People Watching, Paris
I read in the National Geographic that the City of Paris and its citizens really believe that green patches/areas are essential for the emotional well-being of the people. I totally agree and this policy has added more beauty to this already eye-pleasing place.
My favorite is the Jardin du Luxembourg, where we were met by a very quick downpour which actually added more to our fun (we were running for shade with our 3-year old twins and fumbling with our umbrellas!) --- but during the summertime, this place is busy with people on the fountain sometimes with toy boats. The parks in Paris also have puppet shows for the kids - I think almost all of the major parks do.
Outside the Louvre, walk onto the Jardin des Tuileries and when I was walking there, I saw a group of school kids having fun in the gardens. It's just nice to breathe in the nice air, thanks to the plants.
There is a nice maze for kids at the Jardin des Enfants aux Halles, 105 rue Rambuteau. And a must for young children is the Jardin de'l Acclimatation Bois de Boulogne (Metro Line 1 to Les Sablons, exit at rue d'Orleans) which has an "enchanted river" with a nice blue Asian pavilion and ice cream stands. The place has pony rides, paddle boats and of course, the quintessential merry-go-round.
These are just some of the green places and just look at the map and you'll see all those other very nice green spots! Enjoy Paris!
It is 4 pm on a sunny spring afternoon in Paris
10 avril 2007
The sun is beating down. About 20 C
A slender African lady in a flowing garb and turban sails by, the breeze lifts her tent like dress to reveal an exquisitely tattooed leg and ankle.
One can imagine, drums beating, her young girls heart pounding to its rhythm, some village in northern Cote d’Ivoire? Burkina Fasso?
I look straight ahead. This broad avenue, named after the famed General, goes straight to the horizon, amidst the ornamentation of century old buildings, a cloudless blue sky and if you stand up, you can catch the arc de triomphe from here
A lovely Parisian afternoon..
A beautiful place to watch people gliding by.
Neuilly, an upscale suburb of Paris
On my left, Paroisse Saint Jean Baptise
Very clean church, rarely have I seen any one near there, even yesterday driving by, on the national holiday of Easter Monday. Enlightened Christianity, I suppose.
An announcement on its wall.
Christ est ressuscite and as if to convince the non believers in what to the owners of the building is obvious,
In smaller letters,
Il est vraiment ressuscite
Young French women of African descent, I have noticed, dress very chic and elegant, parisiennes to the core.
Many asian looking, can say they look Filipinas, by their body language and faces, almost all of them bulging here and there.. in this land of svelte beauty. There is a sizable number of Filipina maids in this city..
An arab woman covered head to toe, except her face, pushing a pram, a family member brought over to look after a grandchild perhaps?
The Portuguese diplomat of last century, erstwhile consular officer in La Habana, writer, looks upon all of us, rather kindly. I remember the house where he stayed in La Habana, now a café and Bakery near the Plaza de Armas
Also remember reading his book about a family Maia…
A very pleasant way to spend the afternoon.. to get over the jet lag of a 10 hour Air France Flight ( nice champagne!) from BLR to CDG
This was to be a “Things To Do” tip, but on further thought it’s very much also a “Local Custom” topic. Living in an (often cramped) apartment during the week, Parisians love to spend sunny weekend days in the park. Here they can soak up some sunshine, let the kids run and play, and enjoy the greenery. As you see them doing in these photos.
Why was I in this particular park? Convenience was a factor, it was near my hotel: apart from that, this was the site of the Temple of the Knights Templar, which held an important place in Parisian history. It appears the Temple may have been a similar fortress to the Conciergerie. After the Templars were despatched by the truly dreadful King ‘Phillip the Fair’, their building became a State prison. It again rose to fame when the French royal family were incarcerated there during the Revolution. Finally it was demolished on the orders of Napoleon in 1809 and Baron Haussmann created the “Square of the Temple” park (one of 25 such parks) in 1857. Somehow I doubt all that history is the slightest concern to the little boys running around in photo 2!
