Paris, c’est la vie! La vie, c’est Paris!
In my former life I must have been a Parisienne and my name was Marjolaine. Paris and I have a mutual love affair that dates back to another time. Probably la Belle Époque or the Roaring Twenties because I’m sure I was a flapper girl too! Although in this life Paris and I met in an awful way (mini-me got absolutely heart broken – mal au coeur, oui – by a Paris born holiday love – I immediately felt connected to la ville lumière the moment I set my foot on that holy French ground.
Paris, c’est le monde…
Paris, c’est le monde ; le reste de la terre n’en est que les faubourgs.
A quote of the French novelist and dramatist Marivaux from his theatrical play La Méprise from 1734. A sentence I can relate to when it comes to Paris’s visual appearance and culture. Je suis amoureux avec leur (ok, my French stops here)… Sentiment, art, architecture, history, people (and their arrogance too), chauvinism, literature (oh, those writings of Émile Zola and Stendhal and…) urban planning of Baron Haussmann, chansons, du fromages, du vins and their joie de vivre mentality… Bon, their whole culture! A month ago, I finally got the chance to meet la ville de l’amour in a seriously loving way, namely to celebrate the 5 ans anniversaire of me and l’amour de ma vie!
The man who saved Paris
When you take the Metropolitain in Paris you don’t often think about the fact that you travel through some of the most interesting and important parts of Paris. In 1774, a major part of the Rue d’Enfer (Hell Street, what a coincidence) collapsed. The architect Charles-Axel Guillaumot discovered that this sink hole was the result of long-abandoned underground labyrinth of limestone quarries made by the Gallo-Romans in the first century AD. It turned out that the ground on which contemporary Paris is built has as many holes as a Swiss cheese! Guillaumot was appointed as inspector of the quarries by Louis XVI. Together with his excavation, masonry and cartography teams he consolidated 6.000.000 cubic meters of quarries. Next to that he proposed to use the old quarries as catacombs (which you can still visit) because Parisian graveyards were being close as they became a serious danger for public health. It’s because of Guillaumot that we can now all walk safely through the streets of Paris.
A great book to read the complete story about Guillaumot and other human beings who shaped Paris is Graham Robb’s Parisians. Very quirky!
Jardin de Tuileries
For me, one of Parisians most beautiful parts is the Jardin de Tuileries. These geometrically laid gardens were part of the in 1871 burned Palais de Tuileries. Nowadays the gardens run from the Musée du Louvre to the Champs Elysées along the Seine river. The landscape design was done in 17th century by the royal gardener of Le Roi-Soleil Louis XIV, André Le Nôtre, who also designed the Jardins du Château de Versailles. In the park you can find a mix of old and modern sculptures and it’s used as an outside exhibition space during the annual FIAC (Foire Internationale d’Art) in October. Green coloured Luxembourg chairs are placed throughout the park and can be used for free. So, when it’s a summery day you can just sit back, relax, get inspired (by nearly everything) and enjoy la joie de vivre.
Paris a vélo
Did you ever had that moment when you said:
Oh no, we will just WALK down that street
… And then after an hour you’re not even half way? Well, I made that mistake too many times before and from now on I will always rent a bike during a city trip! It’s not only a much easier way too move yourself from A to B, but also less stressful when a it’s extremely crowded in a city.
The easiest way to rent a bike in Paris is via Vélib, the world’s largest bike-sharing system. 20.000 bikes are placed in about every Parisian street and are available 24/7. You can buy a 7-day card of just a day card by credit card. Every first half hour biking is free of charge, after that you have to pay (I thought) 1 euro per hour. So hop on your bike and go site seeing like the Dutch do!
There’s plenty to see in ma ville préférée, la plus belle ville du monde, la capitale de la mode… Ah bon… La capitale de l’art de vivre! Stay tuned for my list of best bars and restaurants in (HA, there we go again!) La capitale de la gastronomie!