Exploring your own town

Ever been lazing round on a Saturday morning without any real plans for the day ahead? Go to the gym, maybe? Get some groceries? Have lunch with friends? Well, I’ve got another idea. Why not jump out of bed, put on some curiosity and get out and explore the city you live in?

What??? I hear your incredulity. But I live here! I can see that stuff any time! Why would I bother doing it today?

Because we so often say to ourselves that we will see our town, or even our country, tomorrow. Tomorrow comes. And we’re still going to do it tomorrow. I think you see where this is heading. Often, we never end up discovering what is right under our noses.

Last weekend saw the annual European Heritage Days, a weekend where buildings of historical significance all over Europe throw their doors open and welcome the public. I often make a habit of getting out and exploring my current city of residence, Paris. But when free and a glimpse behind usually closed doors is on offer, well, that’s even more incentive!

Saturday’s program took in the Ministry of the Interior, located in the historical Hôtel de Beauvau (finished in 1770) including the luxurious office of the minister…

Minister's office

A rather swanky meeting room…

Meeting room

A lovely garden…

Garden

An interesting exhibit about the modern techniques used by police scientists during their crime scene investigations…

Crime scene

And an unexpected glimpse of the history of Paris under Nazi occupation, a cell in which resistance fighters were imprisoned, kept intact in its original condition. No photos allowed, but fascinating nonetheless!

Then onto the beautiful Petit Palais (Little Palace), opened in 1900 for the World Exhibition, and now art gallery.

Petit Palais

Petit palais 2

Staircase

Vase

Painting

Sunday started with a visit to the Senate, the upper house in the French parliament. Located in the 17th century Palais du Luxembourg since 1799 and surrounded by the beautiful Jardin du Luxumbourg, I have to admit that French senators don’t have a bad place to go to work each day!

Palais du Luxembourg

Again, the offices aren’t bad…

Senate office

Neither is their big meeting room…

Senate

The surprise of the weekend was one of the most stunning rooms I have ever seen in my life, the ornately decorated Salle du Livre d’Or. Wow…

Salle de Livre d'Or

Salle de Livre d'Or 2

The day was rounded off by a visit to La Manufacture des Gobelins, a site where the traditional art of hand-making tapestries and carpets has been practiced continuously for the last 400 years and is still carried on today (at a surprisingly large expense the French government!)

Manufacture des Gobelins

Carpet making

Getting out and exploring my city last weekend was an interesting and rewarding experience. I stumbled across things I never even knew existed and learnt a lot about Parisian history. But it’s not just Paris. There are interesting and new events and activities in cities and towns all around the world. Sometimes it’s just a matter of searching a little or of taking a walk off the beaten path and you too will find a new opportunity to learn and discover. So why not give it a try this weekend? Get out of your routine and into explorer mode, and go find some of the delights your city has to offer.

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2 thoughts on “Exploring your own town

  1. It;s Open House Weekend in London this weekend. Sounds similar and it’s great to be able to nosy into people’s houses and a lot of other places that are normally closed to the public.

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