Karen and Tamara are hosting "Paris In July" this month -- and I'm playing along, along with a lot of other wonderful bloggers sharing their passion for all things Parisian. Books, movies, memories, places -- check it out from the list on either of their blogs!
As I've been thinking of my friends' upcoming trip, I couldn't help but think, what are the top ten things I'd tell anyone to try to do (if, of course, it is their "thing.")
1) Catch a concert at Sainte-Chapelle.
This astounding church on Ile de la Cite has the most glorious stained glass windows ever -- so you want to see it during the day. But check posts and the sides of buildings for flyers about concerts there (or other venues).
We saw Paul Rougers with a septet doing Vivaldi. I will never forget it.
2) Picnic anywhere and everywhere. We had picnics on the plaza outside Notre Dame in the evening, in the courtyard of the Louvre, on the steps of Sacre Coeur at dusk. All you need is a bottle of wine, a couple of glasses, some cheese, a baguette, some almonds or dried apricots are nice, maybe a bit of chocolate. Watch the people and enjoy. Day or evening. It's delightful!
3) Cluny -- Le Musee du Moyen Age is set on Roman ruins in the Latin Quarter. I love this period of medival history (not to mention finally seeing the Lady and Unicorn tapestries). If you love this period, too, this is a splendid museum.
4) Musee Carnavalet -- The lovely museum in a hotel particular in the Marais covers the history of France. I loved its selection of art work, recreations of rooms, and artifacts. It gives a tremendous sense of the city over time. Very nicely done.
5) Walk the Seine. Lots of places you can do this. Since I was near Notre Dame, I tended to do so in this area, and the later, walking back from Eiffel Tower. The area near Ile de la Cite is quite populated and you'll see the bouquinistes (book stalls) -- not the best place for a bargain, but fun to look. Stop on the bridges and look both ways. So much to see.
6) Buy bread! It's better than anywhere! Or pastries, or sandwiches. Don't be a stranger at boulangeries.
7) Don't do everything. You'll want to. But you'll also want to go out the next day and do more. Play favorites -- if you like art, try the Louvre (I didn't) or Musee d'Orsay (Impressionism, I did) or the Dali or Picasso or... you get the idea. And maybe, if that's really your passion, you'll be up for more than one. And if you're not, don't beat yourself up over it. I decided the Mona Lisa will still be there next time I go to Paris!
8) Pick a park... and enjoy! Stop for awhile. The parks in Paris are wonderful. Some are grand, like Jardin du Luxembourg, with its Medici Fountain (below). Others are smaller; some have rigid and precise plans, others are more casual. Some have water. All have spots to sit. So, "set a spell" and watch the people. It's lovely.
9) The Paris Opera Garnier -- If you're a Phantom fan, this is the setting. And really, the self-guided tour is great. A guided tour would be wonderful, too, but the day I went the theatre (for which I'd most want a guide) was closed for rehearsal, so I did the self-guided and while I may have missed out on some historical bits, was perfectly satisfied. I hadn't planned to come here. I'm glad I did.
10) Visit a brocante. The wonderful Tara of Paris Parfait took me to Vanves, and the treasures I found there, along with the experience topped almost any souvenir I bought in a department store or gift shop. Vanves and Clingacourt are two of the better known. The book "Markets of Paris" offers others. Even if you don't buy a thing, it's great fun!
If you love Paris (or would like to know more) visit lots of other wonderful blogs during this month's Paris In July event!
And yes, an unlimited budget is always good! But there are wonderful opportunities to do things that cost little, if anything. There's enough eye candy to keep anyone thrilled. We loved feeding birds in the plaza in front of Notre Dame, the picnics I mentioned, and just walking about. Museum passes can give you great admission discounts. A less expensive department store, like the wonderful BHV is a far better bet for buying take-home items than some of the pricier boutiques. Churches (for the most part, unless you are doing tours) are free or not too pricey, and sometimes you'll find free concerts, too.
Now, I'm off to check out some others!
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