Pretty Paris

It was time for a rendezvous with one of the fashion capitals of the world: Paris. As you know, this capital city of France has inspired and attracted many a connoisseur from different walks of life.

EntrancetotheLouvreMuseum       Mona Lisa

A visit to the Musee du Louvre or the Louvre Museum housed within the Louvre Palace was a natural choice for us. You see it also happens to be ranked number one among the highest visited art museums in the world. We’d purchased a guidebook to the museum and it definitely added value to our visit. Btw, guess which painting in the museum was a crowd-puller? It was Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa! Well, you tend to look for it with a lot of eagerness, only to be greeted by a huge motley crew surrounding a dainty, little portrait!

Notre Dame Cathedral

We admired the Notre Dame de Paris or the Notre Dame Cathedral built in the French Gothic architectural style. We could see a group of little school-going children with a teacher explaining to them the significance of the Cathedral. An effective pedagogy indeed!

We decided to visit the Pantheon as well. It was here that Marie Curie, Victor Hugo, Louis Braille, Voltaire, etc were buried. It was a serene place with commemorative plaques of many such brilliant French minds being displayed around the burial areas. (It was different from the Pantheon we had seen in Rome.)

Sacré-Coeur Basilica   BurialplaceofLouisBraille

We walked uphill and went to the Sacré-Coeur Basilica or the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. It was atop the highest point in Paris and it offered a panoramic view of the city. We also came across local artists playing some soothing music for the passers-by. Caricaturists, painters, craftsmen, et al were seen doing their jobs gleefully. We tried the funicular to go downhill after the Basilica visit. We shopped for some souvenirs here as also near the Notre Dame de Paris. We realized there was no dearth of sleek souvenir varieties in Paris. The most popular ones were of course miniature towers in varied sizes and forms.

Arc de Triomphe       Galeries Lafayette

The Arc de Triomphe  was another monument of historical importance. The martyrs of the French revolution and Napoleonic wars were honoured there. As we strolled ahead, we hit one of the main hep shopping streets of Paris. We entered Galeries Lafayette in Boulevard Haussmann. It was a shopping mall that looked extremely elegant. We bought a wristwatch to gift our dear one.

As we returned to our hotel, we saw a pamphlet about Paris Walks. I decided to try it.  Excitedly I went to the meeting point of the walk the next day by changing metros. It felt good doing it independently. This was a 12-euro, guided walk for two hours on a scenic route called The Village of Montmartre.

Eiffel Tower-by dayEiffel Tower-by nightViewfromEiffelTower-1

Ah, the high point of the trip arrived. A dream came true for me when we visited the 320-metre tall Eiffel Tower! We went up to the summit using the pre-paid lift service. It offered a breathtaking view of the entire city. Wow, it felt on top of the world, quite literally!

Later we walked by the banks of river Seine, which happens to be one of the UNESCO heritage sites in Europe. We also went to the Jardin du Luxembourg or Luxembourg Gardens to enjoy some quiet time in the midst of nature. Btw, there was a Saravanaa Bhavan and a Le Grenier de Notre-Dame in the city that quite satisfactorily catered to our vegetarian tastes.

ViewfromEiffelTower-2
Well, I was lucky to have travelled with someone who had been to Paris several times. With innumerable sightseeing options available, you would never feel bored of this vibrant city. Paris welcomed me twice in less than one year. I’m wondering when I would go there next! 🙂

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Nice la Belle

It seemed to be hip, hep and happening there. The place was buzzing with excitement and was mostly filled with lads and lasses – students and tourists alike!

Mediterranean sea

Possessing one of the best promenades in the world, this place was simply Nice. Well, the place itself is called Nice, aka Nice la Belle in French! It is the second biggest and the wealthiest city in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of France. It enjoys good Mediterranean weather – no extreme temperatures as such to bother you!

There is always an exodus to Nice, apparently next only to Paris! So, you know what to expect from this French riviera!

Flower market, NiceWe spent a couple of days in Nice on our way to Marseilles. We went around exploring the city mostly on foot and some areas by tram. Nice did have some pretty lanes that hosted a number of touristy shops and eateries in the old town (Vieux Nice). The market selling flowers, fruits, vegetables, spices, soaps, etc in the cours Saleya area was in itself a major attraction thanks to the neat stalls. We had cappuccino and croissant in this area by paying absurd prices!

Herbs of the ProvenceHandmade soaps!

Handmade soaps and herbs – in a variety of flavours – are quite popular in this region. They could serve as souvenirs.

Socca is a popular local dish made out of chickpea (besan) flour and olive oil. We so much wanted to taste it, but we realized we had to be in long queues for this! We were short of time and hungry too, we quickly had a burger each and French fries. They just about managed to satiate our hunger! On another occasion, we tried onion rings and they didn’t disappoint us!

We noticed that Nice was indeed pedestrian friendly. After having experienced severe winter in our present home turf, walking under the mild rays of the sun was an absolute delight. The scenery around was bewitching to boot!

Promenade

The promenade (known as Promenade des Anglais or Promenade of the English) along the Baie des Anges (Bay of the Angels), a bay of the Mediterranean sea, was surely a beauty. Cyclists, pedestrians, joggers and skaters alike adorned the area. Wow – a couple of them skated rhythmically! What an elegant way to keep fit, I thought to myself!

Ah, of course, the sea was a cynosure of all eyes what with its resplendent blue colour in all its shades that could numb you for a while!

We stayed at a nice hotel in Nice. We were invited by one of our friends over dinner at his home. He cooked some delicious vegetarian food for us! Could we have gotten luckier than this?! 🙂