I had to return to France for my graduation, which I had to postpone last year due to work obligations. I planned to spend just 1 week to catch up with friends,and visit the little places I never got round to. So in this post, I will show you all the spots I visited on this trip and recommend you also check out and do if you’re in Paris during the winter season.
Winters in Paris
In my opinion, winters in Paris are pretty mild. I guess because I had after having lived 4 years in some of the coldest winters on this planet in Korea have made me think any other winter is mild. My Canadian friends thought the same as me…..well they are from Canada. However, winters in Korea are -15 to -20 on average, and its friggin’ freezing. So, the comfortable 11 and 7 degrees in Paris are nothing. But hey, we’re all different.
I’d recommend just bringing a good coat for the evenings. Otherwise, it’s not bad. I didn’t even need gloves or a scarf. I do have to point out that this winter in 2018 was actually much warmer than the winters from when I lived here a few years ago.
Places I visited
The Fragonard Perfumerie and Museum
I LOVED this popular little perfumerie located next to the Opera Theatre! The Fragonard perfumerie is one of France’s oldest perfumeries and houses a Perfume museum and workshop. Parfumerie Fragonard first opened up in 1926 after the First World War by entrepreneur, Eugene Fachs. He names the brand after the famous French painter Jean-Honore Fragonard.
I have very sharp sense of smell and so I take delight in the sweet aromas of perfumes found across the globe. It is also usually one of the first impressions I pick up from a person.
The museum is free and so is the tour! It also turned out to be more interesting than I thought. We got to learn about the history of perfume in Europe, what it was used for and what is came to mean amidst the societies over the centuries. There is also information on how a scent is produced in the workshops and the value of certain ingredients.
At the end we also got to smell Fragonard’s signature scents and guess what made them up. I had fun with this and guessed them pretty much right. I went mental in the shop, stocking up on lotions and perfumes. The prices are pretty decent too. I didn’t get to do the workshop, but I imagine it must be a fun experience.
I have been countless times to the Louvre, but always overlooked this museum that lies just across from it on the Seine.
The Musee D’Orsay was once a train station and was turned into a beautiful museum that houses a really cool art collection. Mainly focusing on Western Classical works, the museum focuses on works from the 1800s – early 1900s. The exhibition rooms on Degas and the impressionists were beautiful. I had learnt so much about Degas when I did art at school, it was amazing to actually see his sketch books, works and miniatures up close as he improvised to capture movement.
A small collection of Van Gogh is also on display at the Musee D’Orsay. I first saw his works at his museum when I was in Amsterdam, so it was nice to see the pieces I had missed.
The famous clock that overlooks the city of Paris was a bit busy. If want a nice shot, go in the week. I went late afternoon when it was more relaxed. If you want to get a more fine tuned version of a Parisian art museum without the pressure of trying to see everything in the vast Louvre, then the Musee D’Orsay is a great choice.
The Opera Garnier
The Opera Garnier was completed in 1875, by the architect Charles Garnier. This Baroque inspired building is the main opera theatre in Paris and was once the main ballet theatre. This beautiful opera house is breath-taking from the outside, just as it is inside. Many fancy soirees and theatrical productions were housed, and this Opera house also served as the inspiration for Andrew Lloyd’s Webber’s infamous play ‘Phantom of the Opera”.
The theatre also houses a ballroom area that was inspired by the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles. If you have been to Versailles, you can definitely see the references. The dramatic balustrades, marble interiors, and ornate furnishings all resonate an air of excitement and drama from those who once walked these halls and performed some of the world’s best theatrical masterpieces.
Read more about living in France
What is Paris Cite you may ask? Paris Cite is actual a small island that lies smack bang in the Seine in the 3rd Arondissment. It was actually the first “city” and predecessor of Paris before it started to expand around the Seine. This Gallo-Roman centre was first home to the Gallic tribe of Parisii before the Romans took over. Back then it was actually known as Lutetia or Lutece and was the main “hub” while small farming homesteads of old French tribes lived along the Seine.
The famous Notre Dame Cathedral is located in Cite, and the oldest first bridge in Paris is located here. I love walking through this small island, and you can still see remnants of old roman styled masonry in the foundations of the building in between the alleys. The views around the island are cool too, and try and have dinner or lunch at either cafes Esmerelda and Quasimodo if you can.
Read more about visiting Notre Dame Cathedral
Galleries Lafayette’s Rooftop
Galleries Lafayette is one of the world’s oldest and most famous department stores and it has an awesome rooftop to view the city of Paris! The multi-level department store is a beautiful building in its own right and the interior is def worth checking out. Every year, during the festive season, the department store goes waaaaaay out with the window displays and find new fun designs to decorate the Christmas tree.
I checked out the rooftop a few years ago with my friend Alyssa when we used to live here. We revisited it on this trip again. There is a really nice buffet styled restaurant and free art gallery if you want to explore the Galeries Lafayette more. You can obviously do a bit of shopping, if you have lots of cash to blow!
The Centre Pompidou is located in the 3rd arrondissement, and a spot I would regularly frequent during lunch breaks at Uni or just to chill after class. I loved this little area. There was always something happening. The main attraction is the uber cool Pompidou Museum, designed by French architect Charles Pompidou. This museum is a work of art in itself. With its unconventional architecture for the interior and exterior.
You can watch visitors walk through the levels from the outside. The colourful pipes against the fragmented steel façade is pretty eye-catching. Sitting by the fountain or the on the cobble stones with tea/coffee and watching street artists perform is always fun.
Ok, this re-visit was inspired by numerous posts of social media. I have walked through here lots of times but never bother to take a photo and now I wanted one. This art piece by French artist Daniel Buren, consists of a large check board with various sized striped columns. I liked the modern contrast it makes with the classical architecture around the courtyard.
The royal house of Orleans and numerous other royal folk had lived in the palace. Most notable were the younger brothers of King Louis XIV and Cardinal Richelieu (yes that brandy is named after this guy)
This one is special. On my last night, I arranged a dinner at Restaurant Kaitleen, a cool little restaurant near Opera opened up by my former classmate Charles! I follow his restaurant account on Instagram and the food always looks so good.
The food was as good as it looked. The atmosphere was cool for such a small space and service was great. I’d recommend you check it out. Seeing everyone together was fun and it turned out to be a good night. A nice way to end me and my friend’s last night in Paris before she headed off back to Canada and I to S.A!
A Winter’s Week in Paris
This was a busy week for me. Going into university, prepping for grad, collecting stuff and catching up. If you’re thinking of visiting Paris in winter, it’s really not a bad idea. Of course this depends on what your fantasies of this city are about or if you planned a summer wardrobe for your vacation photos. I’ll admit the city is much quieter and there are not as many tourists crowding up the place. At least, you can def get in that Eiffel Tower shots with almost nobody in the background!
In my next post on France, I will write more on what it’s like to study here and live the student life.