Newcomers to the EU often have fantasies about their former Sunday mornings spent surrounded by a pile of newspapers and quietly sipping coffee. Perhaps they’d indulge in a leisurely breakfast comprised of eggs, pancakes or cereal before their real day began. Sunday was the day of the “fat” paper before many of the supplements were delivered on Saturdays. But it’s simply not that way in France. If you crave big Sunday newspapers, you’ll have to buy ones that are published in the U.K.
French families traditionally join together at Sunday lunch and major papers aren’t published. Lunch is a ritual that’s less frequent now, as family members are more mobile and settling in other areas to pursue jobs or educational opportunities. But Sundays still have a special meaning in France; for most, it’s a day of rest, reflection and preparing for the upcoming week. Some people attend church. The majority don’t.
In the US, people often spend Sundays shuttling children from here to there. It’s amazing how many sports and other events take place on the alleged “day of rest.” Many parents complain of their status of being non-stop chauffeurs in addition to an always enthusiastic cheering squad. Recent expats tend to carry on this tradition since it’s an acquired habit.
Contrasted with the French, many Americans maximize their Sundays by doing the week’s shopping. It’s the norm for stores to be open rather than closed. The weekend (both Saturday and Sunday) represents a huge percentage of the week’s sales for clerks totaling up at cash registers nationwide. Shopping centers in the US have taken on an entirely new meaning, form and function since the days when I was young. Parents and offspring go their separate ways, and kids hang out and socialize while their parents hit the stores.
One of the ways in which Americans fail to grasp cultural difference in France is in the distinction between public and private. It is built into the French language with the "tu/vous" conundrum. The best thing to do is to always use "vous", except with small children & animals! Even people who have known each other for decades may still use "vous".
Along the same lines we Americans always open conversations with questions about jobs and family, while we are taught to avoid discussing Religion & Politics. It's the reverse in Paris. Poltiics & Religion are frequently discussed with great knowledge and enthusiasm, but questions about work and family are not considered appropriate.
So why the gardens in the picture? There are many public gardens in Paris as well as many private gardens/squares requiring a key to open them. Here we have on the right Parc Monceau, available to all, and on the left the private garden of the mansion next to Musée Nissim Camondo. What may look public, may, in fact be private -- or vice versa. Bienvenu à Paris:)
La Grande Jatte it isn't, but on a sunny Sunday the St. Eustache/Les Halles area is abuzz with church-goers, strollers, a Sunday market along the side of the church and cafes full of people relaxing and enjoying the scene.
You can spend a lot of money in Paris! Do a little homework and you can spare your budget for better things ( a little Parisian retail therapy?) by taking advantage of the many free admissions that are available to locals and visitors alike.
All the museums maintained by the city offer free admission to ALL their permanent collections EVERY day.
National museums and monuments are free to under-18s every day and most offer a free day once a month Check the website here for free admission days for Paris museums.
No Parisian experience would be complete without taking some time to sit down and to spend - at least some minutes - dreaming, looking at the passers by, reading, relaxing...
Wherever you are - even if it is not at a cafe terrasse, you will find an hospitable bench waiting for you.
Do like the locals (including the pigeons), slow down, sit down and open your eyes - no need to DO something - just see the world go by !
Locals (and also tourist of course) take good advantage of the nice parks of the city. Should it be Champ de Mars near the Tour Eiffel, the Jardin du Trocadero in front of the Tower, The Jardin de Luxembourg or any other park, they will be there if the weather allows it!
And why not follow them, it's a great opportunity to have some rest! :)
Between sucking down french ciggies and french bread make sure you save yourself some time to be alone and marvel at this beautiful city (except for the smell of dog poo and pee).
when you want to catch up on your reading, find yourself a railing in a corner of the Pont Alexandre III here and just relax. don't worry, you're by yourself, no one's watching. except me!
There are lots of interesting things to see in Paris...
...for all age groups.
Don't miss a visit in one of the art museums or galleries.