Sun City Paris


Map in hand, I marched straight down to the banks of the Seine, turned my back on the city and stayed there for a long time, tète á tète with the water. I wanted to see and listen to the city on whose banks Baudelaire composed poetry.

When I turned to my right, the great Notre Dame de Paris loomed in front of me - mother church of Paris where Victor Hugo composed the story he claimed would ‘kill this building’. It didn’t. Quite the contrary, it gave it a hunchback and made it greater than ever.

Not something just any book can do. I stood fixated on the Notre Dame’s magnificent facade, doors and spires. And they reminded me of the same sense of beauty I had felt before the Seljuks’ double minarets back in my native Erzurum.

Paris lies on a plain encircled by a river. It has no hills to speak of. Its highest places are manmade. For a long time the Notre Dame was the highest point in Paris, followed by the Eiffel Tower starting from 1889.

I climbed one of the spires of the Notre Dame to look down from above. And suddenly the city that I would later cover step by step was spread in front of me as far as the eye could see. Starting from its nucleus on the two islands in the Seine, Paris expands ring upon ring. After the Notre Dame, which is inside the first ring, the city expands into a second ring which includes the Louvre on the Right Bank and the Sorbonne on the Left Bank.

 It is during this period, from the 12th to the 18th century, that Paris is at its zenith when the Sorbonne is the West’s center of learning, and Paris ‘sun-city’. Descartes and Molière, then Voltaire and the Enlightenment, all come out of Paris. But the essential city we call Paris acquires its unchanging main features in the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. Which part is Paris and which is not is an ongoing debate here, as in every great city.

With the development of the Paris regional rail network RER since the 1960’s, the outlying towns have embarked on a process of integration with the city. Now the metropolis stands on the brink of yet another expansion through the Greater Paris Project.

With its thousand-year history, Paris is one of the best examples in the world of the art of creating a city. As if savoring a visual feast, the eye drinks in this beauty and harmony along an East-West axis starting from the first royal chateau at Vincennes and stretching all the way to the skyscrapers in the business district of La Defénse, the Manhattan of Paris.

Along this axis one stops at the Bastille and, continuing westward, comes to perhaps the first museum that springs to mind at any mention of the word, the Louvre.

At Les Tuileries, the former royal gardens, one takes a brief rest and then, once again, savors the sense of proportion and vista of the city from the Champs-Élysées, the world’s most beautiful avenue, to the Arc de Triomphe. Surveying the city and the Champs receding into the distance from the top of the Arc is a pleasure all its own.

Like every place deserving to be called a city, Paris is a world-city and pluralistic. Besides its world famous museums, Paris itself is a museum city for those eager to see history in the flesh.

With its past, its architecture and its works of art, Paris offers the visitor riches the likes of which are rarely encountered in the world. At the same time Paris is the symbol of dynamic sustainability and a city of art, culture, science and technical prowess open to the future.

You can pass by the house of the celebrated medieval lovers Abélard and Héloise and take a coffee break in a cafe once frequented by Baudelaire or Sartre, ride the completely automated 14th Metro Line to Bercy and get off and see the city’s innovative new architecture, or you can alight at Francois Mitterrand and research to your heart’s content at the gargantuan and technologically futuristic National Library.

If you are a film buff, you can watch a film that would be difficult to see anywhere else at the Cinémateque Francaise or at one of the two large movie theaters nearby. For when it comes to cinematic diversity, Paris is the richest city in the world.

Like the city’s physical structure, its social structure too bears vestiges of this historical and cultural depth and offers a wide variety. Paris welcomes the visitor amidst all this color, and rarely or, with only slight exaggeration, never makes him feel like a stranger.

A cheese platter is the crowning glory of a sumptuous French repast.  Literally hundreds of varieties of cheese made from cow’s and goat’s milk are available in the city, and eating Camembert, named for a town in Normandy, is de rigeuer at Paris restaurants.

Le Pont des Arts is one of the bridge’s joining the two banks of the Seine. A pedestrian bridge, it is alive with paintings, sculpture, readings and music. Paris is a city of elegant bridges and massive sculptures, and the Louvre’s glass pyramid adds intensity and light  to the museum’s ponderous stone architecture.

A seat by the pool in the Tuileries, or in the Luxembourg Gardens, is a great place for taking in your surroundings. The Buttes Chaumont, one of two hills to the north of Paris, is a picnic area. Along with Vincennes on the east of the city, and the Bois de Boulogne to the west, it is one of the areas where Parisians go for a taste of nature.

