I went to Paris in the onset of winter. I made two stoppages there on the same trip and it wasn’t enough. It is never enough. But for Paris it was especially true.
I didn’t see the Louvre or any of the museums, I didn’t go marvel at the Moulin Rouge , I didn’t see the interiors of the Notre Dame, I didn’t do any of that. But I took the metro, hung out the farmer’s market, stood in line for croissants for breakfast, bought a designer woollen sweater at half price , explored the arrondissements on foot, did expressos at street side bistros, nodded at the beautiful Parisian lady walking her dog while smoking a cigarette. I cried at the Pere Lachaise cemetery, flirted with a boy at a jazz bar at the Latin quarter, sat up with friends I made at the hostel till 2am , walked along the banks of Siena whilst the city lit up like a magical land, walked though the Christmas Market at Champs Elysees and went overboard with the mussels and Vin Chaud there. I watched the Eiffel Tower light up at the hour, enjoyed a warm cup of coffee at an overpriced café over looking the magnificent structure and got goose bumps. So cliché, but so beautiful!
I really enjoyed my two visits there, but I have to go back for I left a bit of my heart there. And here are the top 10 reasons why I need to go back to Paris .
Paris, Je T’aime
- To explore the Many arrondissements: Paris comprises of 20 administrative regions called Arrondissements, starting from the heart at the Seine and spiralling outwards in a clockwise direction. Each arrondissement has its distinct character, Arr1 comprises of the Louvre and the Tuileries Garden, Arr2 is about the Stock exchange thus is known as the business district. Arr 3 and 4 are the Marais and the pastel flavoured Isles floating on the Seine. Its about art, good food and a sense of romance in the air. This list will go on and its remarkable how where you stay plays a huge role in your Paris experience. I lived in the 5th Arr, the latin quarter. It sees a lot of university crowd, so good local jazz bars, beautiful cathedrals and local markets were its flavours. Each visit to Paris you can look forward to exploring a few of the Arrondissement, and that can be my reason #10
2. Meet travelers from all over the world: Whether you are staying in a hostel, or a beautiful hotel, you will meet a lot of travelers from all over the world as Paris is the mecca of every traveler who has packed his bag to explore Europe. You will meet them at your lobby, or at cafes, or at bars or if you enroll yourself in supper clubs. Its incredible, and it’s definitely a reason for me to go back, to never know whom I will meet there next and how long we will be friends there after.
3. Cafes and Patisserie: Paris is in its cafes. The bistros in Le Marais, where you can sit out in the sun getting your espresso, indulge in some good old people watching before going back to your book, that! They have lunch menus displayed outside and in 8-15 Euros, you can look at getting yourself a 3 course extravaganza, maybe even with a glass of wine. One can only hope to say that they have tried even 50% of the cafes there, and well there are new ones around the corner every year.
Next to that I would go back for the macaroons. Standing in the lavender and peach coloured shop, picking out my flavours, which will be packed off for me in a paperbag that I can munch either sitting in the tiny stools in the patisserie that can only be seriously designed for children, or out in a park bench while solving your crossword quizzes. Aaah!
4. Paris by night: As the sun goes down, the whole city lights up like a charm, thus earning it its name The city of lights (or blinding lights, if you are an U2 fan). Once the city is lit up, it is a treat to walk along the Seine. Start from Champs Elysees and walk by the Arc de Triomphe and move closer to Seine. Cross the Louvre and you can walk into the complex to get a closer look at I.M Pei’s glass pyramid illuminated. You can walk along the river, cross over to the Ile de Cite to marvel at the Notre dame at night, and while you are on one of the beautiful bridges , you may catch the Eiffel tower on its light display.
5. Supper Clubs: A supper club is a private dining experience which is a cross between dinner clubs and social clubs , some of them well talked about, some totally underground. It’s hosted by locals who call a certain number of people to their homes and have a set menu and wine on offer for sometimes a fixed fee, while some have a “pay what you want” policy. It’s a great place to get a fix on a home cooked meal and meet people from the city and plenty of travelers, who have come there for the exact same reason. I had read about the Jim Haynes dinners, and I knew I had to go. So I send in my application email, a month in advance (yes, im serious about matters like these).
