True enough, Paris is always a good idea. It’s a mandatory destination in every traveler’s bucket list. Paris being the capital and the most populous city of France is MUCH more than just the Eiffel Tower and the Mona Lisa. In this article, Amanda Williams, a former journalist, turned travel blogger and adventure-seeker, explores the bohemian side of Paris.
The Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris, France, is also often referred to as “the gardens of seduction,” or “the lovers’ gardens.” The story goes that if a single girl sits down on a bench here, it will take less than 4 minutes and 30 seconds for a man to come and ask her out on a date.
Much like Montmartre, some of Paris’ most interesting areas today at one point were separate villages outside the borders of Paris. Saint-Germain-des-Pres, for example, used to be a poor village on the outskirts of the city. Just like in Montmartre, artists and writers and other Bohemian types eventually flocked here, giving the area a young population and a reputation as a party spot.
Not far from Saint-Germain lie some of Paris’ most touristy spots — like Saint-Michel and Notre Dame. Saint-Michel is a maze of overpriced restaurants and souvenir shops, and the Notre Dame Cathedral often has lines that wrap around the building.
Also nearby is the Pont des Arts bridge, which connects the French Institute — where the French language is guarded and “preserved” — and the Louvre. It’s also where you can find thousands of love locks attached to the bridge. Here, lovers write or carve their initials on a padlock, lock it to the bridge, and then toss the key into the Seine, thus sealing their love forever.
Ending up back at Notre Dame, it’s like a shock to the system. The place is almost always thronging with people (especially in the summer months). It’s almost ironic, really. At one point, the church was on the verge of being torn down. It was only the popularity of Victor Hugo’s book (yes, that one) that saved it and turned it into the tourist attraction that it is today.
With a nod to the old tradition of carrying English-language books and promoting the work of new writers who would work in the store in return for their books being sold there, Shakespeare and Company still feel special.
While the typical tourist spots in Paris are unarguably iconic and worth seeing, it’s the glimpses into the other, less-well-known parts of Paris that were my favorite.