Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Paris Walks: Walking Through Paris' History

1. Paris in Layers

I've actually done this walk numerous times as it features some of the most monumental sites of the city such as Sainte Chapelle, Musée de Cluny, the Seine, the Palais de Justice, and of course Notre Dame. For some reason no matter how many times I wander around this part of the city I always feel as though I'm seeing it for the first time. The majesty of Notre Dame never ceases to blow me away.

2. Métro

This is a very useful walk seeing how you use the metro various times each day. It is very impressive that such an advanced underground railway system was constructed over a hundred years ago in the year 1900. Since familiarizing myself with the different lines by doing the walk when I first arrived and using it daily to explore new parts of the city I have definitely developed better feelings toward some metro stations than others. Some stations smell worse than others and some lines are slow or seem to always be down. I do however get pleasure from the different themes of each station, which make your ride in a packed train pushed up between the window and the guy with bad B.O. just a little bit more enjoyable.

3. A Walk in the Park

I'm positive this walk was meant to be done in the late spring or during the summer because when I did it in early February Luxembourg Park was cold, vacant, and dead. I did enjoy the statues and the beehives though.

4. Of Art, War, and World's Fairs

I'm pretty sure this was the longest walk in the book but it was totally worth it. The William Turner exhibit was going on at the Grand Palais so naturally I had to spend some time there, making the already long walk even longer. The statue of "The Thinker" surprised me (I had no idea it was at Musée Rodin until I saw it) and I got a kick out of the war museum in Les Invalides. I particularly liked all the ancient suits of armor.

5. Place de la Concorde

This one was pretty quick but it was nice to relax and watch the tourists in the Tuileries and see the president's house, U.S. Embassy, etc. And I think the 3,000 year old Luxor Obelisk is really cool and I want one.

6. Marcher Le Nez Au Vent (Madeleine)

First of all, I love madeleine cakes. I really like the Madeleine building also. The inside was breathtaking (after seeing cathedrals every day for 3 months that is a huge compliment) with the three domes letting beams of sunlight light in. I went against the books better judgement with regard to trying simple flavors of macarons at Lauderée. The fleur d'orange, cherry, and green apple flavors didn't really do it for me. Next time I'll go with chocolate and vanilla.

7. Marais 1

Because we spend so much time in the Marais as it is I felt like I was at home on this walk. The piece of Philippe Auguste's wall was certainly a site to see and L'église Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis is stunning against the backdrop of Rue Saint-Antonie.

8. Marais 2

I love the Jewish Quarter! Not just because of the delicious falafels or the great hole in the wall thrift stores but also because of it's atmosphere. Unfortunately, Musée Picasso was closed for renovations.

9. Follow the Money

This walk had some interesting sights like La Bibliothèque Nationale and Bourse. The Palais Royal Gardens were nice too.

10. Playing Hooky in Le Quartier Latin

The Latin Quarter is undoubtedly one of my favorite parts of Paris so I did this entire walk twice and enjoyed every minute of it. It was interesting to see the narrowest street in Paris as well as Le Procope Café, it's oldest cafe, founded in 1686. Also the roast beef sandwich at Così is DELICIOUS!

11. Lutetia Pulchra Est: Musée National du Moyen...

I loved this walk too and took much longer at the museums than I should have. It was my first time seeing Roman ruins and medieval artifacts and it blew my mind. The Pantheon is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. I'm especially a big fan of the frescoes inside.

12. Time Travel, Tricks, and Treats Around Saint-Sulpice

Saint-Sulpice (the second largest church in Paris) was another one of those churches that made my jaw drop when I went inside, not because it was in the Da Vinci Code, but because of how spacious it is inside.

13. Seizième Arrondissement

Besides the excitement of seeing the Turkish Embassy (woo-hoo) the most memorable part of this walk for me was the Jardin du Ranelagh because there was grass to lay on. It had definitely been a while and it felt soooooo good.

14. Eighteenth-Century Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

I very much enjoyed Parc Monceau with its fake roman ruins and wealthy neighborhood setting. Musée Jaquemart-André was fun too. It's pretty nice place.

15. Saint-Ouen's Labyrinth

This walk was not what I had expected. After passing the gross ghetto market in the parking lot we got deep into the market where we found every color bead imaginable, newspapers from the 1800's, and oh so many antiques. I'm not gonna to lie, the antique furniture from the 17th century was a little overwhelming.

16. Montmartre Walk

This was the first walk I did and absolutely loved it. Sacré-Cœur has wonderfully unique architecture and there is a small square behind it filled with painters making magic on their canvases. Actually Montmartre has been very influential in Paris' art scene for a long time. Picasso, Monet, Renoir, and Van Gogh all lived there.

17. La Défense

This is a very unique part of Paris because it's so modern. I suppose it is good to have a modern outlet close to the city. All the tall buildings reminded me of home and for a while I didn't feel like I was in Paris at all. I still can't get over how weird the giant thumb is.

18. Grands Boulevards

L'Opéra Garnier is breathtaking. It's the theater where Phantom of the Opera takes place and there really is a small lake underneath it! We tried to find it but a security guard caught us sneaking around and told us that visitors aren't allowed to go down there. At least we gave it a shot.

19. Parisian Necropolis

Cimetière du Père-Lachaise is by far the coolest cemetery I have ever been to. With the graves of Georges Seurat, Jim Morrison, Chopin, Géricault, Oscar Wilde, and Georges-Eugène Haussmann, how could it not be? The old cracked tombstones and statues make it look like something straight out of a horror movie.

20. La Route des Manifs

I was astonished to find out that only seven prisoners were freed during the storming of the Bastille. Anyway, when we started this walk there was a protest going on about the French State banning the wearing of burqas in schools. They even climbed up the statue of a woman in the middle of the round about and put a giant burqa on her. I personally thought it was pretty creative.

21. Get Lost!

I can't count how many times I've gotten lost in Paris with and without trying to. One of my favorite occasions I wandered around the town of Saint-Germain (technically outside of Paris). I really like the town as well as it's castle, neatly trimmed garden, and forest. It also has a fantastic view overlooking Le Vesinet and I was able to spot my house!

Hooray for Paris Walks!

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