March 21, 2014
The glass pyramids of the Louvre, the manicured grounds of the Tuileries Garden, and of course, the remarkable iron puzzle that is the Eiffel Tower. When planning a trip to Paris, worldly known sights like these intoxicate you with euphoric expectations. But when you step off the plane, you find that they are simply window dressings framing an elaborate web of breathtaking details.
While a view of the Eiffel Tower guarantees excitement (and there are many), Paris is a city you must tour leisurely. The true beauty of Paris is in its details.
Whether you’re snacking on a world-class éclair, window-shopping on Boulevard Saint Germain, or merely sauntering about, there are countless opportunities to find little nuggets of beauty.
Romance is omnipresent. To many, the idea that every day is Valentine’s Day in Paris is a gross stereotype intended to lure travelers who have never walked the cobble stone streets. But I’m sorry; everything you’ve heard is true.There is just something about Paris that is indescribably heart-warming. The simplicity is enchanting. It’s the man crossing the street with fresh baguettes in hand, the pleasant “Bonjour” you hear upon entry to any (and every) shop, the young (and not-so-young) couples entwined on park benches…
Art is a pillar of the city’s culture. It’s as magnificent as the Mona Lisa, or as simple as writing on the wall. But in most cases street art here is actually quite lovely, even appreciated. It adds character, and even bolsters the city’s irreverently romantic credibility.
One thinks of a city’s subway system as simply a way to get around, a place where you’d like to spend the least amount of time possible. But the Paris Metro is critically important to the overall character of the city. Each station is different, many trains are dated, and the general experience is quite charming. Will you come across the occasional stench and dirt; of course, it’s a bustling urban metropolis after all. But if you can muster up the ability to look (and smell) past it, you’ll discover magic in these tunnels.
If you’re having trouble drinking the Kool Aid, it’s time to take a seat at any one of its hundreds (if not thousands) of cafés. Have a madeleine, sip some coffee, and take a deep breath. You’re in PARIS. Yes, it’s like that. It’s relaxing and invigorating, and the feeling is overwhelming.
One of the most delightful things about exploring Paris is that you never know what you’re going to find around the next bend, but it doesn’t matter because you know it will be charming. It’s hard not to photograph every street you pass.
Attention to detail is a staple of Parisian culture. I have left footprints throughout Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the United States, but I have never seen a collective population more concerned with their appearance. It’s refreshing to walk down a street, ride a subway, even grab a coffee first thing in the morning, and be surrounded by people who have clearly given some thought to how they look. Even the dogs have fashion sense.
Beauty abounds, and Paris really does live up to the hype you’ve been fed all your life. It’s just as romantic, as delicious, as photogenic — truly everything you dreamed it would be.
- Go on a guided walking tour around Paris to discover more of the city with Context Travel.
- Want to improve your own photography? Look into Localers’ private photo classes while in Paris.
- Or hop on a bike and see the French capital from a bicycle! Paris Fat Tire Bike Tours offers tours both during the day and evening.
Written by Mike Kandel
Mike Kandel is a professional freelance photographer who specializes in travel, music, and documentary photography. His work has been published by local, national, and international media, magazines and blogs, and has been viewed by a global audience. To see more of Mike’s work, visit his portfolio (www.makandel.com), blog (http://blog.makandel.com), and connect with him on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/MAKPhotographyGroup).
Website: Mak Photography
Tags: eiffel tower paris, France, Metro, Mike Kandel, paris, Paris Bike Tours, Paris guided tours, paris street art, Paris walking tours, Parisian Street Art, photography, photos, Street Art
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