As I sat on a green metal chair in Jardins de Tuilleries amongst other sun worshippers of Paris, I couldn’t stop thinking – there is something magical about the city of lights. It shines bright not only thanks to its nighttime illuminations, but also because of the inimitable radiance of its beauty. I admit, the spectacular weather may have intensified those impressions during my stay. On the other hand, I have visited the city during different seasons of the year and it never let me down. “Au soleil, sous la pluie…”, as Joe Dassin used to sing. The Parisian atmosphere is something to rely on.
So, how about a little tour with me? I would like to say “close your eyes and imagine…”, but actually your sight is quite necessary to continue reading. Let’s go.
Do you know what has been by many, considered the ugliest structure in Paris at the end of the 19th century? It was the Eiffel Tower! It is really hard to imagine that Eiffel’s design for the World Fair in 1889 was almost dismantled a few years later, when today it is the most recognized symbol of Paris and one of the most photographed sites in the world. On a Sunday afternoon I reached what I see as the modern version of the Tower of Babel. I can’t think of another sightseeing spot in the world where I could have encountered a bigger variety of people and diversity in languages.
I made it my priority to sit down in a Parisian Café at least once a day. Order a coffee or a glass of wine and watch the diverse people pass by. That day, when I sat down on the grass on Champs de Mars, below Eiffel’s massive steel construction, I felt like I could cross that off my list. It was the ultimate people-watching spot! You could even get any drink from one of the vendors passing by every three minutes, whispering conspicuously: “Beer, champagne, wine, beer…”. I skipped that part though, because I already had a wonderful glass of my complimentary Champagne– a much appreciated welcome gift back in Hotel Helussi.
I did the “Parisian Café experience” right on the following day though. At Monmartre. Oh, Monmartre, my absolutely favourite part of the city. Unfortunately not just mine. The tourist crowds are somewhat similar to the ones at the Eiffel Tower. While sitting in my café, I held my breath each time a bus traversed the narrow street (I didn’t even know a bus would fit there!) and the dense crowd miraculously split. Occasionally I saw someone local on his daily jogging routine or in a window, sitting in front of his computer. It seemed they acknowledged and accepted long ago that their neighborhood id often filled with more tourists than neighbours.
The Sacre Coeur Basilica is the highest situated building in the city, as Monmartre is Paris’ only hill. Its white façade towers above long steps filled with visitors at all times. It sits on approximately 35 metre deep pillars to prevent it from collapsing. Why? I’ll tell you – because the whole mountain resembles Swiss cheese! That’s a result of hundreds of years of stone extraction. It made me wonder whether some of those underground tunnels are possible to explore… I guess I’ll try to find out on my next visit.
Keeping in mind that a street might theoretically collapse under my feet any minute, I took the chance and dived into the bohemian area surrounding the church. My favourite place is the square in the center where local artist present their paintings, draw or even use scissors to cut someone’s profile in a piece of black paper – if a traditional portrait is not your thing. At the same time the artists themselves are often more interesting than their artworks… Well, they are artists.
Something, that I always enjoy in Paris is my walk along the Seine, while the route I choose guarantees the possibility to “say hello” to many of the city’s gems.
So on the third day, after checking in at the Generator Paris, I jumped into the metro and shortly after emerged at Place de la Concorde – my starting point. From the square I entered Les Jardins de Tuilleries, a magnificent park and gardens, where visitors and Parisians alike come to relax. On that Autumn day they occupied most of the metal chairs and banks to absorb the weakening sun.
I joined for a bit and continued my walk through the park until I reached the one and only Louvre museum. “Was Dan Brown right about his theories in the ‘Da Vinci Code’…?”, I thought and, like every time I’m there, I had to look down the reversed pyramid…
Next stop was the Notre Dame Cathedral. And by stop I literally mean stopping and sitting on a bench for fifteen minutes, because my feet were already killing me. But that wouldn’t stop me from moving on, because another of my favourite districts, Le Marais, was only a stone’s throw away. Packed with restaurants, cafes and wonderful vintage boutiques, it’s one of the best areas to wind up the day.
Over the course of my visit I have re-discovered the city for myself. Paris always was and always will be one of those places on planet Earth that every traveller needs to see at least once. Or twice. Or more. So no matter if you’ve never said ‘Bonjour’ before or know the Parisian metro scheme by heart after your tenth visit – it is always a good idea to return.
This article originally appeared on RoomAuction.