I thought we could make our way through the alphabet of Paris (an easy way to for me to come up with posts) taking a cue from the letter of the day and seeing where it might lead. With that in mind, I could not help but start us off with the lay of the land. This way, if one of you should go astray--letting go of your buddy's hand, which you know you should never do, you will at least have some idea of where you might be and how to get home!!
The letter A today is all about arrondissements or roughly translated, 'municipal boroughs'. The city of Paris is divided into twenty of these little villages, each with their own town hall (hôtel de ville) and mayor. Mini-municipalities you might say. Distinctly different in every possible way, they provide both resident and tourist with a unique and diverse interpretation of how life should be lived.
These arrondissements spiral out from the very center of the the city, curling around itself similar to the inside of shell, with the Seine dividing the city into the Right and Left banks. As a tourist, your visit will most likely be confined to the inner most arrondissements--say one through nine. It is here that the majority of monuments, museums and history can be found. That's not to say, however, that what lies beyond this point isn't worth a visit. In recent years, with real estate prices skyrocketing, Parisians have made the trek into new territory, specifically the outer spiral of the shell, where once decaying neighborhoods and buildings are being rejuvenated into pockets of boho chic.
In my books, the third thru six offer the most fun and adventure for those not familiar with the city. It is in this area that you will find all that you have read about in tour guides while planning a trip. Expect much of it to be crowded, crazy, full of traffic and noisy. Certainly, you will feel as though you are right in the thick of things--probably exactly where you want to be. You can walk everywhere or hop on the metro and cover more ground than you probably thought possible. This city, for all its grandeur and larger than life status is really quite small. To cover it by foot isn't as crazy as you think.
I have found some interactive maps of the city that allow you to click on the arrondisement and be taken on a journey of what monuments you will find there and a little about each section's distinct personality. There is no excuse for any of you getting lost!!
Photo credit: intransit.com