‘Tis the season….for visitors (although I think that’s true for Paris any time of the year really!)
Our favorite city is full of visitors already, from many countries, judging from the languages we hear, so it’s bustling with camera-toting folk carrying guidebooks and hopping on and off the open-top red, or mustard-yellow, sightseeing buses. We see many walking groups too. Mainly around St Honore/Tuileries/Louvre, or Luxembourg Gardens, or Notre Dame.
A new phenomenon in recent years is that many people are also carrying and using tablets—mostly iPads as far as we could see—following a tour and/or taking pictures.
It all gives the city a buzz, a vibe, but the local merchants seem ready for the onslaught and mostly greet it with patience and a smile. We’ve seen and heard many instances of a local helping and being pleasant to a visitor. If you are polite and greet people with “bonjour” you won’t go wrong, and most servers will instantly switch to English, even if they don’t speak it well.
Lots of people get round on bicycles, many of them the Velibs, but also other types.
There are a lot of renovation/changes going on, for example, the new Les Halles area, and the Pantheon’s facelift (or dome-lift?), and a number of the metro stations. But, it’s also nice to see that some things don’t change (much), such as some of the restaurants we like and the lovely gardens, which are still just newly-planted or in the process of being planted (Luxembourg).
As always, there’s a wealth of cultural and musical activities, and exhibitions on offer, and we just wish we had more time and money to take advantage of them or that we were here longer for the upcoming ones. We see billboards on streets, on railings, in the metro stations—all tantalizing, such as the annual Jazz Festival, the Fete de la Musique, the Champs Elysees Film Festival, all of which we’ve been to in previous years. We always come to Paris with a list of things we want to see and do and never seem to work to the bottom of the list! That’s because Paris is an amazingly diverse city and no matter how long we are here we could never see it all anyway. And that’s not counting new things that pop up and get added to our list.
Some new ideas for us after this last trip are:
—Mozart and Vivaldi at the Eglise de la Madeleine
—Chopin Festival (Invitation a la Valse) at the Orangerie in the Bagatelle Park
—Musee de la Vie Romantique
—The Open-air Film Festival at La Villette
—The Saint-Denis Festival