Anytime in Paris is a great time
by Rob Howard
There is never a bad time of the year to visit Paris, the City of Light. I’ve been there dozens of times. People say, “Don’t you get bored?” Never! There is always something new to see, something old that has been updated.
And there is the food. And the history. And the people watching.
Getting there, from nearly anywhere, is easy. From where you live to a hub in Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago or Detroit, Paris is a short hop, and then an overnight flight. Fares currently are running about $1,200 roundtrip. Given spending that much, the longer you can stay, the better.
When you get there, you can find hotels starting under $100 and up. Reserve your hotel before you go. The hotel I have stayed in since 1971 is the Hotel Londres St. Honore, located in the First Arrondissement (District). It has rooms starting at $127 per night.
The other two areas I like are the Latin Quarter, on the other side of the River Seine, and Le Marais, just to the East of the 1st Arrondissement, but the home of many of the LGBT oriented clubs. Why these three locations? Many hotels in these districts are inexpensive, and they are within walking distance, or a short Metro ride, of much of what you might want to see.
From these three districts, you can walk to the Louvre, one of the world’s preeminent art museums, to the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Musee D’Orsay, home to a huge collection of Impressionist art. In the Tuileries Garden, a huge park just to the West of the Louvre, you can watch the changing seasons, and have a café au lait, a beer or glass of wine, and a sandwich at the many outdoor cafes.
At the main entrance on the west end of the Tuileries is the Musee de l’Orangerie, home to Claude Monet’s murals of Water Lilies, a must see if you love Impressionist art. Right next to the museum is the world’s largest Ferris Wheel, located on the Place de la Concorde. The Place is where Marie Antoinette and other notables lost their heads in the French Revolution.
You can walk or Metro to Les Invalides, home to Napoleon’s tomb and one of the best military museums I’ve ever seen. Right near Napoleon’s tomb is the Rodin Museum, home to many of the master artist’s sculptures, including The Thinker.
From your hotel, it is a short Metro ride to the famed Boulevard Champs Elysees, where you can see tons of expensive boutiques – window-shopping is fabulous, as well as the people-watching from the sidewalk cafes. At the top of the Champs Elysees is the Arc de Triomphe.
Other sights include the Sacre-Coeur Basilica, located on Montmartre, from which you can see much of Paris. It is in the heart of an artists’ district with plenty of galleries, street vendors, and cafes. It is uphill from the famous Moulin Rouge nightclub. And of course, the Eiffel Tower – expect a wait for the elevator.
Sights that are more offbeat include the Sewer Tour, a museum actually in the sewers of Paris. If you are an engineering geek, or a fan of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, this is a must see. Full disclosure: it smells pretty bad.
Other offbeat sights are the Catacombs, where the bones of over three million Parisians find their final resting place (a heck of a hike both down and up-stairs for access). And Pere Lachaise, an enormous Victorian cemetery where you find the tombs of gay and lesbian notables Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, as well as rock icon Jim Morrison.
One of my favorite things about Paris is the food. There are restaurants everywhere, and yes, you can spend a ton of money at the top restaurants. But you don’t need to. My favorite area for food is just off the Place St. Michel on Rue de la Huchette, Rue Saint-Severin, and Rue de la Harpe. There, you can find French, Italian, Moroccan and Tunisian food, Greek food and more. And you can pretty much pick your price because the restaurants all have their menus, with prices, posted outside.
If you are planning a trip to Paris, buy a guide to Paris, and a foldout map to orient yourself. Even if you only go once, you must visit Paris. One last suggestion – use public transportation instead of taxis and save a bundle.
Copyright 2016 The Gayly – December 14, 2016 @ 10:30 a.m.