Paris through your 5 senses – Summer edition

In full sight – One of the problems you might have while in Paris is to suffer from chronic indecision if you have to chose what will you visit first. There are so many things to see (monuments, museums, parks, etc.) that you shall make a list before visiting the City of Lights. Forget about going from one museum to another the same day – it can be not only tiresome, but stressful as well. Better go to a museum in the morning, stroll in the parks, and finish with a monument such as the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe (both at walking distance from each other). Or start with the monuments in the morning so you can avoid queuing, stroll in the parks, and finish in a museum (consider that most of them close by 5 pm). My personal favourite is the Orsay Museum, just in front of the Senna River and not far from the Invalides esplanade.

The sound of music – Paris has so much to offer when it comes to cultural activities that you won’t have to worry about getting busy by night. Whether you are an open-air-jazz-concert-addict or a salsa dancer you will always find a place to go, the only restriction being that the bars and discos shut down at 2 am on weekdays. One of the best options is to buy in a kiosk L’Officiel des Spectacles, a very rich and up-to-date cultural guide of Paris and its region. And once you’ve got it, all you have to do is chose where will you end your night!

                                                             (French) Touch  This may be the favourite item of shopping addicts, and with good reason. Fashion capital of the world, Paris has a myriad of boutiques and stores where you can find that perfect dress or that lovely pair of shoes, as well as booking expensive rendez-vous with a designer that will make your fashion dream come true. Have you heard of Champs Elysées? Well, that is haven in Paris for fashionista’s from all around the world. Hugo Boss and Louis Vuitton will be your best friends if you have the money to pay for them, and if you don’t you can always go window-shopping. Then, if you are interested in vintage clothing you should head to Le Marais, where the frippery shops are legion. They are not that cheap but it is worth taking a look if you’re around the corner.

Smell the glamour – Somewhere in the world, French people have this weird reputation of smelling bad. I cannot confirm nor deny this sentence, but in this domain you will be more than satisfied when visiting Paris and you might need an entire week to visit all the boutiques and beauty shops before you get an idea of what scent is the one you need. Champs Elysées avenue is an option – pricy, you know – otherwise you might find what you are looking for at Boulevard Haussmann and its thousand of shops. Got some more days? Visit the Perfume Museum at the Opéra district.

Taste it! – On a lazy summer afternoon, the best decision you could make after sunbathing in a park is to go for an ice cream at Pozzetto. Having only 12 flavours based on milk or fruit recipes, they will prepare a certain amount everyday for its costumers, so be ready to queue for at least 5 minutes. Yoghurt and Gianduja won’t disappoint you, fig will be rather scarce depending on the season.

Favourite spot #3: Cemeteries

I am sure I’m not the only person in the world who likes to walk around cemeteries.

There are two main reasons why I like them: first, old cemeteries are hidden jems, witnesses of history and often, an art gallery in itself. And second, the silence. Going for a walk in a cemetery helps me focus and put some order in my head, and even if I don’t go there every week, it’s a highly appreciated promenade.

Old cemeteries are filled with surprises. Not only because of the famous guests you can find there – at Highgate cemetery in London there is Marx, at Père Lachaise in Paris there is Jim Morrison – but also because of the pieces of art that are built in memory of the loved ones. Most of the time, when visiting a new place, first thing on the list I will check is whereabouts is the oldest cemetery and how to get there. Of course, not always there will be an old fashioned cemetery to visit because some cities rather have the aseptic and “modern” version – with the white head-stones lying and the endless green park.

Among my personal favourites, Vyšehrad cemetery (Prague) and Montmartre (Paris) are on top of the list (the other two I mentioned above are fine too). Vyšehrad was a pleasant surprise because a) it’s on top of the hill; b) it’s filled with sculptures and pieces of art; and c) many people from the world of arts and sciences are buried there (like the composer Anton Dvořák). I got there by chance, just walking around and getting lost, but I had the perfect afternoon learning a bit more about the Czech culture.

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Then, Montmartre cemetery is a special one for me. Probably because the first time I was there it was snowing and it was the first time I experienced the snowy cemetery visit. What I also like is the geography of the place – the alleys are in different levels, so you go up and down the whole time, and there is a bridge outside and above from where you get a nice view of the cemetery. Although there are not as many ‘stars’ as in Père Lachaise, Montmartre has a list of interesting characters to pay a visit: Berlioz (composer), Degas (painter), Sacha Guitry (actor & director), Emile Zola (writer) and François Truffaut, to count some. Since it’s kind of a small cemetery, you can go there in the morning and afterwards walk ten minutes towards the Basilique du Sacré Coeur, to watch the sunset in Paris.

You can check here some pictures of the Montmartre cemetery under the snow.

What do you think? Are there other cemeteries you would recommend to visit?