Paris Is An Island In Its Own

Once a month until I run out of cities, I am going to add my thoughts on a major city… so of course I begin with Paris.

When the millennium began in January 2000, I had not been to Paris. It is considered to be so romantic and as I usually travel by myself I thought I would be unhappy. But when I saw that beautifully lit Eiffel Tower I knew I had to go. Two weeks later I was there! And I have been back five times since!

“Paris is an island in its own, a universe apart from the rest of the country. Seductive, sophisticated, fashionable and full of exuberance. Paris conjures up a remarkable mix of images: sweeping boulevards, world-class art museums, grand monuments, medieval streets, people-watching from café terraces and of course the Eiffel Tower….’We’ll always have Paris’ ” (I do not know who wrote this but it is the best!)

Certainly that paragraph conjures up all that is Paris. I have walked so many miles in Paris. When I learn about a new hotel, I discover there is another neighborhood I have not been to, therefore I must return. The fun of watching ‘Midnight in Paris’ was that I knew first hand that it was impossible for him to walk from the Montmartre area to the river so quickly!

When I do a European country I like to experience both the city and the countryside. So for France I may begin and end my experience with Paris. Since I live in a city, I enjoy the country drives but it is the culture of the cities that brings me back. I have a list of over a dozen museums in Paris. We all know many of them, but a real surprise for me was the renovated l’Orangerie. Upstairs houses the very large Monet paintings of the blue lily pond. There are two rooms with one painting on each wall. I felt like I was in the midst of the pond. How did Monet ever paint on such a large canvas?

As for the countryside, if you do not want to travel far there are so many day trips available from the city. All are easily accessible by train. For example, there is Chartres Cathedral, a huge cathedral from the Middle Ages with beautiful stain glass windows. Take the train from Gare Montparnasse. Giverny is the town of Claude Monet’s countryside home and train from Gare St Lazare. Get back on the train and go to Rouen where Monet painted this cathedral many times and where Joan of Arc died. Again if you have time, go to Honfluer where he also painted the fishing village. After dinner take a late train home. Then there is the short train ride to Versailles Palace, Louis XIV’s home and gardens. Or take the train to Reins to see another famous Cathedral and taste the best of Champaign.

I often rate cities as to how many days it takes to really see the city. Paris is a 21 day city, but take it in small doses since… ‘We will always have Paris!’

So how many of you out there know where that phrase came from?

Chartres Cathedral

About alwaysharriet

With thirty years experience in corporate and leisure travel consulting, Harriet Ahouse has traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean and worldwide. An avid scuba diver, she understands the requirements of travelers both on land and in the water. On the European scene she has offered traditional and personalized travel itineraries throughout the continent--Italy, France, and England are some of her favorites. As a Virtuoso Agent, she also has extensive resources to enhance her expertise in designing individual destination travel itineraries--and honeymoons--worldwide!
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