Eiffel tower, ice cream and sunbathing
There is not a day when the area of Eiffel Tower is empty, which is a given since it’s one of the Paris’ must-see landmarks.
From far away, as my friend pointed to me, it looks not as tall (it’s smaller than the National Mall), but once you stand below it and looking up, it’s seems as one is a Lilliput, and the Tower is the Gulliver. To avoid the long lines to go up is impossible, but one can hope. I’ve been up there twice and it’s quite a view, although I’ve found that the view from the top of The Arch of Triumph is more impressive. But that’s just me. So, along with Sacré-Coeur Basilica and Arch de Triumph, the Eiffel Tower is the next tall construction that lets us see the best of Paris from high above.
If a DC native gets to see Paris from high above, he or she would see how much of Parisian construction DC takes after – all the circles to divide the roads, the way buildings are placed around downtown, the white-gray solid color of the buildings and the fact that in Paris they do not allow to build taller buildings, so all look as of the same height. A lot in common and that makes DC a truly European-like city!
If you travel during warm times, you might see many Parisians taking advantage of the lawns leading to the tower on the side of Les Invalides, very much like it is on the lawns of Central Park in NY and National Mall in DC. And the last thing, every 5 minutes to an hour when it’s already dark outside the Tower starts to play the lights and the view of it truly mesmerizing.
Dining and wining in Paris
Keep in mind, the wine is cheaper than the beer. The bread tastes very delicious anywhere in the country, but it tastes even better with a real French butter that is a bit salty. The Coca-Cola in France is nothing like in USA – the taste is very different, it tastes like a true original Coke (because it uses real sugar, not substitutes and no corn syrup either.) The cheese is usually not part of the appetizers or main dishes, it’s actually a “desert” for after the meal.
Tap water is good, don’t be afraid to have it – France is known for working very hard to have eco-clean water and one can safely drink it from the sink.
And one last thing – when in France, do as French do – don’t rush when you sit down at a restaurant, the waiters don’t serve as fast as in USA, because not that they are rude, but because a meal for a French is an enjoyment – to relax, to talk with friends, to sip some wine, to slowly eat appetizers, then main dish and then some desert.
Always leave room for – a desert! (By the way, some of the best macarons you’ll find at Ladurée on 75 Avenue des Champs-Elysées (although the ones I tried in Cannes, 6 macarons for 8 Euros, were not bad at all. Go for “champagne flavor”!)
Or, if you’re craving a little taste of France, there are some of very good macarons places in USA, the owners of which swear by the authentic French recepe. For example, Paulette in Beverly Hills offers some of the best macaroons – France’s most delicious contribution to the world – in USA. (According to the website of the store: “Paulette is an inspired collaboration between Paulette Koumetz, who has a passion for the celebrated Parisian macaron, and French pastry chef extraordinaire Christophe Michalak, winner of the 2005 Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie, with his passion for reinventing the classics. At Paulette Beverly Hills, the vivid hues of our unique macarons reflect the natural flavors and essences that infuse the ganache filling of these delicious almond cookies.” They say Kate Holmes-Cruise is a regular customer of theirs.)
For me, when I travel abroad, I try to find non-touristy places in a city, either by asking the locals, or reading some of best-kept-secret travel guides or inquire with friends and family who have been to that place often.) And that’s how we had breakfast at a local café where hardly any spoke English, we sat in the cloud of smoke, with no air conditioning, but at least we got to see what French eat for breakfast, what and how they communicate with each other and what they wear on a casual day out to breakfast. All of it is part of a cultural experience!
So, the following places is a must to check: – Hôtel Matignon – La Palette – Le fumoir – Andy Wahloo – Raphael hotel rooftop -Saut du loup terasse – Cafe Chic – Alcazar – La Paeva – La Villa – Le Secret – Hotel Costes – le Germain – La Société…
Please share your experience of Paris with me!