Paris in the Snow — a City Guide
*This post is created in collaboration with Airbnb who covered the cost of our flights and accommodation.*
Paris is one of those places that has always felt like a really obvious place to visit and yet (aside for a school trip for Magnus waaaaay back) we haven't ever been before now. We made a very long list of places that we wanted to see and with two-and-a-bit days we managed to cover a lot of ground despite the (uncharacteristic in Paris, apparently) snowfall.
We had a few specific places we wanted to see and also some vague notes about falafel, but mainly we just wanted to get a feel for the city and see somewhere with fresh eyes. Maybe eat a crêpe or three. Y'know, essential things.
We somehow managed to book flights that meant we didn't have to leave the house at 3am (flying to Europe in the daytime feels like such a luxury!) and landed in Paris mid-afternoon. Our first port of call was our Airbnb to drop off our bags and before we knew it we were doing what we do best: wandering.
Monet's Waterlilies are absolutely HUGE. We didn't realise the scale of them until we were stood inside Musée de l'Orangerie and completely surrounded by purples, blues and greens. The gallery was originally built to house the citrus trees of the Tuileries (the garden in which the gallery sits) and is like no other gallery we've ever seen. Padded seats live in the centre of the room, offering a comfortable place for contemplation - we enjoyed matching the colour of people's coats and jumpers to the corresponding sections of the paintings which (in my opinion) are actually studies of the changeable skies over his famed Giverny garden, rather than the lilies themselves.
Atelier Brancusi was another winner for us; sculpture, architecture, natural light and FREE entry. It is located right next to Centre Pompidou (another architectural landmark that needs to be seen in person) and we had the whole place to ourselves.
Constantin Brancusi was a Romanian sculptor that lived and worked in Paris in the first half of the 20th century. He liked to explore form and line through geometric shapes and the spatial relationships between objects. His studio was an extension of his work and he left it to the French state in his will. One condition of the will was that his studio was recreated like-for-like for display.
The gallery presents various variations of studios that Brancusi used and (although encased behind a giant box of glass) is a really beautiful space. We left the small space with a head full of inspiration and appreciation for simple objects and the subtle nuances of the light. Funny how certain places can influence you like that...
Lots of people had suggested we visit the Promenade Plantée and we eventually found it (we went to where it said on the website but didn't find a place to access the walk via some steps above Viaduc des Arts). It's kind of the predecessor to New York's High Line, but obviously has all the charm of being surrounded by Parisian buildings instead of NYC's warehouse conversions.
We'd definitely like to return in the warmer months to see the leaves on the trees and to be able to feel our fingers whilst we're wandering (it was about -5) but we did enjoy seeing the city from another perspective and of course, it's FREE.
One of the more vague spots on our 'maybe we'll go here' list was Patrick Blanc's "Oasis of Aboukir". To be 100% honest, we had no idea it was a big deal until we shared a photo of it on Instagram.
I spotted it in the background of someone's Instagram stories as they were doing one of those 'walk and talk' vlog-style thingies, had no idea that it was a special artwork but figured it looked quite interesting... So basically I took a screenshot of the story and there was a sign for Librarie Artelot (a bookshop) and detective work via Google Streetview revealed this incredible living wall. So we walked (in real life this time, not on Streetview!) to the junction of Rue d'Aboukir and Rue des Petits Carreaux to see it and it was/is BEAUTIFUL. Especially in the depths of winter when everything feels a little bare.
Patrick Blanc is a botanist who specialises in tropical forests and is known for creating green walls, something which he has done in locations all over the world.
It wouldn't be like us to visit a major city and not seek out a greenhouse or two. We visited Jardin des Plantes and Jardin des Serres d-Auteuil, the latter of which was our favourite and blew us away...
This handsome interior is the work of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret at Maison La Roche. We loved the colour palette and that we were allowed to take photographs - it's the simple things in life that make us happy!
Our home for the two nights was a very compact apartment near Jardin du Luxembourg and we chose it for a few reasons; it's close proximity to the city centre and a RER station (which meant we just hopped on one train to get from and to the airport) and because well, the clever arrangement of the space just caught our eye.
Although the space was all-in-all the size of our living room back home, it was dealt with in such a way that meant we had everything we needed. The apartment was decorated with rich materials; marble, brass and terrazzo surfaces and the feeling of luxury was continued through the provision of Aesop products and added extras - nothing makes us happier than a host that leaves us tea and coffee and a fridge stocked with treats!
Another aspect that we enjoyed of our Parisian home was (and this is probably ancillary to its aim but never mind) was that in order to configure the space, a mezzanine level was created to house the double bed and that was accessed via a very steep set of stairs. We thoroughly enjoyed climbing to and from the bed and felt it added a playful element to our stay - kind of like being in a treehouse or something... We are both thirty now so we find our fun in strange places. :-D
A round-up of the places we visited:
Jardin des Serres D'Auteuil
There are still soooo many places that we didn't get to around to seeing and we'd LOVE to re-visit later in the year as the temperature rises a little. Some people have a 'bucket list' of places that they'd like to tick-off as 'done' but we are really happy to revisit places we've already been as we know there's always so much more to see and no two visits ever feel the same.