We only spent around three days in Paris but it felt like a lifetime. We ate fantastic food, discovered the most beautiful places and got wow-ed not just once but many times.
Paris really is the city of love, it is ridiculously romantic and beautiful. But it is also chaotic and hectic and confusing.
While we were there we stayed at a gorgeous little boutique design hotel named Hotel Crayon, just a couple of steps from the Louvre, we kissed on the Eiffel Tower, visited ancient buildings like the Cathedral of Notre-Dame and the Panthéon, immersed ourselves in free outdoor street art here, found the beauty in a very touristy Montmartre and relaxed a bit in the garden of the Jardin du Luxembourg.
But we did so much more!
Unfortunately, not every photo comes with a bigger story, so after each trip I always end up with a pile of pictures that have no reason at all to be featured on the blog other than for the fact that I find them interesting or beautiful in some way, so that I really want to share them with you.
This post is sort of like a collection of these leftover photos (see here my stunning leftover photo collection of Fiji last year) with a little bit of background information and I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do. In some cases these photos may actually inspire you to visit some these places yourself!
The Louvre and the Tuileries Garden
Since we were staying so close to the Louvre we actually came past it a couple of times and we were stunned by its enormous size and grandeur. Even though the Louvre is one of the best art galleries in the world we didn’t include it in our itinerary this time. Yet, just walking through the giant inner courtyards, past the enormous windows, the golden balconies, and the glass pyramid is just wonderful.
And from here it’s just a couple of steps to the Tuileries Garden with its wide sandy walkways, green manicured lawns and colourful flowerbeds. It’s royal and majestic, these grand buildings and the formal garden with its basin and the strict lines next door, just what you expect from a Grand Nation.
The oldest clock in Paris
Not far from the Palais de Justice on the Ile de la Cité you may come across a beautiful royal blue and golden clock on the side of a building. It’s a strikingly beautiful piece. I am sure you will agree even if you couldn’t care less for clocks. This particular one, as it turned out now that I did a little bit of research on it, happens to be the oldest still existing clock in all of Paris.
If you want to have a closer look at it yourself, it is situated on the north-west corner of the Palais de Justice building at the corner of Quai de l’Horloge and Pont au Change. The first clock ever recorded here was installed in the 14th century, and the version that you will see in front of you now is still in perfect working condition.
One of these things that you don’t really think about including in your itinerary and that just happen to you while you are on your way to somewhere else, an accidental find. The magic of travel.
The roses behind the Cathedral of Notre-Dame
I touched on this when I wrote my post about the cathedral – behind the building is a little park called Square Jean XXIII. There are a number of benches here that are so relaxing after a day on your feet, and you will also find trees that have been trimmed into little cubes, there’s a little fountain and lots and lots of roses.
I love the contrast of delicate petals and ancient masonry, so for me this is an absolutely delightful place to be. Lots and lots of photos derived from this encounter, here are my two favourites.
Paris, the city of love. So let’s leave a padlock in a public place, show the world how much we love each other and that it will be for eternity. You will find love lucks in many places in Europe but not so many places in Australia. Maybe we Aussies are less romantic, as these little locks won’t stand the test of time downunder with many councils eager to remove them as soon as they appear.
How different is Paris in that respect. Yes, there are Seine bridges where the city has chosen to cover up the railings with plywood in an attempt to prevent love lucks behind left behind here, probably for safety reasons. But there are quite a few bridges that are overflowing with these little tokens of love.
Call them romantic, call them ugly, I don’t care. I love the fact that people from all over the world unite in this public display of affection and that they manage to change the cityscape forever this way.
The beauty of French food
Paris is a wonderful place for foodies. It is simply fascinating how even the tiniest restaurants can pull off the most delicious dishes, using really simple ingredients but balancing the flavours and textures in a way that is just perfection. You will eat these dishes at tiny round tables, preferable on the curb outside, balancing a demi-bouteille of wine on the table top, while watching the crowds walk by.
