Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Postcards from Paris: Paris on Foot

This visit to Paris, I felt I had more luxury to see the city on foot.  Last year, I had a mission of seeing everything, and this time, it was a lot more relaxed.  I also had gained more courage this time around since really, if you have a map, Paris is in a grid that is pretty easy to get by on foot.  

Because I had no specific itinerary, no crazyhouse schedule, no Paris Pass burning a hole in my pocket, I felt like I could really just walk around, observe local life, pretend to be Parisian, and relax into it all.  It's nice to observe the Eiffel Tower from the vantage point of the gardens at Grand Palais, where the locals are hanging out, playing football, just like normal people.

Last year, I made a friend in Paris, and at her urging, we met at the Marais.  I had a bit of time so after getting off the Metro Line 1, I had a chance to walk around.  I love this neighborhood!  I have a coy plan in my head brewing to stay here with The Dutch next time we're in Paris.

I was attracted to this old church with an imposing red door.  Isn't it gorgeous?

Concealed behind those red doors was a place even more beautiful.  I love European churches like these. They are really beautiful places of worship and the silence and stillness just engulfs you.

My Brazilian turned-Parisian friend and I had coffee across from the Centre Pompidou after lunch and an afternoon of browsing at the Carnavalet Histoire de Paris.  When I met her last year in Paris, she had just moved from Sao Paolo.  I was amazed how she speaks such fluent and beautiful French in just one year!

And after our coffee, I was on my own.  Rue Montorgueil is the place to go if you're a foodie shopping for cooking and baking supplies. I walked up and down the street, zigzagging in and out of shops.

Parisians have a bad rap for being grumpy snobs.  So far though, I have not had a sour experience with them (yet).  Here are a couple of fishmongers who wanted a picture with me. Though I'm not sure why, it certainly exhibits a fun and humorous side.  For me to hold a tray of fish was their idea, too.

I think this was at Rue de Nil in the late afternoon.  I snapped up a picture of Nana shopping for tomatoes.  This was across from the restaurant Frenchie, I recall.

I've walked miles and miles that day, but that's how I like to travel.  As my day wound down, I ran into this magnificent arch, kind of like the one at Champs Elysee, but tucked away so that tourists like me won't find it.  But there I was, staring at a staggering at this obscure gate.  My guidebook didn't say anything about this!

A quick search on the web tells me that this is the Porte Saint-Denis, which was erected in 1672, and much like the Arc de Triomphe, it signifies victory, this one being of Louis IV against Maastricht, Holland (I've been there!).  What do you know?

I loved this arch also because of its aesthetic.  It was just poetry how it framed the neat row of buildings in the backdrop.

And this is precisely I love traveling on foot. So much of a city is revealed to you so intimately - oftentimes surreptitiously and on accident.  But what do the superstitious say?

Perhaps, there are no accidents.

P.S.  I love the ballet and I've always wanted to see one in Paris at the Palais Garnier.  It's a stunning building, if you haven't yet seen pictures.  I was unable to get tickets (again) at Garnier this visit, but I did end up watching Le Lac des Cygnes (Swan Lake) at the Chatelet.  Having not made an advance purchase, I stood in line at the box office an hour before the show, and I got one for a super deal!

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