Paris: Still Beautiful, Friendlier

If you didn’t already know why Paris is the second most visited city in Europe (barely edged out by London), one look at these pictures will tell you why.

As you will see in later posts, the city plan was laid out by a host of “right brain” (artistic) types, and not the “left brain” (engineering) types. But there is no mistaking the breathtaking beauty of the design and architecture. My personal “top 10” photographs below portray the variety and grandeur of the “City of Lights.”

Apart from the fire in 2019 that gutted Notre Dame, and the removal and ban of “love locks,” Paris appears to be the same city we first visited six years ago. But while we found Parisians to be cool and aloof on our first visit, we were surprised at how helpful and friendly they were this time. Perhaps it was just the individual people we met, and perhaps it is a new appreciation for visitors and social interaction following the pandemic lockdown, but it was evident on many occasions.

The best example of this came as we were leaving. We had to take a series of trains to get to Orly Airport for our flight to Italy. Used mostly for commuter flights, we had never been to this airport. And since directions were all in French, we were struggling. Two ladies, one younger and one about our age, figured out where we were going, baggage in hand. Speaking no English except the word airport, they repeatedly used charades to show us when to exit the train and where to go, and even went out of their way to follow us and made sure we turned at the right places. We wouldn’t have imagined this happening six years ago, and we appreciated it immensely.

In order, here is what is shown:

  1. The interior of the Pantheon, with the most famous version of Foucault’s Pendulum. Victor Hugo, Voltaire, Alexandre Dumas, and Marie Curie are buried here, among many others.
  2. The Arc de Triomphe, as you have not seen it before. We happened to arrive during the special exhibition that featured the arch wrapped in fabric for a 3 week span. Only in Paris.
  3. The incomparable Eiffel Tower at sunset.
  4. A scene from the gardens at Versailles, considered the finest in Europe.
  5. Sacre Coeur Cathedral.
  6. The grand entryway of Palais Garnier, the opera house that inspired Phantom of the Opera.
  7. A replica of the Statue of Liberty that stands in the Seine River.
  8. Luxembourg Gardens. This building houses French Parliament.
  9. The view looking out from the doorway of the Pantheon, showing the scale.
  10. Les Invalides, where Napoleon is interred.

As usual, you can click on any individual picture for an expanded view.

The cover photo of Notre Dame shows the front fa├žade of the building, which is intact. But the entire rest of the structure was gutted by the fire in 2019 and is completely cordoned off and undergoing total reconstruction.

And all of this just scratches the surface of this incomparable city.