12.30.2013

Nine Ways to Love Paris

Don't miss this obscure monument!
How not to fall in love with Paris: Get a really cheap hostel with ratings as high as 50% on Hostelworld. (Unless, of course, you are looking for a mouse to chew through your baguettes. Then please do go for it.)

How to fall in love with Paris: Stay somewhere that does not involve mice chewing through your baguettes. Head out into the city, grab a beret, and blitzkrieg culturehop through the city!

And fair warning: you will see at least three cheesy crowd-setting marriage proposals as you wander around the city. Try not to let it get you down.

1. Photograph Fontaine St. Michel! 

Is it just me, or is his arm about to go?
This is not only a beautiful area to walk around, the crossroads of the Latin quarter, but also the meeting point for some free walking tours! And when I say free, I mean, you really should tip, or the tour guides are legally permitted to judge you.

The walking tours tend to be very good. But even if you're not into walking or tours, stop by this fountain to check out the really sweet lionbirdfish.

You don't want to meet that in a dark alley.

2. Lock your lover to a bridge!

Locke bridge: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding of Boltcutters.

Er, lock your love, rather. Because if you've got a love you are clinging to desperately, there's no better place to put it than on a bridge over troubled water.

Locking lover-padlocks to bridges is a common hobby in Europe, but the popularity of this particular bridge only boomed post some plot-point in Sex in the City. You can write your names and a date on a lock, and lock it to the bridge, and it will stay there forever, or at least until the six-month cleaning crew comes through with boltcutters and releases all those metallic commitments.


3. Look at the Louvre! 

People in glass pyramids shouldn't throw stones.
Unless you want to get arrested.

Day time, night time, the building is one impressive monument to rich people filling space with expensive things. The museum is a must-see, if only to take pictures of forty people taking pictures of the tiny Mona Lisa, which is behind excessively reflective glass. 
The collection is huge and varied, but if you like art, you will prefer L'Orangerie and d'Orsay.

4. Gaze upon Centre Georges Pompidou!

When you feel Art is a pipe dream....
Merely looking at the exterior of this ultracontemporary beauty will irrevocably alter the way you view the world. The building stands in bold defiance to the traditional "aesthetically pleasing" or "attractive" or even "remotely acceptable" buildings that exist all around it. The Pompidou writhes in dialogue with the cultural normativity of the way we, as a culture, feel compelled to hide every aspect of ourselves. It is a vigorous NO to the established norms judging physical beauty. It does not permit you to park your privilege at the door, but rather encourages you to let your preconceptions flow down one of the many available drains.  It is a building without skin, and without skin, are we not all pipes and rectangles? The elegant simplicity...[etc. etc. no pomo]...


5. Saunter up to Sacre Coeur!

We're domed!
Climb that mountain, up from the dodgy neighbourhoods, and march up to the very posh area that makes up Amelie's stomping grounds. But before you explore Montmartre, take a moment to check out Sacre Coeur, which is pretty cool if you like domes.


6. Mosey by Moulin Rouge!

Can-Pan a Performance?
Sure, it's all lit up and pretty. But once you see the ticket prices, you'll realize that you can have much more fun anywhere else in Paris. Of course, you have to drop by for an obligatory photo so you can realize exactly how strongly the cool factor was exaggerated for the movie.


7. Tour the Arc de Triomphe!

Traffic Circle of Triumph!
First built so Napoleon could feel like everyone in his army was tiny when they rode through, the arch is now a very fine centerpoint to a thriving traffic circle. Head to the Arc around sunset to see some really spectacular sunsets that don't photograph well!


8. Catch the Catacombs.

Seriously? Graffiti? Seriously?
Come to terms with the fact that you are going to have to wait in line for an hour or more to see piles of femurs and a few skulls. You are also going to see a lot of plaques of mortality-meditative French poetry, and you will really wish you could read French poetry.

Pro tip: load up a translation onto your smart phone first, because ain't no one got the time to stand around and translate it for you.

9. But seriously, DO go to Musée d'Orsay and Musée de l'Orangerie if you like art at all.
In France, Impressionism impresses you!
By all means, go to the Louvre. But if you want to enjoy art, go to these two museums. There is a lot of Impressionist stuff. (You may have thought you've seen Impressionism before, in other museums. You are wrong. This is so Impressionist it's the Impressive-ist.) They also have some other art styles. Doesn't matter. It's all going to rock your socks.
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