When Napoleon commissioned the restructuring of Paris in the 2nd half of the 19thC he really brought about a profound change for the everyday lives of Parisians. The winding medieval laneways of old Paris were cut through with long, straight, wide boulevards which allowed for open spaces and parks that made the city not only grand and beautiful but easy to navigate and a delight to explore.

Paris must be one of the most elegant cities in Europe. To walk as far as you can and take in the charming buildings and parks is a traveller’s pleasure. At every corner there is a café to sit, sip a pernod and observe the street life. And what a delight to rest in one of its peaceful parks, like the Place de Vosges or the Luxembourg Gardens.

Just to observe the charming and creative window displays is a joy. I was obsessed with the cakes! Not only are they a hedonist’s delight, but the presentation in the shopfronts of Paris is a visual feast.

And of course, Paris is packed with art. When the Louvre seems to be a daunting prospect with its breadth of content, the smaller, more contained museums are like little jewels to enjoy. The Musee Rodin is an absolute must and was where the sculptor lived and worked. To wander through the house and in the garden, full of his wonderful works, gives insight into his genius.

On the northeastern edge of Paris, in the 19th Arrondissement, is the wonderful Parc de la Villette, an enormous park full of cultural venues, including the museum of science and industry with its gigantic chrome ball floating at the entrance. An unconventional park that defies customary tourism, it is a framework for cultural interaction, and a setting for some controversial architectural design.

Needless to say, on my recent visit I savoured every single minute.

To be inspired, distracted, indulged, educated or simply entertained - give me Paris, any day.

 

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