A stunningly beautiful spring day awaited our group this morning – once the dense fog had lifted. In town for a taste of Viking River’s Seine and Normandy cruise, guests were given a choice of a guided city drive with Versailles or free time to explore.
Who could ever resist the charme of this ultimate of romantic cities, the call of raspberry tartlets, and its quaint streets and squares?
Come along on my day in the French capital and rediscover why you should put it on your travel list.
Having been to Paris many times as a visitor and having called the city home for a while back in the early 90s, I chose the free time to explore option. After our gracious hosts dropped us off right at the Arc de Triomphe, it was a only a short hop down the Champs Elysees to the first stop on my personal “pilgrimage” route. Tradition dictates a version of the Peugeot, Renault, and Citroen showroom tour interspersed by a German and a Japanese make every time I come to Paris.
Much to my chagrin – thank you yellow vests – both Peugeot and Citroen were boarded up. To make matters worse, Mercedes has recently moved off the Champs Elysees and I am not sure what is happening to Toyota as their showroom is under construction. Alas – all that was left was Renault.
Shopping done – I found a model of my very first car (right) in the exact color – we then continued on metro line 1 (see video below) to one of my favorite stops. “St.Paul” is the 2nd station (after Hotel de Ville) in the Marrais district and it is perfect for exploring the famous square called Place des Vosges on foot. Along the way, we window shopped pastries, butcher shops, and florists among many other quaint boutiques till we eventually settled on a lovely bakery cafe for lunch (complete with a requisite raspberry tartlet).
Nourishment and plenty of people watching enjoyed, we then peacefully meandered over to Chatelet to finally lay eyes on the newly renovated Les Halles complex. True to French tradition, this already bizarre venue – where the former city fruit and vegetable market used to be located – has now become even more strange. What can one say about these gynormous glass panels that resemble sideways sails, complete with open gaps for rain to soak anyone walking below.
Pictures do not do it justice for sure, but take my word for it, what they built here is just weird. In a way it fits in with the still remarkably ugly Centre George Pompidou (modern art museum) that wears all its plumbing andutilities on its facade.
Be that as it may, rare are world class cities that are willing to take such risks in architecture for large public buildings and Parisians deserve to be applauded for their efforts.
From the underbelly of the Les Halles complex, we then caught the RER line A back to our ship docking port of Le Pecq.
Paris, even after many visits remains the magical city that nevers stops to offer new experiences. Be it architecture, culinary, or retail focused, this is the place we’re trends are invented.
In closing, I hope that the newest craze in the city of light – French Tacos – is not spreading too far. Think again about France’s contribution to the culinary world when you translate the above menu item.
Michelin star worthy it is not👀 I can assure you but they might be on to something if they only added some Mac & cheese to it.!
Made of chicken nuggets, onion rings and turkey bits, topped with cheese and then stuffed into a tortilla, this appears to be the newest culinary invention making the rounds. What would Paul Bocuse say to this?