Discover Paris – Let Your Trip Unfold Organically and Avoid Trip Planning Overload
Sometimes when we travel, we get so anxious to see everything that we make check lists and bucket lists and itineraries that we anxiously study and schedule. It is hard not to want to see everything in the few days or weeks of a vacation, but I’m going to pass along a piece of advice a good friend gave to me that helped me discover Paris.
Let Your Trip Unfold Organically …
Plan less and see more– let your trip unfold organically. It seems counter-intuitive, I know. Surely I must see every bit of everything I can possibly see. But when I cram everything in, will I really see or remember anything at all? If I record every sight with my video camera, am I actually experiencing anything at all?
My friend had been to Paris and said she never went looking for the Eiffel tower. Then one day she turned a corner and bam! There it was.
I decided to take her advice on my own trip to Paris. I did have a few things that I wanted to see: the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Gardens at Versailles. But Paris IS history. You cannot be in Paris with your eyes open and not see an intricate centuries old sculpture, or pass a church with flying buttresses, or come upon a bridge over the Seine.
Immerse Yourself in Paris – Walk Everywhere!
While in Paris, I walked almost everywhere. I took the metro a few times, and the train to Versailles. But other than that, I walked, and walked and walked. I stopped in at the pet stores, and the clothing stores, and the perfume stores. I visited cafes for cafe au lait, and patisseries for pastries. I completely immersed myself in Paris.
I had rented a tiny apartment, and made most of my very simple meals “at home.” I bought my bread at the Boulangerie, and my butter, eggs, ham, and the best Dannon yogurt I’ve ever had at a tiny grocery. There I also purchased grapes the size of a small plum. I never liked seeded grapes, but these had an indescribable flavor that made them unforgettable.
The farmers’ market provided fascinating insight into the Parisian way of life, as well as a delightfully roasted chicken that I had for dinner one night.
Historic Paris Surrounds You
There is so much to do and see in Paris, and so much of it is free! The orderly layout of Paris makes it eminently walkable and navigable. The central point in Paris is marked with a bronze plaque in front of the Notre Dame. All distances in France are measured from this point. The points of the compass are marked in the Parisian landscape with the Sacré Cœur in the north, the Bastille column in the east, the Montparnasse tower in the south, and the Eiffel Tower in the west.
The Pont Saint-Louis is the only bridge in Paris that links the Ile de la Cité and the Ile Saint-Louis, and is open to pedestrians only. This is a delightful area of Paris to stroll, to sip cafe au lait at a sidewalk cafe, or obtain those delightful plum-sized grapes! Take in views of the Seine and visit the Notre-Dame and Hôtel de Ville. Enjoy the street performers and browse the art and wares that are for sale here. If you are ever at a loss for how to discover Paris I found this guide by Your RV Lifestyle to be very comprehensive.
The Louvre & The Lady with the Enigmatic Smile
I did go to the Louvre. I took no particular direction. I walked through long halls of sculptures, saw incredible oil paintings, and then, wandered into a room of not terribly large size. And there she was, behind a protective glass, her enigmatic smile instantly recognizable. The Mona Lisa. Time stood still as I gazed at a painting I’d heard so much about and dreamed of seeing for so long.
Take a Cruise on the River Seine
I met up with a friend, and we decided on a river cruise on the Seine. As we slipped away from the dock in the twilight, the gentle breeze floated across the deck and we watched the river banks pass by. Suddenly, as if by magic, the Eiffel Tower, lit up in evening splendor, appeared at a turn in the river.
Organic Discovery Leads to Special Memories of Paris
It’s sometimes hard to balance the desire to see it all against the desire to really SEE. From my own experience in Paris, I recommend taking the time to let the city unfold around you. Let your trip unfold organically and reap the rewards of peaceful travels. I believe it will make for some of your most special memories in the City of Light. I hope this has helped you discover Paris!