Appreciating A Quieter Paris In August
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
If you love Paris but despise the crowds, then August may be the perfect time to travel to The City of Light. Yes, it’s true that many restaurants, businesses, and cafés shut down during this month, but with half of Parisians leaving the city for annual vacations, you may just enjoy the extra leg room. “In August, a sense of serenity settles over the city,” recalls James Morgan in the recent National Geographic Traveler. Surprisingly, there is still much to see, eat, and admire in a quieter Paris, and you may even find that escaping the pressures of completing a “must-see” list is quite liberating.
Instead you can appreciate the city with a simpler, more Parisian saunter, enjoying the many parks, Sunday museums, flea markets, and breezy cafés. Morgan advises — as is usually always a good bet — venturing off the tourist track, suggesting a stop at the Pére Lachaise cemetery where visitors should avoid the crowded resting place of Jim Morrison, purchase a map for two euro, and search for other “evocative antiques” like, Honoré de Balzac, Frédéric Chopic, Eugéne Delacroix, Georges Bizet, Sarah Bernhardt, and Colette.
If one opts for a cruise up the Marne and Seine, Morgan recommends grabbing lunch at a guinguette, or French “eating-drinking-dancing joint,” hotspots for many free-spirited Parisians during the 18th century to the 1950’s. Located just east of Paris in the town of Marne, the guinguettes were an inexpensive (they were exempt from the city’s liquor tax) way for the working class to wind down on Sunday afternoons.
And if you can’t make it to Côte ? Azur? Why not drop by the annual Paris Plages, which transforms the landlocked edges of the Seine River to an enchanting beachfront, complete with sand, palm trees, pétanque courts, and cafés. The allure of Paris in August can also be admired at the Jardin de Bagatelle for its world-renowned rose competition. The competition is held in June, but the blooming beds are left to thrive in peaceful gardens to inspire and delight all who venture to this botanical gem.
To really experience Paris, Morgan urges travelers to visit one of its many parks. He tempts people to pick a spot and daydream, letting the time pass, as it may, and reflect on the sounds, faces and scents that drift by. The sight of “children sailing small wooden boats around the ponds in the Tuileries garden” may be the perfect ending to a Parisian reverie on a lazy afternoon in August.
By Maria Russo
About the Author
Maria Russo is a freelance writer who loves natural wonders, good eats, ethical travel, and boutique hotels. Her work has appeared on the Huffington Post, USA Today.com, People.com and A Luxury Travel Blog, among others.
When Maria is not writing for her all-time favorite site (that would be The Expeditioner), she spends her time blogging about foreign jaunts and delectable food experiences for her site: Memoirs of a Travel & Food Addict. She is also up to no good on Twitter (@traveladdictgrl, @expedmaria).