Paris, just saying the name is exciting. It’s many people’s favorite city. Mine too. But how do you experience it in just a few days?
Walking and soaking up the magnificent architecture and the River Seine and its bridges is the starting place.
Buy a day ticket on the underground Metro, another remarkable Paris attraction. With a map, hop off the train at different stops and explore the community where you land. You’ll be surprised at the different environments … there’s so much to see and admire. The Metro takes you to all the famous attractions too.
Flower stands color the streets all day long. Top off all these adventures at night with music. On telephone poles and walls are pasted play bills about brilliant classical musicians and music at church venues. Don’t miss this. There’s nothing quite like sitting in the oldest church in Paris listening to a piano soloist playing Chopin. If you know La Sainte Chapelle and its magnificent stained glass windows, add to that a chamber music sized orchestra playing Handel, Mozart and Vivaldi.
And I hesitate to mention the delectable French food and wine. Just know that the French are experts in how to eat, drink and cook. A poor meal is hard to find, even in a dumpy little place near a train station. Enjoy having a drink in the corner of the bar where Stalin and Lenin conspired. Cafes, bistros, brasseries, restaurants contain a history book best enjoyed at an outdoor cafe over an expresso.
The second largest city in France is Marseille which has some resemblance to its bigger sister, Paris. The stunning cathedral Notre Dame de la Garde crowning the highest hill dominates Marseille. The hard life and past criminal element of this port city has been replaced by sparkling Paris-like buildings, grand homes along the corniche (named Corniche JF Kennedy, by the way) and hundreds of tourists. The “action” is around the Vieux-Port or Old Port where the hotels have views of the boating activity and the cathedral lit up at night plus restaurants for every taste.
In Paris, it’s the Latin Quarter with winding streets to stroll, while checking out which cafe has food that entices and which one has live music of your choice.
For a more upscale lunch or dinner, the Cafe La Paix across from the famous opera house satisfies with a sparkling old world environment. For a ‘must see,’ walk across the street to Le Palais Garnier, the former but still magnificent Opera House inaugurated in 1875. The Grand Staircase alone will knock you out. In the auditorium, the immense crystal chandelier hangs below Mark Chagall’s brightly colored ceiling painting. It introduced me to this artist almost fifty years ago. At that time we strolled the vast and richly decorated foyers and salons during intermissions of the opera Carmen.
Oh Paris holds wonder after wonder like the parks we found exiting the Metro. Turn yourself around, Google Paris, put on some music and replenish yourself with the City of Love and a wee bit of her little sister.
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