10 ways to follow your nose in the City of Light
PARIS is a wonderful city to explore on foot, taking in numerous landmarks and stopping at countless cafés and boulevard shops.
Although it is possible to cross the City of Light in only a few hours, visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to possible itineraries. The 10 routes given below take in only some of what Paris has to offer.
● Visitors interested in the historic centre should begin with a stroll on the two River Seine islands. The Gothic masterpiece Notre Dame is on the Île de la Cité, while the neighbouring Saint-Louis has one of the city’s best picnic areas, with views of the riverbank and the stunning cathedral.
● The Marais is probably best known for its thriving gay scene, crowded bars, trendy shops and restaurants. Visitors can also discover lots of traces of Jewish life, including a synagogue with an art nouveau façade, kosher food stores and memorials to Jewish schoolchildren deported during World War II.
● Comfortable footwear is essential for the steep walk up to Montmartre, but views from the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur on the crest of the hill makes the exertion worthwhile. The only downside is the huge number of fellow tourists, pushy souvenir sellers and street artists. The western part of the hill, with its small houses and façades overgrown with plants, is an infinitely more pleasant experience.
● Today almost nothing remains of the Bastille stormed by French revolutionaries in 1789, but the area is well worth a visit, if only to explore the many beautiful courtyards and buildings that once primarily housed the city’s carpenters and joiners.
The quarter is also home to the Marche d’Aligre, one of the most colourful and lively vegetable markets in Paris.
● The left bank of the Seine is a good place to look for traces of the Roman presence in Paris, such as the thermal baths near Cluny Museum and the amphitheatre where young boys now play football. A small diversion to the Pantheon, which has served as a church and a temple of heroes, is also worthwhile.
● Thanks to its huge immigrant population, Paris has the advantage of offering visitors the chance to experience a tapestry of cultural life. The Tamil quarter near the Gare du Nord is full of places selling exotic herbs and spices, as well as shops offering saris and colourful statues of deities. You only have to stroll a couple of streets further before arriving in a predominantly African area.
● In good weather, a walk along the Canal Saint Martin followed by a picnic in the shade of the stately plane trees is hard to beat. There are also numerous pleasant cafés and shops along the canal bank and in the small side streets nearby.
● Visitors looking for
style should head for the Boulevard SaintGermain, where well- dressed Parisian women in high heels and men wearing blazers like to congregate.
● The French liked to make fun of former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s love for the high life. A walk around the Élysée Palace, the official presidential residence, and along Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore offers visitors a view of some of the finest boutiques in the city.
● Villa Mouzaia is one of the lesser known but more interesting Parisian quarters, with its small houses and overgrown front gardens. Nearby is the Parc Buttes Chaumont, where tired walkers can relax with a glass of chilled white wine and watch the world go by from the terrace of the Café Rosa Bonheur. – Sapa-dpa
FOOD FUNDIS: The Marche d’Aligre is a lovely market near the Bastille.