Q: What Would You Do If You Had Only One Afternoon In Paris?

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Paris, ancient as it is, has endured a great plenty of violence, war and revolution. But given the relative peace of recent decades, bloody scenes from the Charlie Hebdo shooting have been shocking indeed. Once again we are reminded that even in one of mankind’s most civilized places, primitive horror can still strike. However, all that was far from my mind on a glorious day last autumn when at the tail end of a European holiday I was privileged to spend a few hours in Paris. I’d been to Paris before and taken in the obligatory sites, so with no agenda, I set out to explore once again a city which never disappoints. Paris really is as gorgeous as the postcards portray. My day ended perfectly too, with a dinner at the atmospheric Left Bank home of my friends, Annette and Robert. So, here are some photos from one afternoon spent wondering the streets of Paris…

___________ P1090901 Photos: Although millions of tourists traipse through the Cathedral of Notre Dame every year, most seem to miss the lovely park just behind the Cathedral, seen here in two views. There are many more of my photos after the jump.

P1090911 Relaxing on the Ile St. Louis looking towards the Right Bank. P1090908 Berthillon is famous in Paris for making fabulous ice creams and sorbets, sold here in a small shop on the Ile St.Louis. I can confirm that their raspberry and pear sorbets, while not cheap, were worth every centime. P1090878 Bagels seem to be all the rage in Paris. I didn’t have time to taste these, but they sure do look nosh worthy. P1090881 (1) Largest park in central Paris is the legendary Jardin du Luxembourg. P1090883Concert in a bandshell, Jardin du Luxembourg. P1090885 I remember studying the Medici Fountain (above) in art history class, another of the  must-see sites in the Jardin du Luxembourg. P1090866 One of the dozens of small squares which make the crowded city so livable.  This one appeared briefly in the first of the Bourne movies. P1090921Paris is loaded with specialty food shops. This elegant Italian food store and take-out  caught my eye. P1090891Display of new-age books outside a shop: I was  especially intrigued by the one at the center with the cat on the cover. The title reads: What Is Your Cat Thinking? P1090892 Street cafe in one of the oldest areas of the Left Bank, just in from the River Seine P1090894 Display outside a bistro which specializes in seafood. P1090898 Last August marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Paris from Nazi occupation during World War II.  I just missed a photography exhibition celebrating that event (above is a poster promoting the exhibition). P1090915 The Rue de Rosiers is now a smart shopping street in the Marais district on the Right Bank. In former times it was a center of the Jewish community. P1090916 This plaque commemorates the terrorist bombing of Goldenberg’s Restaurant on August 9th, 1982, in which six people were killed, also on the Rue des Rosiers. P1090914 Jewish heritage continues on the Rue des Rosiers with several Isreali-style falafel shops. On a previous stay in Paris, I enjoyed patronizing these places for a cheap, quick and healthy lunch. P1090875 (1)This one is for my mother who loves to collect dolls: a doll shop which was closed when I strolled past. P1090900Typical Paris street scene. P1090870The art of French pastry is still very much alive. Paris can be dangerous if you love that sort of thing!

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Alas, farewell. My last stop on French soil, Gate M48 at Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport, one of the world’s busiest. This airport is huge, with three terminals.  Before departing for the airport, I suggest knowing not only which terminal you need, but what section of which terminal. Sometimes the smaller, and closer-in Orly Airport (ORY) is the better option.

Please leave a comment. What would you do if you had only one afternoon in Paris?

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8 responses

  1. Thank you, Gary, for this wonderful afternoon in Paris, and on such a sad day for Paris….

    After college, on a backpacking trip to Europe in 1972, I also spent a day in Paris. I spent it with a bottle of French red, a baguette, and some cheese with a friend on a small hill overlooking the Eiffel Tower.

    If I had an afternoon to spend in Paris, I would definitely have coffee and pastry in an outside cafe. And I would visit the Picasso Museum open since 1985 and recently re-opened with a good body of his work. Then I would find that French red, while relaxing in Paris!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/28/arts/design/the-picasso-museum-reopens-in-paris.html?_r=0#

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mus%C3%A9e_Picasso

  2. Paris is always a good idea. My first time in Paris, I spent four weeks there in the winter of 1973, as part of a six-month European sojourn. I used a book called “Europe on $5 and $10 a Day” to find cheap hotels on the Left Bank, for which I paid about $5 a night! It was a cold and damp November, but I loved every minute. I haunted little out-of-the-way cinemas, tried all of the seven or eight macro restaurants, took French classes, wrote in my journal and walked everywhere. I imagined I was living the life I’d seen in the Truffaut and Godard movies I adored. What can I say, I was young, and romantic, and finally in Paris.

  3. I first went to my dear Paris in 1980 as a dancer in the spectacle Les Alcazar de Paris. I lived in the Pigalle district in the Hotel du Canada for 3 months as we rehearsed the show and costumes were made for us to take the show to Las Vegas. It was cold and dank and I didn’t get to see much. I remember the prostitutes lining the streets. Later I visited a friend there and really discovered Paris. My favorites are the Jardin of Luxembourg, Gerard Mulot Patisserie and the Latin quarter. It’s hard to find bad pastry in Paris. For a day I would just walk and listen and look.

  4. Gary, thank you for your beautiful photos. It’s especially lovely to get this reminder of Paris now after the horrors of earlier this week.

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