- (c) Jorge Albarracin
I love planning. And lately, I’ve needed motivation to get out of my apartment, so I’ve compiled some themed Paris walking tours. Though I’ve done most everything included, it never hurts to revisit Paris’ beautiful sites. And by sharing them, hopefully others can enjoy them as well! They’re all a little different, and I’ll continue to add more ideas as I learn more about this beautiful city.
So without further delay…
Petite Paris Tours (I totally just made that up) by Marian Daniells:
Saints and Sinners:
Start at the Abbesses (M 12) stop. As you come out of the metro, you’ll see a small gated park. Inside is Le Mur Des Je T’Aime (the “I Love You” wall), with the phrase written in more than 300 languages. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch wedding parties posing in front of the wall, post-ceremony.When you leave the park, ditch the hike up the torturous steps, and instead take the scenic route up to the Sacre Coeur Basilica. Keep a watch out for the blue door on your right, where Van Gogh lived for two years. Also on the way, pick up some cheap (12 for 2E) postcards. You’ll come up on the left side of the Basilica. Take some time to walk around the church and gape at the gorgeous mosaic ceiling, and then catch the amazing view of Paris from its steps before you head down them. Oftentimes, you can catch a musical performance on the steps, but beware of the bracelet guys (con artists–they’ll mob you. Just keep walking and throw a firm “No!” their way.) Keep moseying your way downhill, and take a right on Boulevard de Clichy. Keep your eye out for the Bistro le Chat Noir, believed to be the first cabaret (you’ll recognize the advertisements). Further down is the Musee de l’Eroticisme, the Museum of Eroticism, seven floors of toys and vintage porn and all sorts of—ahem—goodies (10E, 6E for students). Not recommended for a first date, but the stuff is actually pretty interesting! One block further, you’ll see the garish red windmill of the famous Moulin Rouge.
While Paris is the City of Light above ground, it also boasts some amazing sights under its streets, as well. For a teaser, check out this NPR video on some locals that explore the inner and ancient workings of Paris. As for things that are legal and accessible… Start at the Denfert-Rochereau (M 4, 6; RER B) stop and make your way to the entrance to the Paris catacombs (8E, 4E for under 27). At the end of the 18th century, the cemetery of the Innocent was causing infection for residents, so the state ordered the excavation and relocation of more than 6 million human remains. Note: the catacombs take you 2 km to a different location, so don’t leave anything behind. Also, there are no bathrooms, and bring a coat because it gets chilly down there. From the exit, take the subway to the 7eme (there are several options) near Pt. de l’Alma. The metro itself is the most popular tourist “attraction,” if you will, in Paris. There are four abandoned “ghost stations” in the Paris metro system. For guided tours, check out this (difficult to navigate) site. Or this blog post. On the left bank of Pt. de l’Alma, pick up tickets (4,30E, 3,50E for students) for the Paris Sewer Tour at the little blue kiosk , and then descend the stars into the sewer system. You’ll learn about Paris’ (super interesting) sanitation and sewer history. Turns out, Victor Hugo actually knew the head honcho of the Paris sewer system, so all of the information in Les Miserables is accurate—there’s even a painting in the “museum” of Jean Valjean carrying Marius. For the partying crowd, end the night at Le Showcase, a hoity-toity club located under the Pt. Alexander III bridge in an old boat hanger. Tres chic!
More to come…