Ernest Hemingway once said that if you’ve been lucky to live in Paris as a young person then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you: “…for Paris is a moveable feast.”
A city given so many different names, from ‘the capital of love’, to ‘the city of lights’, it's difficult to describe. The poets and artists have done it hundreds of times – recounting its streets, the people, the ambiance – but to capture the magic and grandness of such a historic yet avant-garde location is near impossible.
It’s reputation as one of the most beautiful cities in the world is readily understood if you visit. For instance; if you were to step out of Gare D’Orsay, a train station, you can see some of the most beautiful and enchanting parts of Paris in the blink of an eye; the Seine and it’s bridges, the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Tuilleries, the Place de la Concorde and the beginning of the Champs Elysees. What other city in the world, let alone in Europe, can you say the same thing about?
Built along the delightful Siene River, the city is divided into districts, or arrondissements. If you were to look at a map of the city you will find that it is very logically planned. After World War II, when the city lay in ruins, it was almost entirely rebuilt, streets replaced and repaved into almost American-like grids (while retaining its distinctively French charm, of course). This makes getting around quite simple and certainly takes the stress out of getting lost in a foreign place.
The underground system, or Metro, aside from being cheap (a carnet of 10 tickets costs only 12 euros) is also very useful when getting from one side of town to another. Although discovering the city by foot or bike is quite simple and enjoyable it isn’t always possible because of the weather; in summer it is boiling hot and in winter it is bitterly cold. For such occasions the Metro offers an affordable and convenient method of transport.
Some of the most exquisite collections of art can be found in the plentiful museums dotted around the city. From Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to Monet’s water lilies and Dali’s surrealist landscapes, there is something for all to enjoy. You can visit massive museums like Le Louvre to smaller more quaint exhibition areas like the Musee de l'Orangerie, and there is something that will certainly appeal to you.
If museums aren’t your thing you can jump on the train and enjoy the rides at Disneyland Paris. Alternatively, you can always lose yourself in the smaller shopping districts like le Marais and partake in the favourite pastime of the French: people-watching.
Come rain or shine, the sitting areas outside café’s are always full of people enjoying a relaxing afternoon. To be truly Parisian sit back and enjoy a good cup of coffee or glass of wine and watch the rest of the world pass you by.
Another great way of seeing the city, including all its most beautiful architecture, is to take a journey along the Siene on a ‘Bato-Bus’ (boat-busses) that travel up and down the river.
Like any other capital city around the world the shopping, the food, the nightlife in this French city are to die for. What makes Paris different is the inherent romance of the city; it's bound to make you fall in love.
By Sam Rogers
JMU Journalism travel articles
The Seine and the Eiffel Tower are world-famous landmarks; Youtube: Fast forward Paris highlights