I did not have much time to see all the Paris I wanted to see when I was there, but I found that walking the city was the best dose of culture that one could get quickly enough. I arrived at about 9am at the Gare du Nord (the city's main train station) on the SST from Brussels. It was about a 3-hour trip.
I started out on my route on the boulevard de Magenta towards the Place de Republique. I was awestruck by the intricate architecture and beauty of the buildings around me. Even places that had become CD or book stores had an old-world feel to them. At the Place de Republique, I crossed to the Blvd de Beaumarche. Passed the lovely Place des Vosges and then came to the Place de Bastille, the memorial of the famous French prison.
From the Place de Bastille, I turned towards the bank of the Seine on the Boulvard Henry IV. At the end of this street was a busy intersection with the streets that ran directly next to the Seine. From here I had an excellent view of the Cathedral de Notre Dame-- something that was far more impressive even from a distance in real life than it was in the movies.
I continued to walk west up the bank of the Seine River. It is here that I came acrossed the Jardin des Tuileries. This garden was so beautiful and well manicured, I felt underdressed walking through it! The huge statues of animals and people throughout were magnificent. I just loved this garden, with it's distant view of the Eiffel tower and proximity to the massive Louvre museum. It was overwhelming to take all this scenery in.
For last part of my tour, I crossed the garden up to the Louvre to see both the old and new entrances. It is startling to see how contrasting the new and old architecture is together. I continued up the Champs Elysees towards the Arc de Triomphe which was visible from any vantage point in this road. I loved the gardens that lined the Champs Elysees; there were even several people that were dressed up like statues there that stood very still. Anything for art in Paris.
Alas, I ran out of time on my journey and had to head back to the Gare du Nord. I'm glad I made the trip to Paris, even if it was only for a day!