Paris sends me straight into the stratosphere, soaring to
the rapturous rhythm of her beauty, history, and culture.
Much like the memory of a favorite childhood Christmas,
Paris inspires sweet recollections while simultaneously
leading us to new secrets and temptations.
It seems no matter how many times I admire the wide avenues,
glorious museums and timeless architecture, I always want more.
If only I had eyes in the back of my head....
Remember that candy-sweet 60's hit by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons?*
"You're just too good to be true, I can't take my eyes off you".....
"Pardon the way that I stare
There's nothing else to compare
The sight of you leaves me weak
There are no words left to speak
But if you feel like I feel
Please let me know that is real
You're just too good to be true
I can't take my eyes off you"
written by Four Seasons members Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio
It's a privilege; though I must confess, trying to uncover every
multi-faceted corner of the city is sometimes a mixed bag.
That's why, as I'm searching the ins and outs of Paris, I keep
my third eye open -- you know, the eye we moms have -- for laid-back,
somewhat obscure new discoveries that make me feel as if
I have a corner of the city all to myself.
In a huge metropolis you'll always find
other travelers poking around your favorites finds.
Fear not, there's plenty enough of Paris to go around.
It's all about using the best asset any traveler can pack:
So today, let's take a breather from the "big stuff" to discover
a few lesser known corners of Paris, where we're secure knowing
we're getting to know Paris one neighborhood at a time.
You may not always know exactly what you're looking for
but that's the beauty of these devil-may-care flights of fancy.
Wanderlust answers nearly every call of the curious.
Yes, Paris, you're just too good to be true....
I never want to take my eyes off you.
Granted, it's not the mortally wounded I'm enamored of, rather the
epic art that preserves the memory of these dearly beloved Parisiennes.
Cimitière de Passy may not be as well known as Père Lachaise
or even Montparnasse Cemetery, but it's definitely worth a wander.
First of all, it's easy.
This peaceful burial garden is just steps away from the
Trocadero Metro -- yes, the same one used to reach the Eiffel Tower -- and
secondly, while it's next door to the most visited monument in the world, it's
as uncongested as anything you'll find within six blocks of the Iron Lady of Paris.
You've just discovered a soothing escape from the E.T. carnival --
and you get to meet new -- though deathly quiet -- people.
It's a last stop for many aristocrats and artists, some of whom you'll recognize.
But even if your knowledge of iconic French personalities is lacking,
you'll enjoy the artistic monuments and peaceful setting.
Arguably the best known "resident", Edouard Manet's legacy
lives forever in the revolutionary images he painted.
Though painted in the 19th century, they look nearly as au courant as
canvases on the drying rack in artist lofts of today's Belleville neighborhood.
Manet's "Olympia" and "Dejeuner sur l'herbe" shocked the so-called experts
of the Paris Salon jury in the 1860's.
More than 150 years later, these masterworks remain
near the top of France's legacy to the world of art.
Edouard Manet's gifted sister-in-law, Berthe Morisot, is interred as well.
She was considered one of the grandes dames of Impressionism,
talented and popular in her own right, though often remembered
best for a painting done of her rather than by her.
Manet painted the artist while she mourned her father;
"Berthe Morisot with a bouquet of violets" is her stunning portrait,
certainly an honor coming from an artist of such acclaim.
The masterpiece currently resides in the Musée d'Orsay.
Accomplished monument sculptor Paul Landowski rests in peace nearby.
You may not recognize his name but you'll certainly recognize his
most famous work -- Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.
Several of his designs are prominently featured in Paris
including one of my favorites, Saint-Genevieve, patron saint of Paris,
proudly watching over Pont de la Tournelle.
I did a double-take the first time I saw the striking monument.
drawing a respectable crowd of solemn "fans" the day I visited.
French composer Claude Debussy rests here as does
French resistance leader Georges Mandel.
Truly this cemetery has "something" for everyone.
My father adored the French comic Fernandel so I was
surprised and delighted to find his final resting place.
Jacques Guerlain of Shalimar fame is entombed here, a fitting
park-like setting for a man who made his mark in roses and bergamot.
From Pearl White -- "The Perils of Pauline" -- to Jean-Louis Barrault --
"les Enfants du Paradis" and "The Longest Day", the arts
community is well positioned in this theater of the deceased.
Jane Henriot (1878-1900) is a fascinating portrait of a tragedy; her memorial
weeps for the French actress struck down at the age of 22 with the simple epitaph:
"She came...She smiled...She left."
It's an honor to recognize and salute these fascinating men and women.
Musée des Arts Forain -- a-whimsical-journey-in-paris.html -- take
a little breather in the park just northwest of the Cour-Saint-Emilion.
Parc de Bercy is a perfect example of the way Parisiennes unwind.
The 12th arrondissement sanctuary heeds to the call of nature lovers
offering an assortment of themed parks that promote curiosity
and live up to the city's call for biodiversity.
The grounds sit on what used to be an old wine depot so naturally
park planners did their best to pay their respects.
A small vineyard lies amidst cute little footbridges, ponds and flower filled gardens.
Bercy Park has a contemporary feel -- after all, it was opened in the
1990's -- yet retains everything you love from more historic Paris gardens.
Roses, lilies, vine covered trellises and majestic fountains are a nod
to what we love most about our green Paris playgrounds.
If you enjoy watching kids at play, don't miss the popular
duck pond -- a big draw for enchanted little french fries.
Historic little houses offer everything from gardening classes
to landscaping exhibits and include a fruit & vegetable garden
maintained by local schoolchildren.
A wild party of wildflowers is a favorite escape from the urban
landscape that lies just outside the green perimeter.
Bercy Omnisports, often just called Bercy Stadium -- is a big draw.
France's largest indoor sports arena also serves as a concert venue and
shining example of the city's commitment to contemporary entertainment.
positioned side by side at the far end of Parc de Bercy.
"Children of the World" by French sculptor Rachid Khimoune were
commissioned by city planners in order to draw attention to kids' rights
and promote the charming diversity of the city.
The world's youngest and brightest will likely light up your day.
It calls to mind the sweet little melody many little ones know so well.
Whether they learned it at Sunday School or on Veggie Tales,
it's a favorite -- religiously inclined or not.
"Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red and yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world"
Tom Fettke, songwriter
The 21 sculptures feel like the best possible U.N. meeting ever held, a good
reminder that peace begins when we look at the hopeful faces of our children.
As you leave, you're treated to one more example of contemporary Paris.
Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir is a pedestrian bridge that links Parc de Bercy
to the National Library of France.
The Bibliotèque Nationale de France -- one of President Francois
Mitterand's "Grande Projets," deserves a grand entrance.
Simone de Beauvoir's namesake bridge offers a delightful walk,
crossing both the scenic Seine and a busy highway.
The bridge gently curves -- typical of Paris, sexy and feminine -- particularly
remarkable because it seems to float without much support.
Simone de Beauvoir is an icon of France, an intellectual giant and feminist,
offering wise words that reflect today's challenges:
"Change your life today. Don't gamble on the future, act now, without delay."
Most of us love to see the biggest, most celebrated landmarks in Paris.
But you've got to admit, there's usually enough time in between
the big sights to take a time out and just enjoy the view.
Whether it's a new park or an old cemetery, I call that Plan B --- and encourage
you to have your own backup strategy at the ready for a more fulfilling experience.
When you bump into something new and unexpected, the novelty of the
discovery creates a mental picture that will last long after your vacation ends.
These first impressions electrify your experience -- in an enduring way.
Yes, Paris, we can't take our eyes off you!