Wednesday, November 5, 2014

PARIS: THE CITY THAT WILL HAUNT YOU ALL THROUGH YOUR LIFE



VISIT PARIS IN SUMMER

“Paris was a universe whole and entire unto herself, hollowed and fashioned by history; so she seemed in this age of Napoleon III with her towering buildings, her massive cathedrals, her grand boulevards and ancient winding medieval streets--as vast and indestructible as nature itself. All was embraced by her, by her volatile and enchanted populace thronging the galleries, the theaters, the cafes, giving birth over and over to genius and sanctity, philosophy and war, frivolity and the finest art; so it seemed that if all the world outside her were to sink into darkness, what was fine, what was beautiful, what was essential might there still come to its finest flower. Even the majestic trees that graced and sheltered her streets were attuned to her--and the waters of the Seine, contained and beautiful as they wound through her heart; so that the earth on that spot, so shaped by blood and consciousness, had ceased to be the earth and had become Paris.”  Anne Rice

Paris: Paris, the capital and largest city of France, situated on the river Seine at the heart of the Île-de-France region, is the most visited city in the world. Estimates vary between 46-47 million visitors per year, with a 4-5% growth rate. Of these visitors, almost two thirds are from overseas. Paris thrives on the finance generated by the tourists and houses the wealthy and famous jet-setters of the world. In the tourist season, from end April to mid-October, there are more tourists than Parisians, happily spending money in enticing surroundings or ambience. No wonder that the city is considered one of the most expensive in the world to visit on a vacation, or even to live in.
How to Get There:
 Ø  By Air: Paris has two major international airports: Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and Orly.
                                            Charles de Gaulle airport
     Located about 15 miles northeast of central Paris, Charles de Gaulle airport offers quick and reliable ground transportation into Paris. It has three terminals or "aerogares". Orly is smaller than Charles de Gaulle and handles mostly domestic and European flights. Located 10 miles south of Paris, the airport has two terminals. Both airports are very well connected to Paris.
 Ø  By Rail: If you are traveling to Paris from within continental Europe or from the U.K., getting there by train can be a great alternative to flying. For one thing, Europe counts more and more bullet trains (called TGV for 'high-speed train' in France) that can cut rail travel time down by half.

     The Eurostar bullet train connects London St. Pancras station to Paris Gare du Nord in only 2 hours and 15 minutes and is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Paris has six main stations accepting incoming trains from different directions.
 Ø  By Road: Traveling into Paris by road is convenient and easy, especially in a coach. Driving in Paris is not recommended. Parking is difficult and traffic dense. 
 Ø Where to Stay: There are over 1,800 starred hotels in Paris and prices can hurt your wallet. The average tourist must book rooms in 2* hotels a month in advance. The hotels themselves are of superior quality and you will be eating out, anyway. It is best to book a hotel in the outskirts of Paris and travel into the city. This is easily done, by bus or local train.
                                                                       Paris at night
If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.
                                                                                                 Ernest Hemingway

If you are short of time, then the three places you must visit first are the Champs-Elysees, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower taking the Metro in the daytime and having dinner on a cruise down the river Seine. Don’t forget to factor in the cost levels. 
                                              Champs-Élysées
*                            Champs-Élysées is a great tourist attraction and a major shopping street of Paris. You can see class, glamour, money and jeans and Ts with sneakers. It is the best avenue in the world to sit under the sun and savor your beer. At night, a stroll down the Elysees followed by a lasagna, Swiss Brie on pain and a Beaujolais Nouveau to help wash it down is every true tourist’s dream, well worth the extra dollars spent.

"Keep good company - that is, go to the Louvre. Paul Cezanne 
                               The Louvre and the Glass Pyramid at night
*                       The Musée du Louvre, or the Louvre is the most visited museum in the world, a natural consequence of being a famous part of the glossy patina that makes up Paris. One of the world's largest museums, it boasts of the most viewed face in the world, that of Mona Lisa, painted by Leonardo da Vinci. Home to priceless paintings, sculptures and artifacts, its guide-book is 400 pages thick! You need strong legs to go around this museum.  The entrance fee is slightly more than average, at € 10 per head. Opening hours vary. On Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday: from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Wednesday and Friday: from 9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. It is closed on Tuesdays. It has four entries, one from each cardinal direction, each with their own Metro stations. The museum also has four glass pyramids, the largest of which is the main entrance to the Museum. Built in 1989, purists loathe the modern glass structure, stating that it does not blend with the ancient grandeur of the main building. All the same, it has eased entry problems for visitors.
      
