Paris Recommendations:

I have written about Paris before, complete with fairly descriptive recommendations and explanations for said recommendations. . . but with many friends about to embark on a Parisian adventure, I thought it was important to give some current,  somewhat succinct, and perhaps more practical suggestions for prospective visitors.

7 Things I Wholeheartedly Recommend in Paris:

These are listed in no particular order of importance, and are all “worth it” in the extreme. If you don’t want to get caught in crazy touristy traps or the crush of an overwhelmingly over-stimulating museum for the duration of your visit, that’s normal. These are my strong suggestions for anybody visiting who wants to catch a good glimpse of what Paris has to offer . . . and I’ve included some helpful practical info for planning your visit!

Le Musée Rodin

What is it? A gorgeous, stunningly-beautiful-yet-manageable, non-overwhelming, highly worthwhile, indoor-outdoor museum that contains MOSTLY the gorgeous sculptures and artwork of François-Auguste-René Rodin.

Practical information:

  • Entrance fee = 9 Euro, or included with  Paris Museum Pass access
  • Hours of Operation: 10am- 5:45pm (last entrance = 5:15pm), every day BUT Monday
  • Location = 79 Rue De Varenne (closest Metro stops = Varenne or Invalides)

rodin museum - a glimpse

L’Orangerie

What is it? Have you ever seen the GIGANTOR paintings of water-lillies that Monet did? Like: entire walls? This is that.

Practical Information:

  • Entrance fee = 9 Euro, or included with Paris Museum Pass access
  • Hours of Operation: 9am-6pm (last entrance at 5:15pm, also closed on Tuesdays and the morning of July 14th)
  • Location = Jardin des Tuileries (see below -closest Metro stop = Concorde)

Orangerie - on a map

Les Catacombes:

What is it? Lots and lots of bones, stacked eerily underground in a beautiful-yet-terrible reminder of human mortality. It’s morbid, yet memorable; fascinating.

Practical Information:

  • Entrance fee = 8 euro
  • Hours of Operation: 10am-5pm (last entrance at 4pm, also not open on Mondays)
  • Location = 1, avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy (closest metro stop is Denfert-Rochereau)

catacombs - a glimpse

Le Marché aux Puces

What is it?  Pure magic in the form of one of, if not THE, world’s biggest flea market. Antiques, clothing, housewares, art, EVERYTHING. Feel free to poke around on the M.A.P. website for more info.

Practical information:

  • Hours of Operation: usually open on weekend days, although Sunday seems to be the best bet for the most vendors!
  • Location:  Up and Down and in and around Rue des Rosiers in St. Ouen  (WAAAAAY up North in Paris- closest metro stop is probably at the Porte de Clignancourt)
  • IMPORTANT:  make sure you find the real Antique Market and the actual place because there is also a cruddy couple rows of vendors which can be misleading and cause you to be highly disappointed. . . don’t be fooled by this external nonsense. Find the real “Marché aux Puces” Because on the outside it’s all just crappy modern junk, not the antique mecca that I heard so much about. . . . and then I stepped into the magical old fashioned fairy-tale world that is antiques. . . and it was all better.

puces - a glimpse of what it's like

Versailles – la Domaine de Marie Antoinette

What is it? It’s the place where Marie Antoinette lived out her fantasy of being a peasant/actress/normal human being when, in actuality, she was the Queen of France, and not a popular one. It’s adjacent to the GIGANTIC and opulent chateau of Versailles, and sometimes people skip it because they assume it will just be more of the same opulence and gilt. HOWEVER, it’s beautiful, it’s quaint and it’s akin to setting foot into a setting for an old-fashioned fairy tale.

Practical information:

  • Entrance fee = 10 euro (although that does not include admission to the big palace of Versailles – the TOTAL “passport” ticket to all parts of Versailles is 18 euro)
  • Hours of Operation:
  • Location: Place d’Armes – 78000 Versailles, quickest access for travelers is by RER C, a train quite like the commuter-rail. To quote the website: “To get to the palace of Versailles, make sure to buy a ‘Paris – Versailles Rive Gauche’ ticket for zones 1-4”

domaine de marie antoinette - a glimpse

l’Arc de Triomphe – CLIMB IT

What is it? To quote Akon’s personal assistant, whom I overheard say this to the rapper himself whilst visiting the Arc: “This is a famous french monument.” To quote Sherlock Holmes: “Do your research.” Aside from its historical and cultural importance, if you climb the towers this is the absolute best view of the city of Paris!

Practical information:

  • Entrance fee = 8 euro, or included with Paris Museum Pass access
  • Hours of Operation: 10am to 11pm – cost =  to go up – if you’re there this weekend it’ll be crazy b/c the 14th is Bastille day, so there should also be fireworks and such
  • Location: Place Charles de Gaulle – at the top of the Champs Élysées (closest Metro stops are Georges V or Charles de Gaulle- Etoile)

arc de triomphe - a glimpse

Les Bateaux-Mouches

What is it? It’s a boat tour that takes you up and down the length of the Seine River, allowing you to see the sights and relax your aching tootsies at the same time. You can see the path/direction of these boat tours in the picture below! Bateaux mouche map - explanation

original map via

Practical Information:

  • Entrance Fee = 13,5 Euros
  • Timing information: Frequency – a bateau-mouche leaves about every 20 minutes. Duration –  about an hour and 10 minutes
  • Location/Departure point: Pont de l’Alma (on the northern side, or Rive Droite/Right Bank) at a place called “Port de la Conférence” in the 8th arrondissement (le 8ème).

