Paris. The famed City of Light. The French capital draws in tens of millions of tourists each year, and it’s really no surprise as this bustling city is overflowing with incredible highlights: world-class museums like the Louvre and d’Orsay, iconic monuments including the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, historic cathedrals like St. Chappelle and Notre Dame, not to mention the many historical sites, palaces, and gardens found throughout the city.
Clearly, the City of Light has more than enough attractions to keep the hoards of wanderlusters coming back for more; however, there’s more to Paris than just the famous sites. I once read that in order to truly understand Paris you must get off the beaten path; and the very best way to spend a day in Paris is to simply wander.
And that aimless wandering was exactly what we planned for our second visit to the City of Light. (Planning to have no plans, that sounds like an oxymoron.) 🙂
On our first morning in Paris, we stepped out onto our balcony and looked around at our favorite neighborhood in the sixth arrondissement. The city was covered by a thick blanket of fog and we felt an energy pulsating through the air. Most likely due to our excitement about being back in our favorite city in the World.
Cody and I were anxious to get out and explore so we made a quick stop for chocolate croissants and espressos at the bakery across the street and then started our adventure. We had no real agenda aside from a few “highlights” within the Latin Quarter and Saint-Germain, so we took our time wandering down different rues (streets) as we walked in the general direction of the Pantheon.
Saint Germain is home to posh shops, Paris’ oldest church, a lively restaurant scene, and cafe’s where even Hemingway himself used to visit. We have stayed in the sixth arrondissement on both of our visits as we love the atmosphere, history, and the quaint Parisian architecture.
Cody and I wandered down the historic rues and within about ten minutes we found ourselves standing in front of the Pantheon. Large evergreen trees — a welcome reminder that Christmas was less than one month away — adorned the square and as we finished our espressos, we noticed the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont next door to the Pantheon. The Gothic architecture and bright purple doors were a charming contrast from the classic architecture of the Pantheon only steps away and I couldn’t help but wander over to take photos of this fantastic church. It was amazing!
In an effort to keep warm on that brisk November day, we continued our walk and started towards Palais du Luxembourg. Originally built in the early 1600’s, the Luxembourg Palace is now a legislative building next to 25-hectares of spectacular gardens. Upon our arrival I was surprised to see that even in the late fall the gardens were abundant. Cody and I found empty seats near the large fountain to put our feet up and take in the views. We were just chillin’ in front of a PALACE. No.Big.Deal.
Paris has a way of making even a mundane stroll feel fancy.
We continued our leisurely stroll around the sixth arrondissement stopping to browse whenever it felt convenient. And it was on our way back to our hotel when a sweet little pastry shoppe caught our eye. The colorful, delicious-looking delicacies displayed in the window beckoned us to step inside for a sweet afternoon treat. So we stepped into Bread and Roses to ‘treat ourselves’ with a fresh raspberry mini pie and a ginormous raspberry macaron. Because in Paris, there’s always time for treats. 😉
Strolling around Paris reminded me of the old-school Frogger game. People everywhere, traffic zooming by in all directions, and the smell of gasoline and two-stroke engines in the air as motorcycles maneuver through the heavy traffic. It’s chaotic and exciting. Yet, even within the chaos there is beauty. The quaint French architecture, the neighborhoods dripping with history around every corner, the mouth-watering pastry shops. 🙂
Our day of wandering ended up being one of my favorite days of this trip. No agenda, no appointments, no hurry-up, just a leisurely walk to uncover the magic within Saint-Germain.
Friends, I feel like with each trip I’m getting better and better at adding balance. We have days packed with adventure and excitement, and other days to relax and see where the day takes us.
What’s your preferred method of travel? Packed full of adventure or relaxation? Maybe a delicate balance of both?