Saturday, March 17, 2012

My favorite cities : Paris

As I am in Paris for a long weekend, I thought that it should be obvious to talk about Paris. Yes, France capitale. The myth itself. 

I don’t know any single person whom never mentions to me « France, wow, Pariiiiiis ! ». For everyone in the world, France means Paris. Paris means “Tour Eiffel, Luxury shops, Champs Elysées and Versailles (even though it is NOT in Paris)”. “Stars” in their eyes and emotion are the normal tourist attitude for Paris. How many times I’ve been told that I was “soooo lucky” to live in France and nearby Paris (mind you, I am 3 hours train ride to Paris ! nearby ? Hello ?) ! I do think that living in France is a true opportunity. Of course, lately, and somehow, I am not very proud of France policy but mainly, France remains to be the Human Rights country, the Siècle des Lumières, the country with such a long and interesting History, the country whom Rabelais, De Gaulle, Lumière Brothers, Curie, etc. were born or decided to live, the Cheese & Wine country, the Good manners and fashionable country, etc.

So many clichés on France ! Most of them are true. France is, indeed, a real beautiful country. The landscapes, countryside, cities and way of life are gorgeous. Wherever you live, you might have a wonderful place to visit or to look to with pride. Due to financial crisis and the last 20 years, I doubt that everyone does enjoy living scarcely hoping for better days without any possibility to cheer up for. Nevertheless, France is a very nice country, democratic (so far !) where you can think and speak (so far), travel, love, live, retire and even entertain,  with a huge autonomy of freedom.

Anyhow, Paris is still the center of France and if you ever visit it, you would understand what I mean. Just walking by, you have so many monuments, places, and shops that you already have heard of, that the visit sounds familiar to you.

As far as I’m concerned, Paris means museums and Parks (mainly Jardin des Tuileries, Square Cluny & Jardin du Luxembourg). As I’ve already written on a former paper, I am a true freak about museums and Paris owns three of my absolute favorites : Musée du Louvre, Musée d’Orsay and Musée Cluny (Middles Ages). As long as I can remember, I’ve always been keen on those museums.

Paris is just the right place when you like arts, paintings and entertaining. There are so many musical places, concerts, plays, etc. daily that you just don’t know which to attend to ! Thus, Paris is animated  later than everywhere else in France. You can go to a gig and eat around 11:30 pm (and yes, find an opened restaurant !), and go back to your house/hotel Room/friend’s without being alone. Taking buses around midnight in Paris doesn’t mind a thing. I often went to gig and came back to my friend’s home or hotel after midnight without being afraid of. Sure, I am not going to suburbia’s areas.

Akin to London, I am used to live or reside in some restricted places. In Paris, my area is quite a minus triangle from Boulevard des Capucines (close to Place Vendôme and Jardin des Tuileries) to Jardin du Luxembourg via l’île de la Cité. I am more a left bank person than a right bank… I love the Cluny area, close to St Germain des Près, rather than Vendome or Champs Elysées (which I seldom go by the way).

Yet, I have my favorite hotels and I am just going to the one which is the closest to my activities. My first choice would be on right bank, on Rue des Capucines, Hotel Mansart ; It’s close to the Olympia Music Hall and not that far from Casino de Paris, Opéra Garnier, Theatre Mogador, etc. It’s nearby the Printemps Haussmann and Galeries Lafayettes.

The second choice (right bank, gosh ! ) shall be Hotel Brighton on Rue de Rivoli, opposite to Jardin des Tuileries, and 2 minutes walking away from the entrance of Musée du Louvre. You can walk through the Jardin des Tuileries to reach Musée d’Orsay too.

The third choice shall be Hotel Residence Henri IV (rue des Bernardins), close to Cluny. It is nice, clean and well situated.

They are not cheap hotels indeed, but I don’t like to stay away from the places I like and to go to. I am not going to a hotel if it’s not accessible by buses too.

Here we are back ! Buses ! Paris is the city to take the bus. I know that most of the inhabitants take the subway because it is faster and easier, but when you are a tourist (whom I am, indeed), you can just adapt your schedule and take the bus. The first I could recommend you is bus 24. You can take it from Gare de Lyon and go to Place de la Madeleine (nearby Concorde, Chanel and the spot of Ladurée Macarons shop !). The bus drives along la Seine and you can admire all the main monuments : Jardin des Plantes, Arabic World Museum, Notre Dame de Paris, left & right banks, Assemblée Nationale etc. You have a 1,70 euros visit ticket instead of paying for tourist bus tour ! I know perfectly the roads of bus 24, 91, 21, 89, 65.

Anyway, you also can go to see the Tour Eiffel, the Champs Elysées, the Concorde, some cemeteries (amazing), the Sacré Coeur, Pigalle, le Moulin Rouge, Montmartre, St Germain des Près, etc., all those typical tourists places, but you would definitely need more visits to enjoy and discover  the real Paris, away from the touristic crowd… say someone whom go to Le Louvre & Orsay during popular exhibitions !

A next paper idea : more gorgeous cities to visit in France… Bordeaux, Lyon, Lille, Strasbourg, Brest, and regional area such as Aveyron, Dordogne, Bretagne and Somme ? Let me know if you are interested about this idea !