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Travelogue: The Non Traditional Paris

Posted on October 11th, 2004 filed in Travelogues    |   

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Ask anyone about Paris and they immediately refer to the Champs Elysees and the Eiffel Tower. These are undoubtedly great to experience for the uninitiated, but Paris has far more to offer than that as evidenced by my last trip there (I have just returned from a 5 day visit).

1) Bicycling: There are lots of opportunities for picturesque cycling in Paris, Champs Elysees, Boix de Boulogne, and the Seine river branches being some of many examples. There are dedicated and extremely picturesque cycling lanes there, for example the one stretching from Jardins De Tuileries till Arc de Triomphe.

2) Rollerblading: Rollerblading has picked up big time in Paris since my last visit few years earlier. You see rollerbladers everywhere and rollerblading is now a common method of transport. The cycling locations described above also double as rollerblading ones.

3) Les Invalides: This is where Napoleon is burried and his casquet is a must see mostly to appreciate the arabic writings there! Who would have imagined?

4) Les Catacombes de Paris: These are centuries-old underground mass burial sites that now are open to tourists. Your adventure starts by heading through a path between two walls made of actual human skulls! I met there a teenager who was bragging about how all this touristy crap (as he puts it) pales compared to the ‘Real Thing’. Apparently, he and his friends, spend hours exploring the actual “Catacombes’ through some hidden passages known to insiders only. The exploration would include a rite of passage through the sewers , ‘as that’s the only way to get there’. Ummmm….Thanks but no thanks. The touristy crap will have to do for now :)

5) Parks: Boix de Boulogne is a gorgeous park at a vicinity of Paris worth enjoying. You can hike, bike, rollerblade and simply enjoy the outdoors. It also boasts a central lake housing a restaurant at its middle. You take a small boat to get there. Overall a very pleasant and relaxing day.

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3 Responses to “Travelogue: The Non Traditional Paris”

  1. Anetta Says:

    I went to Paris on my honeymoon….Beautiful Paris and my husband had read about the “Catacombes de Paris’. Although I had been to Paris a couple of times before I had never heard of it…so I was reluctant yet curious….What is that, how and how come I had never heard about it?

    So we went, bought the tickets and started going down the staircase to a few storys underground only to discover a city of hallways and alleys with skulls and bones stacked floor to ceiling!!!! Surprisingly, there was no stench, no insects, no rodents, nothing creepy or dirty except of course the remains of hundreds and hundreds of people who have died hundreds of years ago….It is surreal. I got a sense of peace, and there are many proverbs and short poems by famous French Poets engraved on Stones every once in a while, it adds to the Nostalgia, at lack of a better word to express the general feeling you get there….

    It definitely is not a common thing to do, and to realize that as you are walking the busy, streets of Paris full of colors and life you are actually on top of a 100 year old graveyard makes one wonder of all the things that we are not aware of in our daily life….

    So I recommend it, it may not be the most romantic activity for a honeymoon, but it was definitely the most out of the ordinary one!

  2. Julien Says:

    So Napoleon is buried in Les Invalides. I live in Italy and we often go on vacation to Paris…. I love to visit any site with historical meaning, and Napoleon burial site will be on top of my list…I can’t believe I haven’t seen it yet actually!!! Napoleon the Great, he died in exile only to be reburied in his beloved Paris. You say there are Arabic writing on his tomb? Why and what is written? I will check it out and give you my impression…till then

  3. Sara Says:

    Ah Paris! Paris! La plus belle ville au monde! It is true that the parks in Paris are beautiful…It is the patches of green that make a livable and enjoyable for children and active people…I loved the typical numerous parks that I passed by in Paris filled with children playing and people reading…Particularly like the Jardin de Luxembourg… There was a very interesting fountain with half a head floating, it felt like a Salvador Dali painting to me…I loved it…..Dindn’t have the chance to go to Bois de boulogne, it sure is on my to do list next time I am in Paris….

    However, things like shopping, eating croissants, devouring sinfully delicious ├ęclairs and mille-feuilles as well as other French pastries, walking on the champs Elysees, taking pictures next to the Eiffel Tower are not to be underestimated, they are a real pleasure despite how many times you visit Paris

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