Paris, France: Seeking nature in the city of lights

Paris has a resident population of just over 2 million people. It is one of the foremost travel destinations in the world, hosting 40 million tourists per year. It is a very busy and exciting place, which can be overwhelming to a solitude seeker such as myself. So while I toured this big, beautiful city, I looked for hints of mother nature. Here is what I found…

DSC_0693-2
The Eiffel Tower reaches towards the heavens.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
A view from 276 meters up!

The city sprawls 41 square miles and is the largest city in France.

DSC_0151-2
The Seine River is central to Paris and many of the iconic sites are located along its banks.  
DSC_0557-2
Many people walk, jog, or sit along the river.
DSC_0613-2
The Zouave statue on Pont d’Alma warns locals of rising waters in the Seine. 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Spring is just beginning and the trees are blossoming in mid-March.

DSC_0554-2 DSC_0280-2

DSC_0027-2
Pigeons scavenge for scraps and crumbs.

There was not much wildlife to be seen in Paris, only the occasional birds – mostly pigeons. I saw some domesticated dogs and cats but I didn’t see a single squirrel or anything else. The city is dominated by humans and there are not many other creatures living there. There is no real biodiversity or natural ecology.

DSC_0383-2
There were many small gardens hidden in the city.

The bustling city is covered in brick, stone, and asphalt but there are hidden gems that can be found. There are private and public spaces that are home to trees, shrubs, and flowers. There are miniature gardens that line many of the busy streets replete with palms, yucca, and shrubs, as well as short colorful flowers such as pansies and daffodils. Many of the balconies feature window boxes filled with ferns, ivy, and a variety of flowers. It is quite common to find a fresh flower arrangement adorning the tabletops of fancy restaurants or bundled in the arms of street vendors.

DSC_0300
Gardens or green spaces  help to break up the hard lines of a city made of stone. 

DSC_0250-2 DSC_0423-2 DSC_0139-2

DSC_0414-2
Parisians enjoy the outdoors simply sitting on the ground outside in the company of friends.
DSC_0512-2
In the public parks, families gathered together to play. Even the adults got in on the fun sitting in the sandbox or running on the grass. 
DSC_0782-2
Paris is incredibly walkable. There are also bike share and scooter programs.
DSC_0850
Queues of sightseers line up outside of famous monuments. 
DSC_0288-2
Parisians take the opportunity to spend time walking together outside. 

DSC_0623-2

DSC_0238

DSC_0038-2DSC_0304-2DSC_0254-2

There are many opportunities to spend time outdoors in Paris. You can walk the city streets, dine at the many cafes, shop at the outdoor markets, or do a little plein air painting. Sometimes there is even a bit of romancing. Public displays of affection have become synonymous with the alluring city.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
French artists such as Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, and many others were inspired by natures beauty and strength. This work by Pierre Patel is a painting of a city in ruin as nature prevails. 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The Pilgrim, St. James is depicted in this sculpture displayed at the Louvre and is dated back to the 1500s. He is adorned with a shell –  a symbol of the many paths diverging to Santiago de Compostela, the 780 kilometer pilgrimage known as “The Way of St. James.” The  pilgrimage from France to Spain has been a cornerstone in the lives of devout Christians for over 1,000 years and has become very popular to the backpacking community in the last few decades.  
DSC_0007-2
An advertisement on the window of an outfitter on the Champs Élysées. A little ironic. The vast city can swallow a person whole but there is a way to find peace. Nature is my saving grace. 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s