Ok, so there are all the reasons in the world to visit this amazing city like say, the palaces, fine art, rich history, gorgeous landmarks like the Eiffel tower, fine dining, high end fashion and all the sophistication and opulence one could imagine. However it’s always the random parts of any thing or place that appeals to the inner H&D. So here is our list of our ten favourite random bits from around the city.
For us it was the main attractions that took us to Paris in the first place, but it’s definitely the sum of all little things like these that was the big reason to keep us wanting more!
1. STREET FOOD. In the birthplace of Michelin Star fine dining, there are plenty of travel guides and other references devoted to degustation indulgences. However what many may not know is there are many farmers and food markets across the city where Parisians go to get their fix of all things quick, fresh and delicious. The street food is from farming areas surrounding Paris where the rich, fertile soils are the catalyst for great produce like fruits, meat products, vegetables, wines and cheeses.
2. VINTAGE STORES & MARKETS. Now we’re not talking high end antiques in this instance (however if that is your thing, then there are many stores dedicated to this). What we’re talking about are the quirky old things that are inexpensive, original and charming. There are stores scattered across the city where you can find something that is uniquely French. We picked up 1920’s French perfume bottle for around $45 AUD and it’s one of our favourite travel treasures to date. We prefer souvenirs from vintage stores any day.
3. HANDLES & KNOBS. Oh get your mind out of le gutter, we mean door knobs! They come in all shapes, sizes, finishes and it seems the whole city and the whole country in general are quite obsessed with the perfect… knob. The detail is delightful and the often majestic doors they are attached to aren’t so bad either.
4. FACADES. We were a little obsessed with the facades of buildings – be they residential, industrial, commercial, dilapidated or pristine. The colours of the shutters and doors, the sandstone work, the wrought iron balconies, weathered patinas and those big, glass French doors and windows are just divine!
5. STUDIO LIVING. We’ve always loved homes with their own little zones. Until we went to France and stayed in two different studio apartments at different times. We looked through a few before making our selection (mostly just to sticky-beak), and the main theme through them all were the high ceilings, the windows and doors were big and bright, there were always rustic floor boards and everything in the studio just had it’s place. Never did it feel like a squeeze and though we wouldn’t say the view wasn’t magnificent, it was just the neighborhood charm we were looking for.
6. OLD, RUSTY BITS. Wherever you go, there are eye catching metal artworks and we loved all the twisted, rusty bits and pieces scattered around the city. The lamp posts, the bridges, fences …
7. ON THE STREET; ART, WARES & PERFORMERS. Whether it was graffiti, street performances, the uniquely French Subway advertising, the juxtaposition of the quirky street art posters on the side of mansions, or street vendors selling some unique wares (like this ‘cheeky’ snow white cushion), there was definitely a casual and sometimes ‘gritty’ edge to the city that is known to be quite refined and polished.
8. ICE TEA IN JAM JARS. Ok, so this is really quite specific and we don’t expect you to get it (you kind of have to be there for this one), but we were so in love with the way each shop had it’s own little point of difference. We walked into a bakery with the most magnificently decorated and opulent looking formal cakes on display, only to see that the interior was such a casual, homely vibe with homemade ice teas served out of jam jars, wedges of delicious cake and the owner’s cat curled up on the most comfortable lounge and the sun streaming in over piles of old French poetry books.
9. BICYCLES & BASKETS. Why don’t other countries use bicycles so effectively? We’d all get to where we need to much quicker and be fitter for it. Bicycles and their basket fronts are used most in Paris. A glamour puss in 6 inch heals cycle-sashays around with her louise Vuitton scarf trailing behind her, a construction worker throws a baquette, a bottle of French wine and some fresh flowers into his basket (lunchtime rendezvous perhaps? Oh when in Paris, why not?!). It’s really quite evident now that we need a bicycle and basket pronto!
10. VIOLINISTS; ROMANCE ON CUE. Wherever a couple embraces, whenever two strangers catch each other’s gaze, wherever there is a romantic cliché to be had, a violinist is never far away. We observed two strangers on a train who started to flirt madly, and on cue at the next metro stop a violinist appeared to play La Vie En Rose. Of course they did! Only the most romantic and iconic French love song of all time. Where did he come from? Why is he playing on a train? How did he know? Who knows the ways of these roaming musical magicians, but it was a wonderful cliché and what makes it all the more effective is that each of the violinists we encountered was magnificently talented and played in what can only be described as a mesmerizingly theatrical piece of music and always in a romantically tortured stance!
It really is all the random little things that will keep us going back to Paris. We love the people, vibe, food, drink, sights and sounds … and after the tourist trail is done and you’re all ‘museumed-out’ then there is nothing better than kicking back and enjoying the real soul of this place.
We wish you happy adventures and remember, Paris is ALWAYS a good idea!