Travel is a challenge right now. One, we have a toddler, two, he is not vaccinated, and three, travel is not the same yet. Since we have been hermits for more than the past year, Edwin has missed out on experiences we were hoping to give him. For example, we have taken Edwin out to eat once. He screams when he wants something, he makes a lot of noise when he is happy; in other words, he doesn’t have the best manners when it comes to dining out. Another example – since Edwin has made the switch to his crib, he has not slept anywhere else. I so want Edwin to grow up a traveler with wanderlust, but I’m scared to actually start trying. So what do we do?
We are starting by beginning a new installment of his monthly photos. For the first year of his life, he was featured as a superhero in a fictional setting with a character represented by his dad. For this second year of his life, the theme will be travel destinations. Each month will feature a different European location with a photo taken by me. Edwin will be donning clothing from that country and I will join him on his travels. Although these images are photoshopped, I’m hoping by highlighting something important to us and capturing a moment around a theme, he will find an appreciation for travel. Edwin definitely loves superheroes, so it worked the first time around, right?
Beyond the photos, we are hoping to actually take Edwin somewhere this summer. We are going to start with a sleepover at pops’ house, but then, hopefully, venture all the way to Indianapolis. Baby steps, right? 😉
The background in this image spotlights one of my favorite places in Paris, Notre-Dame on Île de la Cité. I took this image in 2013 while going on a flâneur. Here is a post I wrote for that walk. Edwin’s outfit is brought to you by La Redoute; a French fashion retailer. The font for la vie est belle (life is beautiful) is Vincent Van Gogh’s handwriting. The decorative border is in one of our favorite styles – Art Nouveau. Although Van Gogh and Art Nouveau are not originally from France, they flourished there.
Below are some small excursions we have enjoyed so far this summer.
I am mixing things up this week by providing a museum as our travel journey of the week. The Louvre is filled with an unimaginable number of masterpieces. Let’s share what we have discovered in the former palace. Here is how you can contribute:
1. Each Sunday, a place will be set as the theme (it could be a city, landmark, national park, etc.)
2. If you are familiar with the place and would like to contribute, you will write a post and title it Travel Journey of the Week: Louvre. If you’ve already written a post about Louvre, feel free to share it in the comments section!
3. Your post can be any medium that works for you; videos, photos, descriptions, itineraries, personal memories, poems, ticket stubs, etc.
The Tuileries garden is like a red carpet (or perhaps green) that flows from the Louvre. One of my favorite activities in Paris is finding one of those reclining green chairs near a fountain, and plopping myself down for some period of time. When I think about slowing down, and taking Paris in, this is the place that comes to mind. Let’s take a stroll through the park tonight.
Here are some of my favorite spots you might encounter on your walk:
My top 10 Métro stops blog series has ended, yet there are some sights that deserve some recognition. The problem is, there isn’t really anything major to see in the area other than one or two sights. Today I am featuring those Métro stops.
1. Porte de Clignancourt
The Marche aux Puces of Saint Ouen is one of the best flea markets in the world. Yeah, that is pretty big. There is a vast range of items and prices. If you enjoy garage sales or antiques, this place is for you. The area is a little less safe than some other areas in Paris. Watch your items carefully. The first market you will see is not representative of the rest of the markets. Walk through the first set of white tents to get to the good items. For great directions, check out this blog.
2. Buttes Chaumont
This park is so different from any other park in Paris. The landscaping drapes over the hilly terrain. Peaked on the top hill is the temple. Grand bridges connect areas, as water flows below. Be prepared to see beauty.
3. La Défense
The Esplanade and Grand Arch are a unique view of Paris. You can easily spend a whole day in this area observing the architecture, shopping, and eating.
4. Château de Vincennes
It may sound a bit idiotic, but I had no idea that there was an actual chateau at this métro. This stop has another sight worth visiting as well: the floral park. I spent an entire day walking through the gardens and chateau. I had never heard of either of these sights until I decided to ride the métro to the end line.
5. Porte de Vanves
You can probably tell that I enjoy a range of markets. This flea market is supposed to be a secret gem. Apparently vendors from the Marche aux Puces of Saint Ouen come here early in the morning to find bargains. Beat them to the punch by hunting for your own bargains.
