Lockdown Love: Our Favorite Things about Paris
While France is in quarantine because of the coronavirus pandemic, we reached out to our contributors to share some Paris love. Stuck at home? You can still armchair travel to the City of Light. What are some of your favorite places and things in Paris? Share in the comments section below.
“I love Sainte-Chapelle on a sunny day, when the magnificent stained glass windows just glow. It’s the most beautiful spot in the most beautiful city in the world. Sometimes there are chamber music performances late in the day, where you can listen to lovely music while the sun goes down and the light on the windows changes. Magical.”
— Keith Van Sickle is the author of the bestselling books “One Sip at a Time” and “Are We French Yet?
“Paris has much to offer—from hidden treasures (Eglise St Julien le Pauvre) to lesser known museums (Marmottan and Jacquemart-André) to expansive boulevards and luminous Haussmannian buildings. But the heartbeat of the city, for me, is the Seine. Since I am fortunate to live on the Ile St Louis, the river is a constant friend (even during “confinement”). Its timeless beauty, swirling energy, and endless personalities somehow give me hope.”
— Meredith Mullins is an internationally exhibited fine art photographer and instructor based in Paris.
Food Glorious Food
“What I love about Paris? The list is endless but funnily enough most of what I can think about right now is connected to food (maybe it’s my Italian roots, but food for me is a proxy for love!). Picking up a still-warm baguette from my local boulangerie; striking a conversation with an elderly person while queuing together at my favorite fishmonger at the Marché de Saxe, watching the sun set over the city on the rooftop of Centre Pompidou, with a chilled glass of champagne in hand.”
—Sarah Bartesaghi Truong is the founder of VeniVidiParis and a frequent contributor to Bonjour Paris.
The Louvre, the metro, and a lovely square
“A few of my favorite Paris things: The Louvre, the drip of historical power, the beauty of the architecture, the challenge of the crowds and then finally of course the irreplaceable collection all in one place makes my world whole.
The metallic smell on the metro platform as those little trains push the air through the tunnels. I may well be the only person who finds joy in the smell of (the old trains at least, and line 9 still smells this way) the wheels turning.
My favorite square is La cité de Trévise in the 9th, which has two long narrow roads leading to it and no traffic. Haussmannian apartment buildings line the square and there’s a perfect tiny oval of a square with big trees, a dripping fountain and one small bench that no one sits on because it’s so perfectly out of the way.”
— Daisy de Plume is the founder of THATMuse, which stands for Treasure Hunt at the Museum.
Les quatre parties du monde
“There are many places in Paris that soothe my soul but there is none quite like the fountain that sits at the southernmost point of the Jardin des Grands Explorateurs, a rectangular stretch of park, designed with an allée of chestnut trees, leading into the Jardin du Luxembourg. The garden follows a north-south axis from the Observatory all the way to Montmartre, so you can see the gleaming white dome of Sacré-Cœur in the distance. The fountain itself depicts the four corners of the world; a globe engraved with signs of the zodiac is raised above majestic stallions and mythical fish and turtles spewing water from their mouths.”
— Mary Winston Nicklin is the editor of Bonjour Paris.
Les Bouquinistes and Guy Savoy
“It’s a sunny day, I cross Le Pont Neuf bridge (wrapped by Christo and Jean-Claude in 1985, a litho of which hangs in my study), watch river traffic making waves, breath in the fresh air of Ile de la Cité, mourn for Notre Dame. Arriving at Les Bouquinistes, I chat with the booksellers, buy a few souvenirs, and an old cookbook. Now I’m climbing the red carpet stairs to lunch chez Guy Savoy, in the 18th century marvel that houses the Musée de la Monnaie (the former mint). I’m seated by the window overlooking the River Seine, the contemporary art work is eyewatering, some on loan from François Pinault’s private collection. I order artichoke soup served with warm brioche and black truffle butter; John Dory a la plancha; in between a few Oysters en gélée. Maybe drink Les Plantiers du Haut-Brion 2001, perfect with everything including cheese, chocolate dessert, petits fours etc. Post lunch a visit to the Museum, then walk back (to the 16th) along the banks of the Seine. It doesn’t get any better.”
— Margaret Kemp is a regular contributor to Bonjour Paris.
“To visit the Opéra Garnier in Paris is to be immersed in a world of refinement. The luxurious frescoes, the opulent interiors decorated in red velvet and gilt, witnesses of the Second Empire opulence, is a unique culture heritage.”
