Every sense in the body is affected by Paris: the beautiful postcard views of all famous landmarks, the hum of the many street musicians, the wine that slowly rolls around the tongue during one of the long lunches or the dog shit that bites into the sole of your shoe. Parisians are revelers who would rather have a cup of black coffee with a cigarette for breakfast than a cheese sandwich and who can often be seen sitting alone in a cafe with a newspaper on their lap or honking furiously on their way to work on their vespa. But where do you best experience Paris and the Parisians during a long weekend? Here are our favorite neighborhoods.
Saint Germain des Pres
In this stylish area you will find well-dressed Parisians, designer shops, tea houses and galleries. The park Jardin de Luxembourg is the lung of Paris and the place where you are guaranteed to find a large proportion of Paris residents on a hot summer day. Very few apartments in the inner city of Paris have balconies big enough for more than a small pot of geraniums, so from early morning people gather in the city parks instead to play a game of chess, play boules, sunbathe, read a good book, do gymnastics or just sleep. The whole family is happy to join in and often music from large orchestras flows over the well-kept flowerbeds. Sit down in a chair, observe the surroundings and rest you and your feet after the day's experiences. If you want to rest your feet a little more luxuriously, there are plenty of tea houses here where you will be served the perfect cup of rose tea with a pink macaron. Feel free to try Ladurée at 21 rue Bonaparte.
Sinden's quarter has now become clean and many of the poets and artists who made the area famous have moved out. However, the area still has a romantic glow at dusk and the small restaurants and bars attract many young Parisians and tourists. On the top of kullen shines the white basilica Sacred Heart with its egg-shaped dome and the staircase by the church offers both street musicians and a lovely view of Paris. Wander the small streets towards Moulin Rouge and enjoy the neon lights outside the entrance, but don't expect to see any high-kicking scantily clad legs without emptying your wallet. Although most of the restaurants and shops are very touristy, it is a pleasant walk. However, be a little careful when choosing a subway station. We happened to stop at Chateau Rouge, where there was a lot of shady activity going on – even in daylight.
Around Jardin des Plantes
Since Louis XII had a medicinal plant garden planted in this unpopulated suburban area 400 years ago, the area has grown into a quiet, prosperous residential area. The heart of the surrounding area Jardin des Plantes is the street Rue de Mouffetard, where French delicacies, wine, clothes, fruit & vegetables and cheese are sold daily. It is lovely to walk down the street with beret-clad men and well-coiffed ladies and smell the freshly picked apricots and the freshly grilled quail.
The biggest symbol of Paris, both physically but also in terms of association, is The Eiffel Tower which is visible from most places in the inner city of Paris. The park just below the tower is relatively quiet, which immediately changes when you enter under the tower itself. The memorial Hotel invalid, Louis XIV's hospital for veteran warriors, has given its name to this exclusive area. The seventh arrondissement is considered to be Paris's finest and diplomats such as industrial magnates shop and live here. The most famous landmark is of course the Eiffel Tower, but here is also the gilded dome with Napoleon's tomb.
From having been one of the slums of Paris right up until the 1960s, is Marais today a popular area with many artisans, restaurants and boutiques. Today, the Picasso Museum and the town hall are located here Hôtel de Ville and the lovely fashion and interior design street Rue des Francs Bourgeois. There is fantastic shopping here at humane prices and tourists are as rare here as they are common on the Champs-Elysées. Do like many French people, go here on a Sunday afternoon and have a lovely dinner at one of the many outdoor restaurants serving French menus at good prices.
Palais de Chaillot
On the other side of the Seine, seen from the Eiffel Tower, is Place de Trocadéro and the famous golden trocadero fountains surrounded by stately residential buildings and a host of museums. The area was started to be built by Napoleon in honor of his son, but was never completed during Napoleon's regime. Today, the magnificent building houses Palais de Chaillot four museums and is surrounded by large bronze sculptures. On hot days, many young couples in love gather on the lawn around the fountains and enjoy the sun and the cooling drops of water that the fountain spreads. Many tourists also gather here to get the perfect holiday picture of the Eiffel Tower, especially after sunset, when both the Eiffel Tower and the fountains are illuminated in the evening darkness.
The neighborhood around the pampiga Opéra de Paris Garnier houses both impressive food shops, teeming with designer shops and famous churches. The opera house was completed in 1875 and is surrounded by gilded statues and marble columns. Underneath the opera is an underground lake which is said to be the inspiration for the musical Phantom of the Opera. The church Madeleine lies like a Roman temple on Place de la Madeleine and is originally erected by Napoleon. On the same square is also Paris's most exclusive grocery store - Fauchon - where you can find both Russian caviar and handmade chocolate every day. If you want to continue your shopping spree in luxury, you can head to Place Vendôme and shop for gems and jewelry at Chanel or any other designer or jeweler.
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