- Photo Essays
Paris is one of my all time favourite cities and wandering the streets of Paris is a joy in itself.
The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre etc are all must-sees of course, but by simply wandering you invariably stumble upon the real treasures that Paris has to offer:
Browsing the stalls of the Bouquinistes (antiquarian and used booksellers) that line the Left and Right banks of the Seine; sampling one of the 33 flavours of ice cream from the famous Berthillon ice creamery on the Ile Saint-Louis; or the sensory explosion of the open air food markets on Rue Mouffetard in the Latin Quarter.
There’s something enchanting around every corner in Paris.
I am so content to just wander aimlessly for that reason. It’s a temptation to almost try to get lost here. And I would be remiss not to mention the abundance of great food that you will find also.
My favourite areas to get completely lost in are the streets of St Germain des Pres and the seemingly infinite depths of the Latin Quarter, particularly the area along and around Rue Mouffetard.
St-Germain de Pres is not quite the literary and artistic haunt it once was in its heyday, attracting the likes of master surrealist photographer Man Ray, existential genius Sartre, and Picasso (no explanation necessary. I hope.).
While much of the past bohemia has been replaced by Armani and other fashion boutiques, it is however the home to THE finest Tarte au Citron (lemon tart) I have ever tasted! Yes, ever.
My French is hopelessly bad, to say the least. If I have to speak in a language other than English, Spanish is my language of choice. This is of no help, of course, in Paris but it’s incredible how quickly you learn the important things – coffee, wine, cake, cheese, etc.
Tarte au Citron becomes part of one’s vocabulary at lightening speed! So, in early winter (because this is by far the loveliest time to experience Paris) take a break from the chill and pop into ‘Paul’ tearooms for a hot chocolate and a Tarte au Citron to die for! You won’t be disappointed.
Oh, and the Paris branch of the fabulous Taschen bookstore is just across the street so you can always pause there to digest and browse before strolling further.
The Latin Quarter is fabulous at any time at all but I think the best time to wander along Rue Mouffetard is on a Sunday. While much of the rest of Paris is eerily quiet Rue Mouffetard, and in particular the area near the Sunday food market, is a flurry of activity and entertainment.
Here French women gossip and choose fruit with their ridiculously fluffy dogs tucked under one arm, the sounds of Edith Piaf and accordions and pianos echo through the streets, and vendors shout out the assortment of their wares to passers by.
And if you happen to tire you can always jump on the Paris hop on hop off bus, or you may choose stumble into the teeny-tiny ‘La Maison des Tartes’ for a slice of quiche and more Tarte au Citron. Quiche, you scoff? Trust me, the French know how to do quiche in way that no one else does. Only the French could make quiche a culinary delight. Call it a ‘tarte’ if you prefer – it sounds a bit fancier.
In short, a random foray on foot in Paris is sure to be fragmented, unexpected and surprising but especially, it will be infinitely delightful.