Famous for its human landscapes, Montmartre is a virtual city unto itself with a different world at every step. A village within the city, as the French put it. And the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, for which the hill where it stands is named, is the most famous historic structure in the area. The hill, which affords visitors a panoramic view of Paris, is also a popular haunt of painters and artists.

You can hop on one of the Paris municipality’s Vélib bikes. Found easily on every corner and inexpensive to rent, these bikes will take you where you want to go. And when you’re done you can deposit the bike at the nearest Vélib Park. Parks can be found lot of part in the city.

Some historic building or other rises at the end of every long boulevard in Paris. The Panthéon on the Rue Soufflot, for example. Once used as a church, this Hellenistic-style building functions as a mausoleum today where the remains of distinguished French citizens are interred.

With dozens of stations scattered all over Paris, the RATP makes getting around the capital quick and cheap. The Metro station logo, an ‘M’ inside a big circle is easily recognized at the chic Art Nouveau-style entrances.

Two major structures from the Mitterrand era: The Institut du Monde Arabe is known for its reflecting walls. Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, it accentuates France’s special relationship with the Arab world. The Cité des Sciences meanwhile boasts a circular screen on which documentary films are shown.

Paris was the cradle of the 19th century school of painting known as Impressionism. All the  pioneers of this movement, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley met and painted in a Paris atelier.

Perhaps the best reward of an extended Paris stay is to sit down in a cafe and order whatever your heart desires. A typical French breakfast, for example, as seen on this tray in a cafe window.  Coffee, pain au chocolat, a croissant and jam.

These crescent-shaped pastries are the sine qua non of breakfast French-style. Made with butter, they go best with a big cup of coffee.

Turkish Airlines has Istanbul-Paris flights four times every day of the week. For more information about schedules and fares, go to web site.
Getting around Paris is cheap and easy on the advanced Paris Metro system. A Paris Visite card, which will enable you to use Metro and bus lines free of charge, is available.

The ideal time to go to Paris is between April and June when the weather is sunny and average temperatures are 15-20 ° C. Since most Parisians go on vacation in July and August, the city is left to the tourists.

You can also take a break in one of the cafeterias or restaurants of the Musée de l’Homme, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Musée du Quai Branly or the Institut du Monde Arabe.

There are many places to shop in Paris where you can find everything in the way of fashions and clothing along the Champs-Élysées, the Avenue Montaigne, the Boulevard Saint-German and particularly in the department stores (Les Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, and Le Bon Marché).
Turkish citizens need to get a Schengen visa to enter France. For details visit.

Some of the homes where famous figures from Oscar Wilde to Balzac once visited or stayed are also used as hotels today.

If you come to Paris, you have to see the Louvre, an artistic masterpiece with its architecture and exhibitions. After the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, Saint-Michel and the Eiffel Tower all await you.

For long walks, we recommend Place Vendôme, Montmartre, and the Rue Mouffetard area. If you’re still raring to go, you can add the Opéra and the Bastille area to your list.

You can also get to know Paris by reading about it. For a start, Gustave Flaubert’s Sentimental Education, Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame, André Breton’s Mad Love are just some of the books that convey the spirit of Paris.

Five films for getting to know Paris well: 1. À bout de souffle - Jean-Luc Godard, 2. Le pont du Nord - Jacques Rivette, 3. Metro - Luc Besson, 4. Les amants do Pont-Neuf - Leos Carax, and 5. Frantic - Roman Polanski.

A poetry festival, Printemps des Poètes, had its inception at the end of the 1990’s. This year’s Printemps des Poètes is March 7-21. The Fête de la Musique will take place this year, as every year, on June 21st. The Avignon Theater Festival in July is not to be missed.

The country’s national holiday, Bastille Day, is celebrated on July 14th. There is an official parade on the Champs-Élysées the morning of the holiday and a fireworks display at the Eiffel Tower that evening.

Riverboat tours are one of the best ways for touring Paris. A tour from the Pont de la Concorde to Pont Sully would allow you to see the city’s iconic structures.

“Paris is like its famous millefeuille pastry with many rich and different layers. Paris knows how to respond to the desires of people of every temperament, offering culture, fashion or food to those who want it… But France does not consist of Paris alone. With their rich and varied life, the provincial cities have overcome their dependency on the capital”