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Trip Report Little Things to Do in Paris

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A week in Paris is always a dream come true, and this mid-April trip was my 13th and my 4th with my best friend. We travel well together and don’t mind sharing a hotel room, so it’s easier to convince our husbands that our travel is a bargain.

We were blessed with the most spectacular weather I’ve ever experienced in Paris. We decided to do things that we have always intended to do but never got around to doing in Paris. So here they are:

Pere Lechaise Cemetary: I’ve been before but my friend had not, so we easily Metro’d our way there on a gloriously blue sky day. There’s nothing better than ambling along the many stone paths perusing the headstones and considering the stories that might accompany these folks. Of course, we found Jim Morrison’s plot and marveled at the beauty of the resting place (?) for Heloise and Abelard. Highly recommend this activity for a beautiful day and for clearing one’s head of cobwebs.

Hopital St. Louis: An easy walk while enjoying the Canal St. Martin; the interior courtyard had the same architect as Place de Vosges and you definitely get the same vibe when you walk in. There are lovely gardens that were just barely coming into bloom when we visited.

Rue de Passy: A great little stroll, lacking in tourist-filled sidewalks, and full of every sort of dress shop you could hope for; we started at Metro La Muette and finished at the Trocadero, just in time to see the water canons in full operation! I’ve never seen them actually working so this was such a treat! (Full disclosure, we stopped at a café for beers at the circle before proceeding on Delessert, then Nations Unies to the Trocadero. Pretty flowers blooming in the circle and the confluence of so many streets made for great people watching. And of course we needed to refuel with some great cold beer!)

Antiques Fair at Parc Monceau: This was unplanned, we just happened to see a poster in the window at an antique shop, but what a fun morning! We walked through all of the vendors and the furniture, paintings, china, and silver were just exquisite.

Bon Marche: I had seen this on the My Little Paris webpage, you can get an lovely ‘updo’ at Bon Marche for only 15 euros! We made our appointment the day before and after browsing the Stylebook, chose our new looks. The stylist was amazing and transformed us from two something-aged tourists into two style mavens in about 10 minutes each! This is somewhat similar to a dry bar, but really, they are all up-dos. I must’ve had 30 bobby pins anchoring my chignon. We left and went directly to Angelina’s to show off our glamorous selves. Not sure anyone noticed, but we felt spectacular!

Puces de Vanves: I’ve been to Clignancourt, but had read that Vanves was a more manageable size and not as overpriced. Very interesting mix of items and certainly what you’d think you’d find at a flea market. But we didn’t feel out of place and it was fun looking at one man’s trash and another’s treasures.

Arenes de Lutece: A beautiful, sunny day brought us to this Roman arena. Young men were in the arena playing soccer and the sun was so inviting, we sat in the terraced stone seating surrounding the field of play and just watched the match. The park there is truly beautiful with flowers and a playground, so our backdrop was not only colorful but musical, with children’s laughter in the air.

Musee Marmottan: Completely enjoyed this beautiful residence chock full of Monets and Manets and Morisots. There are so many beautiful works and it feels so intimate. The Louvre and even the Musee d’Orsay can sometimes be a bit overwhelming, in terms of crowds and the volume of artwork. That is not the case here. And the walk to the Marmottan from La Muette revealed the gorgeous Ranelagh park. Since the weather continued to be paradise-like, the park was full of families and older folks, merry go rounds & ponies. After the museum, we sat and soaked up a bit of their wonderful lives.

La Defense: Took the easy metro ride here on another glorious, clear day. And OH MY! Please do this!! It is stunning and amazing and completely juxtaposed to what I am used to feeling in Paris. We did not go to the top of the Grande Arche, but the view from the base is unforgettable. Once you walk up the steps to the base, the views take your breath away. An optical illusion makes it appear that there is a huge drop off on the other side. My knees were shaking as we approached (I was not going to get too close!), but eventually you see that there are steps going down. But it makes you dizzy and weak, let me tell you. A very exhilarating visit! There are also several interesting pieces of statuary. This really does not take long to get to, nor does it require a lot of time to walk the area. So if you find yourself in Paris on a sunny day, head out to La Defense.

Viaduc des Arts: I was really looking forward to seeing these artists’ workshops located in the arches under the Promenade Plantee. Major disappointment because the shops we saw were really more of what you’d find in a design district, geared toward the Trade and not painters, sculptors, etc, as I’d thought. Maybe we didn’t walk far enough, but we walked a good bit, and decided to move on.

Jardins du Luxembourg: This has been on my must-do list for 12 previous trips and it’s hard to believe that timing, weather, or other events have kept me from seeing this iconic Paris landmark. What a fabulous place to sit and people watch, toy sailboat watch, bird watch, cloud watch…all you can think is, “Ahhhhhhhh….”.

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