6. St. Denis
If you enjoy following the royal line, you might be interested in visiting the church that is the final resting place for several kings. There are a variety of Henry’s and Louis’ to please any enthusiast.
Like what you see here? These posts have been the stepping stones I’ve needed to start my book. I am currently working on designing an eBook based on the content shared in the Paris by Métro blog posts. The posts are condensed, unedited versions for what you will see in the book. This has been a great place to get feedback and ideas for how to improve my initial idea. If you are feeling extra generous today and you’d like to offer some tips or suggestions for what you’d like to see, please let me know! After all, this book is for you.
Arénes de Lutéce: There is not much left from this Roman Arena, but it is a unique sight to visit. As you stand in the center, imagine you were a gladiator waiting for his fate to be revealed.
Arab World Institute:The goal of the institute is to build an understanding between different cultures. The unique architecture holds art, history, and a library to bring people together by banishing the lack of knowledge about the culture.
Île St. Louis: This island is home to the best ice cream in Paris: Berthillon. Walking the streets, you feel like you are in a village making it is easy to forget that you are in the city center. Hear the accordion player in the background as you window shop with your glacé in hand.
Grande Mosque of Paris: Inside the mosque you will find a charming café. The pastries are 2 euros and the tea is 2.50 Euros. The tea is a nice combination of mint and chai. Look around and you will feel like you are in Morocco. The mosque has a lush garden area with blue tiles that appear to be meditative waters. This is a place perfect for reflection and thought.
Jardin des Plantes: Greenery surrounds you in this escape from the city. The garden has a nice combination of trees, flowers, and other activities. Take a walk through the zoo, or visit the natural history museum. Maybe you can even join those practicing tai chi.
Seine/Quais: If you walk north, you will eventually run into the Seine. Find a good spot on the Pont de Sully and watch the ebb and flow of people travel down the river. The quays along the Seine are perfect for strolling or a picnic. Life is good watching the world go by on water.
Place Monge Market: Markets look so inviting in the rain with their covered roofs and warm lights. I find this market to be one of my favorites in Paris. It is small enough not to be overwhelming, but it was bustling, so I knew the produce was good quality. The smell of roasted chicken permeates the little enclosures until you walk past a cheese stand. Then, a new odor takes over. Visit this market on Wednesday, Friday, or Sunday.
Rue Mouffetard: The street is lined with fromageries, boulangeries, and every other “geries” you could wish for. The restaurants have character whether it is German style or a true French bistro. You could also consider grabbing a sandwich and finding a nice park bench to hold you as you chomp on your baguette. I would not recommend visiting this street on Monday since most shops are closed up.
Hemingway’s Home: If you are fan of Hemingway or have read A Moveable Feast, stop by 74 Rue Cardinal Lemoine to see where he lived with Hadley. Step back in time as you imagine an apartment without heat or a toilet. Hemingway even used a slop bucket at times. Close your eyes and hear the noise of the drunkards stumbling around after their cheap brandies back in the 20s. Can you smell the odor?
Philippe Auguste Wall: If you want to see a peak into historical Paris, continue down the street to see a glimpse of the old Paris wall. The Louvre was a fortress and its wall protected it from invasion. This segment of the wall is part of what is left from the original.
Saint Étienne du Mont: The church is closed on Mondays, but open every other day. If you look above the door you will see Saint Etienne being stoned, hence being the patron saint for headaches and migraines. Although the church is named after Saint Etienne, it contains the relics of Saint Genevieve. She is the patron saint of Paris. You may also recognize this sight from Midnight in Paris. Perhaps a stop on the steps at midnight will take you back to the 1920s.
Panthéon: The Panthéon is the resting place for many famous French such as Voltaire, Marie Curie ,and Victor Hugo.
Sorbonne/Latin Quarter: The Latin Quarter is best known for the two major boulevards: St. Michel and St. Germain des Prés which are a little beyond the Sorbonne. There is plenty of shopping and eating to be done on these streets, but sneaking in and out of the side streets reveals a picturesque, hidden side of the Latin Quarter. The area gets its name from the Latin-speaking students of the Sorbonne.
