This post is about my first 'planned' walk around Paris. Although I've been here before and am familiar with the major landmarks, I wanted to see some of the things I had put off previously.
Two Rules: No taxis and no asking-for-directions. I knew this would make me read in advance and plan my routes. I wanted to use the Vélib’ but I had left my UK credit card (you need a PIN credit card for the service) at my hotel - and I was too lazy to go back. It didn't take long to regret it... Thank God for the iPod, comfortable shoes and the Paris Metro.
I started late this morning with a good coffee near the Eiffel Tower close to my hotel. The weather could not have been better. After a reasonably long walk, I arrived at the Montparnasse Tower. I've always hated the way this ugly glass tower stuck out. It's horrible from any angle and from any distance and, in my opinion, it ruins the gentle flow of the Paris skyline.
This is why I wanted to be on it when I took these shots... Just look at how this gorgeous city has been woven together. The boulevards, the cafes, the trees, the architecture - I could go on for a while...
I then headed to the Institut du Monde Arabe - stopping for lunch on the way. I had read about this building - in an architecture magazine when I was in Denmark back in 1998! It has a very interesting design on its outside walls. The architects incorporated the look and feel of a Mashrabiya to the whole facade. What I love about it is its ever-changing lighting as it closes and opens the apertures within the islamic pattern.
The building did not disappoint, the staff were pleasant, and the collection in the museum was interesting. However, they had no information in English. I used the Arabic guide. This institute is supposed to bring a better understanding of the Arab culture to Europe! Most Europeans don't speak Arabic, and those who do know Arab culture better than the Arabs. Their Arabic website is poor with broken links and missing information, and their English website is in 'technical maintenance'. I hope they fix these small issues soon. It's a place worth preserving, and more importantly: maintaining.
My final stop was at the Centre Pompidou, the most visited building in France. I have been here before but never had the time to go in for a good look around. Today I spent two hours and they felt like ten minutes. If you love art, design, photography and modern art - this is a place where you should consider disguising yourself as a tour guide - and moving in.
It was great to have the time to do this today. My business trips to France on previous occasions have not allowed me the time to explore. Today was a nice opportunity to find even more reasons to love this amazing city.