Thursday, September 01, 2011


1 September 2011

We had a lovely few days in Paris last week: I worked out that I hadn’t been there for 25 years so it felt like visiting for the first time. We had glorious weather and made very good use of open-top bus tours and boat trips on the Seine to explore all the main tourist attractions.  We went to Notre Dame, visited the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa, travelled down the Champs-Élysées from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe and ended up at the Eiffel Tower, though we opted not to join the massive queues to climb the tower. Instead we travelled South to Montparnasse for the views from the top of the Tour Montparnasse – an ugly skyscraper which has the advantage that its views include the Eiffel Tower (and don’t include the Tour Montparnasse!). Paris is a very beautiful city: unusually most of the architecture dates from the same period – the 1860s when the whole central area was substantially rebuilt by Baron Haussmann. This gives Paris a very uniform look and the skyline is very flat, without the usual collection of skyscrapers, the highest of which tend to signify the main ‘downtown’ area of most big cities. Although he was responsible for the quintessential Parisian tree-lined boulevards, Haussmann didn’t create many green open spaces. There are a few parks: we particularly liked the Jardins du Luxembourg. We also travelled North to Montmartre and saw the Moulin Rouge and Sacre Coeur. We loved the art deco Metro signs and the masses of wrought iron railings lining each floor of buildings along the main boulevards. We had a great time discovering Paris and certainly plan to return well before another 25 years have elapsed. 



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