Paris… Paris…

Last week was quite amazing. I was selected to participate in Boston Consulting Group’s Traction Europe workshop for top engineering students across Europe and Middle East. Quite a memorable experience! On top of that I got to spend the weekend in a French chateau, and that is something truly magical.

But fear not, my thoughts will focus strictly on the magical day I got to spend in Paris, and not turn into my humble rumbling of how cool and proud I felt to be there :) That I will rather leave for my memory book.

Paris… a city that never ceases to amaze me and make me fall in love with it every time I step onto its grandeur and glamour. Since I was little, Paris was one of my dream destinations. That princess dream turned real a few years ago, and since then I am in love.

In connection with the BCG event, I had an extra day to spend in Paris and for that I have made a special program. I arrived late in the evening to find this magical sight bienvenue-ing me. I mean who can resist its charm? Certainly, not me!

Bienvenue French style

Bienvenue French style

Next morning I directed my steps to Montmartre. The day was a grey one, yet even that greyness was giving a certain charm to the city. That inspired me to take some black & white photo motives.

Back to Montmartre. It is one of my most favourite districts in Paris. I love ascending its charming cobblestone streets, which usually leave me short of breath and awed by its beauty. I love the sheer white, imposing grandeur of Sacre Coeur Basilica. I love the view opening upon Paris from its platform. I love the narrow streets and the artistic feel.

A Montmartre scenery

A Montmartre scenery

 

Sacre Coeur - a sight that impresses me over and over again.

Sacre Coeur – a sight that impresses me over and over again.

Next up was a visit to my other darling – the area around Louvre and Palais Royal. I have mixed feelings about Louvre. Its hugeness and art is of enormous value, however visiting the museum is not one of the most pleasant experiences. I paid it a visit during my first time in Paris, and oh my couldn’t wait to get away from the hoards of tourists. Poor Mona Lisa… if only you could experience even for a split of a second all the commotion and insane crowds you draw to your tiny framed masterpiece. I think you would have been petrified… This time my visit to Louvre was only limited to a photography session of the pyramids, as I smiled and passed the 100+ queue waiting in the drizzling rain to get inside. They had no idea about the secret entrance to the greatest museum of all. I was surely not going to disclose my cherished secret.

Louvre Pyramid

Palais Royal is a place I return to every time I am in the city. In its courtyard there is a beautiful park and a very special black & white art installation – Colonnes de Buren. I remember the first time Andreas and I discovered this place. We kept jumping from column to column and organizing running contests. Talk about releasing the inner child in us… :)

Colonnes de Buren - a place, where I return to childhood

Colonnes de Buren – a place, where I return to childhood

Here at Palais Royal was where the pouring rain finally got me. Despite my itching feet to explore more, walking in that downpour wasn’t really a viable option, so I took refuge in Galeries Lafayette & Printemps – yep the coveted shopping paradise. I did not leave the glittering department stores with my credit card maxed out. Unbelievable as it may sound I mostly spent my time standing on the shopping meccas’ top floor and admiring the view. The view over the city from Printemps is so pretty.

Terrace on top of Printemps department store

Terrace on top of Printemps department store

Finally it was time to get to the sight, which makes my heart beat every time. Tour de Eiffel… looking at it from all possible angles, different areas of the city, longing for its pretty face day and night, I am truly addicted. On this trip, I was in no hurry to walk away from it, so I spent a good couple of hours slowly taking in the view.

Trocadéro - view to my beauty

Trocadéro – view to my beauty

Tour de Eiffel - I am addicted to this view!

Tour de Eiffel – I am addicted to this view!

Tour de Eiffel from Pont Alexandre III

Tour de Eiffel from Pont Alexandre III

This was my day in Paris, not with all of the juicy details though. I did manage a visit to a very interesting and unique museum – Musée du quai Branly, highly recommended, and an evening stroll on Champs Elysees, which was decorated with Christmas stalls on both sides.

Au revoir Paris et à bientôt!

Photos © Ani Movsisyan

Chartres – a tiny town with a huge cathedral

Andreas and I closed the last pages of 2013 with a quick escapade to France. Not Paris as one would expect, well not directly. Our first stop was Chartres, a town only French can pronounce so gracefully. It is only 90 km away from Paris, yet is such a world apart.

The elegance and glamour of Paris did not reach here, nor did the insane crowds of tourists thankfully, at least not in this season. Chartres had that air of French countryside charm that puts you straight in the idyllic state of mind. It also had some extremely nice residents, who were eager to share a smile or “bonjour”.

Old city charm

The old city waking up to a beautiful morning

The winding streets of Chartres - narrow with a really tiny sidewalk, so watch out for the traffic!

The winding streets of Chartres – narrow with a really tiny sidewalk, so watch out for the traffic!

On early morning walk

On an early morning walk

A day or two is enough to unfold all its secrets, walk its old, cobblestoned streets, and marvel at the imposing beauty of its enormous cathedral both outer and inner literally.

Chartres Cathedral

Notre-Dame de Chartres Cathedral – this wonder of a site will take your breath away over and over again.

Just seeing and experiencing this cathedral is an enough reason to visit Chartres. This enormous pilgrimage site from the 13th century is the definite landmark and the centerpiece of Chartres. The size is one thing, but take a close look at its spires, they are oddly different.

Imposing towers

Portail Royal – The main entrance to the cathedral is adorned with thousands of statutes and carvings.

Portail Royal - The main entrance to the cathedral is adorned with thousands of statutes and carvings.

From the façade it is mesmerizingly beautiful and tall, from the sides and the back it is massive and no less beautiful. But wait until you step inside. Your breath will be taken away again… Amazing stained glass everywhere on every single one of 172 windows. I spent close to three hours admiring one window after another.

When you look carefully you can see a special blue colour stand out from the crowd. It’s the ‘Chartres blue’.

The mesmerizing Chartres blue

The mesmerizing Chartres blue

Behind the cathedral there is a big park with a panoramic view.

The cathedral from the back

The cathedral from the back

A cute, little park little outside the inner city with a view of the cathedral of course!

A cute, little park little outside the inner city with a view of the cathedral of course!

Getting to Chartres is an adventure in itself. But don’t worry it’s a beautiful and fun adventure. You get to cross through Paris and navigate its crazy web of trains and metros. Put a few hours of travel time in a nutshell from Paris CDG take the RER B (sort of S-Bahn) to Paris, to go to Denfert Rochereau station. From there switch to line 6 direction Charles de Gaulle Etoile, and get off at Gare Montparnasse. From Gare Montparnasse upper platform there is a train every hour that takes one hour to get to Chartres.

Bon voyage!

Photos © Andreas Eriksen & Ani Movsisyan

Here are some of our Chartres highlights.

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