[Travel] Paris-there are more places to explore than Eiffel Tower

<Front photo: Bercy Village>

I have been really lazy in writing blog posts recently because I’m preparing to move different continent for my job. Before preparing to move to the different continent, I had a family reunion in Paris and traveled to Southeastern France for 10 days in July. It’s such a belated post and now I’m posting it since the process of moving to the different continent showed some significant process.

Paris is kind of a city that I would not say it’s the most favourite but it makes me keep thinking about the city after I left and feel there are more unexplored areas. I happened to visit this city for three times. When I visited this city for the first time in 2014, I thought I explored pretty much a lot of parts in Paris and wouldn’t need to return to the city for a while. Then in 2016, I had a very long layover in Paris and luckily had an opportunity to go outside which was the final day of Euro 2016. It was certainly different atmosphere than the time I visited in late August 2014. Then, on July 4th 2018, I happened to visit this city again. Before coming to Paris, I had a little complaint in my mind that my family allocated to stay in Paris more than I wanted. I hoped to spend more time as possible in Southern France and Lyon. But since it’s my younger sister’s first visit to Paris, I guess I had to stay in Paris or take a train or bus to go outskirt of Paris to explore new places.

But this trip in France confronted that I was completely wrong and even made me reckoned I still have more places to visit in next trip to Paris. So, in this post, I would like to share hidden gems that I discovered in this trip to Paris

 

Bercy Village

bercy village

The hotel where my family stayed was right next to Bercy Village. It’s the first time to hear the name of this part of the city, actually so I didn’t have high expectation about the area around the hotel. My family were supposed to stay near Champ de Mars but it abruptly got cancelled.  There was bitter feeling that the hotel is not adjacent to the tourist area. After taking long train ride from the airport, I was pleasantly surprised how lively the area was. Past and present coexisted in this village. This area has a lot of offices nearby in modern buildings but also it used to be 42 wine storages which are now transformed into restaurants, stores and bars. Even Five Guys! Right next to this cute area, there’s a giant movie theater which attracts a lot of people from various ages. There are full of local people so it’s quite vibrant day and night.

Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève(Sainte-Geneviève Library)

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This library is right next to Pantheon but it seems like a hidden place that it’s tricky to find without Google Map. There are no eye-catching signs indicating it’s the library. But you might notice it by some people waiting on a queue to get into the library when it’s just opened. It’s originally the university library but it’s open to public. The bad news is that you need to make a library card to get into the library and enjoy beautiful interior. But the good news is that it’s free to make the first card and you will be able to use it more than 10 months. This room doesn’t have air conditioner but it was not too hot. You can charge your laptop at the end of each table. You will feel surreal to study for a while in this picturesque library and it’s a great place to escape from fellow tourists.

Palais Galliera

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Just steps away from the most prestigious couture boutiques, the Galliera Museum is located in a Renaissance-inspired palace. It’s located in an affluent neighborhood in Paris. It’s also closed to a couple of other museums such as Yves Saint laurent museum and Musée National d’Art Moderne. This museum is dedicated to fashion and fashion history.  When I visited the museum, the museum had maison margiela exhibition. The exhibit was presented chronologically for several decades. I heard from my travel companion that it was Lanvin’s exhibition in 2017. Since it has different and fascinating collection every year, I have more reasons to visit Paris on a regular basis.

Additionally, it’s walking distance to Avenue Montagne and it’s the real place to see all the famous and fancy brand stores.

Jardin du Luxembourg-Tennis Court

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Jardin de Luxembourg has a reputation for its sumptuous architecture and well decorated garden in the heart of the city. However, if you want to take a rest under the shade, the fancy garden area is not the best. In fact, there are a lot of chairs where you can lie comfortably and take a nap near tennis court area. It’s a good place if you want to take a break from walking under the sun in summer. Plus, you might be able to play tennis with locals.

Musee des arts Decoratifs

 

 

 

If you are not too interested in sculptures from ancient times and rather want to see more modern art, this is the place for you. It’s very close to Louvre and the entrance is on the side of the street that are across from a bunch of souvenirs. There were several different collections on each floor. The biggest exhibition at that time was Roman Cieslewicz tribute exhibition. According to the exhibition, he was a major figure in graphic design in the second half of the 20th century.Roman Cieslewicz saw his role as a graphic designer in direct confrontation with current events and I think it’s brave of him to express his ideas and opinions through art during the time and place when the freedom of speech was limited. And there were a lot of artistic stuffs in the shop so take time to look around!

