No time would be long enough to discover all the beauties, major and off-tracks, splendid buildings and tiny shops Paris hides. To try to make the most out of it, a well-constructed list and a detailed map were my best travel companions when I visited (came in very handy indeed). Yet so many things left undiscovered for now but not for ever.
Eiffel Tower sneak peek
First timers definitely should not miss out on the major landmarks that characterize the city and make it the second most visited spot in Europe. But after you overcome with emotion climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower (make it on foot if physical condition allows), wondering at Arc de Triomphe’s traffic junction, and trying to explore one tenth the world’s largest museum, the Louvre, getting lost in less touristic parts (you have to dig deep to find these though) and discovering some of the controversial districts of Paris is something you should squeeze into your short schedule if you want to see this thriving metropolis from a different perspective.
Someone left the window open – Notre Dame
A visit to the Notre Dame should be on every travelers list but if you are happen to be there the first Friday of the month you will experience something rather special. The wreath of thorns which was placed on Jesus’ head before he was crucified is on show in the cathedral between 3pm and 4pm on this specific day of each month. Enchanted by the Holy Mass take your direction towards the local students’ favorite district, the Latin Quarter. Pick up a book from the Shakespeare and Company bookshop (37, rue de la Bucherie) on the left bank of the river Seine and stroll along the colorful streets of this exciting neighborhood until you reach rue Mouffetard, a street less packed, but not less fascinating. Grab some fresh fruits from Pomi (142, rue Mouffetard) before popping into Androuet (134, rue Mouffetard) for some fine cheese. Everything is about olive oil and colorful packaging at Oliviers & Co. (128, rue Mouffetard), and don’t leave without sampling some delicious natural chocolate at Jeff de Bruges (112-114, rue Mouffetard). Anoki (106, rue Mouffetard) offers upcoming local designer accessories for ladies, and you can even get your nails done at the funky Culture of Color Nail Bar under number 132. Art movie lovers should not skip a visit to L’Epée de Bois art cinema (100, rue Mouffetard) accessible through a mysterious, narrow doorway blending in so well that it’s easy to miss. Apart from the diverse mix of trendy places there are a number of promising restaurants, cafeterias and bars along the road where you can enjoy a real Parisian coffee or a nice glass of French wine without having to queue for a table (at least during the day).
More silent and less crowded – rue Mouffetard
Fine cheese from Androuet
House of Olive oil – Oliviers & Co.
Local design at Anoki
Once in Paris, get a feel for India. What am I talking about? Just get off the metro at Gare du Nord and you will see it yourself. Totally different but exciting enough the so-called Indian district of the city, packed with Saree shops, Bollywood movie stores, vegetarian and non-veg restaurants and South Indian sweet shops. French language hardly can be caught on the streets, so the experience is rather something like being in a tiny version of India. I picked up some sweets from Ganesha Sweet shop, purchased red banana from the supermarket, then sat for a hearty dinner at one of the many Indian restaurants. Before the night came down I left with a stomach full, good memories and the smell of Indian spices in my nose.
Paris mixes with India
To explore Paris off the beaten track requires a good amount of time spent in the city, which anticipates many return trips. But “Paris is always a good idea” so why not to return to the city of lights every now and then?
For more snapshots check out Paris lies in the details