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Pleasures of Paris©

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Walking Paris : Thirty
Original Walks In
and Around Paris


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Seven Ages
of Paris


To see the places
we visited,


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Les Chiens de Paris/Dogs in Paris


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Food Lover's Guide
to Paris, 4th Edition


To see the places
we visited,


Observations on Visiting Paris
March 14-19, 2004

The pleasures of Paris are many, as anyone who has visited the City of Light knows full well.  Yet at the heart of the city's great appeal is its human scale, created in part by height limitations for the buildings in its historic center.  Sunlight can pour into the city, making it possible to enjoy the many outdoor cafes even on an early spring day, something we did regularly.  No skyscraper canyons here of the sort that tend make New York City a shadowy and dismal place much of the year. 

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Paris (Eyewitness Travel Guides)

Until recently, the height limit on Paris buildings was 66 feet or about six stories. Comparable building height limitations are found in Washington, D.C., another city I thoroughly enjoy.  And no wonder!  Thomas Jefferson greated admired Paris for its light and airy feel, and he favored passage of height limitation laws.  President George Washington established the earliest such laws for the city.

Viewing the grand buildings and monuments of Paris and exploring the many glorious art collections of the Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay and more provide more of the pleasures of Paris for anyone who enjoys fine art and architecture.  This formed the heart of my first every foray into the capital of Paris and nearby Fontainbleau.

A full day was spent in the Louvre, once a fortress and later the palace of the Sun King, Louis XIV. The first half was spent in the extraordinary Egyptian collection that is filled with sphinxes, mummy cases and art, and half spent among the collections of French painting.

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Above Paris: A New Collection of Aerial Photographs of Paris, France

The latter explorations included a room filled with huge paintings of historic and symbolic scenes from 19th century France including views of Napoleon as soldier and as emperor. Created in a period before television, these paintings surely played an influential role in portraying the events of the time period.

Another wonderful day was spent at the Musee d'Orsay, a beautiful former railway station converted to display French art from 1848 to 1914 -- including the much loved works of the Impressionists.  Paintings by Monet, Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Degas and many more are displayed.

Over these few days, I walked -- with sister Beth and friends -- from a small hotel on the rue d'Isly near the Gare St. Lazare to the rue de Rivoli and the River Seine at the heart of the city on our way to the Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay, Notre Dame and more. And then in the evening back north again. Temperatures had rocketed from a high of 39 F under gray skies on the day I arrived to 70 F under skies blues and sunshine.  Spring bloomed before our eyes, trees leafing out and people filling parks such as the Tuileries that a day earlier had been empty when we passed through.

Each time we walked a different route, taking us past beautiful churches such as La Madeleine north of le Place de la Concorde, an endless array of shops including the famous Fauchon delicatessen and sweets shops, the stunningly beautiful Opera Garnier and more.  And of course countless hotels, apartments, parks, cafes and sidewalk vendors, especially along rue Haussman, home to the city's major department stores include le Printemps and named for the influential city planner Georges Haussman.

We often sat at outdoor cafes, blessed with a burst of glorious spring weather, drinking coffee or tea -- and people watching and dog watching. We found that the canines of Paris are, in the main, proper city dogs, very well suited to be apartment dogs, small in size and perky in style.  Parisians are estimated to own some 200,000 dogs and the city apppears to be seeing a considerable increase in the numbers of larger breeds of dogs.

The Paris dogs I saw were primarily the living kind.  However, one window in an antique shop on the rue de Rivoli offered canines of quite a different sort:   examples of the orange-brown pottery dogs of Han Dynasty China, with their tightly curled tails!  [See an example of Chinese pottery dogs here.  To learn more, see the Arts & Culture section of our guide to China]. So my research on the early dogs of East Asia provided insights for understanding those unique pottery dogs in the rue de Rivoli antique store, and seeing them added a unique highlight of my tour of Paris!

Now, to complete our Paris excursion, we opted for the Red Tour Bus in order to visit the Arc de Triomph, Eiffel Tour and other noteworthy scenes and to reach Ile Saint Louis, adjacent to Ile de la Cite, the smaller island offering narrow streets filled with shops, cafes and a tiny creperie which provided a perfect spot for a bite to eat.  Which of course brings us to food, of course one of the wonderful pleasures of Paris, whether in a brasserie or sidewalk cafe.  Highlights included a festive dinner at the historic Cafe de la Paix, seafood at Brasserie Mollard, and a gourmet meal at La Cuisine on the Left Bank.