— Sarah Fauvel hails from Rouen, Normandy and has developed communication and writing expertise in different fields over the course of her career.
Walking and Reading
“My favorite thing to do in Paris is just to walk, and then sit in a park or a cafe, and read. Well, so, the first two things none of us can do right now, even those who are in Paris. But we can read! And we can read about Paris…there are SO MANY wonderful books about Paris, here is the link to some of my favorites.”
— Janet Hulstrand is an editor, writer, and author of “Demystifying the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You.”
The Palais Royal Gardens
“Palais Royal is one of my favorite places in Paris. Walking through perfect symmetry of the sculpted trees on the gravel pathway to the fountain in the center, is heaven. I especially love the gardens on the cusp of spring, when the magnolia trees bloom and their pink and white blossoms permeate the green benches, park chairs, and lawns.” (For more photos, see Richard’s blog post here.)
—Richard Nahem is a writer, tour guide, and founder of the Eye Prefer Paris blog.
“When it’s thoughtful or beautiful, street art is an exhibition brought to us free of charge. With Paris museums and galleries shuttered, perhaps now is the time to virtually open our eyes to the free art offered on Paris walls.”
— Hazel Smith is a freelance writer and amateur historian.
The Phono Museum in Montmartre
“Little known and scarcely publicized, one of my favorite places in Paris is the Phono Museum in Montmartre, dedicated to the delights of vintage musical instruments. Expect to find original vintage records from decades past with yellowing illustrations on the cover, including Disney’s Snow White, antique phonographs and horns, a stereo that once belonged to famous French entertainer Maurice Chevalier, and even a statue of the iconic HMV dog, gramophone alongside it. Plus stashed away in the corner is a fully operational retro jukebox. Well worth a visit when the city is back in business, and especially enticing when combined with a trip to the nearby La Galette du Moulin – a delicious restaurant with a once working windmill atop its roof.”
— Chloe Govan is a frequent contributor to Bonjour Paris and France Today.
A Marvelous Melange
“A stroll through the Jardin du Palais Royal in early spring, when magnolias and tulips are in full bloom. A quiet moment inside Saint-Sulpice. Afternoon tea at Salon Proust. Taking in the Paris panorama from the top of the Panthéon. The most delicious pain aux raisins from Sébastien Dégardin in the 5th. Nuit Blanche.”
— Renata Haidle is a Billings, Montana-based travel, architecture, and fine art photographer.
“Why, oh why do I love Paris? Because the fantastical is always nearby, that’s why. They claim a determined walker could stride clear across the city in under two hours, though in reality no one could really walk like that. There’s far too much to see, too many temptations beckoning every passer-by to linger. Inevitably, I find myself focusing not so much on the place I’m heading as on the journey—on the experience of the walk itself.
Take the Arc de Triomphe. Like a sympathetic angel in a Wim Wenders film, my favorite monument gazes down on the city from atop the hill of Chaillot. Smack in the middle of Place Charles de Gaulle—the Etoile, the radiating star of busy streets—it’s the key piece of L’Axe historique, the light-beam-straight arrow of monuments and landmarks that starts at the Sun King’s equestrian statue in the courtyard of the Louvre and points all the way to La Defense, way off in the outskirts of Paris.
Setting the scene
It had rained all day. It was also incredibly cold and windy, as my damp and tangled tresses would testify.
But then, just before I entered the Métro station near the Arc, the sun popped out. The drab grey stone of the great arch suddenly looked every bit as glorious as Napoleon surely intended. What to do? My red chapped hands were already numb from battling the wild gales with my broken umbrella. Somehow, though, this sunset chaser dug deep and found just enough magic mojo in reserve to let her keep moving and snapping. In fact, while the gorgeous light lasted I photographed it from each and every corner around the entire Place Charles de Gaulle.
I just kept moving. Just as I will keep moving now, even if my current mini-stroll is along the well-worn path between my writing desk and refrigerator. #Timeforpushups
Yep, that’s what I’m doing. Staying home and trying to stay safe, too. But at least I’m self-isolating in comfort.
Hang in there.”
— Theadora Brack is a Paris-based writer who has a regular column, called “My Life in Paris,” in France Today magazine.
Love Paris as much as we do? Get some more Paris inspiration by following our Instagram page.
Lead photo credit : Palais Royal gardens. Photo: Richard Nahem