Paris is the city in which one loves to live. Sometimes I think this is because it is the only city in the world where you can step out of a railway station—the Gare D’Orsay—and see, simultaneously, the chief enchantments: the Seine with its bridges and bookstalls, the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Tuileries Gardens, the Place de la Concorde, the beginning of the Champs Elysees—nearly everything except the Luxembourg Gardens and the Palais Royal. But what other city offers as much as you leave a train?
– Margaret Anderson
P aris is undoubtedly one of the most exciting European capitals. The aesthetics, culture and lifestyle of this timeless city have gone on to influence many other metropolises on a global scale, as everyone wanted to grab a piece of the city’s magic and prestige. Whether you are looking to enjoy the rich local culture, the exciting nightlife, the tantalizing local cuisine – or even better, a combination of all of the above, you are in for a treat.
When I first arrived to Paris a few days ago, I was pleasantly surprised by the very efficient public transportation services: I managed to get from the Charles De Gaulle airport to the small hotel in Goncourt where I booked a room without a hassle, and over the past few days I’ve been conveniently using the subway to get to the most interesting spots, including the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre Museum (Home to the well-known Mona Lisa painting created by Leonardo Da Vinci – among many other priceless artifacts) or the characteristic Montmartre.
Although there’s no summer atmosphere left in the air as we are approaching the second half of February, the streets of Paris feel warm and colorful because of the people. I’ve often been told about the arrogance of French people and I’ve been warned to expect a lot of rudeness my way – but I really have to say that my social experiences have been great. From helpful waiters at restaurants to casual conversations at a café, people in this city seem great, and although not everyone speaks English, it is not hard to find a way to communicate (especially after a nice glass of French wine or two!).
If you are a food enthusiast, Paris will charm you immediately. There are bakeries everywhere. And I mean everywhere. It will be hard to walk around and avoid smelling some freshly brewed coffee or newly baked bread loaf every few minutes! One of the most interesting things about Paris is how the city appears extremely globalized and multi-cultural, yet very “French” and traditional all at once. This unique dualism also reflects within the local cuisine, as you can easily see the most traditional French bistros next to exotic options such as many Japanese, Senegalese, Thai and Lebanese dining spots. I was particularly impressed by the Jewish area in Rue Des Rosiers, where people would queue for hours to eat some of the best falafel in town and where there’s even a Kosher American style diner and burger joint, probably the first of its kind I’ve seen in Europe!
I am the kind of traveler who doesn’t really like to go by the (tourist) book: I simply follow the flow and see where the city takes me. Paris is a perfect place to explore in such a way, because its many neighborhoods bleed into one another seamlessly, and you can easily stumble upon some of the city’s most recognizable landmarks and literally make up your destinations as you go. This is basically how I am planning my days. I leave my hotel room early in the morning, get out for a nice cup of espresso and perhaps a croissant, then start walking into the city and soaking up the colors of its people, foods, buildings and gardens. This might be a hue 21st century metropolitan area, but there’s still plenty of old school romance left, doing honor to the city’s reputation as one of the most charming destinations ever.