Post and pictures by photo blogger Kirsten Alana, exclusively for Trip+ as part of our #housetripping series.
Every summer, Parisians begin a mass exodus from the City of Light to enjoy the summer holidays. They say that the motorway connecting the capital to the Riviera turns into one of the world’s largest parking lots for a six-week period beginning in mid-July around the time of Bastille Day. The result is a city that bursts at the seams in the main tourist districts, yet is strangely quiet once you go into the more residential corners.
A July stroll along the Champs-Élysées, from the Arc de Triomphe, will see me stopping for dinner at a small café to watch as other visitors marvel at the famous avenue featured in so many films, while lights sparkle in the trees and headlights glinted off glass windows of designer boutiques.
Not far away is a wonderful HouseTrip apartment with a large dining and living room and extensive natural light that overlooks not one, but two patisseries, convenient to the Porte Maillot metro stop. It is my favorite place that I have lived while in Paris.
I have visited a few different areas of the country but Paris remains my favorite place to visit in France and it is where I return as often as I am able. When I do, I always visit the Eiffel Tower after dark.
It sparkles for five minutes on the hour; it does not matter how often I do so, it’s magical every time.
The museums of Paris are also amongst my favorite reasons to visit and I cannot avoid Musée d’Orsay, where I make sure to spend time with the Impressionists. Afterwards, sneaking across to the Musée National de la Légion d’Honneur, I enjoy the bejeweled awards and decorations accumulated over the centuries. It’s an unusual peek into French history and I love that I almost always have that museum to myself.
Then, I continue deeper into the Left Bank to the Musée Rodin where I marvel at sculptures such as The Thinker, The Kiss and The Gates of Hell as well as paintings by Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh, which were part of Rodin’s personal collection.
Notre-Dame Cathedral draws most visitors to Île De la Cité,
but I visit this island in the middle of the River Seine mainly so I can indulge my craving for ice cream from Berthillon Glacier. The best flavor is their salted caramel yet I usually try a second scoop of a flavor that’s new to me whenever I make the pilgrimage.
Then, I sit on the banks of the river and watch the boats go by while I listen to the faint sound of the buskers who operate on the bridge between Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis.
Near the newly rebuilt area that was once Les Halles market is another place I like to linger. Place Rene Cassin in front of what was Saint-Eustache church, features the larger-than-life statue Ecoute (The Listener) by artist Henri de Miller. It’s a good place to sit with a crepe and coffee, watching children play, locals come and go and visitors wandering, in search of addresses they don’t quite understand. It’s also near Rue Montorgueil, my favorite street in Paris.
Not only is it one of my favorite neighborhoods but it is also one of the most visited and photographed areas of Paris: Montmartre.
Lingering on the steps before Sacré-Cœur it seems possible to watch the whole of the city go by and certainly to view the entire city for it is one of the best vantage spots in Paris.
In order to not miss a moment of such an iconic neighborhood, I’d choose to stay in this charming HouseTrip maison with a garden on one of the many stepped streets, near Lapin Agile Bar-Cabaret, subject of a Picasso painting, in the heart of Montmartre.
Because the Left Bank is my favorite bank, I’d consider this renovated studio in Montparnasse that is ideally located for me to wander the Sorbonne and Jardin du Luxembourg. It’s also well situated to a number of metro stops, making it very easy to explore Paris at large.
No visit to The City of Light is complete for me without a stroll along the banks of the Seine at night when that moniker is the most meaningful. Usually I begin from the carousel outside Hôtel de Ville and try to make it all the way to La Tour Eiffel.
Hopefully one day I will find myself in one of these apartments again on a summer’s evening. Until then I revisit my photographs and memories of Paris often and always smile for I am grateful that France became the place it is today; one of my favorite countries.