Jardin de Luxembourg: The gardens flowing out from the palace are one of the many living rooms for the Parisians. While pacing through the gardens you may come across a group of older men playing pétanque, a little tike riding a pony, children chasing their sailboats on the pond with their sticks, or a fountain revealing danger for two lovers.
This walk is a bit long, but it gives you a variety of sights in a loop. I suggest going on this route the day the Place Monge Market is open, otherwise, I would not walk back to Place Monge.
Champs-Élysées: There aren’t as many places to visit near this métro stop, but the sights are quintessential Paris. The Champs-Élysées is an elegant boulevard filled with high end shops and tourists. Most big cities have a street like this, but somehow the French make it seem a little more elegant. This boulevard looks especially patriotic near the Bastille Day. Enjoy window shopping for a Renault or the perfect Louis Vuitton. My money never leaves my purse, but it is still a spectacle to see.
Thomas Jefferson Home: The patriot’s home was shared with his slave, Sally. It is believed that he fathered several children with her. If you enjoy watching movie’s featuring Paris, you may want to see Jefferson in Paris to see Paris during a different time period with one of America’s most famous rebels.
Ladurée: We’ve all heard of the famous French macarons, but this is supposed to be the place to purchase some. A line is typical, but the passing views of the interior along with a sample of macarons is a good way to introduce yourself to the French dessert.
Parc Monceau: I almost selected a different métro stop to expose visitors to one of my favorite areas in Paris. Luckily, I was able to include Parc Monceau, but there is so much more to see beyond the 1 kilometer. If you want to see the scenes of the Impressionists, this is the area you need to visit. To learn more about this beautiful corner of Paris, view my post about my Paris Walk with the Impressionists.
Arc de Triomphe: Arches are popular in Paris, but this is the one you’ve been waiting to see. It is big and elegant. The roundabout surrounding the arch is enough to cause anxiety, but fortunately there are underground tunnels to safely transport you to the center. Visit the tomb of the unknown soldier, and walk around viewing the boulevards that were designed with a military influence. Think of the history that the arch has seen. I get chills when I think of Hitler marching into town and occupying the city. If you’re ready for a climb, go to the top for some of the best views of the city.
Am I missing something? I’m not as familiar with this area of Paris, but if you think that something else should be included, please let me know!
Palais Garnier: While walking inside, you might forget that you are not at Versailles. The elegant opera house is decorated with gold leaf and paintings. Be sure to look up at the Chagall ceiling as you enter the auditorium. Perhaps you’ll even hear the phantom echo through the walls.
Roissybus Stop: Another option for getting to the airport is the Roissybus. This is the most affordable option at 10 Euros. The bus leaves every 15-30 minutes during certain hours. It is a convenient option as long as you leave plenty early. This will probably be the only way I get to and from the airport now.
Boulevard Haussman: Haussman is the architect that organized Paris. Not only are his plans aesthetically pleasing, they are also strategic in terms of military advances.
Galeries Lafayette: Even if you have no intentions of shopping, take 20 minutes to go to the terrace at the very top. For free, you can take in one of the best scenes of the city. On clear days, a crisp view of the city will stand before you.
Printemps: The rival to Galeries Lafayette, Printemps is another department store worth visiting. Check out the cafeteria or take advantage of the sales twice a year.
Bourse: If you are in the neighborhood, walk past the 19th century building. Inside is the hustle and bustle that can only be found at a stock exchange.
Passage des Panoramas: Each passage seems to have its specialty, and the Panoramas passage features many stamp vendors. No money needs to be spent to enjoy these passages.
Passage Jouffroy: I think this is one of the most photogenic passages. They all have their own beauty, but I found this passage to be gorgeous.
Gallopin Brasserie: If you enjoy eating in a place with a little history, this lovely brasserie will be a hit. The menu features traditional French cuisine in a quintessential brasserie setting.
Galerie Colbert: This is not a shopping passage like many in the neighborhood, but an art and history institute instead. You will need to pass through security to go in, but walking under the rotunda and glass ceilings is worth a peek, especially if it is raining.