Breakfast, just a croissant with butter and a strong coffee, is equally simple and yet so delicious. And if you are enjoying it outside you may be visited by a little sparrow like we did.
The glass dome of the Galarie Lafayette Haussmann
If you are going to visit just one of the big department stores in Paris, make it the Galerie Lafayette in the Boulevard Haussmann. Why? Because this department stores stuns visitors with a massive glass dome that is so grand it could also grace an opera, a church or parliament building. Now, this is impressive, isn’t it?
Electric cars recharging
Oh, how fantastic is this? Electric ride share cars recharging their batteries in a purpose built rank in the middle of Paris. When it comes to alternative energies and sustainability Europe is miles ahead of Australia. While we are being told by our government that wind farms would destroy the beauty of our landscapes and while coal is heralded as the best source of energy for Australia just as if this was still the 1980’s, Paris has actually installed electric power sockets for cars. Paris, I applaud you.
The Roman Amphitheatre
Did you know that there is a real Roman amphitheatre in the middle of Paris? No? Well, yes there is. But you really need to know what you are looking for. It is not exactly a tourist attraction. Instead, it’s hidden behind a row of apartment houses with very little indicating that you are close to some ruins that are around 2,000 years old. Mind-blowing, but this is Europe.
The amphitheatre is called Arènes de Lutèce and is located in the Rue Monge surrounded by the Parisian universities. It is in pretty good condition, partly restored, so that it can still be used by the public for recreational purposes. In fact, when we visited the amphitheatre there was a group of local kids playing soccer in the arena, and other visitors were having picnics and bottles of wine while sitting in the ranks.
This is not a museum at all, it is just an open space that was spared further development and that is still in good use today. Lovely.
The Rue Paul Albert
I really liked this little street, although technically it is not a street, so the name is a bit misleading. It is no more than a long flight of stairs that you may want to tackle on your way to Montmartre. Personally, I just loved the beautiful fronts of the houses and the way this narrow space wedged between the tall buildings and the sheer cliff walls of the hill is used to efficiently.
The structure of the Centre Pompidou
Visiting the pedestrian area around the famous Centre Pompidou turned out to be less exciting than I remembered it from earlier visits. In fact, both of us didn’t really feel safe and comfortable in the area despite its tourist appeal. There were simply too many shady characters lurking around and too many police were patrolling the area.
However, looking through my pictures today I cannot help but admire the structure of the Centre Pompidou. What an ingenious idea to move all structural elements like supporting beams, stairs, pipes, cables to the outside of the building to create big, open spaces for the galleries!
However, to my surprise everything looked a bit run down and dirty, not exactly the way I’d expected it to be.
The Canal St Martin
I found a couple of mentions on the internet by travel bloggers and Parisians who recommended this canal in the north-east of Paris as an off-the-beaten-path experience. Everyone praised the romantic, peaceful feel and the great restaurants in its neighbourhood.
When we arrived we did find the historic locks which are used by tourist barges that cruised the canal. Watching the locks in action is definitely something that many people will find interesting, and I am sure cruising the canal is not just good fun but also quite romantic.
However, the area to both sides as well as the footbridges crossing the canal were a big disappointment, as they were shabby at best. What a shame considering the tranquility of the water of this broad canal. We were also not able to find the praised restaurants in the neighbourhood as they are not really lining the canal as we first thought but are strewn around the surrounding streets.
Maybe we did miss something in the briefing but personally this is not an area that I would recommend to anyone despite the romantic scene in the photo.
The forecourt of the Panthéon panorama
Credit to this photo actually needs to go to my husband. I mentioned in my post about the Panthéon that it is surrounded by lovely old buildings and that you can also see the tip of the Eiffel Tower from here. Well, here is now the proof. The only reason why this photo wasn’t featured in the actual post is because I didn’t have it available at the time.
And that’s about it! I hope you enjoyed this mix of leftover photos of Paris.