Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Bad Tourist in Paris

Paris

48 hours in  Paris...

From Saturday afternoon till Monday afternoon, that should be enough time for some sightseeing, some cultural activities, and just soaking in the atmosphere, maybe even squeezing in a quick shopping spree on Monday morning (most shops are closed on Sunday).

Yeah, right, it's not going to happen.

I used to live in Paris, for a very brief time, a very long time ago. That means that I've been there, done that, or can at least pretend that I've 'seen' everything worth seeing...
And if you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I'm a bad tourist anyway, and way too snobbish to get caught doing anything as clichĂ©d as rushing from one tourist attraction to another...

Paris

So, I passed the Notre Dame to get the mandatory touristy snapshot (you're welcome, it's the only one you're going to get...), only to turn left after the (second) bridge and have some quality time mingling with the locals:


There are still several pet shops on Quai de la Megisserie, facing the Seine, and I can't think of a better way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon than admiring the cutest little kittens and puppies.
This feisty little girl stole my heart, and I wish I could have brought her home with me... but even if there was a quick cure for allergy, la Petite Mademoiselle was already reservĂ©e.

And off to soak in the atmosphere, then...

Just walking around aimlessly can lead to unexpected discoveries, such as interesting architecture. And often the most interesting architecture is not the celebrated landmarks in guidebooks but ordinary buildings where ordinary people live and work. After all, that's the architecture that makes the city something more than just an outdoor museum. I also believe that art, architecture, music etc. should be experienced, not explained.

Paris architecture
Marais

Wherever I go, I'm always fascinated by street art and graffiti:

Paris graffiti

And I love art that isn't hidden away in a museum but contributes to a living, breathing city. Art that can be touched, like these sculptures in the patio of Hotel Pavillon de la Reine (in Marais):

Paris sculpture

I look for artistic expression in the most mundane places. And it's a real thrill when 'art' matches my own style...

Paris Graffiti

As I said, I used to live in Paris, a lifetime ago. So, I had to make time for The Mandatory Walk Down the Memory Lane:
I spent a year studying in Paris, about 28 years ago. As a fashion student, I made regular trips to a small shop just outside Les Halles. It was the place to find unusual buttons, ribbons, beads, feathers... a fashion and jewellery designers' heaven, with dedicated sales people determined to find whatever you were looking for. And guess what, La Droguerie is still there. It's nice to know that some things never change. I wish we'd had a few more days in Paris. I would have wanted to see if the wholesale fabric district in Mortmartre is still there, too. Maybe next time...

crafts in Paris
Crafts

So, has Paris changed since the last time I was there? 

I've been to Paris a few times in the past 25 or so years, and yes, I think a lot has changed. For starters, it was incredibly eas
y to find people eager to speak English... No, I'm not one of those people who can't be bothered to try and speak a foreign language when they travel. After all, English is a foreign language for me... And yes, I did try a few phrases of French here and there, but my French is a bit rusty (although I can still understand it quite well). That's the language lesson of the day: use it or lose it. But no, I'm not going to rush to take French lessons (or any other language lessons) any time soon.

Saint Paul Paris
Metro Saint-Paul

So, what hasn't changed? 

The metro is still as horrible an experience as I remembered... Anyone who thinks the London Tube is bad, consider this: in London it is customary to let people get out first, before getting on. In Paris, it's some poor people trying to get out  while others are trying to get in, and it's every man, woman and child for him/herself, and if anyone gets in your way, just elbow them out of the way...

So, these were the highlights of my very brief glimpse of Paris. I wanted to tell you about the hotel, too, but I'll leave that for another post.

I hope you enjoyed the 'tour'

Tiina
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5 comments

  1. I enjoyed this! My husband and I are trying to plan a trip to Paris next year sometime. We have never been. We will probably do all the touristy things though. :)

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    1. There's nothing wrong with doing the touristy things. I guess I just can't be bothered because I'm permanently stressed and sightseeing feels like a chore, adding to my already full to-do list... I guess I need a holiday with nothing to do, no activities whatsoever. But that would probably drive me crazy...

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  2. Thanks for sharing - I like the street art and sculpture you found :)

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  3. I think this is exactly why I do love Paris so much - it's because it's so easy not to do anything touristy and yet enjoy the beauty of the city! Like you said, even the buildings that aren't museums, etc. are absolutely beautiful!

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  4. Sometimes the best ways to see a city are just to wander the streets, anyway! I love doing that here in Prague...just wandering the neighborhoods and gazing at the old buildings. I can only imagine doing it in Paris!

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