Aaaah Paris, the “city of love”, fashion, and the arts. Its beauty and culture attract thousands of people (including myself), from all over the world every day. As the capital and largest city of northern central France it is the hub of this region. Paris is located in the Ile de France region with the river Seine running through the heart of it, and two forests (the Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes) on either side of it.
Paris itself is relatively easy to navigate as it is divided into 20 areas called ”arrondissements” arranged in the form of a clockwise spiral starting from the centre of the city. Each arrondissement is known for certain tourist attractions, such as the Louvre in the 1st one and Notre Dame Cathedral located in the 4th. Paris has an intricate subway system called the ‘Metro’ which is widely used and lets citizens and visitors travel in ease. The city is also served by two major airports (Charles de Gaule and Orly) which provide tourists with many options for flights
The climate in Paris would be considered mild and wet with temperatures that hardly ever go to extremes, which makes it an ideal location to visit all year round. Paris to this day is still one of the top places for tourists to visit and in 2015 welcomed 20.2 million visitors. If you want to experience French culture, food, and customs then Paris will not disappoint with its abundance of restaurants, shows, and museums.
I was born in Paris and therefore must admit I’m a little biased when it comes to its charm. My last visit was in April of this year when I got the chance to visit family that I had not seen for many years. Having family show you around really is the best way to travel; they know all the secret ways to get in to attractions (did you know that there is an entrance to the Louvre through the metro with no lineups?) I was also able to take my husband who had never been to Europe and was very excited to experience everything. It was great to show off my homeland to my husband as it was his 1st trip to Europe.
We visited the major local attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Notre Dame, but also took in a show at the Moulin Rouge (known for its burlesque dancers) and a cruise down the river Seine while enjoying a delicious meal and of course some wine. The French love their wine and yes, it does get poured freely and often (who needs water!). By the way, an average glass of wine will cost you around 7 euro or $11 CAD. As a huge history buff, my husband’s favourite attraction was Les Invalides: Musee de L’armee which featured exhibits from all the past wars. If you intend to visit though, make sure to schedule for an entire day, it’s massive! The military police were guarding all the major attractions, because of recent terrorist activity; this however made me feel much safer than if none were around.
My favourite part of being in Paris was simply walking around the old city streets such as Ile Saint Louis, and finding some of the little boutiques that offer fashion trends for a little less than on the main boulevard of Les Champs Elysees. Make sure you visit one of the many little coffee shops and partake of a café au lait and croissant, or one of the many patisseries. It might go straight to your hips, but is well worth indulging in
It really is nice in Nice
Next up on our France trip was 4 days in Nice with its stunning views that range from mountain ranges to miles of beaches. Nice is located on the Cote D’Azur on the Mediterranean Sea and includes other famous cities such as Cannes and Saint Tropez. The weather here was much warmer, and my hubby and I even managed to get a bit of a tan (okay, I tanned, he burned!).
Again, luckily for us, we had the perfect tour guides in my cousins, who live on a mountain top which you can access by driving the Corniche roads. This in itself was the experience of a lifetime as I held on for dear life while my very speedy cousin swerved on narrow, winding roads high above the city. We ended up in the charming town of Eze located on the Moyenne Corniche and the scenery and views were well worth the dramatic drive up.
Of course, you can’t go to Nice without taking a walk along the Promenade des Anglais located along the beach that runs for 7 km from the airport. On a warm day the beach will be crowded with locals and tourists alike enjoying the warm water and soaking up the rays. If you plan on spending the day at the beach, be prepared to bring a chair or mat; the beaches in Nice are not sandy but made up of galets or smooth pebbles, which can be hard to lie on.
Make sure to stop at one of the many cafes along La Quai des Americains and try a plate of mild cheeses and cured meats. This place also happens to have the best mojitos! (I know great wine and mojitos, crazy huh?).
The four days went very fast but we did manage to visit La Place Massena, known for its farmers markets selling everything from flowers to souvenirs and of course enjoyed one last glass of wine before our flight home. It was an amazing trip!
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