Sometimes the best way to experience a place is to just be. Paris is one of those places. Get lost. Walk to a corner and toss a coin about which way to turn. Stroll the winding stone laden streets, smelling the fresh pastries drifting from the open door of a patisserie, listening to the bells of a nearby church or the water of the Seine as it follows the same course it has for centuries.
The cobblestones fan out in front of your feet as you move along. Cloudy days are best, even with a little drizzle as it provides an atmosphere you just can’t find anywhere else. Maybe stop by a cafe and have a chocolat – sit and just watch the world go by. See the lovers stroll hand in hand as they sneak a quick kiss when they think no one is looking. An old lady walks her little dog down the street and it is dressed almost better than she is, with a Chanel collar and tiny fur coat.
Down by the river are the stalls. Flip through the old books, magazines and illustrations. Perhaps buy one with the thought of resting by the small pond in the Tulieries, perusing your reading material and watching as children place the colorful sailboats on the still water.
Duck under the archway of the Louvre’s back entrance to ride out a passing shower.
Pass colorful flower stalls, smell the roses – I dare you not to buy some. Marvel at architecture not found anywhere else. Pass beneath the stern brow of the Conciergerie and imagine what the crowds must have been like on the day Marie Antoinette was taken from her prison and driven by wagon to her execution. Paris is much different now, but in many ways, still the same.
As the day begins to wind down, find yourself at the magical carousel near the Eiffel Tower, its lights twinkling in the fading sunlight. Paris is dreamlike and forever surprising…cherish your time in it.
All photos by the author.