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Winter may be your only time to travel, but it is also a great time of year to avoid crowds and the high costs that come with being a tourist. And despite its expensive reputation, Paris is a diverse modern city with a variety of delights to see – even in winter. Whatever you’re into, a memorable trip to the French capital doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Go ahead, call up your farm sitter and plan your trip using our suggested list of things to see and do. Check the weather, pack your bags accordingly and you’ll be sipping on mulled wine and shopping in no time, or bringing in the new year with parades, fireworks and champagne!

Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris

The world famous Notre Dame Cathedral is a stunning example of some of Europe’s finest Gothic architecture. While it costs to climb the 422 tower steps to see the incredible view over Paris, the rest of the cathedral is free to enter.

You can also appreciate the architecture at a leisurely pace via a walk along the Seine or from the park at the rear of the building. Notre Dame is an iconic symbol of Paris and is generally considered essential viewing by most visitors to the city.

Parc du Champ de Mars

Stretching out southeastwards from the base of the Eiffel Tower, the Parc du Champ de Mars offers visitors a free alternative experience of the tower by avoiding the costly lift to the top. Named after the Roman god of war, the park was formerly used as a marching ground for the French military but now provides unparalleled views of the Eiffel Tower for tourists and locals.

Take a picnic and some drinks and relax in the shadow of one of the world’s most recognizable and well-loved structures. There are very few places in the world that rival the view looking up from the Parc du Champ de Mars.

Belleville

The streets of Paris are a warren filled with chic and interesting delights. Take a stroll around the district of Belleville to experience the rebellious and multicultural culture and history of its people. Grab some lunch in Chinatown and then visit the spot where Edith Piaf is thought to have been born. The vibrant history and atmosphere of Belleville is found on every street corner and splashed across many walls in the form of sensational street-art. When you tire of district’s lively streets you can take a break in the Parc de Belleville to take the weight off with a lovely view of the city.

Musée de la Vie Romantique

Situated at the base of Montmartre hill in the 9th arrondissement, the Museum of Romantic Life is dedicated to the life and works of writer George Sands and painter Ary Scheffer. The permanent exhibitions are free to enter and offer a well organised and fascinating look into works of the Romantic period.

The museum is set in Scheffer’s picturesque former home and visitors can enjoy a bite to eat in the charming garden cafe in the warmer months. For a romance themed getaway in the world’s most romantic city, a stop at the Musée de la Vie Romantique is the perfect way to kill a few hours.

Canal St-Martin

The tree-lined Canal St-Martin is the ideal place to take a stroll or to watch boats potter by on any stretch of the 4.6-kilometer canal which was constructed under the orders of Napoleon I in 1802. The canal’s quaysides make for a perfect chill-out spot all through the week, but especially so on Sundays when they’re closed to cars.

Locals and visitors can be found relaxing along the edges of the canal enjoying a drink and a bite to eat, so it’s a great place to soak up some authentic Parisian atmosphere at zero financial cost. The canal stretches across much of the city, so it can be used as an idyllic thoroughfare to and from many places throughout Paris.

Contrary to some opinions, the varied and impressive history of France’s number one city can be experienced without paying a small fortune. The city’s world famous landmarks can be viewed and the streets can be explored without breaking the bank. In a city known around the globe for its culture and sophistication, the savvy traveller need only spend a little time planning ahead of time to enjoy all the tremendous attractions Paris has to offer for little or no cost. The city of love is a lot more accessible than you think!

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Garden Treasures Found Elsewhere

The plants and flowers in your garden are only the surface of the overall look. They cannot have character without structure – beds to lie in, containers to spill over, bricks and stones to offset them, and a collection of items to provide interest, height, or focal points. What you choose for this last category depends on your style. If you like a less-than-traditional, whimsical look, then found items are a must.

Using found items takes a little more time than stopping by your local gardening center and choosing traditional items like plant stands and trellises. But the search is so much more fun.

Start looking at home

Before you go hunting for others’ discarded junk, why not free up some of your own storage space? Dig through your attic, garage, and storage sheds. Look through your kitchen cupboards and closets. Search for items you will not use again that would hold up well in the elements. A worn pair of gardening boots would serve well as planters in the garden – a fitting end to their employment.

Choose items based on shape, texture, and color

Your found items should enhance your garden and stand out a little. An old wooden ladder, for instance, can serve as a plant stand in a spot where you need a little visual height. A pink or mustard cast iron bath tub provides a splash of color and will blend in to the landscape with proper placement and a few cascading plants.

Peruse found-items

Flea markets, yard sales and thrift stores are familiar territory for folks looking for bargains. Visit antique stores, estate sales, and auctions both actual and virtual. Sometimes you can find a few gems discarded on the sidewalk in exclusive neighborhoods. Check your phone book for salvage companies for homes.

Be selective

Sure, you are doing the earth a favor by repurposing something that was headed to a landfill. But be forewarned: It’s easy to go overboard when you start collecting old treasures. As you hunt, keep a lonely space in your garden in mind. Measure it first if necessary.

Drill or fill for drainage

With an electric drill you can turn just about any vessel into a planter. You will need different bits depending on whether you are drilling wood, metal or stone. If you don’t trust your own expertise, take the container to your hardware store, and they should be able to help you.

Planting in pots with no drainage is a no-no, but it would be a greater shame to put a hole in that antique teapot. Some materials are easily damaged by drilling, like ceramic, porcelain and enamel-covered cast iron. If you must plant something in there, fill the bottom of your container with a dense layer of pebbles or gravel, burying a plastic flexible tube into it that curls over the lip of the container and to the ground. After you fill your flowerpot with soil, the tube will act as a siphon to draw off water from the bottom.

Even the most traditional gardens improve with the addition of a carefully chosen and placed found item. When you are done, you can give yourself a well-deserving pat on the back. Using found items that otherwise would only be tossed into the landfill is a very green act. And, besides, now you have a garden that has your own mark of creativity and style.


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