Photo: Mathias Reding, Unsplash

Bonjour Paris! A visit to the French capital is always worthwhile

What a magnificent and splendid city. It literally glitters with the sun’s rays hitting the wide boulevards and avenues. Wherever you look, there is something to discover, be it one of the many hotspots or sights, church complexes, façade decorations, historic architecture or one of the French bakeries that magically attracts visitors with its elegance. Elegance is the right word when we look at the style of dress, the fascinating language, countless delicacies and the urban architecture of the French.

It never fails to cast its spell on us. Once you look, you lose yourself in the beige facades with countless balconies that merge into grey-blue roofs. The city seems shrouded in murky blue, with magnificent buildings with a rich history rising from its midst.

The weather is good. We stroll in the Ile de Paris, within the boulevard peripherique, between large-scale boulevards, losing ourselves in the alleys with chic cafés and their seating. Crowds of tourists are like under a spell as they stroll from one place to another. Constantly looking for a subject to photograph. It is not difficult. We sit in one of the cafés and enjoy the hustle and bustle. Street musicians play well-known songs and dancers fight their way through the hubbub to be rewarded for their art. Noble waiters assist guests in choosing a suitable dish, school groups stand in front of impressive buildings. After a while, we stroll to Notre Dame, remembering the fire it had been exposed to years before and our childhood, more precisely Quasimodo, the bellringer of this cathedral.

We stroll on to the Panthéon. A square created in honour of great men and women. On the left side of the square is the law school, whose inscription on the façade cannot be overlooked and can often be found in Paris: liberté, égalité, fraternité. These are concepts that are visibly represented not only in Paris but throughout Europe and have become virtually symbolic words of European thought.

In the main hall, in addition to national monuments, there is a pendulum fixed in the ceiling by the physicist Léon Foucault. In his demonstration, he proved the rotation of the earth. Down in the crypt, it was touching to visit the authors of the great works that shaped our school days, be it Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Alaxandre Dumas or the chemist Marie Curie.

Nearby, a stone’s throw away, stretches the great mosque of Paris. With a restaurant, tea house with garden, wide courtyard complete with prayer area leading to another large garden, a hammam and madrasa, it is the largest Islamic complex in Paris. A showcase mosque, built by the state after the First World War to honour the fallen Muslims in its colonies in North Africa. Outside this setting, Islam and Muslim life is a sensitive topic in France, fuelled not least by the attack on Charlie Hebdo, the murdered teacher who previously showed Muhammad cartoons, the ever-boiling discourses on burqas and burkini and mosque closures.

We want to end our first day with a visit to the Musée d’Orsay, but before that we make a detour to a pâtisserie to taste the macarons, chocolate mousse and crème brûlée. The fine desserts are a gourmet’s dream. The art museum is worth a visit with its many exhibits, the photographs, paintings from different art periods by excellent artists, sculptures and temporary special exhibits. Bartholdi’s Liberté, Rodin’s The Thinker as well as masterpieces by impressionist as well as post-impressionist painters such as Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet, Edouard Manet and, of course, Vincent van Gogh with his Bedroom and Starry Night are just some of the works that are a must-see.

The next morning, we take the metro to the Sacré-Cœur. The monument, striking for its special dome and gleaming white façade, lies full of grace at the foot of Montmartre and is a place of pilgrimage whose neo-Byzantine architecture is unparalleled. After a classic French petit déjeuner, we stroll from the Arc de Triomphe down the Avenue des Champs Élysées. The seemingly endless, magnificent street seems to be decorated with many people, people of all kinds, of all origins, of all languages, of the most diverse cultures and many tourists. People lose themselves in the madness of shopping and tasting. They queue up to visit the famous French trendsetter brands – as if there is something for free. At the end of this picture, we sight the Louvre and at its centre, the all too familiar landmark of the museum-pyramid. Magnificent as it stands in the courtyard, in the middle of the huge U-shaped building. And just as elegant. Inside the museum, the complex seems to run almost into infinity. It houses many masterpieces, above all the Mona Lisa. The surprisingly small, yet fascinating painting makes visitors queue up. In any case, the stay pays off.

In the evening we stroll along the Seine, opposite us is the Tour Eiffel – enchanting. On our way to take a closer look at the iron lady, we discover a symbolic spot: the golden flame. It marks the spot above the tunnel where Princess Diana lost her life in a car accident. Arriving at the Eiffel Tower, the magic of the landmark takes hold of us. Suddenly it starts to glitter. An indescribable sight. Once you look, you don’t want to take your eyes off it. The long and attractive lawn offers enough space to linger and enjoy.

Bonne nuit, Paris and see you soon.

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