Why I love Paris: secret gardens, art, architecture and more

Some of my friends have wondered why I return again, and again, to Paris. Haven’t I seen enough already? How many times can you explore one city? Each time I journey to Paris I encounter something new and explore different neighborhoods. This time was no exception.

Dave and I set off in search of a good cappuccino one morning (newsflash, coffee isn’t that great in Paris). He had read about a cafe called ‘Coutume’ and when we found it we both enjoyed a deliciously beautiful and tasty drink (although pricey at 4 euros a piece). While we were walking to the cafe we saw a number of gendarmie (policemen) stationed outside of what looked like a walled garden. It was, and on this particular day they were opening this ‘secret garden’ (frequented and owned by the government) to the public. It was a hoot. I’m not sure why exactly they needed so many policemen to guard all of us gardening explorers; perhaps they thought we’d attack trees and loot the foliage? Our bags were searched upon entering and we were then lead on a guided tour, spoken in French (I think I understood about every 5th word) and off we went. It was beautiful and I’m so glad that we stumbled upon it. Note to self: if you don’t know the language being spoken during a tour, simply smile when the leader does, chuckle when they do, nod and articulate a few hms, and ahhs, and you’ll do just fine.

Flower shops in Paris are some of the most beautifully artistic, creative spots that I know of. Each morning fresh flowers in various arrangements and colors are placed outside the shop on the street and the doors are opened. I just can’t seem to get quite enough of them as I wander the various neighborhoods and snap photos: roses, dahlias, peonies, and many others that I don’t know the names for.

Art: Paris if full of art, and not just in the multiple museums but in the architecture, on the streets, in the shop windows. This trip I met up with a friend who had not visited Napoleon’s Tomb or the Musee Rodin, so off we went. If you visit they are close together (in the same arrondisement) so it is perfectly feasible to stop in at one and  then see the other if you have about 2 hours. Napoleon’s Tomb can be seen from just about anywhere in Paris as the building that it’s housed in has this very tall dome shape gold plated roof. The interior is fascinating. I love Musee Rodin because the garden grounds are part of the museum and many of Rodin’s sculptures are on display in the garden. It’s a lovely quiet spot off of the busy city streets and reminds me of the book, ‘The Secret Garden,’ from when I was younger.

Architecture is everywhere in Paris. The buildings, doors, balconies and windows of the various buildings catch my eye and I wonder ‘Who lives there?’ ‘What are they doing right now?’ ‘What’s the history of this place?’ I’m aware that not everyone wonders these things, but I do, and seemingly more so when I am there.

Montparnasse cemetery. Dave and I were walking through the Montparnasse neighborhood, on our way to lunch, when we decided to wander through this cemetery instead of walking around it. It was beautiful. Very quiet, peaceful and full of tombs, grave sites and monuments to those who have crossed from this space to the next.

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