Paris in the Springtime

I love Paris in the springtime, goes the song, and as our daughter hasn’t yet seen the City of Light (or as the author of our Best of Paris calls it, the “City of Promise” — see below) we thought this is as good a time as any to show her that Paris is more, much more, than the ancient home of alchemist Nicholas Flamel of Harry Potter fame! (If you’re traveling with kids and want to do this, details are spelled out for you on pages 83-84 of our Paris with Kids).

Why does Open Road author Andy Herbach call Paris the City of Promise?  Because “around every corner is the promise of another beautiful street, another bistro filled with people eating delicious food (Paris is a city where you have to work at having a bad meal), another building that in any other city would be remarkable, but in Paris is just another building.”

So we’re heading there in late March using all three of our guidebooks for planning (in addition to the book above we’ve been perusing our Paris with Kids (see link above) and Eating & Drinking in Paris).  Everyone knows the main attractions in Paris, but even at or near the biggies there are some great activities that many tourists haven’t heard about.

For example, many of you will visit the Louvre, the world’s largest and perhaps most impressive museum.  Here’s a tip from Valerie Gwinner, our Paris with Kids author:  instead of entering through the famous glass pyramid or one of the other main entrances, go instead to the Portes des Lions entrance along the Seine, which will take you into the southwest wing of the museum.  You’ll know it by the pair of lions on either side of the entrance.By all accounts there is rarely a line at this entrance, and when there is it moves very quickly.  If you really want to avoid crowds, visit late in the day or on Wednesday evenings when the museum is open til 9:45 pm.  Everyone goes to see the Mona Lisa, with very good reason, but on the theme of lesser-known gems — and there are many here — we’d suggest the underground exhibit of the medieval Louvre, featuring the castle’s foundations and moat walls, as well as cool artifacts like the gold helmet of King Charles VI.

If you’re traveling with kids in tow, we’d suggest making a deal with them:  a few hours (that will likely be their limit!) seeing some masterpieces, and then off to the nearby Tuileries Gardens, where they can ride a ferris wheel in the Fetes du Tuileries, rent a toy sailboat in the central fountain, or even go for a pony ride.

Photo by ellevalentine at

One thought on “Paris in the Springtime

  1. When you go to Paris, check out the little bookshop called Shakespeare and Company, the famous English language bookseller on the left bank within view of Notre Dame (37 rue de la Bucherie). Yours truly worked and slept there for a summer. Walt Whitman’s cousin George Whitman ran the place (he passed away in December 2011, age 98) and James Joyce first published Ulysses there. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Earnest Hemingway, and Gertrud Stein would hang out an read there, discuss manuscripts, and decide which bistro would become the next stop for their moveable feast. We had poetry readings on Tuesday nights, and our house puppy German Shepherd, Baskerville, would gladly chew up the bad poetry we would toss her to boisterous applause. If you buy a book there, they stamp it inside with a picture of Shakespeare and the words, Ground Zero Paris.

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