France Romantism

10:16 PM

Paris, known as "the city of love", but France also has many romantic small towns and villages as beautiful as Paris

The city has a number of famous landmarks among tourists, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arch de Triomphe, the Louvre Museum and the Monalisa paintings, as well as the Champs-Élysées.

PARIS; The City of Love
That afternoon, with a very limited time, I chose to go around using the city tour bus to see the various iconic attractions in the city of Paris. I chose to sit at the top of the bus in order to be able to see clearly every corner of the city accompanied by the sound of the audio guide that gives explanation about the tourist attractions. The camera in my hand was always ready to capture every place and moment that I met during the trip.

Near the Eiffel Tower, I decided to get off the bus to enjoy the beauty of Paris from a different point of view, with a canal cruise tour down the Seine. Similar to other cities in Europe, Paris is also passed by a river that divides the city into two parts, almost all of Paris's attractions can be seen along the Seine River for approximately 1 hour. Notre Dame Church, Ponts des Art, Muse D'Orsay, as well as some other beautiful architecture can be seen clearly from the river bank.

Not far from the Church of Notre Dame, there is a tower from the Grande Mosquée de Paris, a place of worship for Muslims in the city of Paris. The largest mosque in France has been established since 1926. There are various places to eat halal food nearby, from Moroccan food, Tunisia to Algeria.

LILLE; City of Arts and History
The name Lille may not be familiar to the tourists. I visited this city in May, the warm air began to feel even though the cold wind was still blowing. It was 6 pm, the sky was still blue and the sun was still bright. People are passing by in the shopping area in the city of Lille.

Lille is in the northern part of France and borders Belgium so that most of the buildings in this city have a Flemish and classical influences from the 17th and 18th centuries. Lile was a port city and has a name derived from L'isle meaning island. With the TGV fast train, Lille can be reached in less than 1.5 hours from Paris. In 2004 Lille was once the European Capital of Culture and was named as the city of art and history.

Sunday in Lille looks deserted and quiet, because none of the shops in this city are open. A great time to enjoy the beauty of the city and its attractions, from the Grand Palace (Palce du General de Gaulle) which is a large square in the center of the city with the monument of a Goddess Colonne De la Déesse in the center of which was intentionally made to commemorate the victory over the siege Austrian army to Lille in 1792. The square is surrounded by a row of old buildings with interesting architecture, including The Grand Garde which became the Theater du Nord, and Vieille Bourse which became the old stock exchange building.

I walked to the Palais des Beaux Arts, the second largest art museum after the Louvre with a collection of medieval paintings, sculptures and porcelaine to Impressionism. Not far from here, go up to the tower of the town hall building; Hotel de Ville de Lille I can see the city of Lille as far as 360 degrees with views of the Porte de Paris underneath.

Vieux Lille is an old town area with cobbled streets surrounded by luxury shops, restaurants and old buildings including Notredame Church De La Treille. This is where the beginning of the city of Lille before becoming part of France since Louis XIV controlled this area in 1667. Then I went on a journey to see the house where the former president Charles de Gaulle was born and the church where he was baptized.

It is not difficult for Muslim tourists like me to find halal food in this city, many Halal restaurants  from Asian food to Middle Eastern food.

From Lille, I went to the eastern region of France, to Strasbourg and Colmar by plane. The capital of Alsace province is home to the EU parliament, it is bordered by the Germany and passed by the Rhine River. The historic city center known as the Grand Ile is on the UNESCO world heritage list of 1988.

Its old city, Petite France was visible when the Notredame de Strasbourg Cathedral and the rocky streets were in front of me. Visitors can enter into the Gothic-style architecture and 300-year-old astronomical clock. From the top of the church tower, can see the medieval city of Strasbourg is a neighborhood of slaughterhouses and tannery houses known as Tanners' district.

The street names here are written in two languages, German and French for being a part of German territory for 40 years before being taken back by France. I was amazed with the beauty of this photogenic city as I passes through a long winding alley of 13th century buildings with half-timbered wooden construction. Alsatian typical style is preserved and maintained its authenticity even though most have changed the function into museums, souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants. Every corner of the city can not be missed from my camera shot.

although today's weather was hot and the sunlight dazzled my eyes, I walked along the Rhein river with a boat tour that would take around the old city as well as the city center to see some European Union parliament building with modern architectural design, very different from Petite France. Strasbourg has a large mosque named La Grande Mosquée de Strasbourg, one of twenty mosques that serve as evidence of Strasbourg's (mostly Roman Catholic and Protestant) tolerance of Islam.

The next day, I spent a day in Colmar, a French countryside about 30 minutes by regional train. Still part of Alsace province, Colmar has a history and culture similar to Strasbourg and considers itself the "wine capital of Alsatian". I walked for about 15 minutes following a guide to the old town of Colmar with a row of Tudor-style buildings dating back to medieval times and the Renaissance, like the fairy-tale illustrations in a children's storybook.

With a tourist map in hand, I searched one by one tourist attractions, from museums, fountains, traditional houses, churches to traditional markets. La Petite Venise, an area passed by a small canal with residential views on the right and left side of the canal is the area most often photographed by tourists. Formerly this neighborhood was the Quai de la Poissonnerie; row of wooden houses where the fishermen live with colorful paint house

Interesting fact is that the paint has a meaning and is used to show the line of work of the family living in the house, as blue is for fishermen, green for farmers, yellow for bakers, and so on. Some of the windows of the houses are sometimes engraved with heart-shaped symbols and lines that also have meaning.

The locals also decorate the walls, put fresh flowers arranged in a window pot, and place antiques that decorate the small space. Colmar's beautiful colors have made me not want to leave this city.

5 Senses

Colmar is the hometown of renowned artist Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, French sculptor who created the design of the Statue of Liberty in New York. This statue is a gift of the French government in commemoration of 100 years of independence of the United States. The house where Bartholdi was born in 1834, became a museum featuring works of art created by him and the interior design of the rooms when the Bartholdi family still occupied them.

Cakes and sweet pastries are desserts that are often found in France. The beautiful shape has existed since the 17th-18th century, is considered a work of art because it is made with full detail and attention.

In addition to the paint color of the house, the different wooden construction designs of the Tudor-style house in Strasbourg and Colmar also have a symbolic meaning. The shape of a diamond signifies femininity and motherhood, the combination of cross and diamonds has a great family meaning, while the two-lettered inverted shape means that the house belongs to someone with an important character in the village.

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