I talk a lot about how Paris is my favorite city. I’m not sure why, considering that 1) the longest amount of time I spent there on my three visits was only four nights and 2) I don’t even speak intermediate French, and yet it’s a city that I am completely and utterly enthralled with. Many people go to Paris with such high expectations that they leave feeling disappointed-that it just wasn’t what they thought it would be (I know I definitely felt this way with Rome). Me? I’m realistic where Paris is concerned. Sure, Woody Allen in the film Midnight in Paris made the City of Light look amazing but I know the truth, the things that are never shown in Hollywood-the graffiti laden walls, the decrepit buildings, the over-packed Metro cars that often smell and make you paranoid about thieves, the “entrepreneurs” who won’t stop harassing at you at popular tourist spots. Still, even with all of that, I still love it. It’s a city I would love to spend a month in (or more) if I ever had the chance. So I thought I would round up a list of the five things I have yet to do or experience in Paris.
1) Be a Parisian foodie.
While I’ve enjoyed ice cream from the famous Berthillion and feasted on incredible pastries from tempting patissieries, I’ve never bought cheese at a fromagerie, baguettes at a boulangerie and snacked on them by the Seine. And even more of a big deal is that on all my visits there I’ve never dined at Parisian restaurants that left me with a wonderful impression. And I’m not talking about 4 star Michelin ones-I just mean honest to goodness bistros that Julia Child herself would have approved. All my visits were short and I was always more concerned with packing in as much sightseeing as I could. But on my next trip there, I definitely want food to play a prominent role (and naturally that’s where spending a month would come in most handy).
2) Visit the Picasso Museum
I’m a huge Picasso fan. He’s probably the only Modern Art painter that I actually like (with the exception of a few Dali pieces). His “normal” works are of course stunning but so are his modern pieces, the ones that you look at and say “what?” and yet still absolutely love. On my second visit to Paris I was beyond disappointed to discover that the Picasso museum was closed for renovations. Then four years later on my last visit there, I was with D and with it being his first time in Paris, we did more of the “mainstream sights” (he’s also not the biggest art fan to begin with). But beyond the number of incredible works it has, it’s also housed in what looks to be an utterly stunning building from an architectural standpoint (the Hotel Sale).
3) Experience Jewish Paris
Thanks to the book Sarah’s Key and the movie La Rafle I became immensely interested in the Holocaust in France, specifically Paris. People always equate the Holocaust and its brutality with Germany and Eastern European countries and yet almost 90,000 French Jews were murdered during World War II. I’ve been to the Deportation Memorial as well as the Shoa Memorial but I would very much like to see where the Vel d’Hiv once stood (this is where the Parisian Jews were kept after being rounded up in 1942) and also the monument that commemorates its victims. I’d also like to spend time just wandering in the Marais, the former Jewish neighborhood.
4) Make the trek out to Pere Lachaise
My last time in Paris I had every intention of visiting Pere Lachaise. But by the time our final day arrived, I was feeling somewhat under the weather, especially since we had been on the go constantly for the last week. It’s not as far as making a day trip to Giverny but it’s also not as quick as a metro ride from the Louvre to the Opera Garnier. I love visiting cemeteries, famous or obscure ones, so while I’m sure I would love to see some of the graves of its most famous residents, I’d also love just wandering among the unknown ones as well.
5) Go in search of Hemingway
He was by all accounts a terrible father and an even more terrible husband, but writing-wise, Hemingway was incredible. I did have a meal at Les Deux Magots, one of Papa’s Left Bank haunts, but the food and service were less than memorable. However, I’d also like to try out La Closerie des Lilas and also pay my respects at the small apartment where Hemingway and his first wife Hadley lived after first coming to the City of Light-74 Rue du Cardinal Lemoine.
Have you been to Paris? Did you enjoy it? Is there something you missed seeing and or doing while there?