Galerie Vivienne: The Galerie Vivienne is probably one of the more extravagant passages. The stores are high-end and they are encased in a passage full of tile floors and a glass ceiling that gives a sense of a different time. Passages are found all over the city, and they can be a great refuge from the rain. If you’d like more information about a great walk in this neighborhood, view this blog post.
Palais Royal: Unfortunately you cannot get into the Palais Royal, but you can enjoy the interesting courtyards. Each courtyard has its own style. Of course there is the typical garden, but there is also an artsy, playful courtyard with varying heights of black and white striped stumps rising from the ground. If the weather is not pleasant during your visit, take shelter under the arcades filled with restaurants and shops.
Fragonard Parfumerie: Perfume and France go together like wine and cheese. Visit this free museum to learn more about the perfume-making process. Discounts are given in the store after taking the walking tour.
Place Vendôme: The square plays an optical allusion on your eyes as you gaze at a rectangular place that appears to be more octagonal.
Gare Saint-Lazare: It is helpful to know about the train stations, but I’m also mentioning this one because of its place in Impressionist art. Perhaps you’ve wandered museums and seen the billowing smoke fill a train station in Monet’s painting. Artists like Monet would ask conductors to start the engines and linger a while to let the smoke and steam create the atmosphere for him to paint the scene.
Angelina: The restaurant is best known for its pricey hot chocolate. I’ve heard it said that the chocolate will take you over and never let you forget it. Don’t eat a big meal before going because the thick chocolate can be filling.
Madeline: While approaching the church, you may feel like you are looking at a temple. The church was dedicated to Napolean’s army and is in the style of one of the best preserved Roman Temples found in Nîmes.
Tuileries Gardens: The palace gardens extend from the Louvre. There are a variety of activities that visitors can participate in on any given day. During the summer, the carnival is open with the giant Ferris Wheel. Even finding a reclined green chair near a pond makes for a great energizer. If you look around, you may even see someone famous sitting next to you at the café. Gabriel Byrne from Little Women and Stigmata was enjoying a café on our right one day at the park. If you have a little energy left in you, go to the end where you’ll find l’Orangerie and Place de la Concorde.
For the first journey, I thought I’d pick the place that I last visited. There is so much that can be shared about Paris, so hopefully this will be an easy topic for our first challenge. What makes the city so great? Here is how you can contribute:
1. Each Sunday, a place will be set as the theme (it could be a city, landmark, national park, etc.)
2. If you are familiar with the place and would like to contribute, you will write a post and title it Travel Journey of the Week: Paris.
3. Your post can be any medium that works for you; videos, photos, descriptions, itineraries, personal memories, poems, ticket stubs, etc.
Many people try to go to Paris to see it all. After visiting five times, I have yet to see everything that I want. So often we are limited on time, and difficult decisions must be made about what to do, and what has to be cut out. If you are visiting Paris in the future, but don’t know how to prioritize your sightseeing, here are my recommendations. The top ten list below is based on my personal experiences and interests. Consider your own passions to determine what will work best for you.
1. Take a Cooking Class- I loved the company, Cook’n with Class because we went shopping at the local markets to find the best ingredients. From there we developed our menu based on our finds and personal tastes. It was an experience that will stay with me forever.
2. Walk Along the Seine- The French enjoy strolling, especially in the evening. Be Parisian, and flâneur your way through the city. Don’t have a plan on a destination, just walk and take it all in.
3. Visit the big Museums- To save time and energy, visit the artwork/exhibits that are appealing to you rather than walk mile after mile trying to see it all. In the end, you will have to accept that you can’t see it everything.
4. Walk Side-by-Side with Hemingway- The left bank has a magical feel that is inescapable. Whether you are winding through the narrow lanes of the Latin Quarter, or looking to meet up with Gertrude Stein at the Luxembourg Gardens, you feel the writers and artists presence in the neighborhood.
5. Climb up to Montmartre- See the touristy streets and square, but also wind your way up the back alleys and streets. There are so many gems to stumble upon. If you visit the right areas, you’ll be able to feel the life of this village that artists like Van Gogh and Lautrec breathed in.
