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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Delightful sights (as seen in Paris).

Because I'd already crossed off seeing many of the major sights in Paris during previous visits, I chose to spend this trip exploring the many arrondissements and seeing places new to me. Sure, I revisited the Louvre and Notre Dame, but did not ascend the Eiffel Tower. Instead, my friend and I went to the top of the Arc de Triomphe at dusk. Quite frankly, I liked it better than the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower—mostly because it's possible to see the Tower from it! Here are a few of the places we loved and would highly recommend:

Rue Cler
There are many street markets in Paris, but Rue Cler is Rick Steves' favorite, so we went to see for ourselves. Stretching for several blocks, Rue Cler is a darling traffic-free area with two fromageries, several fruit and vegetable vendors, a handful of chocolatiers and stores specializing in honey and olive oil. All in all, a great place to grab picnic goodies or gifts to take back home.

Arc de Triomphe
As I already mentioned, the view from the top of the Arc is magical. We were fortunate enough to witness what turned out to be a goosebump moment—the Eiffel Tower as it sparkled after dark. All I could think was: what a perfect place to get engaged!

Jardin du Luxembourg
On our first day in Paris, we visited the Jardin du Luxembourg. The entire population of Paris seemed to be there, and while they aren't allowed to sit on the grass (in most parts of the park), Parisians were lined up neatly in chairs around the grass to admire it. They were sitting under perfectly trimmed trees, playing with little sailboats in the pond, playing chess, and so on. It was all just so perfectly French.

Monet's House & Garden
Giverny, France
Monet's home and inspirational gardens are located in the countryside an hour outside of Paris. While I'm not a huge fan of his paintings, his home was most impressive. The gardens were beautifully planted and unbelievably colorful.

Marché aux puces de Saint-Ouen
Saint-Ouen, France
Wandering the flea markets at Saint-Ouen is like walking through the pages of an Anthropologie or Pottery Barn catalog. Many stalls were thrown together in that perfectly messy way I tend to covet. We saw vintage prints and postcards, antique furniture, books, keys, clothing, architectural elements (think doors and windows), chandeliers, mirrors, knick-knacks and even carousel horses. We barely made a dent in what all the markets had to offer, but managed to leave completely impressed anyway.

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