France : Paris
Romance + crème brulee + french wine + fashion + art & history = PARIS
But personally, I found the hype around Paris city totally blown out of proportion. Crazy traffic, dirty metro stations, snobbish and rude people is what we pretty much got.
Of course, the art and history in the city is something that artists and architects will totally love. We spent one full day at the Louvre and maybe almost 2 hours staring at the enigmatic Mona Lisa painting. Louvre took me back in time to art history classes while in college - paintings through different periods in history, neo classical and gothic architecture, sculptures and fresco.
The Notre Dame Cathedral was another place that took me back to art history classes - beautiful fresco on the walls and brilliant stained glass painting!
Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral
Stained Glass Paintings
We took a 'Discover Paris' walk with a guide in Montmartre Square. The walk was a lovely experience - from the oldest cabaret - Moulign Rouge, to the famous windmill atop the hill, to Picasso's house and the place where Van Gogh first lived and used to buy his breakfast from...loved every bit of it.
Last, but not the least - the Eiffel Tower. Looked lovely in the evening when it was all lit up. The place was abuzz with activity in spite of the slight drizzle and chill winds.
The famous French crepes with chocolate spread is what we had by the Seine river the evening we visited the Eiffel Tower. It was just about okay, although my friends loved the ones with non-veg filling.
Crepes with cheese
Patisseries (French bakery) in France are a delight for people with a sweet tooth like moi. A treat here is the macaroons - light and crisp on the outside with soft natural flavour cream inside. Pistachio flavoured one was yumm. French croissants turned out to be my husband's favourite. He totally sweared by them and said they were the best he'd had till date. Baguette and cheese is something I tasted for the first time and pretty much liked it. The bread is a little hard though, but the cheese spread makes it very tasty. The cupcakes and pastries in general are very tasty in most Patisseries. We had a tough time restraining a friend from entering each and every patisserie we passed. :)
Louis Vuitton store on Champs Elvsee
My friend and I walked down Champs Elysee in the rain window shopping. We passed by the Louis Vuitton flagship store but dint go in as we were soaking wet and shabby! Almost every second person in Paris seemed to carry an LV bag (though most of them I suspect are fake!). I asked the Parisian guide on the walking tour about this and he said it was "a mass luxury" Parisians enjoyed given that LV was a French label. I wonder how luxury can be a mass thing.
Paris can be passed off as any Asian city. Except for parts around the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and few other well-known touristy spots, it is over hyped. Also, the city can be unsafe at times – thefts and pickpocketing are very common – mostly tourists are the target. And despite the multi-culture, a non-Parisian is treated as an outsider.