Pushing for Paris

I once knew someone who actually said this when I mentioned that my favorite city is Paris: “Huh? Even Munich is better than Paris.”

Deathly silence.

Munich?

Munich?

Thunderstruck, I retain this memory with terrible clarity. I crossed that person off my Christmas card list. 

(Now, nothing against Munich. Munich is neat-o. I thoroughly enjoyed Munich, if I didn’t fall in love with it. I like beer. And cuckoo clocks.)

When I was in Amsterdam in May, I was on a boat tour through the lovely canals and, coaxed by the pushy skipper, I was evidently dumb enough to say the city was beautiful, much like Paris, wherein the whole boat, about eight people, groaned, “Whoa! Amsterdam is waay better than Paris.” Murmurs and whispers ensued. (Oh, those awful French people, groused a ditzy Brit, echoing the laziest cliché in the history of world travel.)

I had to, first, snuff my indignation, then muffle my bemusement, then muzzle my laughter. Were they serious? Amsterdam is gorgeous and fun and historically and culturally robust, but it doesn’t hold a flickering little paper match to the overwhelming majesty of sprawling, art-encrusted, haute cuisine-infused, history-convulsed Paris, which boasts its own sinuous canal in the knockout, 483-mile Seine and all of its inviting, ancient quays. 

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The last thing Paris needs is some doltish American offering injured and angry apologias for the grand, gilded metropolis. Paris stands supreme, proudly independent, unimpeachable, a dazzling European peacock, plumage in full splay. Perhaps not everyone’s favorite destination, it remains high up, cleanly above Munich and Amsterdam. (I choose Amsterdam, which I adore for so many reasons, over Munich, for the record.)

Central Paris, that masterpiece of urban planning, conflates the antiquated and the contemporary for stunning treelined strolls. Magnificent parks, gardens and cathedrals stipple the cityscape and some of the most august art repositories in the world — Musèe d’Orsay, the Louvre, Musèe de l’Orangerie, Musèe Picasso, Centre Pompidou — unfailingly spellbind. Food, fashion, film — Paris is a throbbing epicenter for it all.

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Musee d’Orsay, November 2015

But we know this. Here I am describing, a mite defensively, the patent pleasures of this great city. All of it world-renown. For a reason.

While Paris preens and beguiles, some of my other eternal boldfaced cities include New York, Tokyo, London, Barcelona, San Francisco, Krakow and stately Istanbul, where I return this month, giddily. 

Reader: I’d love to hear about your favorite travel spots. Drop names in the comments section and be as brief or windy as you’d like. I’m curious if Paris makes the cut or not, or if I’m crazy, and if I’m overlooking other star locations, be it Botswana or Buenos Aires. Type away … 

14 thoughts on “Pushing for Paris

  1. I haven’t been to all the cities, but I’ve been to Paris, and it’s my favourite.
    I kept having to pinch myself, couldn’t believe I was there, it was better than I’d imagined, more than I’d imagined.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s how I am in Paris, as well — pinching myself till I’m polka-dotted with bruises. It’s crazy magical. Thanks, Jay. (Your “Close Encounters” entry was extraordinary, by the way.)

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  3. I hate to say it, but I don’t much like Munich, Amsterdam or Paris, though I can see why people do – I’ve just had fairly unpleasant experiences in all of them. Of the three, I probably like Amsterdam the best. I am a big fan of Belgium, which I know is a bit weird, and also Slovenia and New Zealand, which I think I’ve said before. City-wise, I really like Stockholm, Melbourne, and Philadelphia, and obviously London, though with London it’s more of a love-hate thing, since I live here, so I see the many many downsides that you don’t notice if you’re only visiting.

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  4. That’s OK, Jessica, even if you’re wrong ; ) The fact that you like fart jokes so much makes up for your taste in cities (smiley emoji here). Glad you mention Belgium — I’ve often thought of visiting. I’ll pick your brain when I do. Those are really interesting cities on your list, ones I haven’t been to, except very cool Philly. Really thought-provoking. Thanks!