6. Hang out at a Cafe- Take your time. Find a good spot to absorb the life surrounding you. Let the ambiance be your muse.
7. Eat- Try the specialties of the area. You don’t have to dine at the most expensive place in town to find good food. Picnics are a great frugal option packed with flavor. Look for plat du jours at restaurants to take advantage of the best food of the day.
8. Take a River Cruise at Night- Paris is known as the city of light, and seeing the glow of the architecture is best from the Seine. Sit back, relax, and watch the lights sparkle all around you.
9. Check out the Marais- The Marais is diverse with the Jewish Quarter, historical sights, shopping, and the gay district. Grab a falafel and take it to the Place des Vosges to watch people live in the outdoor space.
10. Sit Along the Canal St. Martin- Stop at the local Franprix to grab some snacks and a bottle of wine. Find a spot on the canal with a good view, and enjoy your company.
Of course I have to get food in here. This was a dish I created in cooking class. I’ve realized that food and gathering with people have fueled some of my favorite memories. Even I can make a masterpiece dish.
Canal Saint-Martin: If you look in most guidebooks, you probably won’t see much mentioned about this area, but it has become one of our favorites. This is not the area you go to for world-class museums or breath-taking architecture. The Canal Saint-Martin area is where you go to find trendy restaurants, discount shopping, and people. Each night in the summer, dozens if not over a hundred people line the canal to enjoy the night. They bring their snacks and drinks to just take in life. The ambiance is different than most areas in Paris.
If you visited this area several years ago, you will probably see a difference. The area has become safer and more friendly. One area contains diverse cultures while just across the rue you will find the bobos of Paris. Perhaps it was the scenes in Amélie where she is skipping the stones in the canal that brought attention to the area. Whatever the reason, be sure to add it to your list of sights to see.
Chez Prune: This is the kind of restaurant you could visit each day and never have to order the same meal. The menu is created daily to reflect what is fresh. The prices are reasonable (12-15 Euros) for a generous portion and endless flavor. Look below to see what kind of meals you could be savoring.
Hôtel du Nord: The name is a little misleading considering that this is no longer a hotel, but is now a restaurant. There are about four tables out front, but once you pass the doors, you walk into instant charm. The dimly-lit restaurant is a great place for a nice meal or a relaxing drink. This was one of our favorite places for a nightcap.
Pink Flamingo: The hipster pizza place was on my list, but unfortunately I never made it over there. Imagine the summer light in the late evening reflecting off the canal as you sit with your balloon, waiting for your order to arrive. You’ve probably already opened your bottle of wine as you sit and drink with many others around you. The delivery man kneels down to give you your pizza and you take it all in as you enjoy your evening by the canal, as so many others do.
Jardin Villemin: Parisians crave green space and this is the living room for families, couples, students, and so many others around the area. The park is lively with a man playing guitar over by the trees and little ones being chased by their dads. This is a place to just hang out.
Hôpital Saint-Louis: Hopefully you don’t have to visit the hospital on your trip, but it is worthy to know where it is located and the story behind it. During the 17th century, this hospital was built to deal with many suffering from the plague. Be thankful for our improved medicine.
Place de la République: The place has been recently renovated to provide a space used for many purposes and reduce traffic accidents. The area now includes not only the statue symbolizing the republic but also a gathering place for people.
Marché des Enfants Rouge: The covered market is supposed to be one of the best in Paris. Be warned that hours are somewhat flexible. I went a couple hours after they were supposed to open to find that some were setting up while others were not even present yet. I recommend coming around lunch time to enjoy the full potential of the market.
Porte Saint-Martin: Parisians seem to love their arches. This arch was built in the 17th century to replace a medieval gate.
10th Arrondissement Passages (Reilhac, Brady, Marche, Prado): I know I’ve mentioned passages before, but these passages are a cultural experience. While walking with a guide I was told to hold my purse tight. I felt no danger, but the area is a collection of many ethnicities. While walking down one passage you may think you’ve been transported to India, while another will take you to Africa. The scene has a different feel at night, so be sure to go when you are comfortable.