Paris beyond the lovebirds

Coordinates 48°51′24″N 2°21′03″E

Once famous, you can go to sleep, goes a saying in Spanish. While I don’t know if it’s by design or coincidence, for years Paris has been the destination for a honeymoon or to go with a boyfriend. Am I in the minority for having first visited with a girlfriend and the last two times with a child? You can’t deny it is a romantic city, but I believe that as with any other destination, Paris can be enjoyed even when you are not ecstatically in love with a partner. Furthermore, its most notable landmarks, the Louvre Museum, the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and the Eiffel Tower do not define it as a city exclusively for lovebirds. So get your passport, some Euros and with or without a partner, you will surely have a Bon Voyage

    
 
       
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	mso-fareast-language:JA;}    Going up the Eiffel Tower allows you to appreciate a different view of the City and the admirable vision of its designer, the engineer Gustave Eiffel. Photo by Bruny Nieves

Going up the Eiffel Tower allows you to appreciate a different view of the City and the admirable vision of its designer, the engineer Gustave Eiffel. Photo by Bruny Nieves

The Eiffel Tower, a show in any season 

You can’t leave Paris without climbing it, as it is not only one of the most recognized structures in the world, it epitomizes France!  While they don’t allow access to the top, you reach enough altitude to appreciate the three hundred and sixty degrees panorama.  To reach this totally worth it observation area, from where you can pinpoint key city landmarks, normally you must wait long in line. It is shorter if you choose the escalators that take you to the first two levels; as the elevator option requires a longer wait.  Going up the escalators is a work-out that you can make more enjoyable with rest stops and reading the informative signs you find along the way. So get ready and inhale deeply: we went up with a six-year-old child, so have no fear!

Paris is known as "the city of lights" as it was one of the first in Europe to adopt public lightening.  But I imagine that for contemporary spectators the lighting show that illuminates the Eiffel Tower at nightfall, for five minutes every hour on the hour, helps reinforce this nickname. For a memorable photograph and to really appreciate the twenty thousand lights that illuminate it, you must move away from the Tower.  

    
 
       
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	mso-fareast-language:JA;}    In the summer the areas surrounding the Eiffel Tower become a park where you can rest and enjoy open-air concerts or the traditional picnic of baguette and fromage.  Photo: Bruny Nieves. 

In the summer the areas surrounding the Eiffel Tower become a park where you can rest and enjoy open-air concerts or the traditional picnic of baguette and fromage.  Photo: Bruny Nieves. 

Museums for everyone

The Louvre Museum is a standard recommendation in every guidebook. But, if you are not a classical art enthusiast and seeing the Mona Lisa is not in your bucket list, I recommend you explore other alternatives within reach. You should at least stroll around the Louvre to appreciate the iconic royal palace that houses the Museum. Among my favorites, the Georges Pompidou Center, a contemporary art museum and multidisciplinary cultural center, you start to enjoy before walking into it.  This modern and curious building is surrounded by an extensive plaza, where street performers help entertain visitors.  Its location, in the vibrant and central Beaubourg village, makes a visit to the Center a great opportunity to enjoy the city’s bohemian spirit.

Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, Salvador Dalí, Edith Piaf and Honoré de Balzac, among other important personalities have dedicated museums in this city.  Which is why it is easy to find one about a favorite topic. My last two visits where with my husband and child, thus we searched and found an option that was both relevant and age friendly: the Art Ludique Museum, which was then hosting a Pixar animation exhibition. With a collection dedicated to the graphic world of comics, animated movies, video games, among others, it strives to make visiting a museum fun. 

    
 
       
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	mso-fareast-language:JA;}    La Place du Tertre, best known as the "artists plaza" because of the portrait artists and painters that exhibit there, is steps away from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart that crowns the Montmartre hill. Photo by: Gladys Nieves.  

La Place du Tertre, best known as the "artists plaza" because of the portrait artists and painters that exhibit there, is steps away from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart that crowns the Montmartre hill. Photo by: Gladys Nieves.  

Walk up to the next surprise

In Paris you can encounter an adventure in every corner: you cross a bridge and find a musician with an accordion and a monkey; you walk out of the Notre Dame Cathedral and can spend quite some time trying to identify the different gargoyles adorning its façade; you take a stroll along the Seine river banks and discover kiosks where sellers offer antique books, comics and magazines. 

Paris is best explored on foot, but with public transportation you can make some shortcuts. The Batobus in the Seine River offers strategic stops in key landmarks and villages.  And the Metro takes you to places such as the Abbesses station in the Montmartre quarter, home to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and a famous artists plaza where you find Eiffel Tower representations in multiple formats.  

If travelling with children and time, in the outskirts of the city you find two entertainment parks: Disneyland and Astérix. Park Astérix is inspired by a famous French comic series that follows the adventures of the habitants of the Gaul town, who lead by Astérix, resist the Roman occupation.  Both are accessible with the RER train system and offer on site lodging options.

    
 
       
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	mso-fareast-language:JA;}    The complex offers two parks, Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios, and iconic attractions such as It’s a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean and Rock’n’Roller Coaster. Photo: Bruny NIeves

The complex offers two parks, Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios, and iconic attractions such as It’s a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean and Rock’n’Roller Coaster. Photo: Bruny NIeves

It is hard to summarize how much you can enjoy a destination as interesting and diverse as Paris; that is why it can be the city of love and an entertaining family holiday.  Hopefully my synopsis will help you see this city through a different glass.  Besides, there is no reason why you can’t enjoy some romantic evenings while on a family holiday; after all this walking, the kids will surely fall asleep in the restaurant.   Bon appétit and Santé.