Paris is one of the most-visited cities in the world, and after spending a few days there at the end of April and beginning of May, I definitely believe that! I was blown away by the frenzied crowds of people everywhere we went and the extraordinarily long lines to see any of the most famous attractions. I have to admit that I had some naive expectations about the city based on movies like Amelie and Midnight in Paris, and we had to try very hard to find the quieter spaces where one might have a thoughtful or whimsical interlude like in those movies. So we didn’t end up seeing some of the things I had planned on seeing, because we didn’t want to put ourselves through waiting in line for hours to climb the stairs to the first platform of the Eiffel Tower (and there was no hope at all to get to the top because some of the elevators were out of service). Similarly, we weren’t so interested in waiting in a long line to get into a fabulous museum, only to be followed with fighting through massive crowds to get a glimpse of a corner of artwork. Instead, we walked along the Seine for hours. We wandered around the charming hills of Montmartre.
We found a rare quiet spot near Sacre Coeur.
We climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe shortly before it closed for the night…
…and were rewarded with a lovely view of “The City of Light” at night.
It is often said that traveling is an excellent opportunity to learn – not just the history, details, and culture of the places that you’re seeing, but about yourself as well. I think Jeff and I learned here how much our preferences for our surroundings have changed since we lived in Boston. We now treasure the quiet pretty spots, and sightseeing in Paris turned into sort of a quest for quiet and seclusion.
We did wait in line to get inside Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur. We admired the Eiffel Tower from the bottom. We appreciated the romance of the love padlocks on the Pont des Arts. We were charmed by the accordion player busking on the metro train (although the charm wore off quickly – accordions are mighty loud). We found the Moulin Rouge and the cafe were Amelie worked in the movie. And we tried to escape the crowds with a day trip out of the city – more on that in my next post!