Springtime in Paris: reflections of an editor
Ahh, Paris in springtime. It's just the perfect place to be at the perfect time of the year. The City of Light is luminous in the clear, promise-filled rays of spring sun.
Of course, it's not officially spring. That doesn't happen for another few days. But during my recent visit Paris really turned out the sunshine, warm weather and parks packed with sunbathers, tourists and frolickers. I visited gai Paris (where I've lived a total of about 3.5 years of my life) on the way back from ITB Berlin, the world's largest travel show. Berlin is also fabulous but winter still had its hoary claws grasped firmly upon Germany's capital, but that's a different story.
I escaped on easyJet (which we may want to rename difficileJet due to all its pesky restrictions and the cattle-call boarding process: mon dieu) to Paris and arrived early at the Hotel des Academies et des Arts. You'll have to await our full write up for this great new property which will appear in the June issue of The Advocate Magazine (Subscribe now!), but suffice it to say it's a great choice if you're looking for something intimate yet conveniently located in a convenient, quiet location (near lots of transportation options) with topnotch service and a delicious and filling breakfast.
Then I began my peregrination around Paris. Out of the hotel I went to and through the nearby Jardin du Luxembourg, meanderiong more or less south towards Place St-Michel, over to Notre Dame and along the Seine to the Louvre, the Tuileries and back to the Palais Royal, along rue de Rivoli to the gay part of town, le Marais (the swamp).
I lollygagged in the Place des Voges where locals and visitors alike were out en masse to enjoy a pictureperfect sunny springlike day. I then ambled over to the Musee National Picasso Paris. That's a self-portrait I took (above). They're doing some renovation work and instead of a boring plywood wall, they erected a mirror. The French are so ingenious that way! That's another view to the right with the mirror bisecting the facade. (Not so sure about the colored panes of glass to be honest.)
It's really a city where you can just walk and walk and never be bored. I mean, croissants, crepes and espressos on every corner! What's wrong with that? And window shopping is a highly evolved art form (which is good for though of us these trying days reserving every spare penny to travel).
What I love is the little overlooked treasures you'll stumble upon even having walked the same streets year after year. Like this tiny detail in the wall of an apartment building on rue Montmartre (left).
At the end of rue Montmartre I came upon one of my favorite churches, Ste. Eustache, which has been recently sandblasted. Check out these photos: below left is the church and below right shows the gigantic reposing head statue in front of the small pedestrian plaza fronting the church.
Of course you get tired of walking at some point -- even in Paris. Luckily you have all sorts of options. One of the newest and most incredibly fun (if not a bit adventurous) is renting the almost free bikes, called Velib. There are Velib bike stations throughout Paris. You provide a credit card, enter a little information and voila! You have a bike for very very little money (for example, free the first half an hour then a euro for the next).
You can also take the incredibly efficient Metro with trains running every 120 seconds along the most popular lines (like line number one) at peak hours. With trains running at this frequency, you never worry about missing a train. There'll be another before you can even sit down on one of the benches. I snapped this picture (below left) just as a train on the very well-serviced number four line entered the station.
Besides walking, I ate. (Ahem, I had to refuel after all!) One of the best meals I had was at Le Diane at the newly refurbished and super elegant Hotel Fouquets-Barrier. There are several dining options, including traditional bistro dining at Fouquet's, Lucien, a relaxed bar lounge area and the exquisite, more formal (but by no means stuffy) Le Diane. The service is attentive yet unobtrusive. The French cuisine is modern and light. In warmer months, request seating in the patio.
With the ever strenghthening dollar (a silver lining after all to this crise economique horrible!), this is a great time fly to Paris. There are plenty of specials including on American Airlines and Air France. It's also a good time to consider cashing in some frequent flyer miles for your own dose of Paris in the spring.