Paris is always a good idea …

Exploring Paris by foot ...

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DID you see the picture of Barack Obama in the November 17 edition of Time with his feet up on the table?

The soles of his shoes were worn because, as the caption noted, he had been “pounding the pavement” campaigning for votes in the days before the US election.

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After just a couple of days in Paris, I can report that my shoes are going the same way.

We’re staying in the heart of the 7th Arrondissement, one block from the gardens of the Champ de Mars, so we are hoofing it around Paris.

On our first day in town we walked out our front door on the Rue Emile Deschanel, turned left, and then did a big loop that took us past some of Paris’ most iconic attractions.

It took us six hours – we did stop for a big soy latte at the Starbuck on the Champs Elysees – but we saw the Invalides, the Grand Palais, Pont Alexandre III, the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower.

The next day we caught the Metro to St Michel Notre Dame and then called in to look at the grand cathedral’s colourful leadlight windows (above) before doing a scenic lap of the Ile de la Cite.

Then we walked along the banks of the Seine to the Place de la Concord, and through the Esplanade des Invalides to our lovely little apartment.

That long walk – we think it was about 9km – was done at a very relaxed pace which meant we had time to browse the antique posters and old books for sale in the stalls perched on the stone walls above the Seine (below).

It’s lovely being in Paris at this time of the year, when the days are short and bleak and the clouds are grey and plump, and we are enjoying bundling up to go outside.

But it does take a few minutes to get ready – boots, jumper, coat, scarf, gloves, hat – and you don’t want to suit up early because you’ll melt indoors.

All this walking means we’re exhausted by the time we get home in the evenings, but we are seeing a lot of Paris that we missed last time we were here.

The top tourist attractions are magnificent – I could look at Gustave Eiffel’s tower for hours – but it’s the side streets that really provide a window to the heart of this beautiful city.

Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

The trendy parents waiting outside the big wooden doors of the school to collect their kids, the elegant ladies walking their dogs in the crisp evening air, and the dapper businessmen buying baguettes and wine for dinner.

Getting to roam around Paris like this I’ve decided that Audrey Hepburn’s Sabrina was right when she said “Paris isn’t for changing planes, it’s for changing your outlook”.

November 2008

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