But I have to admit I was a tad nervous going to a dinner where I knew nobody and almost contemplated not going. But then I told myself to just walk! And I am so glad I did so, I went there and was welcomed by warm smiles by the other diners. It was super casual and people were sitting around and getting drinks around on the staircases, in his coat closet and in the porch. I met some amazing people and the dinner was a ThanksGiving special, so French food inspired by an American festival. Food was great, the people were engaging and diverse and we raided the city till much later even post dinner. It made me realize that the Supper Club experience goes so much beyond the food.
Next time Im in town, I certainly would want to give the other ones a try and perhaps return to Jim Haynes , to say hello to him!
You can read more about Paris Supper Clubs here :
6. Culture: there is always something that’s happening in this city. Art shows, gigs, markets, farmer’s markets, food festivals and they also have their own rock music festival called Rock En Seine. With a line up that includes The XX, Band of horses, PJ Harvey, this is reason enough to revisit the city. You can check out its schedule here:
I would go back to immerse myself in all of this. Its museums, its many fairs, its Christmas market, its coffee, its people watching, its picnicking by the Seine. Its never really enough.
7. Exploring Pere Lachaise: Pere Lachaise is the largest cemetery in the city and one visit hardly cuts it. I went there on a cloudy day, unprepared for rain, and went through the lanes and bylanes, reading epitaphs, admiring the tombstones. I went looking for Edith Piaf’s grave, stumbled upon many other tourists like me , looking for Jim Morrison’s grave, which is quite hidden and totally missable even with google map in tow. Other famous inhabitants of the cemetery are Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Colette, Victor noir, the ill fated lovers Abelard and Heloise. It was a very powerful experience for me and next time I will remember to plan better. Its far too beautiful for a ramble, it deserves some time and effort.
8. Fashion: Paris is synonymous with fashion. The birthplace of Chanel, Hermes, Saint Laurent, Dior, Louis Vuitton retains its fashion supremacy with much pride. The best designers, the best clothes, and hell, it makes me want to wake up and make an effort and leave my hobo avatar behind. This is the land where the term ‘haute couture’ was coined, and the first fashion magazine was born. But beyond the St. Germain windows and the beautiful displays of Les Halles, lie vintage stores and local boutiques which will surprise you with their loot. Retail therapy is certainly something that I would want to indulge in, on my time back in the city.
9. Day trips from the city: I want to keep aside some time for day trips from the city too. Not only does the city have so much for me to do, but I want to be greedy and experience the beauty of the French countryside too. Yes I want to marvel at the beauty of the Palace of Versailles, enjoy a beach day at Normandy which was witness to the D-Day battle of WWII, or to Giverny to watch Monet’s water lilies for real and also visit his house. I hear he had a wonderful collection of Japanese prints too, and it can be seen during your time around the house. I would want to visit the pilgrimage island town of St. Mont Michel, or the rustic old village of Provins. Each of these day trips give a different element to your stay in the city and I would certainly have a hard time choosing between them, so I would just do them all.
10. Picnic in front of the Eiffel: I want a lazy day to myself, to spend drinking champagne on Parc Du Champ de Arc lay out a picnic with someone I love. Yes it’s a tad dramatic, and tad too romantic but a girl can dream! I want to sit there with a book and sunglasses and watch the sun go down and the Eiffel tower light up. The quintessential Parisian experience and it is on my list of must do’s during my next time in the city.
Paris will always have a place in my heart and whether spring, summer, fall, winter, its always a good time for Paris. Looking at this list makes me want to go and book my tickets , and maybe, just maybe, I’l do just that .
PS: I would love to listen to your reasons of going back to Paris. Leave me your comments, I will write back