Yesterday I covered the main tourist attractions from our Paris trip last summer, so today I figured I’d share some of the places that I had been dying to see for years.
The main attraction of Paris was really the food. I ate my weight in pastries, cheese, & wine. And really, did not regret it one bit! Harry’s was a little piece of ex-pat lore that I had to see while clearly later that day my feet needed a rest. And what better place than a Paris fountain?
Living in London as a kid in the late 80’s my parents took me to see a lot of musicals in the West End. My favorites were Andrew Lloyd Webber & I owned about every cassette tape with his music I could get my hands on. The all-time favorite was of course Phantom of the Opera. Yes, not that unusual unless you consider I was 6. And used to act it out in my living room while singing at the top of my lungs (my poor parents).
I had a minor obsession & from then on wanted to see the opera house where the Phantom lived. It took 22 years but I finally saw it, though my husband frequently reminded me that he wasn’t real & wasn’t living in a labyrinth of canals below the building. He’s no fun.
The opera house was absolutely stunning & I may have replaced seeing the Opera Garnier with seeing an actual opera at the Opera Garnier on my bucket list.
Another must-see was also related to my London childhood. Clearly my idol was Princess Diana & I had a wall covered in postcards I had collected of her. I’m not sure how many times I dragged my mom to see her wedding dress but I was pretty devastated when she died.
The impromptu memorial is set up directly above the tunnel where her car crashed & it was lovely to see all the graffiti messages left to her (which is something rare to say about graffiti).
I had high expectations for Montemarte. I had read about the seedier side in the guidebooks but my head was filled with images from Amelie& Toulouse Lautrec paintings. I was ridiculously giddy to go. So we ventured onto the metro, got off at the Pigalle stop, & were immediately greeted with a boulevard of sex shops. Ew.
The Moulin Rouge is on this main drag we got out photo & scurried out of there. I wanted to have some lunch at the cafe from Amelie …. & it was closed down. We wandered a bit & I was beginning to get really moody because I was so disappointed. We finally stumbled onto a street where this guy’s music was filling the air & it immediately lifted my spirits. He definitely saved my Montemarte experience!
Its definitely touristy & lost a lot of its old charm you’d hope for. But you can still wander & imagine what it used to be like, plus see Sacre-Coeur & the fantastic view of Paris from it.
My husband loves going to jazz clubs, which we really don’t do often at all. We were near the Latin Quarter, so decided to act like students & go to a local bar, followed by a night at the jazz club.
We started the night on our hotel balcony splitting a bottle of wine. Things went downhill from there. We are usually home by midnight these days. In our wild youth we may have made it until 1am on crazy nights. So the fact we stayed out until something like 4am tells you we were out of our element! The jazz club was in the basement of the bar, which was a tiny space with ancient stone walls. It was amazing. And very few tourists around! We felt like locals but were quickly reminded the next morning that indeed, we were not & maybe not do that again!
When we got back everyone wanted to know what our favorite part of Paris was. My husband & I struggled with a concrete answer because really, it was just walking around & eating at cafes. The atmosphere of the city is what people love about Paris, not a specific site or building (though Opera Garnier would be up there!).
I just loved that no matter what block you were on there was always something pretty to look at, something to photograph, & to admire.
We did one day trip & one overnight trip outside of Paris- next week I’ll share our visit to Versailles & the following week will be our trip up to the Normandy region.
Hope everyone is having a good week so far!