If I were President of France, living in the Elysée palace on the rue Saint Honoré -
I would devote myself to showing off Paris to visiting heads of state. In fact, I’d go out of my way to invite as many of them as possible to come visit, as often as possible. Not coincidentally, this would also be my favorite thing to do.
A sample itinerary in which I show the honored guest how to flâner les rues:
The Place de la Concorde soon after sunrise on a clear winter day. A place of beauty now, a place of terror during the Revolution. This is a country, and a city, that knows the power of history and the value of keeping on keeping on.
A walk east through the Tuileries gardens to the Louvre. The smell of fallen leaves on wet ground. Puddles everywhere reflect the always-changing sky and the classical ornaments of the gardens.
An hour or two in the Louvre, 2e étage of the Sully wing: 19th-century French paintings. Room after room (and un-crowded, to boot) of Corots, Ingres, Gericault, and my personal favorite, Delacroix (and lots of other wonderful French artists). I would have my visitors admire the view of the Cour Carré from the windows on this floor.
Cross the Seine and head south to stroll around the église Saint Sulpice to admire the many varied shapes its architecture displays. Followed by some quiet moments inside this generous space.
A peaceful half-hour in the Luxembourg Gardens, where the flowers in the beds (but not in the magnificent urns) have been given the season off.
Now walk back across the Seine to the Right Bank, perhaps through the Ile St-Louis and over the pont Louis-Philippe.
Take a good long look at Notre Dame with the Seine flowing around her. Notice that it’s a working river, with commercial traffic on it – not just the tour boats, and not just the picturesque house boats.
And conclude with a discreet pause to watch school children playing at recess.
That’s my platform – elect MOI!