There’s a line in a song by the Fray (and if you’re a millennial who went to college in the aughts, you probably know it): there are certain people you just keep coming back to. Well, I think that’s true for cities as well, and for me, one of the cities I just keep coming back to is Paris.
Paris is always wonderful, any time of year. Believe it or not, though, for a while, I thought my favorite time to visit might be fall or winter. I have a veeeeery low tolerance for crowds, meaning that Paris in the off season is often just what I’m looking for. And so, when I decided to head there at the end of last May, It had been a while since I had visited when the weather was truly warm and the days were long.
And guess what? I forgot what a delight Paris can be at those times of year, when the days are sunny, the parks are packed with people, the flowers are in full bloom, and it stays light until 10pm. Yes, there are crowds, but I found I was enjoying myself so much that I (almost) didn’t mind them.
My base in Paris was the Hotel Providence, one of my favorite places to stay when in town. Its rooms are tiny but oh so gorgeous, and it’s in a relatively central area but not that central, meaning it still manages to be peaceful.
On my first day in town, I did my favorite activity in Paris: I walked. I wandered through the Marais, then made my way down to Ile Saint-Louis, and then over to Notre-Dame. This was May 2018, so I had no idea that in almost a year, the church would be devastated by fire. I didn’t even go in, since I’ve been in many times before, which of course I’m a bit sad about now. Hopefully she’ll be back up and running soon.
From Notre-Dame, I continued onward to Place Dauphine, another of my favorite spots in the city. What I love about it is that it’s so close to so many big tourist attractions, but remains relatively quiet and undiscovered. I grabbed a bench and just read and people watched for a while (another of my favorite ways to past the time in Paris).
The next day, I again spent time exploring the Marais on foot. One thing I kept noticing: how leafy and lush everything looked. It rained on and off while I was in town, but never for very long, and who could complain when everything was so green and vibrant?
My meander through the Marais ended at Place des Vosges, where I again grabbed a bench and read for a while. One of the things I love most about going back to Paris is that I’ve already seen the big sites, so there’s no pressure. I can wander, I can pause, I can do as I like without feeling like I’m “missing out” on anything.
That’s not to say I didn’t do any sightseeing; I definitely did. I made it a priority to visit a few new-to-me places, such as Musée Nissim de Camondo. Essentially a huge old house that’s now been converted into a museum, this opulent space was fun to explore.
I also checked out Paris’s other grand-old-house-turned-museum, Musée Jacquemart-André. While it wasn’t too distinguishable to me from Camondo, this was also a lovely spot to while away some time.
Another new-to-me spot was the delightful Parc Monceau. This is one of those spots that you visit and think, wait, HOW have I never come here before? The gardens were gorgeous and the park was prime territory for people watching.
On my last full day in town, I headed up into the hills of Montmartre. It was another drizzly morning, but honestly that only added to the loveliness. The last time I visited, Maison Rose was under construction – it was nice to see it in all its pastel glory this go round.
And far too quickly, my time in Paris was over. But, predictably, I’m already plotting my return trip.