Hello! Welcome to Pichets in Paris Publishing. Here you will find travel stories and photos, the occasional Book Review and fictional piece based in Paris or France. ALL IMAGES ARE BY L'AUSSIE IMAGES (owned by Denise Covey). Contact me for permission to copy my images.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Walking in Paris - a feast for the senses

Where else would you see a metro station with a crown on top? And created by university students too. At Palais Royale. Only in Paris.

Impossible to do if you're on a 3-day junket, but if you're fortunate enough to have a week or more in Paris, take to the streets, using a combination of feet, metro and buses. This is what I like to do.

During my last visit to Paris, I allowed myself a total of 5 weeks to explore as much as I could. I'd always read that Paris was best experienced on foot, and this is so true. Just to wander from neighbourhood to neighbourhood is a feast. Watching Parisians go about their life can be a spectacle in itself. 

I'd heard so much about the Marais, been through it, but never actually wandered there, but it is perfect for the walking tour. With its vintage shops, fellafel stores, cute cafes and bars, this old Jewish quarter attracts people from all walks of life. If you go on Saturday there is a wonderful food market where a lot of locals seem to go for lunch - and why wouldn't they? The produce is amazing. After a look through the market, I found myself a lovely cafe in the square and people watched.

Chocolate anyone?

Parisians certainly have a great passion for food. It's obvious in nearly every window you pass on your walks. The artfully-displayed chocolates, pastries, flowers, frogs legs - it's all there, a feast for the eyes. Even if you never have anything but the Plat du Jour, you will eat heartily and well.

Plat du Jour never looked so good!

One of the delights of Paris to me was that after a long day walking, being overwhelmed by the beautiful sites, sounds and aromas, is to return to my apartment. You don't have to eat our every night, even in Paris! 

On the way back 'home' I might grab a sidewalk crepe of bananas and chocolate to snack on while I shop for ingredients for my own version of a Paris feast. A few bunches of grapes, a slab of duck pate, some rilettes, maybe rabbit and prune, and a fresh hunk of fabulous runny cheese to go with the bottle of Sancerre chilling in the mini bar. Some slices of charcouterie (cold meats) to go on the freshly-baked baguette where I'm met with 'Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!' and I'm set for my French diner in the little apartment, sadly not overlooking the Seine, but pretty cute all the same!

Just as well my preferred mode of transport is walking!

All photos by Geo Covey

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Little Piece of Paris

When in Paris your first stop should be to pick up Pariscope before heading off on a discovery tour of this wonderful city. Grab a copy in any newsagency in Paris (out each Wednesday and only costs a couple of euros) and head to one of Paris' beautiful gardens, perhaps the Jardin Du Luxembourg, to read it. Pariscope is a weekly magazine which keeps Parisians and tourists up to date with what's happening in the city. There are 200 pages of events, so as you can see, a lot happens in Paris in one week!

Before my first trip to Paris, I made a scrapbook, with cut outs from various articles I'd seen about must-see places and eateries. I'd also scanned pages from my Paris reads so I could walk in the footsteps of Paris travellers. I know I'm a try hard, but it allowed me to maximise my time. I was so greedy to see everything at once, ha ha.

The magnificent Louvre - wowzers!!!!!!!!

As soon as I arrived in Paris (luckily on the first Sunday of the month) I headed to the Louvre as it is free on this one day of the month. I find Paris museums quite generous in their entry fees as compared to say, London, but free is even better. It's also free for under 18s every day which is tremendous. And the best way to enter is underground - from the Metro station Musee de Louvre. Nowhere near the queues that form out near the Pyramid and you don't get damp if it drizzles. Plus there's some lovely shops there too! 

I soon realised that it'd take a year to get around all the exhibits, or maybe a lifetime! On this first visit I became acquainted with the museum’s three great ladies — the Venus de Milo, the Victory of Samothrace, and the Mona Lisa (of course!) and other major works I'd been dreaming about. When I first saw the Mona Lisa she was quite unprotected and the photos are fabulous. Today she is behind glary glass, so it really isn't worth snapping away which was probably the idea! I still remember the joy I felt seeing actual originals of Monet, Boticelli et al. Wow! And the size of some of these paintings!

The most tantalising view from the Louvre (which is a drop-dead gorgeous 1204 fortress cum palace cum public museum) was the Eiffel Tower which kept popping up through the windows of the Louvre. It finally got too seductive, so I decided to leave the Louvre in the early afternoon as I'd had all the museum culture I could handle for one day. I headed off on foot to see the Eiffel Tower. See you later, Louvre...

If anyone has done this promonade, through the glorious Tuileries gardens, the largest and oldest public park in Paris, you'll understand that it takes quite awhile. Normally I wouldn't have worried, except I'd decided I'd like to see the sunset from the Eiffel Tower (see previous post). Nah, didn't make it! Therefore I did not enjoy the walk as much as I would now.

There's no better way to see Paris than by strolling (read The Flaneur, by Edmund White) and I've certainly worn out a lot of shoe leather doing just that. The Metro is pretty good too. After the initial awkwardness of buying your Carte Orange (unlimited Metro trips for a week), it's so great to live your Paris life with the Metro Map in hand and fly from one spot to the other. But the Metro is another story...maybe next post.