Like nowhere else
Paris. The very name is magical. For centuries this magnificent city has been a major tourist destination. I was privileged to have lived for almost two years in the City of Light and want to share my impressions and suggestions with you. I spoke and still speak the language and am familiar with many aspects of the culture even if I am by no means a Titi de Paris (Parisian kid) and even less a zonard (tough from the low rent districts outside the city limits). This article and the others in the series are not about me; they are about one of the world’s greatest cities and greatest tourist destination, Paris.
Paris greets, not always warmly, over thirty million tourists a year. Try to imagine, thirty million tourists descending on a city of two million. Depending on where you draw the line the Parisian metropolitan area is home to ten-twelve million people. But with relatively few exceptions, tourists visit Paris and not the metropolitan area outside the city limits. The city itself is slightly more than forty square miles (about one hundred square kilometers) and that includes two large forest-parks, the western Bois de Boulogne and the eastern Bois de Vincennes. When you think about it, Paris is really quite small. Like they say, good things come in small packages.
Everybody knows about the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Elysées. We will describe the well-known tourist attractions of Paris. But we are going to focus on the Paris that most tourists don’t see. When you visit these somewhat off the beaten track attractions you will usually deal with smaller crowds. And you will see the real Paris as part of the real France. Once in a very long while you may even find a bargain.
The city of Paris is subdivided into twenty arrondissements, roughly translated as districts or boroughs, somewhat similar to the five boroughs of New York City. In spite of the rampant modernization and internationalization of Paris, its arrondissements tend to maintain their individual character. We plan to write one article for each arrondissement. Given our love for French food and wine each article will suggest regional French food and wine to sample. Of course the wines won’t be from Paris. Actually there is a still functioning vineyard within Paris’s city limits, but you will have to read these articles to find its location. No, it’s not in the Bois de Boulogne nor the Bois de Vincennes.
Let me mention one perhaps surprising aspect of French and Parisian life that may affect your health. France is the home of the French Paradox; in spite of eating 50% more animal fat than Americans, and nearly three times as much pork, the death rate for French males from heart attacks is much, much lower than the corresponding American statistics. Many feel that wine, in particular red wine plays an essential role in this health miracle. This huge health benefit is probably not a mere question of diet and wine, but also a lifestyle issue. They call it joie de vivre. We say enjoy.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would
rather just drink fine French or other wine, accompanied by the right foods.
He knows what dieting is, and is glad that for the time being he can eat and drink
what he wants, in moderation. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario
French-language community college. His central website is
www.wineinyourdiet.com devoted to the health and nutritional aspects of wine and its place in your weight-loss program. Visit his global wine site www.theworldwidewine.com and his other websites devoted to Italian wine, Italian travel, and Italian food.
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