                        The tallest building in Paris is the French ‘woman of iron’, The Eiffel Tower. One more record to Paris: It is the most visited monument in the world that you have to pay for. It is Paris and Paris is this tower, in the minds of most people of the world. 324 m (1063 feet) tall, it has 3 levels for visitors. The first two can be accessed by steps or elevator and have well-placed restaurants and curio-shops. Further ascent is by elevator only, and hard cases who go up in winter get to a level above the prevailing fog, with nary a sight to see. 
                                                                   The Eiffel Tower
Paris as a city is one big marketplace. Regardless of where you go, be it the Champs Elysees or Rue de Rivoli or Montmartre or the Sacré-Coeur, there are shops after shops after shops. Paris is a shopper’s paradise. You can get whatever you want and have the luxury of comparing prices with the shop next door. Perfumeries abound in central Paris, offering 50% discounts (because those bottles have reached their shelf life). The Paris Region, with €552.7 billion (US$813.4 billion) in 2008, produces more than a quarter of the gross domestic product of France and more than all of Holland. Paris also hosts international organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), etc. Paris’ per capita income is among the highest in Europe. Recently, the Paris economy has been shifting towards high-value-added service industries (finance, IT services, etc.) and high-tech manufacturing (electronics, optics, aerospace, nanotechnology, etc.).
The most famous Hypermarkets are the Galeries Lafayette, Carrefour, Printemps, Leclerc and Euromarche. Except for the first-named, the others have branches all around the city. All are fully self-contained. In a single visit, you can buy high-end branded apparel and shoes, carpentry tools, household goods, meat, wines and groceries. Galeries Lafayette is the high-end Supermarche, in central Paris, and a splendid place to visit. It is closed on Sundays.
                                                      The Galeries Lafayette
       After Walmart, Carrefour is the second largest chain of Supermarkets in the world. Prices are lowest during clearance sales. Budget minimarts such as Tatti for household supplies, and Darty for electronics are worth a visit; costs are really low and most merchandise genuine.
      Des Halles, formerly Paris' central meat and produce market, the biggest wholesale foodmarket in the world, was transferred to Rungis, in the southern suburbs. The Forum des Halles, its replacement, is a major shopping centre around an important metro connection station(Châtelet-Les Halles, the biggest in Europe).
      *      Place Vendôme is famous for its fashionable and deluxe hotels (Hôtel Ritz and Hôtel de Vendôme) and its jewellers. Many famous fashion designers have had their salons in the square.
      *      Avenue Montaigne (8th arrondissement), next to the Champs-Élysées, is home to luxury brand labels such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton (LVMH), Dior and Givenchy.
      *      Montparnasse (14th arrondissement) is a historic Left Bank area famous for artists' studios, music halls, café and night life. Do stay away after 11 pm.
      *      Faubourg Saint-Honoré (8th arrondissement, right bank) is one of Paris' high-fashion districts, home to labels such as Hermès and Christian Lacroix.
                                                     La Défense
     *      La Défense is a key suburb of Paris and is one of the largest business centres in the world.
    *      Paris' largest flea market is the Marché aux puces ("market with fleas" in French) of Saint-Ouen, Seine-Saint-Denis, in the northern suburbs of Paris, one of four in Paris.
Night Life:
   
      Place Pigalle:              
     Get naughty during your next visit to Paris by visiting the notorious Pigalle Place, an epicentre of sex shops, peep shows, strip clubs, cabarets and general adults-only, X-rated adventures. (Metro: Pigalle. Open daily 1400-0600). The smuttier sex spots are at Châtelet. You don’t want to go there. And Chatelet Metro Station has 5 levels!
Famous Night Clubs:
        Among the many night clubs and cabarets in Paris, the better ones are: Le Lido; Le Moulin Rouge; Le Crazy Horse; Le Paradis Latin and Jazz Club Etoile. Details of all nightclubs and cabarets are at cometoparis.com
                                            

                 

Where to eat: Eating out in Paris is a gourmet's delight, but for those on a limited budget, there are hundreds of restaurants to choose from. Plan your excursion and check out well rated restaurants on the net. Use your iPad or iPhone to navigate to the restaurant selected. Book in advance, it does help on a warm day. And don't forget the wine!

Why O why can't we Indians learn how to live well? Swachh Bharat Mahaan.