City of dreams, city of life, Paris is one chic which grows beautiful with time. When I landed in this city, my eyes started wandering around for a glimpse of Eiffel. That’s when it struck me, how closely is Eiffel connected to Paris.
While there are many walking and cycling tours of Paris, the best walking tour which I proudly boast of, was my walking tour with Michel. Michel, my friend, my guide (also my first French client) honoured me with his company for this walk which I will always remember.
Google maps, our necessity, often kills our experience of perfect city tour. While we blindly follow it from our location to destination, it fails to give an overview of city. Michel and his pocket map made us explore the city like never before and at the end of the tour, we realised that we had already walked for 21 kms in a day. It’s only when you love your city, you can make someone else fall in love with it too. More than my legs, my eyes were tired, as they were constantly soaking the beauty.
Days are really long in summer, 18 hours of day light is just, wow! Our walking tour started from Le Panthéon, erstwhile church, now French parliament. Then we walked to Saint-Chapelle, the best Gothic architecture I have ever seen. The great stained glass windows takes one back to history. The colours on the glass are so vibrant and have not faded a bit. The secret is that the colours are mixed with metal oxides which makes it so dazzling.
Moving to one of the world’s most visited site, Notre-Dame Cathedral, which was built over 4 centuries is just too historic and artistic. The relics are spectacular including Christ’s Crown of Thorns which has been moved to Blessed Sacrement Chapel. The huge bell in Cathedral, weighing 13 tonnes, makes Paris’ sky vibrate during great religious feasts and national events. The back view of Notre Dame from River Seine is more beautiful than the front view.
Paris has a symmetrical layout, thanks to megalomaniac Emperor Othman, who destroyed structures of Paris. After destruction, it was an open land for creativity for Hausmannn, whose plan brought symmetry to the city.
Then we walked towards Louvre pyramid which is the main entrance to the museum and also a reminder of unique collection of Egyptian antiques inside the museum. The mysterious pyramids are also symbol of sacrifice and death. I had spent half-day in Louvre museum a day before our walking tour. The mummy in Louvre drew my attention. The preservation of deceased body guaranteed him access to next world by preventing him from becoming an errant spirit. The liver, lungs, intestines and stomach were preserved separately in covered vessels known as ‘canopic jars’. This is quite intriguing.
Walk past the Tuileries gardens from Louvre museum and move towards Place de la Concorde which was brought from Egypt by Louis XVI.
Walk past Palais royale, Palais de Justice (Supreme Court) and its quiet gardens with only sound of water fountain, is perfect for reading a book or spending some time alone. Do not miss the view of Les Invalides, the Military Museum and Tomb of Napolean from Pont Alexandre III, most beautiful bridge (pont) on river Seine which is spectacular.
Our last stop was Jardin du Luxembourg, Luxembourg Palace and Gardens which are very special to Parisians. The countless trees, fountains, widespread grassy areas and gardens are spectacular. It is worthwhile to stop by the replica of the Statue of Liberty in this park.
Paris is food lover’s paradise! I really loved croissant in cafés and restaurants in Quartier Latin. My favourite macaroons are from Carl Marletti in Rue Censier. Thanks to my AirBnB French host, Édouard, who made us taste these. I realised that Carl Marletti’s macaroons tasted much better than those from the world famous Ladurée.
A visit to Paris is incomplete without hot chocolate with cream at Pâtisserie Viennoise in Rue de l’École de Médecine and crepes at Breizh Café in Rue Vieille du Temple. This crêperie uses butter and cheese from Brittany (Breizh in French), a region in France where the crêpe originated. The traditional Moroccan restaurant next to the Grand Mosque of Paris is a must visit for its Tajine and it also serves halal food.
While day walks are amazing, I feel that seeing the same places post sunset gives a different feel all together. When in Paris, one cannot miss the evening cruise of river Seine followed by midnight cycling tour. I recommend Blue Fox Travel: Evening Bike + Boat Tour of Paris which starts from Place Saint-Michel in front of the fountain.
There are many great things about Paris, but for me the highlight of Paris was closely watching the flickering of Eiffel at midnight. It was truly magical to see Eiffel shine like the brightest star on a dark night, compelling one to make a wish. It sent me back in time and left me with an emotion which can only be felt and not expressed in words.
P.S: Thank you, Christèle, for this magical experience at midnight 🙂