I think I have walked my feet off already. Yes, I did say that all of Paris was walk-able… but when I’m cramming a walking tour of the entire city in two days, it does wear down the feet, knees and back. To give you a feel, take a look at the map below:
I had quickly learnt that maps in English are of no great help when you are walking the streets of Paris. At a business meeting earlier in the week, a Parisien had told me to sod the map; get lost in Paris and you’ll appreciate it much more. It has been the single best piece of advice anyone has given to me about this city yet. Hence, you will see the meandering routes through neighbourhoods I had no idea were there because they are not on tourist maps. I simply wandered and gravitated towards pockets of activity and believe me, the whole city is full of life and activity. It’s even nicer that streets are off the beaten tourist track and thus, you won’t see tour buses dumping their load of non-French speakers.
Westward along the Seine: This must be where doggie heaven is… there an abundance of pet shops along the river bank… yeah…
Jardin des Tuileries: Gardens and parks in Paris are never short on space and this one is no different. Situated directly across the road from the pyramids in the yard of the Louvre, it houses strange, modern art installations… like a neatly arranged stockade of grain bags which were starting to sprout and looked like it was either waiting to head for a famine-struck African nation or they were expecting to call in the military for war games. Either way, I think I am not that way inclined… I mean arty-fartily…
Champs Elysees: It’s a gorgeous boulevard. Even more so when adorned with autumn colours.
Marche Ave du President Wilson: Finally! A market and in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower too. I love walking fresh markets in Europe. Always makes me fill with inspiration to whip up a dish because everything is so fresh and appetizing.
The Eiffel Tower & Trocadero: I packed myself a seafood paella from the market and sat on a park bench outside the Trocadero, facing the Eiffel Tower. It was a lovely fourteen degrees out, making it a perfect lunch.
Sacré-Cœur Basilica: One wouldn’t quite expect the neighbourhood surrounding a church to be kitsch but entire area of Monmartre seems to abound with shops that sell all types of trinkets and odds and ends to tourists who can’t seem to get enough of it. The streets leading up to the highest point in Paris are narrow and crowded with casual tourists, those who have come on some sort of pilgrimage and locals who go there just to hang out. It has a beautiful vista of the city and on a clear day, one would be able to see the edges of the city all around.
The interior of the basilica is magnificent with the reverence that is paid to it by all visitors alike. I noticed how people from all walks of life took off their hats and reduced conversations to hushed tones and no one took photographs, although there was only a tiny, little notice at the entrance. But in all its magnificence, I could oddly feel little piety, for want of a better term, inside the basilica. I think I felt more of it inside Notre Dame.
Trivia: The Sacré-Coeur Basilica is built of Château-Landon stone, a type of frost-resistant limestone that constantly weathers out its calcite, so that it bleaches with age and effortlessly remains chalky white.
Lafayette & Strasbourg St. Denis: I wandered a lot today. And the result of my wanderings led me to accidentally bump into areas which are obviously local favourites like Lafayette and Strasbourg St. Denis today, St Germain and Quartier Latine yesterday and Rambateau on my very first night in the city.