to the river. The Seine is just around the corner. Not the cleanest river but Idonot intend to swim. It is awesome to just walk along the river, watch people, the many sites and those famous boats („bâteaux mouches“) for tourists. I prefer a healthy walk up to the Île de la Cité with the famous Notre Dame cathedral. Have you ever seen one of the movies „The Hunchback of Notre Dame“ with Charles Laughton and Anthony Quinn? As a child, they have impressed me a lot with that ugly bell ringer Quasimodo, who saved the life of the beautiful gypsy woman Esmeralda. From Notre Dame, you reach Saint Germain des Près on the other side of the Seine river, with the famous Café des Magots. This place was (and still is) a meeting point for the intellectuals and the tourists, of course. You cannot escape from all the international visitors, no way. Sip a coffee in a café where famous people such as Simone de Beauvoir, Sartre, Hemingway and Picasso used to have a chat.
Escaping the Demonstrations
I would like to pass the elegant Pont Alexandre up to the Place de la Concorde, but unfortunately, this is wishful thinking on this late Saturday afternoon. From far I can already hear the noise of the so-called „maillots jaunes“, protesters in yellow vests. Nothing against peaceful demonstrations but obviously, tear gas is used here that spoils the air. Just get away from here, even though I have to walk a few extra miles in order to avoid the roadblocks.
The grand old Lady called Eiffel Tower
No way to get to the Place de la Concorde today. Police are everywhere and I am also a bit tired. So I return to my hotel to enjoy a quiet evening, also keeping in mind that I have a dinner date with a friend the following evening. Ah – did I forget Madame Eiffel Tower? I have seen the city`s attraction number one, of course. Malicious tongues tell you that there is no place in Paris where you do not see this old iron monster. True? No, of course not. And I love that old lady called "Tour Eiffel".
Coffee at Les Halles
The next day I finally get to the Place de la Concorde and relax again at the Tuileries. Loads of people again, after all it`s Sunday and again a lovely spring day. However, no protesters, just awesome! I really have to take a quick look at the Centre Pompidou, a (still) futuristic building of the 70s with many exhibitions. From here it is a very short walk to „Les Halles“, the old Parisian market. Over the past years, this place has been embellished with splendid gardens, art and the new „Canopées“ with lots of boutiques and cafés, including the „Champeaux“ which is run by Alain Ducasse, a famous chef who has earned a Michelin star. This place is full of Parisians who enjoy big lunch meals on a Sunday. It seems like Parisians are eating all the time (and drinking red wine). Quite frankly, I am not really into French cuisine, just too much meat. However, there are alternatives such as those many Asian restaurants. And Paris is said to have the best falafels in all of Europe.
Sex Shops and Bookstores - Le Marais
What`s missing? A lot, but I just have a weekend. So I do a side trip to Le Marais, the old and once pretty run-down Jewish neighborhood which has become a popular entertainment district in particular for the Gay & Lesbian scene. I ignore all the sex shops and wonder what the Orthodox Jewish may think about them. All the bookstores close to the church ruin Chatelet are much more interesting. Many people are quietly browsing through the books, so relaxing. Who needs the internet? Digital detox at its best.
Come to paris in August
„August is a great time for Paris“, says photographer Jean-Philippe on our little tour. „Most Parisians are on holidays by then and you finally have enough space in cafés and restaurants. And there is, of course, much less traffic.“ Speaking of traffic – I have already mentioned the Parisian subway called METRO. Paris has a total of 302 Metro stations. Rides within the city cost 1.90 EUR (February 2019). But – beware of loads of people during the week and in particular during rush hours. The ride is pretty cheap, but often lacks comfort. People keep pulling and pushing. If you are suffering from claustrophobia, better not use the Metro. However, this means of transport is much faster than a cab.
Champs Elysées - a true Legend in paris
Last but not least,I have to quickly visit the Champs Elysées, of course – the city`s most famous avenue. The view from Place de la Concorde up to the Triumph Arch and the skyscrapers of the business district La Défense is second to none. The avenue has had its best times, but still is an architectural masterpiece. And the many side streets are worth to see, such as the glamourous Avenue Montaigne where the famous actress Marlene Dietrich spent her last years without showing herself in public.
My summary: Paris, je t`aime – despite your traffic and the food. I will certainly come again, maybe in August when the city is (rather) empty. À bientôt, see you soon.
All photos not marked with „KHL“ were taken by Jean-Philippe Combeau, a Parisian photographer.
This trip has been supported by Thalys and the 25hours Hotels.
And this is my hotel recommendation for Paris.
Following are a few cool tips from locals:
Born in Quebec City, Canada, Sandra moved to Paris in the mid 90's. Her work in the tourism industry has enabled her to travel to a large number of cities, both on the continents of the Americas and Europe. For Sandra, Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. "Paris a city you can never get tired of as every time you turn a corner there is another beautiful building, great architecture, interesting cityscapes and the stylish and animated Parisians."
My favorite museum: Musé d'Orsay
When I'm in the mood for a good steak: L ' Entrecôte in Montparnasse
My favorite place for coffee : Café Verlet, 256 rue Saint Honoré (1st arrondissement)
My favorite plae for tea: The Ritz, 15 Place Vendôme (1st arrondissement)
My favorite place for crêpes both as a main course or dessert - Le
Crêperie de Josselin, Montparnasse
My favorite place for a night cap: Les Ambassadeurs located in Le
Crillon, Place de la Concorde and La closeries des Lilas, Montparnasse
My favorite places to browse :
Place des Vosges (3rd and 4th arrondissement)
Passages Choiseul (2nd), Passage Jouffroy (9th) and Passage des Panoramas (2nd)
Place Vendôme and rue de la Paix for the pleasure of window shopping
- just can' get enough of the jewels
Boat cruise on a sunny afternoon along the Seine or in the the
evening to really understand where Paris gets its name as the "City
Jean-Philippe is a photographer in Paris and has a great restaurant tip:
„As a photographer for culinary, I love good food and Paris has a lot to offer in this regard. There is a new restaurant that I particularly love, Le Malro in the third arrondissement.
This restaurant defines itself as „Mediterranean Neo Brasserie“ with a colorful kitchen. All products are of high quality and perfectly presented. The service is young, dynamic and professional. You should explore this place when strolling through the third arrondissement.
Vincent is a young actor who was born in Paris. He is raving about Paris´ largest bookstore:
For an actor, Paris is a very inspiring city where you can find a wide array of passionate and interesting things. One of the places I regularly visit in order to find book and film classics are the three stores “Gibert Joseph”. The history of this bookstore in the Quartier Latin dates back to the year 1886. If you are curious and a bit patient, you will find here what you are looking for.
how to get to PARIS?
Paris has two airports - Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and Paris-Orly. Both are rather far from downtown. On the page of the Paris airports you will find connections with public transport. A taxi from Charles de Gaulle (more frequented than Orly) to downtown Paris will cost between 50 and 60 EUR.
how to get around IN PARIS
I recommend a "carnet" with 10 tickets for the subway at 14.90 EUR. You can use the tickets over a couple of days, perfect for the most important sites in Paris.
Tip: Buy your ticket for the most popular attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, the Triumph Arch and the Parisian Opera online in advance. This will at least reduce the very long waiting times to visit those sites.