- Nancy Webb
Paris is a Woman's Town, with Flowers in Her Hair - Part 1 of 3
Updated: Dec 18, 2022
Paris is a Women’s Town, with Flowers in Her Hair – Henry Van Dyke
Part I of 3.
This line from Henry Van Dykes Poem - America for Me brings me back to my first impression of Paris. It is a City that flaunts the femineity in us all. That is why every woman should visit Paris at least once in their life. If you don’t have an enthusiastic significant other to travel with – Go by Yourself! If you have never traveled to another country alone, Paris is the perfect Solo Destination. The most important benefit of traveling Solo – is that you will have the ultimate freedom to create an itinerary, that resonates the most with you! The French Capital is absolutely packed with things to do, see, and taste, so please know that you won’t have any trouble composing your wish list of all things Paris.
Why is Paris so Beautiful?
The beauty of Paris is purposeful – it did not happen by chance. Here is how it came about:
Medieval Paris. Paris was a mixture of half-timbered houses and shops, enclosed mansions of the nobility, and churches. The most notorious structure from this era is the Notre Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris) – which began construction in 1163.
St-Etienne-due-Month - a classic example of French Renaissance Architecture
Renaissance Paris. In the 1500’s, the Renaissance brought the idea that a city should not be a haphazard collection of buildings, but great architecture based on the classical style of Ancient Greece. In 1607 King Henri IV decreed regulations (architecture d’accompagnement) for building frontages on streets to have architectural harmony, which was ruthlessly enforced by Inspectors. The French Renaissance style centered on lavishly cut stone heavy on ornamental sculpture. The St-Etienne-du-Mont and St. Eustache Churches are examples from this era.
Haussmann Apartment Building - Wouldn't it be nice to live here - just for a couple of months!
Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann. In 1853 Napoleon entrusted Baron Haussmann to transform Paris into the beautiful Paris we know today. Haussman demolished the crowded unsanitary streets of the remaining Medieval parts of Paris into a well-ordered capital within a geometric grid of avenues and boulevards, built over a modern water supply and sewer system. The elegant Haussman Apartment Buildings are instantly recognizable. Constructed of a cream-colored stone, wrapped around wrought iron balconies and steeply sloped four-sided mansard roofs.
How much more French can you get than this? The Jules Lavirotte's Building at 29 Avenue Rapp
Belle Epoque (1871 – 1914). Progress and prosperity arrived in Paris and with it the naturalistic, mythical, sensual style called Art Nouveau. This Era was brutally cut short by World War I, however, Paris can boast several buildings of this style – mostly in the 7th Arrondissement – and one of the best which is French Architect Jules Lavirotte’s building at 29 Avenue Rapp.
Typical Art Deco Architecture
Art Deco. This movement first appeared in Paris in about 1920-1912 and continued until the beginning of World War II and symbolized modernity and luxury. It is characterized by bold geometric forms, bright colors, and highly stylized decoration. This movement was also incorporated into jewelry, graphic arts, and furniture (think Vuitton, Lalique, Cartier and Boucheron) Parisian examples include the Theater des Champs-Elysees and the Hotel Palais de Chaillot. The Church of Sainte-Odile has magnificent Stained Glass in the Art Deco Style.
Centre Georges Pompidou
21st Century. The architectural excellence continues to this day, with striking but functional modern buildings in a style befitting Paris. Explore the master-planned commercial and technical district of La Defense or the Centre Georges Pompidou.
The Great Outdoors in Paris
Paris is one of the most densely populated cities in Europe. The Population of the City of Paris is 2.2 million - all located in a compact 41 square miles. The Ile-de-France (Greater Metropolitan area of Paris) is 11.6 million all living in 4,638 square miles. However, as the plot thickens, in 2019 Paris welcomed 35.4 million Visitors (derived from Hotel Arrivals.) Consequently, Paris can get crowded and visitors, as well as residents, can get a bit overwhelmed by all the people.
Chairs and Benches of Parisian Parks
Well, Paris has an answer to this problem: Her 400 Parks. Parisians as well as Visitors can get away from the crowds and enjoy some green space, have a picnic, read a book, and take a deep breath. For different reasons, these are some of the best gardens and greenspaces in Paris. As you will see, these parks all have unique aspects to them.
Jardin de Luxembourg. This garden was commissioned by Queen Mairie de Medici in the 1600s. It is known for its large water basin – where in the summertime you can rent little boats to sail, beautiful sculptures and flowers. The oh-so Parisian Green Chairs are plentiful as well as lots of grassy areas for relaxing.
Jardin de Tuileries. This is park starts at the Louvre and ends at the Place de la Concorde and Champs Elysees. It was originally built for royals only, but became a public park after the French Revolution. You can walk along the banks of the Seine and see the Eiffel Tower peeking out above the buildings and trees. The grassy areas are pretty much just for looking at – but there are plenty of benches and chairs.
The Perfect Spot for a Parisian Picnic of Wine, Cheese and a Fresh Baguette.
Champ de Mars. This park is the long, grassy area that leads up to the Eiffel Tower. It is lined with trees with lots of places to sit or lounge in the grass. You can pick up the elements for the perfect Paris Picnic on the nearby Rue Cler, a market street with a boulangerie, fromagerie, wine shop, and several fruit stands.
The beautiful Gates of Park Monceau
Parc Monceau. This hidden gem in the upscale 8th arrondissement is famous for its gates with fancy black wrought iron with gold tips. Features include a carousel and playground for children, an Instagram-worthy shot of a pond with a beautiful weeping willow, a bridge, a waterfall feature, and sculptures scattered around the park.
Cimetiere Pere Lachaise. Yes, this is an unconventional “park” as it is a cemetery. It is a peaceful, beautiful, and nature-centric space. The 110 acres have lovely, cobblestone, tree-lined paths, as well as above-ground tombs and sepulchers. No grass or benches, but if you are seeking a peaceful, relaxing spot to take a stroll – this park is perfect.
Chateau de Vincennes
Bois de Vincennes. This 2,000-acre+ park is located on the southeast edge of the city. It has four different lakes each with its out feature (like a grotto or the “Temple of Love,” a botanical garden, a zoo, and an arboretum. You can also tour the old “Chateau de Vincennes” – which was the heart of the French monarchy until 1682, when Louis XIV chose to settle in Versailles. It was then used as a prison until the 19th century. Fouquet, the Marquis de Sade, and Mirabeau here all held here. It is now a place of national remembrance. It was restored after suffering extensive damage during World War II, and now houses the historical services of the three French armed forces.
Jardin des Plantes. This botanical garden is located in the Latin Quarter (5th arrondissement), right along the Seine. It features flower and tree displays, an alpine garden, a menagerie, and a greenhouse. There are lots of winding paths with privacy – so much so that you might not even remember you are in one of the largest cities in Europe.
Paris is beautiful and can be a feast for your spirit, eyes, and palate. This first of three posts outlines why every woman should visit Paris - at least once. The second article focuses on the logistics of your trip – how to get there, transportation in the city, where to stay, and of course what to eat. The 3rd Post will provide you with the ingredients for you to create the perfect Itinerary just for you!