For links to many of the places we visited, click here.

More of Paris:

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Art/Shop/Eat Paris

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The Impressionists' Paris: Walking
Tours of the Painters' Studios,
Homes, and Sites They Painted

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Paris: Capital
of the Arts


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Treasures of the
Musee Picasso: Paris

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The Riches of Paris:
A Shopping and
Touring Guide


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The Piano Shop
on the Left Bank: Discovering a
Forgotten Passion
in a Paris Atelier


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The Dogs
of Paris


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Inventing the Louvre:
Art, Politics, and the
Origins of the Modern
Museum in 18th-
Century Paris


See the Paris places visited or viewed while walking or touring:  
[ Top ]

Paris Photo Gallery with many famous sights on 15 pages, and Paris map

Arc de Triomphe commissioned by Napoleon in 1806

Booksellers' Stalls on the Left Bank near Notre Dame

Bourse or Paris stock exchange

Cafe de la Paix -- designed by Charles Garnier who also designed the grand opera house nearby -- is a famous and elegant place to dine, and Brasserie Mollard wonderful for seafood and the 1896 decorations

Church of the Madeleine and more on La Madeleine [in French], a structure resembling a Greek temple that Napoleon considered using to honor his army's victories before the Arc de Triomphe was built and La Madeleine became a church, and a photo of Madeleine Church honoring Saint Mary Magdelene

Gare Saint Lazare is the oldest train station in Paris and, remarkably, was the subject for paintings by Monet, interested in its light, steam and moods

Jardin des Tuileries stretches from the Louvre to the Place de la Concorde, offering a pleasing park with trees, flowers, benches, and play areas for children,  and more on this popular area, its history and photos of Jardin des Tuileries

Notre Dame Cathedral, construction of which began in 1163 on the Ile de la Cite in the River Seine in the heart of Paris, and more on Notre Dame de Paris, the world's most famous Gothic cathedral, and a site allowing visual exploration of the famous Notre Dame and a large picture of Notre Dame de Paris

Opera Garnier designed by Charles Garnier and built 1862-1875, and more:
-- Official Web site of the Opera Garnier

Place de la Concorde with the Obelisk of Luxor, and another view

Pont Neuf is the oldest bridge in Paris, connecting the Right Bank and Left Bank with the Ile de la Cite, the island that houses Notre Dame and Saint Chapelle, and the favorite bridge for reaching the Left Bank. Historic photos of Pont Neuf [site in French], Renoir's painting, Pont Neuf, Paris, 1892 and the history of the bridge

Sainte Chapelle -- a beautiful Gothic chapel whose upper level has stained glass windows virtually from floor to ceiling, built in the 1240s on the Ile de la Cite. And:
-- History & Photos of Sainte Chapelle including its stained glass windows filled
   with light [in French]
-- History of Sainte Chapelle and photo of the holy chapel [in English]
-- Photographs of Sainte Chapelle including its tall stained glass windows

Tour Eiffel or Eiffel Tower, built for the 1889 International Exhibition of Paris

Museums:       [ Top ]

Musee du Louvre: home of famous art pieces such as the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, remarkable collections of artifacts from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, and paintings  by French and other European artists, primarily from before 1848.  The enormous u-shaped building housing the museum traces back to a fortress begun by the French king in the year 1200 -- and extended and remodeled by other kings over time. For more, see:
-- Official Web site of the Louvre [in French] and section in English
-- The History of the Louvre

Musee d'Orsay: home to French art from 1848 to 1914, including the much loved works of the Impressionists. A sample of paintings by Manet, Monet, Degas, Renoir and more illustrate what visitors can enjoy at this museum, once a handsome train station that opened for the World's Fair in 1900. For more, see:
-- Official Web site of the Musee d'Orsay [in French, English, Spanish]
-- History in Brief of the Musee d'Orsay and its famous artists

Musee de la Mode et du Textile: home to changing exhibits of French fashion and women's clothing designers

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of the
Musee D'Orsay

.MuseeLouvre.jpg (6275 bytes)
of the

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Paris in the Age of Impressionism:
Masterworks From the
Musee D'Orsay


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The Pocket Louvre:
A Visitor's Guide
to 500 Works


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