 

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St. Malo,Bretagne-the port city of pirates

My mom and I traveled to France in late August, 2014 together. We went to Paris for several days, then went to Tours and old castles, Mont Saint Michel and then Saint Malo. My mom already visited Paris before so she suggested to go outside of Paris for a couple of days and it was indeed a nice break from cosmopolitan Paris.

Many of you would have heard Mont Saint Michel but Saint Malo might be new. Saint Malo is one hour drive from Mont Saint Michel. If you have enough time before or after going to Mont Saint Michel, it would be a great small city to stop by and enjoy the view.

If you are riding public transit, you can take a bus from Renne for one hour to get to Saint Malo. But as far as I know, there was not a bus going from Mont Saint Michel to Saint Malo or vice versa. So, if you want to go both places by bus or train, you should go back to Renne and take the bus to the other one. In this way, we arrived Saint Malo when there was sunset going on.

 

<Saint Malo aerial View from ThinkLink>

Saint Malo is a port city with long and interesting history and it’s famous for its surrounding wall. The history of this city actually goes back to 1st century BC and the city was founded by Gauls. This city has quite interesting relationship with France monarchy and Bretagne government. In the 11th century, the city had a tradition of asserting its autonomy in dealings with the French authorities and even with the local Breton authorities. From 1590 to 1593, Saint-Malo declared itself to be an independent republic, taking the motto “not French, not Breton, but Malouin.” Saint-Malo became notorious as the home of the corsairs, French privateers and sometimes pirates.  During the 17th and 18th centuries, under letters of marque from the king of France (who shared their booty), the corsairs of St Malo roved the seas taking whatever they wanted from English, Dutch and Portuguese ships unfortunate enough to encounter them.

So, Saint Malo is known as “Bretagne’s pirate heaven.”

My mom and I walked about 20 minutes from the station to the main part of Saint Malo(inside of the wall). Inside of the wall looks like Mont Saint Michel without hill and it was much less touristy than Mont Saint Michel.

 

french marketing

<One of the restaurants in Saint Malo- that’s how French people do marketing. Who doesn’t love French sound?>

 

<Streets in Saint Malo in the afternoon>

 

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<A giant old ship in front of the wall>

Unluckily, I don’t have pictures of Saint Malo during the night but it has certainly different vibe from walking in the morning and afternoon. With some street musicians playing music at night, it is even more romantic. In the afternoon, the city is quite and pleasant with fresh breeze from the ocean.

There are not many historical or touristic monument in Saint Malo. However, it’s definitely a highlight to walk around the wall. In French, it’s Les remparts de Saint-Malo. 

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<Pictures: View from Les remparts>

In World War II, during fighting in late August and early September 1944, the historic walled city of Saint-Malo was almost totally destroyed by American shelling and bombing as well as British naval gunfire.Saint-Malo was rebuilt over a 12-year period from 1948–60. Now we should appreciate to those people in the past who put effort to rebuild this city. Thanks to them, many visitors can enjoy a nice stroll around the wall with gorgeous views.

Chatobrien

In this picture, you can see a small island and it’s Grand Bé island. It is famous for Chateaubriand’s tomb, the famous and influential Romantic writer. You can get to the island only when the tide is out. When I saw this island, it was totally inaccessible. Chateaubriand was born in Saint Malo and  he wanted to stay in Saint Malo after his death since he was young. In his epitaph, he wrote “Un grand écrivain français a voulu reposer ici pour n’y entendre que la mer et le vent. Passant, respecte sa dernière volonté” meaning that he( a great French writer) just wanted to stay here to hear nothing else besides the sound from the sea and wind. It seems like a great way to enjoy the solitude with fresh air and sound from the sea.

After one night trip in Saint Malo, my mom and I had to get back to Paris. It was August 31st and the train was so packed with people going back to the reality from long vacance. Although it was very short trip, my mom and I talked about this trip and remind the time that we spent together in beautiful Saint Malo.

<Recommended Book>

Even if you didn’t read this book, you might have seen it in the bookstore. After reading this blog, you will be able to recognize that the book cover is the picture of Saint Malo. Indeed, Anthony Doerr, the author of this book, was inspired by the trip to Saint Malo and its history and started to write this novel. The novel takes place in Paris, Saint Malo and Germany during the WW2. Marie Laure, a blind girl living in Paris before the war flee to Saint Malo to escape from Nazi. Meanwhile, Werner, an orphan boy from a mining town in Germany, joined Hitler Youth and tracked the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.