One of my favorite movie quotes comes from Woody Allen’s ode to the French capital:
That Paris exists and anyone could choose to live anywhere else in the world will always be a mystery to me.
Which is a bit ironic, because as much as we love Paris, we happen to live elsewhere. In fact, having had come to Paris with frequency in the years preceding and during our London residency, we then managed to go nearly a decade without returning to the City of Light.
That shameful happenstance had to be rectified as part of our Dordogne sojourn, so we tacked a few nights in Paris to the tail end of the trip.
Having had been away for such a long time, I could not avoid refreshing my collection of photographic shots of some of the Parisian icons. Such as the Arc de Triomphe on the circular expanse of Place Charles-de-Gaulle.
Or Notre-Dame de Paris, here seen from “the back”, Square Jean XXIII.
Or the ensemble of Île de la Cité as seen from Pont d’Arcole.
Or the elaborate façade of Hôtel de Ville.
Or the busy Jardin des Tuileries, with the backdrop of the Louvre and Arc du Carrousel.
Or the Louvre itself.
Or the two spans of Pont Neuf over Seine, as seen from Pont des Arts.
Or the incomparable Place des Vosges.
Or Cathédrale Saint-Louis, the resting place of Napoléon.
Or that equally admired and despised calling card of Paris – Tour Eiffel.
Or just a random confluence of monuments, rooftops, street lamps, and church towers, such as this perspective from underneath Pont Neuf.
Eiffel Tower in the daylight, seen from across the enormous Place de la Concorde.
And again, this time dwarfed by the statues on Terrasse du Jeu de Paume.
Place de la Concorde, with its headline feature – the Luxor Obelisk.
The straight axis formed by Avenue Charles de Gaulle, then Avenue de la Grande-Armée, then the most famous of them all Avenue des Champs-Élysées, and finally the Allée Centrale of the Tuileries Gardens, is over 5 miles in combined length. When I am in Paris, I can never refrain from taking long-focal-length perspectives along that span. Here is a look from Place de la Concorde towards Arc de Triomphe – with Grande Arche de la Défense visible in the distance.
A couple of hundred meters into Tuileries, this perspective includes the obelisk, but still reveals the remote Défense arch.
From in front of the Arc du Carrousel you can no longer see all the way to La Défense.
That is basically the perspective enjoyed by the equestrian statue of the Sun King, Louis XIV, which we can include in our view if we stand by the Louvre Pyramid.
Just because I like these so much, from the same spot, a shorter-focal-length perspective.
Switching gears to something less emblematic yet thoroughly heart-warming, here is the “I Love You Wall” at the edge of Monmartre.
The wall was created in the year 2000, and features the same simple indication of affection in nearly 300 of the world’s languages, a few of which I can directly recognize.
Finding your language on the wall is obviously what most visitors do here. Those who do not speak French probably do not pay much attention to the more recent addition to the wall which offers this pithy subtitle: “Love is messy… so let’s love!”
I know a number of people who profess that they are not fans of Paris because of its rather uniform architecture. While it is largely true that the city renovation undertaken by Baron Haussmann in the 19th century resulted in fairly homogeneous residential architecture, still on many street corners buildings exhibit individual details and attractive – or simply colorful – features.
Or just look at Parisian churches, many of them commanding wide squares. This is Saint-François-Xavier.
And this is Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis.
If you stroll around the historic area of Le Marais, you will see many of the hôtels particulier, the grand townhouses of the noble and the wealthy built in the 17th-18th centuries.
This one is Hôtel de Sens.
Hôtel de Sully.
Hôtel de Soubise, which is part of the National Archives complex.
I remain woefully inept at noticing small details in a big city, so it took a prompt of a tour guide for me to start detecting examples of street art that pop up all over Paris, ranging from small mosaics to accent paintings to unpretentious installations to full-wall murals.
Paris is without a doubt one of the cultural capitals of the world, with its abundance of world-class art and history museums. We have been to most of them – and more than once to some – but Musée Rodin has not featured on our itineraries in the past. We stopped by this time. Sculpture is far below painting in my appreciation of art genres, but you don’t have to be a connoisseur to admire Rodin’s creations.
A statue of a different kind, not at all attributed to Rodin. A centaur with what seems like an arsenal of rifles sticking out the backside.
The maps mark this spot as Anciennes Granges aux Malades de Naples – which roughly translates to Old Naples Infirmary – and there is practically no information online about it that I can find.
Of course, Paris remains the world capital of love locks, be it on Pont des Arts…
… the gardens of Notre-Dame…
… or the walls of the quays of Seine.
The locks are not used to express love to the city, so words should suffice. Paris, je t’aime!
A few of my favorite pictures from past trips can be found in this old feature.