If you’ve been to this fabled City of Lights, you’ll understand the attraction. For a traveler who loves to simply soak in the vibe of a great city, this is the place to do it. Of course there are countless attractions to visit in Paris, but try to resist the urge to spend all your time striking them off your list, and instead take a more serendipitous approach to exploring the city.
ToursByLocals guide Pamela and I did just that this morning. I met her in front of the St Paul Metro in the 4th arrondisement, where both of us had arrived from different corners of the city on matching Vélib Bikes. (I will dedicate another article explaining why everyone who can ride a bike should
explore Paris by Vélib!) Pamela had suggested we go for coffee in the Marais neighbourhood, which is one of Paris’ oldest and most atmospheric, full of narrow winding streets and medieval buildings. Pamela quickly sensed how much I enjoyed all those charming little alleys, and made sure to take us on a meandering walk through some of the best ones, stopping at an outdoor café for coffee, orange juice and a tarte au poire et chocolat.
Re-fueled, we grabbed a couple fresh Velib bikes and made our way across the Seine towards Saint Germain des Près, passing the outdoor bird market on Ile de la Cité on the way. The entire time, Pamela was a lovely companion, chatting about life in Paris, and filling me in on little historical details about the things we were seeing on our way. (I now know how the game of Tennis came by its name, and where the French revolutionaries liked to dine!) Winding our way slowly through cobbled streets, she took me to the heart of Saint Germain (something I hadn’t been able to find myself the day before). After giving me recommendations for how to spend the rest of my day (a stroll through the Jardins Luxembourg followed by a cycle to the lively market street, Rue Mouffetard) we parted ways.
I’m so pleased to have gotten the chance to meet and tour around with Pamela; she reaffirms for me all that a great local guide should be: someone very friendly, welcoming, knowledgeable and above all passionate about their city. Thanks for a lovely time, Pamela! I hope someday to return the favour if you ever make it to Vancouver.
Now I’m on a train rushing through the French countryside at dusk, en route to Berlin, where I’ll get the chance to meet another ToursByLocals guide – and see Germany for the first time. A bientot Paris!