Paris… How many labels this city has? It is named the city of love and the city of lights, it is symbolised through the Eiffel Tower, cancan, Le Chat Noir, Moulin Rouge, berets, fashion week and even baguettes! Admit it, Dear Reader, we’re full of information about this city – we can picture it, even if we still haven’t been there.
That’s why one sunny autumn Tuesday we1 landed in a small Beauvais Airport, 70 kilometers outside the capital, without a plan, how we’re going to explore it. Throughout the years we have collected more than enough information about the main sights of this famous city. I think we all once in a lifetime have heard of the existence of a building, called The Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe, Luxembourg and Tuileries Gardens, The Louvre, Moulin Rouge or Montmartre, don’t we? This seemed quite a good list of things to see, so that we didn’t see a need to google for something more. We knew the basic guidelines.
Do you agree, that best discoveries come while wandering? Personally I consider this as one of the main travelling rules. And such a famous city as Paris, didn’t break this rule. On the contrary, wandering in Paris was full of outstanding, majestic and magical surprises.
I have already shared my thoughts about Montmartre, the place, that I enjoyed the most in Paris. Today, I want to share my thoughts about the places, that surprised me the most. Mainly because, I didn’t know they exist.
Les passages couverts
We all know, how I’m in a constant search for magically looking places. And it seems that I succeeded with this quest in Paris!
In the 2 arrondissement of Paris, the district that we have stayed in, we found a super-awesome thing – covered passages, built in 18-19th century, also known as Les passages couverts.Basically, it’s streets with the glass roofs, that protect Parisians from the rain and bad weather for probably nearly two hundred years.
It’s like a retro-looking shopping mall in a shape of a street! Considering, that the architecture and interior contains a lot of wood, carvings, awesome ornaments and classy tiles, Les passages couverts is the coolest place in the 2 arrondissement.
But it’s not only the interior, that creates the 19th century atmosphere. The shops, restaurants and even museums (yes, you can find a museum there!) are like from the old and classy movies. For example, we have bought some gifts for my nieces in the nicest toy store I have ever been to. This toy store, together with the general atmosphere in the passages reminded me of the Martin Scorsese movie Hugo, which took place in the 1930s Paris, and which, by the way, I love to watch whenever I’m a bit upset!
Riverside of the Seine
By the riverside of Seine, I have in mind the part from Notre-Dame de Paris to the Eiffel Tower. It surprised me with two things. Firstly, you have probably noticed, that we love flea markets2. So this part of riverside won me over with its small green kiosks filled with a lot of interesting stuff: old magazines, comics and newspapers, old commercials, postcards and books. For example, as a souvenir to P., I brought back an original Coca-Cola commercial (1942) and Mickey Comics journal (1957). We are going to use them as interior details on the wall of our apartment.
Secondly, Seine owns wonderful bridges – a lot of them. I picked my favourites. They are Pont Alexandre III, Pont Neuf and Pont au Double! However, the point is, that a stroll on the river bank of Seine isn’t boring. Seine and its riverside surprised me with a variety of types of things, that it offer for the eyes of passer-by.
We walked through that part of the river two times, and I would have walked another two with a great excitement. A walk by the river is always a good idea. A walk by the Seine is a surprisingly good idea!
Flower market on the Île de la Cité
If you have ever been to France, you do know how awesome French flower shops are. Shop windows are colored with fresh, beautiful blossoms that look like from a painting!
Now imagine, that part of the Île de la Cité, the island in the center of the city, is dedicated only for these beautiful flower shops and kiosks. This flower market, that I’m talking about, is called Marché aux Fleurs Reine Elizabeth II, and it is a wonderful place for a morning stroll on the way to see Notre-Dame.
I don’t consider myself a big flower lover, but I was enchanted with the beauty of this market. These kind of places really make a world million times more beautiful place to live in.
Père Lachaise Cemetery
Well, this one sounds creepy, doesn’t it?But it’s not just an ordinary cemetery… It’s the world’s most visited cemetery! In fact, one of the locals even told us, that it is the second most visited place in Paris, after the Eiffel Tower3.
What makes it so popular, you ask. Well, first of all, this cemetery was opened in the beginning of 19th century and now is the oldest and biggest cemetery in the city. There are more than 70k spectacular tombs in the 44-hectare territory. Each tomb there is like a sculpture.
Secondly, is the personalities, that rest there. The most famous of who is: Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Moliere, Balzac, Edith Piaf and many others.
I was really touched to see people coming there sincerely to honour the personalities, that inspire them. For example, there was a couple at the Jim Morrison grave, who were just standing there with a headphones in their ears and listening to the music. I believe, that it was the songs of The Doors.
Paris is extraordinary. Even the cemetery there will surprise you.
Galeries Lafayette Haussmann
Galeries Lafayette is a department store chain. Galeries Lafayette Haussmann is an iconic Paris department store working since 19th century. It’s the place, where you definitely have to stop, while wandering around in Paris. And it’s not because of your closet. It’s because you need to see the most classy shopping center in the city!
Galeries Lafayette Haussmann is a very beautiful building, with a big glass dome as the main accent of it. You’re surrounded by luxury, elegance and a little bit of extravagance there.
However, department stores are exhausting. I have to admit, that this one is not an exception. So, if you are not going there for shopping, half an hour is more than enough for Galeries Lafayette Haussmann. There are a lot of other things waiting for you in the streets of this wonderful city!
So these are the places, I was unexpectedly surprised by, Dear Reader. What do you think of them? Do they seem interesting to you?
I’m waiting for your thoughts about what could, or what did surprise you in Paris!
Have a good weekend!