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Welcome to Paris!
Orientation (cont.)


The quintessential Parisian cafe

The cafe is a intrinsic part of life in Paris. Walking down the street you will invariably see them dotting the street lines with sprawling outdoor seating areas. Cafes, bistros, brasseries, creperies... you can get a bite to eat and watch Parisian life go by at any of these places. Of course, not all of them are at the pinnacle of French cuisine. Check out a guide book or two and find a few with a good reputation around your hotel. If you see a good one on the way to a sight, sit down for a half hour and enjoy breakfast.

Cafe sightseeing can be an activity in and of itself in Paris. Before I went to Paris, I made it my goal to photograph every cafe that looked interesting. They are everywhere. Each cafe has a dynamic atmosphere.

The cafe isn't the only thing that a first time visitor to Paris should take an interest in... you should also take a careful look at les patisseries et les boulangerie. Nowhere in the world will you find such a wide selection of sweet, delicious, beautifully baked confections as you will in Paris. They make a terrific midmorning snack and a break from sightseeing. Make sure and sample a variety of sweets; try the ones you aren't familiar with, too. Everything you have heard about real French bread is true. Their secret is buying it fresh, everyday, and eating it with fresh meats and cheeses.

French chocolate is wonderful and it would be wise to sample the offerings
of several shops. Below are a couple shots of myself at a chocolate shop
that specialized in old Aztec recipes, served and blended with a French twist.

And of course, no talk of Paris is complete without speaking of cheese. All smells and tastes, fermented and stored for all palates, you'll find at least a few that you enjoy. I was quite surprised to discover the one I liked the most was about ten years old. We bought some and the shopkeeper vacuum-sealed it for the trip home.

On the main France index page are a good spread of sights that should be seen on any trip to Paris. If you're pressed for time, skip Chantilly. Chateau Versailles (not to be missed) is an all-day excursion, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Other interesting half day trips could be out to the medieval town of Senlis or the Catacombs of Paris; both are recommended. The gothic cathedal at Chartre is a good bet if you enjoy churches and architecture; that is a half-day trip as well.


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