Friday, September 19, 2008

Paris. One of my favorite cities in the world

Our friends Ron and Lisa are going to Italy, France, and Spain for their 15th wedding anniversary next week, so I sent them my recommendations for Paris. Not to waste all that typing, I'll tell you what I told them. Here it is.

Paris. One of my favorite cities in the world. I've only been there twice, but I plan on returning as long as I'm able to. You'll have a wonderful time.

Before you go, read up! I like the Lonely Planet books a lot. Also spend some quality time with Google Earth. There's a lot of good information there, plus it's always helpful to be able to picture in your mind how the city is laid out, and generally where the big things are. Having a Metro map card to carry with you would be a good thing too. The metro is pretty straightforward and economical. You can probably get passes for the length of time you'll be in the city, plus just about everything is accessible via the Metro. The station entrances (like a lot of things in Paris) are very cool looking and worthy of photography.

When you first get to Paris, the best thing you can do is take a boat tour to get a feel for the layout of the city. The long, open-topped boats are called Bateaux Mouche, and can be located near Pont de l'Alma over the Seine. . . the river that divides the city. There are day and night rides, the latter often including dinner. Prices vary, but the daytime no-meal rides are fairly inexpensive.

The Seine river has two islands in it; Île de la Cité (where Notre Dame Cathedral is located) and Île Saint-Louis (ill san whee). When you visit Notre Dame Cathedral, (if you arrive via the Metro), you'll exit at the Cité station. Since the station is well below ground in the middle of a fairly small island, you'll notice that the walls are reinforced steel bolted into the dirt. It's like being inside a giant ship, and is very cool.

After you check out the cathedral, walk outside toward the rear of the church to the end of the island. There you'll see a pedestrian bridge over to the Île Saint-Louis. On this island they make a very special ice cream that is not sold anywhere else. It's called Berthillon, and is available at several places. Just look for the signs. It is awesome, and you must try it.
Brasserie Berthillon
There are also some cool creperies,
Creperie Le Sarrasin
small grocery stores, cafes, and a decent toy store if I remember correctly. Ile Saint Louis is my favorite place in Paris.

The other major tourist sites are also worthy of a visit; Louvre Museum, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysses, Monmartre, Sacre Couer, etc. And of course, the Eiffel Tower. The tower is surrounded by parks, and you'll see a lot of old men out playing petanque, the French version of bacci. (they make for excellent photos too) When I first saw that at age 27, I decided that's how I want to spend my retirement; playing petanque under the Eiffel Tower. Going to the top of the tower is definitely worth it, but for the best views (and photos) of the tower itself, I recommend the Trocadero. . . a plaza a short distance (0.3 miles) northwest of the tower, across the Seine, and up a slight hill.

As far as food goes, you cannot go wrong in Paris. I first discovered panini there. The boulangeries (bakeries), pattiseries (pastry shops) and brasseries (taverns) are awesome, as are the restaurants, and bistros, cafes and groceries.
L'Alimentation, L'Ile St. Louis, Paris
Be sure to check out Panache and Liptonic. The first is a beer/lemonade combo, and the second is an alcoholic tea, I think. You buy them in cans like soda. A cool thing to do at night is take a walk on one of the quays on Île de la Cité. A lot of people like to picnic there, eat baguettes and cheese, drink wine, sing songs, smoke a little doobage, etc. It's very casual.

So that's the bulk of my Paris knowledge. I know you two will have a great time, and I look forward to seeing your pictures.



Post a Comment

| Top ↑ |