Bateaux-mouches - a glimpse

In Conclusion:

There are many sights not included on this list. . .including (but not limited to) La Tour Eiffel, Le Musée D’Orsay, and Le Louvre. These are incredible/beautiful/worth while too, but I tried to keep the list above as succinct as can be. ALSO, there is the question of food. Paris has phenomenal food, but you can fall into the touristy food traps like anyone else and miss the magic. I won’t go into food here, but I STRONGLY recommend you check out Parisian food-suggestions from David Lebowitz [x] [x], whose food-blogging about Paris revolutionized my taste-bud experience of this fine city.

eiffel tower

Travel safe, friends, & amusez-vous bien!

 

Thoughts From Paris

A few years ago, I wrote this while travelling in Paris:

Paris, and what I am currently thinking about it. . .

Paris - des mots

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1.) I am writing my thoughts in a list, because I have lost all ability to think clearly and numbers give a facade of organization to my chaotic stammering sentences. This is a preface.

2.) I think I could be happy alone in Paris with a journal and my i-pod. And maybe unlimited money. That last one would make it much more comfortable, although it may not be necessary.

3.) My ankle strap sandal scraped my heel and the stap of my bag chaffed against my sunburn when I took the metro-stairs at hyperspeed thismorning, but when I stepped out into the morning, I got a deep breath of the layered Parisian air. . . and felt amazing. On my first visit, I didn’t like the air here. It felt too busy. Now, I think maybe the blend of cigarrettes, sweat, perfume, bakeries, dogs, machismo and mayhem has grown on me. It’s like a cross between a scent that would make your nose wrinkle and one that might make your eyes shut in pure relishing delight. And, amazingly, now, it smells good to me.

the scent of Paris

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4.) Some people travel and they leave home behind. Others carry it with them. While I find nothing wrong with keeping home close in your heart (in a sentimental, internal kind of way), it can be a weighty bag to tote around all day and makes navigating the narrow streets quite fatiguing.

5.) People are lovely everywhere I go.

FRANCE-PARIS-Directional-Signs-copy1_50

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6.) I have probably said it before, but the blatant sexuality and gender confidence of French culture always surprises me. Men are handsome, in a casually affected kind of way. Women are beautiful, dripping style everywhere they go, like they’ve just emerged from some fountain of Class that Americans constantly look for, and they just can’t help themselves. While I think many people in the US are constantly looking at one type of person and finding them beautiful, people appreciate the natural beauty of the opposite sex, and there’s no age limit or body type that really limits beauty.

7.) On the same note, men do not respect personal space and any sort of eye contact can be construed as an invitation to breach all kinds of personal space boundaries.

8.) I love being American. Sometimes I like being an American tourist, but mostly I just find the whole attitude of Americans as tourists to be fairly ignorant and self-centered, even if well-intentioned.

9.) The best of a culture lives in its language.

French Language

 

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10.) I am indeed sunburnt, the soles of my feet are pretty sore and I have probably gained like 6 pounds from eating so much! I wouldn’t trade all of the exquisite days/experiences, but I think whoever said that traveling makes you appreciate going home more was right. I will be glad for the luxury of healthy food in the pantry, my big supply of aloe and my soft bed.

11.) So far, French people think I speak french well. Yesssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.

12.) Homeless people everywhere make me sad.

homeless

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13.) I know, I know. Why are we still talking about Abby’s random Parisian thoughts? Don’t worry, I’m wrapping it up.

14.) When you come here, eat the Macarons. Drink a cafe au lait.They’re worth it. And don’t smoke just because you’re here. That’s dumb. What happens in France doesn’t just stay in France, and if you smoke, it will very possibly be staying in your lungs.

15.) I hope I fit into my bridesmaid dress when I get back, yeeesh.

16.) I love the musée Rodin. Rodin’s sculpture is like the epitome of raw meeting smooth. It’s perfection smoothed out of a hunk of rough nothing. I like Degas’s paintings for the same reason I like Rodin’s paintings, and tapioca pudding for that matter. The textures are incredible.

17.) Everyone who is thinking of travelling to France. Honestly, Paris is gorgeous. Go. Do it. But once you have, go to the real France. Because Paris is only 85% real France. Maybe even less. You can appreciate all of its wonderful cultural wealth and experience all of its depth and breadth. You can speak French in Paris and eat French food in Paris. But it will only take you so far. And then you’re just in a beautiful, historical, hotbed of culture, which is incredible, but not quite real.

18.) That is all. I am going to take my french playlists for a walk now.

Bonjour Parisvia