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  5. My Europe trip has yet to come but hopefully soon. The history in that part of the world is amazing.

    Way back in the 1980’s a good friend and I took a joy ride from the state of Washington to Baja, California. We saw some of the most beautiful little towns you could ever imagine.

    It was as if paradise was placed in the middle of nowhere. I could have parked my little car and never come back.

    Happy to read your travels.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No Europe yet? Oh, you must. So great for writers. I’m originally from California so I can just imagine the lovely places you experienced on your road trip (and the not so lovely — Bakersfield, anyone?). Keep traveling, and keep writing. Your blog is entrancing. Thanks for stopping by, Bryan!

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  6. Thank you for the compliment. I’m laughing at your Bakersfield comment. 🙂

    It was summer time. We were lost and somehow we ended up in that town. It did not leave a positive impression.

    Lets just put it that way.

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  7. I enjoyed reading the post….got me thinking….
    Being an expat Brit I’ve always shunned “those awful French”. But almost 30 years of living in New Zealand has softened me, so when me and my wife decided to backpack Europe recently I reluctantly included France. Loved it…all of it. Paris was just wonderful and I plan to go back again sometime soon. It has it all. History, architecture, art, style, literature, food, wine….marvelous place. I thought that Nice in the south of France was very nice too…..as was Montpellier. Amsterdam I thought was quite dirty….enjoyed Rotterdam much better. Munich and Berlin were OK, but I preferred the smaller German towns such as Bamberg and Regensberg. The Czech Republic town of Cesky Krumlov in the south west is my perfect destination though. I could easily live there. It’s like a minature Prague….but with a better feel about it. (I’m currently working on a blog post about Cesky Krumlov and its lively literature and arts scene). Also i simply loved the beautiful villages that make up the Cinque Terra in the north west of Italy – and by the way think that the nearby town of La Spezia is very under rated. Barcelona was interesting but very spread out. I think in Spain my fave town was Toledo….lots of history, narrow streets, city walls and the home of Spanish Swords….and literary ties to the book Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. In the USA I prefer Boston to New York……and will be taking a third look at San Francisco early next year.

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  8. Hi and thanks for stopping by! So glad you enjoyed Paris. It really is in my top three best of’s. I haven’t been lucky enough to reach Nice, though I have done Aix en Provence and Marseilles, both of which were great. I’ve been to Prague (overrated) but not Pesky Krumlov. You make that sound divine. Look forward to your blog post about it! I have been to one of the villages in Cinque Terra and it was spectacular. I have to part with you on Boston vs. NYC. So much more in NY, me thinks.

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    1. It’s Cesky…not Pesky Krumlov Chris. It is a lovely place…..so much smaller than Prague and very much a place that I could live easily. I think you’ve already “Liked” my post on it – It was titled A Rhapsody in Old Bohemia.
      As for Boston Vs NYC. Yes NYC probably has a lot more going on. I enjoyed NYC more on my first visit in 1986, than I did on my last one. I do love central park though. Always so much going on there…..especially with musicians. Some very talented people play in the park. Boston seemed to be cleaner and felt safer to walk around and this time around also had the attraction of my son and his wife living there…..and now they’ve moved to San Francisco……so that’s my next trip.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Haven’t been in Paris yet so can’t really say anything about it, but my favourite cities are Copenhagen (I want to move here and stay), Ljubljana (because I live here and it is stunning), Kaohsoung (because it is so different), Prague (Golden Prague), Venice (how can this not be on my list?) and also Istanbul, where I am headed in November. Can’t wait for it!

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    1. I haven’t been to Copenhagen but you are one of many travelers who strongly recommends it. It sounds wonderful. I also haven’t been to Ljubljana or Kaohsoung (spelling those places is a major challenge!), though I have been to Prague and Venice, both of which I found too touristy and somewhat underwhelming, despite the glorious, undeniable beauty. I go to Istanbul one week from today, Oct. 30, for 8 days — my fourth time in that enchanting city. I hope you love it!! Have a great trip!

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