Paris, often referred to as the City of Light is one of the most romantic, beautiful cities on Earth. Littered with pockets of irresistible culture, it is a city that should be on everyone’s bucket list. I was extremely lucky to visit this particular city in the summer of 2018 and basked in the beautiful weather, food and architecture that the place has to offer. I thought that I would take the time to pen my experiences of this magnificent city, exhibit some of my photography of the city and to offer recommendations on what to do and see if you ever get the chance to visit.
Fun fact that I learnt in my research for this post, the reason that the nickname ‘City of Light’ was coined is that Paris was one of the first European city’s that adopted gas street lighting on a large scale to light the city’s boulevards and numerous monuments. Moving on let’s get straight into the thick of it.
Location #1 – Visit the metro system
The Paris Métro is, of course, a rapid transport system responsible for the movement of over 1.5 billion people annually. The metro system is seen as an identifying symbol of the city and is known for its distinct architecture and unique entrances influenced by Art Nouveau designed by Hector Guimard. It was the signs adorning the entrances that piqued my interest as I walked the streets of the city and encouraged me to document their intriguing appearances. I highly recommend seeking these features out and taking a trip down into the metro. Some of the underground stations are beautifully designed and worth seeing.
Location #2 – Walk the steps to the Sacré-Coeur
If you don’t fancy taking the stairs when visiting the world-famous Sacré-Coeur may pose a slight issue thanks to the 222 steps up to the entrance of the building. But trust me it’s worth it when you get to the top, the view across the skyline of Paris is incredible and the building up close is beautiful. The Sacré-Coeur is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is an iconic example of ancient Roman architecture, Byzantine architecture to be exact. If you can visit Montmartre which is steeped in artistic history, situated 300m from the Sacré-Coeur. This is where you come if you want a classic Parisian caricature.
Location #3 – Visit the Musée de l’Orangerie
For the avid art lover or keen tourist, the Musée de l’Orangerie is a must-visit. A collection of paintings named the ‘Water Lilies’ were offered to the French state by the world-famous painter Claude Monet on the day that followed the Armistice of November 11th, 1918 as a symbol for peace. As a lover for architecture, the extra intrigue came from the knowledge that Monet designed the building in which the painting had to be exhibited, this was because he carefully calculated and designed the way that light would enter the rooms and affect his paintings. He believed that the lighting was crucial in aiding the message he wished the painting to impart on the observer. You will not be disappointed with this particular art gallery.
Location #4 – Make sense of modern art in the Centre Pompidou
I must say that this particular art gallery was a change from the classic galleries of The Louvre and the Musée de l’Orangerie but a welcome one at that. This particular art gallery is the Centre Pompidou. The building was designed by the architectural team made up of Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano who wished to create a futuristic, high-tech building. And they have achieved just that, it is so different from the majority of the classic Parisian architecture that is commonplace throughout the city. This art gallery is the largest modern art gallery in Europe and you could easily spend most of your day walking the exhibition rooms. To be perfectly honest, some of the installations were interesting, to say the least, and took some thinking to make sense of the artist’s intentions. But I guess that is the point of these thought-provoking, layered artworks and I came to like various pieces throughout the gallery. Take a trip to the 6th floor and soak in the incredible panoramic view of the city, it is not to be missed.
Location #5 – Take a trip up the Eiffel Tower
Of course, a trip to Paris could not be completed without a mention of the world-famous Eiffel Tower, an iconic symbol of the city. The Eiffel Tower is a wrought iron lattice tower with a height of 324m. Its construction took a remarkably short period of two years, two months and five days between 1887 and 1889. It was constructed to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution and to demonstrate France’s industrial prowess to the world. Stood proud by the bustling waterway of the River Seine it is an unmissable piece of Parisian architecture. It is equally as impressive come darkness and transforms itself into a stunning light display.
So there are my top five locations in Paris that captured my imagination and the experiences will stay with me forever. I think that the current situation allows us to reflect on the experiences that we have had and increase our level of gratitude for being granted them. At the present moment, travel is so restricted that sightseeing is out of the question but I think when as a planet we come out of the other side and movement increases we must take the opportunities to see as much as possible because you never know what’s around the corner.