by D.J. Wilson – If you’ve dreamed of a vacation filled with history, charm and romance, Paris is the ideal destination. Once you’ve been there, it’s a city that beckons you back time and time again. A relaxing stroll along a narrow cobblestone street, a delightful time at an inviting café, or peaceful moments of reflection in an art gallery are fine examples of the intimacy of Paris. Situated on the beautiful river Seine, it is the largest city in France and the most visited in the world. Proudly, it has preserved its charm throughout the ages. Known for its historical treasures, Paris maintains high economic and cultural status. It is the Capital of France and is one of the most expensive cities in which to live. Rich in history, its beginnings go way back with the first permanent settlements dating from 4,200 B.C. The name Paris is derived from its earliest inhabitants, a Gaulish tribe known as Parisii. Though the city has many nicknames, its most famous is “La Ville-Lumière”, The City of Light or The Illuminated City. The nickname was first established due to Paris’ importance as a center of education and ideas during the Age of Enlightenment, and later due to the introduction of street lights. Paris is divided up into 20 districts or arrondissements, each with their own charisma. The Metro Subway System and taxi are the most desirable forms of transportation for travelers as car rentals and insurance are expensive and traffic is significant. We’ve all heard of the famous places to go, such as the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. While they are must-see destinations, here are a few fascinating places offering memorable impressions of the City of Light.
• The Statue of Le Passe-Muraille, Place Marcel Aymé, Montmartre Quarter, Paris. Arrondissement: 18th/Metro: Lamarck-Caulaincourt
This whimsical statue features the main character from a famous short story called Le Passe-Muraille or The Walker-Through-Walls. The short story was written by Marcel Aymé, a French novelist and children’s writer, who lived in Montmartre. The story is about a man named Dutilleul who, at the age of 42, discovered he had the gift of passing through walls with great ease. The bronze statue depicts Dutilleul in motion using his special gift of walking through walls. Visitors to Paris can see this intriguing work of art made as a tribute to Aymé by the talented French actor and artist Jean Marais. Tourists who unexpectedly come upon the statue seem surprised and amused. Marcel Aymé died in 1967 and was buried in a nearby cemetery called the Cimetière Saint-Vincent.
• Musée de l’Orangerie, Place de la Concorde, Paris. Arrondissement: 1st/ Metro: Concorde
This fascinating museum, located on the bank of the Seine and in an old orangery of the Tuileries Palace, is a true gem. The art gallery features impressionist and post impressionist paintings and is most famous for its series of eight water lily murals by Claude Monet. Displayed in two oval rooms, Monet’s breathtaking paintings are perfectly showcased under direct infused light. Visitors can immerse themselves in his art displayed all along the walls. Benches are located in the center of the room for quiet reflection. The museum also features great works by other famous artists such as Cezanne, Picasso, and Renoir, and a great many others. It is a must see Museum, and many French people believe it is one of France’s best kept secrets.
• Café de la Paix, located in the Grand Hotel, and The Opéra Palais Garnier, Paris. Arrondissement 9th/Metro: Opéra
Café de la Paix is a well-known French restaurant in Paris and offers upscale dining. Featuring an ornate interior with rich wood paneling, frescos and Grecian-style pillars, it is considered a Paris institution since its opening in 1862. The restaurant serves classic French cuisine with a contemporary flare and features and extensive wine list. Its superior location places the restaurant just a few steps from the opulent Opéra Palais Garnier. Following a period of construction interrupted by war, the Opéra was completed in 1875. The theatre is named for its architect, Charles Garnier, and the style is considered typically Beaux-Arts. The rich interior features a grand marble staircase and gold gilded Grand Foyer with lavish chandeliers and art. It was home of the Paris Opera and the Paris Opera Ballet until 1989 when a larger Opera House was built. The Paris Opera is now mainly used for ballet, but remains an important symbol of France. You may be familiar with the Opera as it was used as the setting for the 1911 novel and is featured in Andrew Lloyd Weber’s famous musical, The Phantom of the Opera.
Paris, France, is one of the loveliest cities in the world offering an abundance of wonderful adventures for all. If you’re blessed to have the grand fortune to indulge yourself in Paris, it is an opportunity that will stay with you forever. It leaves an indelible impression on one’s heart, for it is overflowing with old-world charm infused with an indescribable air of romance. It is a wonderful place to delight in the simplest of things, such as a leisurely evening stroll along the banks of the Seine River or relaxing bench-side in the lovely garden park beside Notre Dame de Paris. No matter what you choose to do, whether it’s seeing trendy attractions, visiting some locations above, or simply walking and observing Paris, you can’t go wrong. In the famous words of Ernest Hemingway, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”