Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Favorite landmarks, monuments and historic spots

Not to sound like a total cheeseball but, still, nearly every day that I am here, I walk (or Velib) around this city and think, My God, could this be any prettier? It could be something as modest and quotidian as a streetlamp or the sun hitting a limestone façade on the Ile Saint Louis. But the magical thing about Paris is that there is not only great beauty with every turn, but also historic significance. Everywhere, there are landmarks, monuments and historic points. Here are five of my favorites.

Pont Alexandre III: Crossing over from the Right to Left Bank during the day, with Les Invalides and the champs opening before you. Or, walking from the Left to the Right at night, the domes of the Grand Palais glowing and the French flag snapping in the wind. And any time, the massive gold cherubs and horses atop the four posts—it makes me giddy.

Place Vendome: I am not quite sure what it is about this giant square. Yes, it’s pretty and symmetrical with a giant (phallic) column in the center. Yes, there’s the Ritz and Mikimoto and all the other gazillion dollar jewelry stores. But there’s something about the air there. It’s hushed, yet charged. It always makes me smile as if I had a secret to myself.

Stohrer: Lucky me. One of the city’s most historical and delicious patisseries is three blocks from my apartment. It’s not just the sublime chocolate tarts or pain aux raisins or chocolate éclairs, though those are all worth a visit in and of themselves. It’s also the exquisite interior—the murals painted and designed by Paul Baudry—and the fact that, nearly 300 years after it was founded by King Louis XV’s pastry chef, the house still makes all its pastries and cakes in the back kitchen.

Garnier Opera House: Speaking of Paul Baudry, he also designed the foyer of the magnificent opera house. Words cannot even explain the intricate but grand beauty of this place. You must go!

Square des Missions Etrangéres: I have a personal connection to this little square. I’ve eaten many a Pierre Hermé treats here, in the shade of a chestnut tree, on one of those perfect little park benches. I love that it’s in the center of the hoighty-toighty Rue du Bac neighborhood. Yet it feels private and discreet, green and calming. Total magic.


  1. Mandy in ManchesterOctober 13, 2010 at 3:34 AM

    I know and love the first four, but the fifth is new to me - even though I go to the Grand Epicerie every time I am in Paris!! One for the list for next time..... thanks for sharing

  2. This made me smile. Your enthusiasm is contagious, and is giving me warm fuzzies, especially after my "I am sick of Paris" phase/rant. :)

    I agree: when I am in my better moments, I stand in awe of the historic significance of places in Paris in addition to her beauty, too. She is pretty, for sure.

    Thank you for your genuine enthusiasm. It really does help me to come around to the place in my head and heart where I can (okay, sometimes begrudgingly, lol) feel that I love it here, too.

  3. mais oi est les photos!!!
    I must remember to cross over THAT bridge...hmmm

  4. HA! that is a longish way to go to eat PH goodies.
    I have never made it past St. Sulpice with my PH.
    This is why you are thin :(

  5. I agree with everything you mentioned, seeing them in my minds eye, except for your patisserie . I don't know how it is possible, but I missed that one !
    I can just imagine if I lived there.. stumbling around, always crashing into things because I am looking at everything .. soaking it all in.
    I don't think you sound like a total cheeseball at all.

  6. Love love love love love! Fantastic list. Have you had Ice cream from the glacier next to Square des Missions Etrangéres? Delicieux!

  7. *Sourir* - so happy you've come along for the ride. There are way too many amazing landmarks and monuments and neighborhoods and trails in this city. I'm glad you agree that these are some of Paris' best gems and I'm especially glad that at least one of them was a new treat pour toi!