Saturday, May 15, 2010

Destination: Paris in the Spring

Paris is a city that I know well.  Growing up, my family took multiple trips to Paris.  On these trips, we had wonderful tour guides - my parents, who had lived there, and their friends.  During and after college, I spent a decent amount of time exploring the city.  During each visit, I make a point to visit new places/events and to learn new Paris facts. As a result, I am usually the tour guide when I visit Paris with friends. 

On a recent trip to Paris, I was very happy to have a friend join who knew Paris well.  During this trip, they were  the tour guide role and showed me many new sites.  Highlights of the trip included:

1. Cafe de l'Homme.  Situated at the back of the Musee de l'Homme, this cafe offers tables with the best views in Paris.  It's located dirctly across the Seine from the Tour Eiffel on a small hill.  From the table, it's possible to see the entire Left Bank of Paris.  It is also a great place for people watching.  The clientele are mostly high-powered business people, well-to-do Parisian families, and old ladies meeting for social hour.  Everyone knew each other, and everyone was in designer clothing - including the servers. 

2. L'Orangerie.  On the top floor are 2 large, circular rooms which house some of Monet's water lily paintings.  The museum was specially designed for the paintings.  The lower floor houses rotating art collections.  If I lived in Paris, I would visit this museum at least once per week after work, with my ipod, to view the paintings and listen to music.

3. Cimetière du Père Lachaise.  On Sunday morning, our first tour stop was Jim Morrison's grave.  I'm definitely not a graveyard person... I have a difficult time getting over the feeling that I'm walking on dead people.  And seeing Jim Morrison's grave seemed too touristy.  But I went anyway and was pleasantly surprised.  It was more like a archealogy site than a graveyard.  The tombs are miniture houses that date back multiple centuries.  Moss covers everything, and antique carvings are everywhere.  Jim Morrison's grave is easy to find... just "follow the hippies" (totally serious).  I don't recommend going here at night as it could quickly turn into the Blair Witch Project.

4. Restaurants & park around Sainte Marie de Batignolles (74 rue Legendre, 75017 Paris).  For lunch on Sunday, another friend took us to the square around Sainte Marie.  It has sidewalk restaurants with amazing food and a great park.  Supposedly, this areas is a hidden gem within Paris because it's a 10 min walk from the closest metro stop so only locals know the area. The pic to the left shows 2 little girls playing at lunch. 

5. Angelina (226 rue de Rivoli).  This is supposedly the best place in Paris to get hot chocolate.  My tour guide skills are poor when it comes to the Paris cafe/restaurant scene.  So another friend, a food connoisseur, sampled his way around Paris and kindly provided this recommendation.

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