I have been loving every minute of these pop culture travel posts, as well as the suggestions that have come in through the comments and over Twitter. For many of us, the images we see of a place in movies, television shows and music leave indelible marks on our hearts and imaginations, and can often influence where and how we want to see the world.
Paris is the world’s top travel destination for many reasons. It is beautiful, full of history and culture and has a seemingly endless number of distractions that create unforgettable travel memories. It’s full of clichés and surprises, and keeps people like me coming back for more, over and over again.
For popular culture lovers like me, there is no shortage of pop culture things to experience. I’ve gone into the old digital box of photos to pull together my favourite Paris pop culture experiences.
During my first trip to Paris, I walked as much as I possibly could, including walking along the Seine almost every day. This trip can be mixed up a little by criss-crossing the Seine over its many bridges, each one offering a different perspective on the city, the river and its many notable landmarks.
This may straddle the line between popular culture and morbid curiosity, but I did stop at Pont d’Alma for two reasons. First, to see the full-sized model of the Flamme de la Liberté, the flame on New York’s Statue of Liberty.
Second, I wanted to walk by to see the tunnel under Pont d’Alma, better known as the site of the car accident which claimed the life of Diana, Princess of Wales. In the years since her passing, Pont d’Alma has become a makeshift memorial to Princess Diana, with many people writing personal messages over the tunnel and leaving flowers at the base of the flame. When I visited, it was shortly after the passing of Michael Jackson, so many of the messages were also about him.
Okay, it may be full-on morbid, but at least I didn’t cross traffic to take a picture of the tunnel itself, like these folks.
Père Lachaise Cemetery
Speaking of morbid, Paris is a lovely place to pass time wandering in cemeteries. First, they’re an ideal budget travel destination because they’re free and they’re literally full of history. Second, most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries’ most notable writers, performers and other characters had a Paris phase, and for many of them, the city became their final resting place.
Upon arriving, I spent 2€ on a detailed map which shows the final resting place of dozens of notable, historical figures. It is well worth the investment, as the cemetery is huge and most maps in guidebooks do not have the smaller paths and trails, meaning it’s very easy to get lost or turned around.
I spent about three hours wandering among the famous, the infamous and the merely ordinary. Visitors frequently leave tributes, notes, flowers or any number of other mementos that will serve as a reminder they shared the same space as a hero.
Since we can’t have nice things (Global Edition), Jim Morrison’s grave is now surrounded by barricades, for two reasons. First, a large stone bust of Morrison was stolen in 1988. Second, in recent years, too many people were found to be having sex on his headstone.
Fountains at Place de la Concorde
The fountains at the end of the Champs-Élysées at Place de la Concorde are easily my favourite ones in the world. I’ve visited them on every trip to Paris and they never fail to take my breath away.
Scrolling through the channels one day, I stopped on The Devil Wears Prada toward the end of the film. Much to my surprise, the relationship between Andy and Miranda Priestly effectively ends the minute she tosses her phone into my favourite fountain. Trivia!
Asterix: An accidental encounter
Sometimes, you don’t find pop culture, it finds you. When I visited Paris in 2009, it coincided with the 50th anniversary of Asterix, the French comic I vaguely remember from the Grade Four reading shelf. In a fun twist, Asterix and his crew “invaded” Paris and left a trail of winking clues and jokes behind. Admittedly, I got none of the jokes, but it was fun seeking them out anyway.
We’re just getting started, keep going to Part 2!
What are your favourite pop culture experiences in Paris?