Paris is not known as the City of Lights because of the wattage put out by the Eiffel Tower every evening, but rather the ‘Lights’ refer to the number of intellectual residents that made Paris the world renowned centre it is today.
I have always loved Paris – ever since my first visit on an A-Level French trip (thanks Miss Heath!) – but I find it hard to describe. It definitely has that je ne sais quoi, although Thomas Jefferson did once say:
“A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.”
This is an amazing city and I have only scratched the surface of what it has to offer. When going to Paris, it is easy to assume that you have to do the major sights – which are great, but full of tourists, meaning so much time in a group’s itinerary can be wasted queuing – but there are also other places that you really should consider visiting, so you and your students get to see more of what Paris can offer.
Here are a few suggestions of my own, or what other groups have enjoyed:
This is a great alternative to the Eiffel Tower and its long queues. The panoramic view of the city is great at any time (even after dark) and gives you a great photo opportunity for the Eiffel Tower.
Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen
This wonderful market is so much more than a flea market, but rather a network of 14 markets creating a shopper’s paradise steeped in history. Exploring the maze of vendors to seek out that bargain is a definite must, or simply enjoy the sights and sounds as you wander around being enticed by the wares on offer.
The Harrods of Paris is definitely out of my price range, but always a delight to wander through and look at the most striking feature of the building, namely the beautiful monumental dome with coloured glass and wrought iron, which was created by Chanut. You can also go up to the 9th floor of the main store and walk out to the terrace with great views over Paris.
Palais Garnier Opera
Since the first time I saw this beautiful building I loved it, and promised myself that one day I would go and see a performance there. I haven’t quite managed that yet, but I always enjoy wandering around the building, looking at the exquisite costumes from past performances and the grandeur of the auditorium. It is always so easy to imagine Leroux’s Phantom sitting in box Nº 5!
When in Paris use the Métro! Not only is a convenient way to get around the city but also very interesting, especially when you come across one of the beautifully decorated ones. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but here is a hint or three: Concorde, Arts et Metier and Bastille.
The list could go on and on…but for that I need to go back for a visit (obviously for research purposes). Does anyone want to organise a trip to Paris and have me along as a courier? Who knows – maybe your students will be the next in a long tradition of intellectuals to be drawn in by the City of Lights.
“Paris is always a good idea.”
If you love Paris, have a fond memory of the city, or any other suggestions for unusual visits, then please leave a comment below.