Published: May 10th 2010May 10th 2010
Paris in the Springtime by May
We have been in Paris about a month. There are many things to like about Paris anytime of year, but springtime has been especially nice. Here are some things I like about Paris. There are many parks, small and large, sprinkled all over the city.
Paris has more green space than we have seen in a long time. We walk on sidewalks all over the city and happen upon little gated parks several times a day. These little parks aren’t even on the map, they just are little carved out spaces of green where you can hear birds chirping. I love finding them. These little gated parks have benches, flowers and shady trees. They often have little playgrounds and grass you can sit on. They are always full of young and old, enjoying the warmth after a long winter.
There are also big patches of green parkland that are on the map. These are huge green spaces with lots of fun things in them. They often have green metal chairs that park goers can move either out in the sun by the fountain or under the trees by the benches. People
sit in these metal chairs for long periods of time. Just relaxing. These big parks often have huge playgrounds, puppet shows, pony rides, carousels, little sailboats that children push around with stick and cafes. These big parks are wonderful destinations on sunny days. As you can see from the pictures, we have found many green spaces to enjoy. The cheese, bread and wine are divine.
We have rented an apartment in Paris so we eat most of our meals in. Our apartment is in a primo location. On our street are two cheese shops, two chocolate shops, three grocery stores, two vegetable stands, three bakeries and a wine store. Shopping is fun when you can walk out the door to that choice. We mostly shop at the grocery stores, because they’re easier for non French speakers and the selection is good.
We eat a lot of cheese and drink a lot of wine. I always thought I liked Italian wine better than French wine, but I am really enjoying trying different inexpensive bottles of red wine every night. We eat cheese for lunch and dinner. Stinky strong-tasting cheese. We always have about six different cheeses to choose from
Place des Vosges, Sunny Day
This is the prettiest place in Paris - an old royal square surrounded with similar buildings. Crowded with folks on a sunny day....
to sprinkle on our salads and spread on our fresh baguettes. Eating is good in Paris. Parisians know how to relax.
Parisians have mastered the art of relaxation. I am a very relaxed person, but I’m nothing compared to them. They lean back in the park chairs, face to the sun, feet propped up on a flower bed’s fence and just sit there. For great lengths of time. Eyes closed, hands still, they just soak up the sun. Even on weekday afternoons, the parks are full of sun soakers.
The younger generation seems to enjoy the grass more. They sprawl on the lawns with potato chips and wine and talk with their friends who are sprawled all around them. It looks like a fun way to spend an afternoon.
Finally, the café culture is alive and well here. Café tables on the sunny sidewalks are always full of all kinds of people. They drink little cups of espresso, glasses of wine, soda and beer. Mostly we see drinking, but occasionally we’ll see a sandwich or salad or plate of some French deliciousness. Parisians seem to sit at the cafes for long periods of time too. None of
this, rushing away once you’ve gulped down your coffee. They sit there with their empty cup just people watching or chatting with friends for a whole afternoon. Like they have nothing better to do. What could be more important?
The people we see in Paris seem less plugged into cell phones and hand-held entertainment systems than their Asian counterparts. On the subways, they read novels or kiss or daydream or chat with their friend. In Asia, the subways were full of people looking at little screens in their hands, playing a game or listening to music or texting. The Asians seem to have perfected the art of work and efficiency, while the Parisians work on their tans and social skills in the sunshine. The museums are very nice.
This probably goes without saying, but I wanted to mention it. The museums here are awesome. Jordan and I spent six hours in the Lourve one day and didn’t even see everything. We spent two hours first thing in the morning, then left for lunch and a stroll around a park and came back for two more hours in the afternoon. We left again for dinner and went back for
our last two hours from 7-9pm. We saw the Mona Lisa with just a few others around 8:30pm. It was a great day.
We have also seen the Impressionists at Musee dOrsay, the sculptor Rodin’s work in his old house and gardens, a medieval museum with my favorite tapestries and the modern art at the Pompidou Center. There are also quite a few free museums around Paris. We’ve visited a couple of them in our neighborhood. The best one was a Shoah Museum about the Jewish persecution during the Nazi occupation of France. It was a sad but very well done museum. All the museums are convenient to get to with the Metro system, well signed and organized with plenty of bathrooms and even water fountains. Museum going is a pleasure here. Visitors have visited us from home.
My mom, Marian, came to visit for about 10 days. It was great to see her. She stayed with us and just went along with whatever we were doing that day. We went one beautiful weekend day to Versailles. It’s about a 20 minute train trip from Paris. On the weekends the fountains are turned on and the gardens are
Reading at a Little Park
This is one of the parks May mentioned. We just stumbled upon it one day - teeny, flowery, lovely, cute.
even more awesome with the water spraying in all the fountains. We toured the palace with an audio guide and took a hike across the gardens to Marie Antoinette’s “little” palaces and hamlet where she spent a lot of her time. It was a very fun day.
Paul’s dad and his friend, Edith, have also come to visit. They are staying in a beautiful apartment for a week that is about a 10 minute walk from us. We see them every evening and have gone out to eat delicious meals with them. It’s such a treat to have visitors.
Finally, we are very looking forward to our friends from Asheville coming next week. Ella’s dear friend, Madeleine, and her parents are renting an apartment near by for two weeks and we will have lots of fun with them. Being close enough for visitors to come visit has made Paris even more fun. It’s an easy hop to Amsterdam.
I really appreciate the compactness of Europe. My mom and I took a trip to Amsterdam. We hopped on a train and within three hours were there. Amsterdam is very different feeling than anywhere else I’ve visited. It feels
more like a town than a city. There are more bikes on the roads than cars. Bikes everywhere, in their own lanes, wheeling to work or school or the shops. I loved it.
We saw a lot of tourist sights in Amsterdam that were great, but the highlight was visiting Keukenhof, a huge tulip garden. It’s open for only two months every spring and we were lucky enough to see it. Beautiful paths winding past an amazing variety of tulips. The tulips were of almost every imaginable color all perfectly planted to look their best. It was a beautiful afternoon and well worth a visit. Strolling is beautiful and my very favorite thing to do.
Paris is a beautiful city. The central area is very well preserved and gorgeous. The buildings are stately and well maintained. The sidewalks are wide. There are plenty of places around Paris that are full of tourists but there are also plenty of places that aren’t.
We tend to choose a neighborhood every day or so to explore. We hop on the metro and climb up the stairs at our destination and start walking. It’s been a fun way to see Paris.
We are all good walkers now and stay out strolling for a few hours. We often pack a baguette and stinky cheese sandwich (see above) and sit in a little park (see above) and eat and relax in the sun (also see above). I appreciate having time to get off the beaten paths and see different neighborhoods with different personalities. My favorite thing in Paris is strolling around normal Paris neighborhoods and watching normal Paris people doing normal Paris things.
There are more photos below