With its wide boulevards and undulating streets, Paris is one of the most visited destinations in the world. The capital of France has treats and delights around every corner. It doesn’t matter what interests you Paris has something for everyone. Referred to as the “City Of Light” for its early electrification this city has art, history in every arrondissement. It hard not to fall in love with this beautiful place, in fact, the only difficulty is deciding what to do and where to go.
Paris is perfect for strolling around as there are cafes on every corner and plenty of green open places to relax in. With the river Seine housing some of the world’s top UNESCO heritage sites it is a great idea to view them from a boat. You can choose from a narrated cruise or a hop on and off taxi style ride. You can marvel at the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral, Musée d’Orsay, Jardin des Tuileries, and the Louvre from the comfort of your boat. It is a great way to start seeing the city.
Where should you continue? For the Jewish traveler, it might be best to head straight for the hippest area in Paris, the Marais, which is located in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements. The best known of the Jewish areas can be found amongst some of the coolest bars, art galleries, and coffee shops. As with many arrondissements, you will find kosher restaurants here to sustain you after a busy day seeing the sights. There are so many it is best to refer to a reliable database such as TotallyJewishTravel to find exactly where they are located.
Affectionately known as the “Pleitzl” this area was home to a vibrant and exciting community. At its core, there is the Rue des Rosiers. This street still has a multitude of traditional Jewish shops and some amazing restaurants Deli Sacha Finkelsztan; The Restaurant Chez Marianne and L’As du falafel offering traditional Jewish food.
Le Café des Psaumes is a reflection of the current makeup of the Parisian Jewish community. It is a community based social café targeting the elderly, particularly Holocaust survivors and North African immigrants during the week. It offers a cultural program too. During the evening and on Sunday it is open to the general public.
To learn about the general history of Jewish Paris I cannot recommend the Jewish Museum highly enough. It paints a picture of the rich history of western European Jewish history centered on the French experience. From Rashi to Chagall and Dreyfuss our vibrant history comes alive in front of your eyes. You will find it located in a former mansion on rue du Temple in the heart of the Marais.
Paris is very walkable. Stroll down the wide tree-lined streets the Champs-Élysées and take in the sights and atmosphere between the Luxor Obelisk at the Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe. It’s a magnificent monument honoring France’s military history. At the bottom, you find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Climb this structure and enjoy panoramic views of Paris. There are twelve streets that converge on this enigmatic spot. Does one boulevard you can see the Eiffel tower, down another you can see the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur on top of Montmartre. The question is where do I go next.
You don’t need to stay at street level, you can go underground. Found in The Cluny Museum you can be taken on an underground tour of the Roman Baths. These are the largest Roman Baths in France and it is two museums on one site. Hotel de Cluny was built by the Abbot of Cluny in 1330 and as one of the oldest residences in Paris, it has been turned into a museum of medieval history and is home to over 22,000 artifacts.
You can stay underground and visit the Paris sewers under the 7th Arrondissement. This will give you insight into the engineering history of this beautiful city. The other quirky underground museum is the macabre Paris catacombs. As Paris grew in size there was nowhere to bury the dead so their bones were interred 65 feet underground in an ossuary. They are decoratively displayed for you to walk among. Take a tour or an audio guide and learn about the development of this underground cemetery.
It’s hard to decide where to visit next. I like the idea of finding the five replicas of the Statue of Liberty in Paris. You can find two at the Arts-et-Metiers museum in the third arrondissement. One inside and one outside. There is one in the Musee D’Orsay and if you head there you will find out details of the history of this iconic statue. The biggest is the Grenelle Bridge on the island known as Île aux Cygnes. It was a gift from the USA. See if you can find the one hidden in the Jardin de Luxembourg. This park is also a great place to hang out and escape the bustle of the big city. Finally, a scaled replica of the Flame of Liberty is found above the entrance to the Pont De l’Alma Bridge.
Wherever you walk in Paris you are never far from seeing something delightful. You can also buy delightful things too. Don’t miss out on seeing the Belle Epoch architecture in the Galleries Lafayette on Hausmann. Art and shopping combine in the magical department store. For a change of pace try shopping at the Paris Flea Market which is open Saturday, Sunday and Monday. There are 15 different open-air markets here and you will see many antiques from 17th-century furniture to art deco dresses you will find a bargain here for sure.
Paris is easily accessible by air or train so it is possible to visit many times. Once you have tried its delights you will keep coming back to see the sights you missed. For the kosher traveler it will be advised to check TJT’s Paris Kosher & Jewish Travel Guide, it is ideal as there is an abundance of kosher eateries and places to stay close to the center as well as in the suburbs. You are never too far from a minyan either with over 93 synagogues in Paris. In fact, you are never far from many beautiful places in the City of Light.