When you think of Paris – what images spring to your mind?

I’ll not hesitate to guess that the grand structures such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, the Louvre and Versailles are first to pop into your head. Yes? No?

The not-so-petit Eiffel Tower

My sister and I went for a weekend – arriving at lunchtime on the Eurostar and departing the following Monday morning.  Our mission was to see as much as we could.  Call it culture cramming.

My sister thought it would be a cunning plan to get the Paris Pass for the two full days that we were there.  It’s a great concept – giving you free entry (and you get to skip huge queues whilst you are at it) to over 60 museums, art galleries and historic monuments.  Trouble is there is no way on this green earth that you can see everything in Paris in a weekend!

There is a trade-off to be made, either you focus on the sights you want to explore in detail, or run around like headless chickens attempting to get “value for money” – and consequently wear yourself out and possibly even miss things in the great rush…  However, if all you have is a couple of days to spare, you can see an awful lot in 48 hours, but be aware that not all tourist sights are included in the pass.  Personally, I don’t think I’ll do it again.  My next trip to Paris will be a far more sedentary affair…

Despite behaving like a couple of blue-arsed flies for most of Saturday and Sunday, we were more at leisure to explore our general surroundings on Friday afternoon and Monday morning.  That’s when we got to notice the other stuff.

This is what I imagine when I think of Paris:

1: Le Metro

Not so much the actual underground – but the awesome art-nouveau signage and metal-work that adorns the entrances.  Beautiful.

Metropolitain (-to the countryside?)

2: Lampposts

The only way I could fit them all in one shot (honest)

I generally enjoy a good, ornate lamppost, but I’m particularly in awe of those that adorn Pont Alexandre III.

Now, THAT's a lamppost...

3: Les Cafés

Love the scribbly art-work on the wall

Is this really the only photo of a café/restaurant that I took?  I must have been more blue-arsed than I remember.  Cafés are everywhere!  Next time, I think I shall be more aware of the photogenic charms of cafés…

4: Steps

Classic black and white photographs – skeleton trees in winter – a couple (wearing trilby and fedora, respectively) clutching each other as though the world is about to end…  That’s what I think when I imagine the Montmartre steps.

No skeleton trees in September. Iconic, nevertheless.

It was quite an exercise in patience trying to get shots without people walking into the frame.  None of whom were wearing trilbies or fedoras, we noticed.  People just don’t dress so respectably, these days {sigh}…  If someone had walked into the shot with a fedora on, I’d have asked them to stay and pose for me!

The steps of Montmartre

5: Book stalls and posters

Begging to be rummaged through - if only I had more time...

I love the stalls along the banks of the River Seine – chock-a-block full of antique books and those charming, iconic “frou-frou” posters.  Advertisements and exhibitions galore – it’s enough to make me want a “Midnight in Paris” of my own… Taxi!

A mere fraction of the posters to choose from. Decisions, decisions...

Who hasn’t bought, or at least been tempted to buy, a “le chat noire” poster?  Despite me thinking it quintessentially Parisian, I do wonder if a self-respecting Parisienne has these posters hanging on the walls of her apartment.  Probably not.

What do you consider to be quintessentially Parisian?