Find Your Way Through Secret Paris
January 1, 1970
by Zoran Trifunovic
- Surprising Paris, France
- What makes Paris an incredible city?
- Wine, history and art
- Do you fancy a ride over Paris?
- Montmartre district – between the legends, art and gastronomy
- Chateaux of Paris
- The Seine River
- Paris, France – the City of Lights
Surprising Paris, France
Paris, the capital of France, is rightfully considered one of the very best city-destinations throughout the world, but most travellers to this exceptional tourist gem remain mostly unaware of its true potential. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Triumphal Arch and other top tourist attractions certainly play their part, but Paris is infinitely more than that. Have you heard of, for example, the Wine Museum, the Saint Denis Basilica or the Carnavalet Museum? If your answer is negative, welcome to a huge club.
What makes Paris an incredible city?
Everyone makes their own discoveries their way, but to find out what Paris offers, you should tour it on foot as much as possible. Off-the-beaten paths can easily reveal some unexpected surprises, such as a beautiful fountain, an ecclesiastical structure, or even a remaining façade of an establishment that disappeared a long time ago. Extraordinary facades, beautiful oases of greenery and surprising monuments supplement, but don’t complete the list, nothing more than a Roman amphitheater does anyway.
In most cases, it isn’t necessary to get distanced from the main tourist paths, just slightly to wander off. Two out of three above-mentioned establishments, for example, can be found only minutes away from some of the most famous Paris’s attractions (the Eiffel Tower and the Place des Vosges).
Wine, history and art
Since we had those mentioned again, we might as well elaborate them.
- The Wine Museum is a surprising stopover for wine aficionados, who can attend wine classes and wine tastings, and find out what wine appellations of France are the best.
- The Carnavalet Museum is the right place where you can get thoroughly informed about Paris’s long and turbulent history. The engaging exhibitions include models of the French capital’s districts from different ages, revival of the historic events through paintings, decorated rooms, store signs and much more.
- The Saint Denis Basilica, located in the homonymous northern suburb of Paris, is where the Gothic architectural style was born. The basilica used to be the crowning place for the queens of France and is the Royal Necropolis where all but three French kings were buried.
Do you fancy a ride over Paris?
If so, your destination should be the Park (Parc) Andre Citroen, within walking distance from the Eiffel Tower. In the park, embark the hot air balloon, and in the 10-minute ride take a glimpse of the city from the bird’s perspective.
Montmartre district – between the legends, art and gastronomy
One of the earliest Parisian legends is related to the worldwide famous Montmartre. Back then, the district wasn’t known as the hub of the artists, but as the Mount of the Martyrs.
If you take Montmartre’s winding paths that lead you away from the crowded Sacre Coeur Basilica and the Place du Tertre (where you can have a portrait of you), you’ll sooner or later find a few interesting alleyways and busts. One of the busts illustrates Saint Denis, the first bishop of Paris, carrying his head. He was decapitated by the Romans and it is how the hill got its name.
Another interesting bust, located nearby, honors former show business star Dalida, who was unhappy in love and died very young. Note that her breasts are worn; it is due to a belief that whoever touches her breasts will be happy in love ever after.
Throughout the Montmartre you can find various interesting cabarets and eateries. Au Lapin Agile should prove especially interesting since this nightlife hub and its shows remain completely the same from the day of its founding in the 19th century.
Speaking of eateries, it’s just Montmartre where you can find an authentic French cuisine. What you should look after isn’t some pricey, nice looking restaurant, but rather small, inconspicuous one, with full ashtray in front of it. True French gourmets are big smokers, so follow the smell of the cigars instead of the smell of the cuisine in this particular case.
Chateaux of Paris
Did you know that you don’t need to travel to the Loire Valley nor get far outside the city limits if you wish to see an actual chateau (I don’t have the Versailles in mind)? If you, on top of it, have read The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, then a visit to the Chateau de Monte Cristo cannot be wasted time.
The Chateau de Malmaison briefly used to be home of Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon’s first wife Josephine had the estate purchased during her husband’s Egyptian campaign (1799), which angered Napoleon gravely since the property was excessively ruined and he had other goals in mind for their funds. Soon, however, the Chateau de Malmaison was transformed into a pleasant and nice looking establishment.
The Chateau de Vincennes can be found in the Vincennes Forest (Bois de Vincennes); the Chateau de Vincennes reminds of a small fortified town, and was used as a royal residence the longest, surpassing in that regard the Louvre, the Versailles, the Fontainebleau and other well-known royal residences.
The Seine River
The Seine River certainly isn’t much of a surprise, but given half a chance it still might surprise you pleasantly. If you take a walk along the Seine during the spring and summer months, you are very likely to find a dance party at some point. You should really jump in even if you are a beginner.
And, what would you think about an open-air classical concert? Paris features dozens of bridges, but if you wish to attend such a concert, head to the pedestrianized Saint-Louis Bridge, behind the Notre Dame Cathedral, which connects the Ile de la Cite with the Ile Saint Louis. While there, take a short walk to the beginning of the Saint Louis Street (Rue Saint Louis) and have an extraordinary fruit ice-cream.
If you are in Paris with kids, take them to the left (southern) bank of the Seine, in the vicinity of the Orsay Museum, where all of you can enjoy an interesting playground featuring various facilities.
Finally, have you heard of the Paris Beaches (Paris Plages) concept? During the hot summer months, the right bank of the Seine becomes a sandy tropical beach with palm trees and means for refreshment.
Paris – the City of Lights
We all know about Paris as the City of Fashion, Culture and more, but to find out why it’s the City of Lights, you need to experience it by night. Take a walk along the places that are crowded during the day, and you’ll find yourself surprised by a subtle, yet powerful illumination, and calmness of the great city such Paris is.
And don’t forget to take a look at the Eiffel Tower around a full hour during the evening, when the light-show enlivens this recognizable symbol of Paris.