“We dont see things the way they are. We see them the way We Are.“
Everyone who has visited Paris has a plethora of opinions and ideas about the best places to visit. And if you are a first time guest to the city, or you are a well-spoken French historian of the city, each of you will have your concept of what the prime places are to see in Paris. This is not a blog about any of those locations. My attempt is to get you to do something too few of us do any more – Enjoy the View and Gain Perspective . Now perspective of a view is both unique and personal. Not all of you will find it like I do within the cobblestone streets of Montmartre during the golden hour. It’s those streets at that time that tell different stories about the locals and tourists around; and for me the bench in the corner is not only enjoyable moment to relax, but a window into the perspective of Parisian life.
Have you ever said to yourself, “I wish I could be a fly on the wall ?” You probably have, and it was for the intent to listen to some very good gossip or important news. Nonetheless, the purpose was to make your presence slightly invisible while gaining a perspective of the whereabouts your visiting. I am not saying that there does not exist merit in climbing the Eiffel Tower to see the entire city. Instead, I would like to offer you suggestions of visiting places equally breathtaking, historical, but that can allow one to really embrace aspects of what we are missing in our daily life and vacation – moments of clarity and imagination. See the idea is that these places if visited at the right hour and with simple purpose, should allow one to become intoxicated from doing nothing but listening, observing people, architectural details, and hopefully take inventory of what your senses and perceptability can produce within your mind.
My first location is one I love most because barely any tourists go, and is a bit north of the city. Yes, I know I am a tourist, except I love seeing “the people” in their own natural environment. I have found that at Parc des Chaumont. It is a huge park filled with winding roads and cool wobbly bridges, much better than the ones at Disney’s Tom Sawyer Island or Swiss Family Treehouse. Its most famous landmark is the Temple de la Sibyl, atop a gorgeously romantic clifftop, but not for those fearful of heights. It has amazing jogging trails and hikes, in fact it is a bit of hike to that awesome temple, but so worth it. The views, bridges, children playing with geese, readers actually completely engaged in the words, and lovers strolling hand in hand, are just some of the delightful sights commonplace at this park. I suggest going about 2 hours before “happy hour” around 3pm so that after touring and relaxing the park you can end at Le Rosa Bonheur. Le Rosa Bonheur is the IT Place to be for happy hour. Mothers, fathers, 20-somethings, 30-somethings, 40-somethings, singles, couples, LGBT and more go to this fun and eclectic waterhole. It has every type of beer, wine, cocktail all at a reasonable price with delicious tapas to serve alongside. Le Rosa Bonheur is the frosting on the cake for me and precisely how I love to end a visit to the park!
My second most favorite location is an extremely popular place, but not for the reasons I think it should be, The Sacre Coeur. I love this place because it has a rich history and eclectic energy of hipsters, families, catholics, tourists, and lovers. So many go to this awesome cathedral in the sky to see just the grand Basilica and frescos both painted & tiled across the ceilings. I go because of the serenity of the Dome. It is 350 step hike up and down and then back up again (not joking), but the quiet view with impressive architectural details making it all worthwhile. Up there you have tourists, yes with kids, and people just snapping pictures, but if you put that aside and focus on the view or better yet go late in the day you can sit and listen to the city! The sounds are unique and impressive. A mixture of music from the poor musician trying to make a euro beneath, birds chirping, and my favorite, the bell tower ringing. When we go we don’t just go for an hour or so; we make sure to be able to attend service. As Catholics who grew up in Catholic school, the fact that we cannot understand the words means nothing because the moment that amazing Grand Organ plays instinctively gives us both goosebumps. On a less solemn and religious note, another thing we both love to do is watch the street dancers outside at the bottom end of the steps of the Sacre Coeur. Needless to say, it is a place of inspiration – be it of religion, imagination, or solace from the hustle of the city. For me it is where I go to find all three and pretend to be a bird perched atop one of Paris’ most fascinating historical monuments. Next time though I will be sure to go to my quiet spot when it is raining, after reviewing the pictures of the amazing gargoyles gutters you’ll comprehend my reasoning.
My final location is one that allows me to be surrounded by so many of my favorite Paris monuments and they are all within just several feet from another; to me it is the epicenter of Paris it is the Jardin des Tuileries. I love entering through the Arc de Triomphe du Place du Carrousel, not too be confused with the Arc de Triomphe at the end of the Champs-Elysées . This entrance for me allows to me imagine what it must have felt like to have been King and Queen and to have had so much space to stroll and get lost from the worries and enemies one had that day. I adore the grounds and how one can have a picnic within one of the mazes on the grass next to one of the many Rodin masterpieces or possibly be enchanted by the Oath of Spartacus. Even the chairs around the center main pool has a fountain whose stream is almost magical how it can just tranquillize even the loudest child. It is so easy to slouch back in the iconic green lawn chairs around the park, read a book, sip wine, or just catch some rays. All these are great reasons to visit the Jardin des Tuileries, however its much like the delta of the nile opening its pathway towards the west to offer captivating museums and monuments like Musee de l’Orangerie, Galerie Nationale du Jeu Paume, and the Place de la Concorde. This Jardin/Garden is unlike any other and has become the basis for some of my most sacred memories made alone like lounging while reading a novel and so recent as the place where Omar, my husband, and I took some of our vow renewal pictures because of our love for the gardens.
Once again my attempt at this blog entry was NOT tell you what are the best places to go in Paris. Instead my attempt was to convey the best places to keep perspective of what most should do more than just when on vacation, which is Relax – Take In the Scenery -Breath in the Colors, Smells, Sounds, and let your mind become free. I hope you too find solace and Your Paris Perspective when you have visited these places my fellow Wanderers.