France. The land of top quality cheese, cured meats and booze. What more do you want in a country?
If you do want more, there’s also thousands of years of history, iconic landmarks, rolling green hills, quaint country villages, white sand surf beaches, glacial mountains full of adrenalin activities, pristine lakes with dramatic back drops, and politically aware, sophisticated people who hate authority.
My Parisian friend opens every sentence with “This es sheeeit my friend” in a thick French accent. I like him. It’s all La Resistance. Don’t worry about the free health care, universities and being in one of the world’s most beautiful and iconic cities, everything is “sheiiiit”.
That’s what I like about French people. They’re not all sugar coated and plastic. They’re real. And it’s the locals that create an edgier side to Paris only revealed when you look past the overweight, camera happy tourists waddling up and down the River Siene.
For example, my first night there, I saw a guy stealing an industrial fan from a bar. He was chased down and tazered. The fan was ok.
The next night a drunk road worker said to me he liked me. Then he said he wanted to head-butt me. All because I support the All Blacks rugby team. Good guy.
A few nights later on a bus, a guy in a trench coat and dark glasses threatened to shoot us in the knee caps. The city is full of joie de vivre.
Anyway, I guess I better highlight the typical (and not so typical) Paris attractions below:
Things to do in Paris:
The Eiffel Tower:
World icon blah blah, romantic blah blah, amazing view blah blah. Originally built for a World Fair entrance in 1889, it’s now the most visited monument in the world with 7 million people going up a year. You may as well too. Go up at dusk and get both day and night.
Notre Dame Cathedral:
Pretty cool looking cathedral. All gothicy and shit. Look it up.
La Promenade Plantee:
This sky high 5km garden walk is well worth doing. Plus it’s free. Wander past roof tops and stunning botany is a welcome break from the tourist madness that is Paris.
It stretches from Place de la Bastille to Bois de Vincennes, so get off at Bastillle train station and go from there.
Religion isn’t for everyone, but hey some good things come out of it. Like this awesome church perched atop Monte Marte. Work off all that cheese and bread with a calorie burning walk up the steps. Take in the views and the sheer awesomeness of the 130 year old church and then duck inside and check out the impressive artwork and stained windows.
Also worth going for a drink in Montmarte at night. Quaint streets, cool bars and friendly locals.
Pont de l’Alma (The Paris Sewer Tour):
If you really want to see the under-belly of Paris, well, go to its under belly. The sewer tour doesn’t wreak Paris romanticism but it does wreak. Pretty interesting to learn the history of their 2,400km tunnel system that’s not only a sewerage system but also provides drinking and non drinking water to the city.
Plus it’s only 4 Euros and 30 cents entry.