Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Paris Je T'apprecie

Paris is an interesting city. It has a lot to offer, but really must be done with forethought, preparation and understanding. Unlike some famous cities in the world, that one can step off the plane-train-metro and just explore, Paris could overwhelm and disappoint a tourist who tried all-out “adventure tourism” there.

For starters, Paris is large and spread out. There is so much to see that a couple days or even a week require the traveler to decide what they want to see and what they can live without. For someone who has not seen a lot of Europe or large cities anywhere, the city itself is a sight to behold. It has the European charm and beauty that many large cities here offer, but there are special and unique sights that demand attention. What do you want to see?

Somewhat underwhelming in a surprising way, are the main sights—the Eiffel Tower and the Arc of Triumph etc. In person they look like something you feel like you have seen before. It is sort of like the person who went to their first rock concert and reported, “It was so cool! If I closed my eyes I could imagine that I was listening to my iPod!” Still, you have to see them in person. Add to that list Notre Dame, the river (at night), and a stroll down the Champs Elysees.

For the more “NonModern” experience you need to do three things: the list of favorite experiences Paris had to offer us last year:

Explore the 18th arrondissement thoroughly. This is the Paris of the movies. It is the area you could actually imagine living in if you were to move to Paris.

Hit the Orsay with plenty of time. This is the museum you want to see. The best way to do the “must see” museum stuff in a short time is to hit the Louvre right as it opens on a Sunday (not the free one) and see the main things you want to see and then head across the river to see the Orsay at a slow and deliberate pace.

Do a night walk. A good suggestion would be to start at the new Opera where the Bastille was and wind your way across the islands and back to the old Opera and Madeleine area.

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