Paris, France highlights
Notre Dame Cathedral is a great spot in the middle of the Seine River to take photographs of the city, especially at dawn or sunset. Oh yeah, the interior of the cathedral is magnificent, too. If you’re tired, stop in the garden park along the south side of the church (a promenade overlooking the Seine) and the rear of the cathedral, where benches offer a usually much-needed respite from all this hard-surface walking.
Finally, for a true Parisian experience, walk through rue Cler, the city’s fresh-food bazaar. Now a car-free street, the little shops on either side spill into the sidewalk with their abundant goods and eclectic aromas. This is a perfect place to gather picnic gear for lunch in the gardens surrounding Eiffel Tower. In rue Cler you will find wine shops that sell $6 bottles of French wine that will caress your taste buds to hysterical paroxysm. The Fromagerie has 400 types of French cheese (buy 4 types: hard, flowery, blue, and goat). In any shop, ask for help with a polite “s’il vous plait” and you’ll receive personal service as in no other city you’ve known. Delis on rue Cler sell fresh meats and prepared dishes that make picnic shopping fun and an adventure.
Paris is possibly the last café culture left in Europe, outside a few Roman neighborhoods. The city will lose some of its ambience once no-smoking laws take full effect sometime in 2007. Yes, Times They Are a Changing. Anyway…a coffee and pastry taken on the sidewalk is a year-round happening. Cafés are Parisians’ cheap hangout spots. Have a glass of wine and an omelet; a glass of sherry and a cheese plate; whiskey and a cigar. It all happens in a Paris café. Haven’t you seen the film Amelie?
The French love cinema. Hundreds of cinemas playing art-house favorites dot the city. You would think that everything is in French with foreign language subtitles (one of them English, perhaps), but not so. There are plenty of cinemas showing films from around the world in the native language.
Paris is also famous for its cabarets. Of course, there’s the Moulin Rouge, starting at 100 euros that serves a pre-show gourmet meal. It is also the only cabaret in Paris that still electrifies the audience with Quadrille Réaliste, otherwise known as the cancan.
The Lido, on the Champs-Elysées, has 1,000 seats in its art nouveau hall. Its show is a bit tame, and the 60 Bluebell Girls only do a lot of breast shaking moves. Still, it symbolizes Paris glitz, with a price to boot.
Since the 1920s, when Jazz greats fled the United States Prohibition on liquor and, it seemed, FUN, Paris has been a city that sweats jazz. Add Blues to this and you have a recipe for foot-tapping through the night. Venues such as New Morning, Sunset, and Caveau de la Huchette continue to draw top names in the genres. Actually, every Paris neighborhood (arrondissement) has a cellar venue hosting well-known musicians. Listings for live music venues can be found in the weekly Zurban and Les Inrockuptibles found around Paris and at many hotels.
Most international flights arrive at Charles de Gaulle Airport, while others come into Orly. Both airports are serviced by regional public transportation (RER) train routes to get you into the city center swiftly and cheaply.
Paris also has an enormous metro system. When you combine the RER with the Metropolitain, you will find that no place in Paris is far from a transport stop. Self-service machines sell single- and multi-trip tickets, as well as day passed and tourist multi-day passes.
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