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With the water of the River Seine winding through the Gothic streets of Paris, it is not hard to understand why the City of Light has become an embodiment of romance and elegance.
Every year, Paris attracts throngs of visitors—repeated and first timers—interested in discovering and uncovering new facets of the diverse Parisian culture. Monuments such as the Notre Dame Cathedral or the Arc de Triomphe are not only tourist haunts, but also work as integral components of the Paris landscape, giving the city a sense of beauty and history. Filled with cafes and exquisite restaurants, visitors can spend the day people watching and feasting on the native cuisine. Upscale fashion houses line the streets of the Champs Elysees and St-Germain-des-Pres districts, as well as Avenue Montaigne; and some the world’s finest art museums! For those interested in jazz and cabaret, Paris provides an escape to the colorful Bohemian scene, while the Opera de la Bastille is a destination for classic and refined opera fans.
While visiting, be prepared to walk to get the best sense of the scenery and culture. Wander the cobblestone streets of Montmartre where the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur sits atop the Parisian horizon like a gigantic white crown. Make sure to amble along the River Seine as the sun drops and the sky blossoms into a warm pink hue; city lights will begin to spring up along the streets, and, in the background, one may catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower as it begins to glitter.
The history of the museum, of its building is quite unusual. In the centre of Paris on the banks of the Seine, opposite the Tuileries Gardens, the museum was installed in the former Orsay railway station, built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. So the building itself could be seen as the first "work of art" in the Musee d'Orsay, which displays collections of art from the period 1848 to 1914
2 Avenue des Nations Unies
An innovative aquarium in Jardin du Trocadero that combines marine life with multi-media installations.
Musee des Art Decoratifs
107 Rue de Rivoli
France's history of interior design is world-renowned and Musee des Arts Decoratifs' reopening will have the "decorators" of the world flocking. With ten period rooms including Louis XVI, a gothic chamber and an art deco one, decorative ideas run amok. Lalique crystal, Sevres porcelain and Christofle silver are also on display. One very interesting part of the museum is a gallery with more then 12,000 toys. You know where to send the kids while you redecorate.
Musee du Quai Branly
15 rue Jean-Baptiste Berlier
In a city of museums, a new one opened in June and holds its own against the city’s best. A museum dedicated to civilizations of Africa, South America, Oceana and Asia, the Branly is hidden behind a wall of dense greenery – the "vertical garden" – is a nice break from the all the stone grandeur.
Chateau de Versailles
Originally a mere hunting lodge, Louis XIV transformed this castle into a spectacular palace. Just southwest of the city, it has been carefully restored to the magnificence of the days of Marie Antoinette.
Place de la Bastille, 12th Arrondissement
Tel. 01.44.73.13.99 (Information) / 01.44.73.13.00 (Reservations)
The 2700-seat auditorium makes for a cozier environment than other theaters but it also creates a high demand for tickets. Leave the walls of Opera Garnier and swing on over to the Bastille for more upbeat tastes.
Bateaux Parisiens (Sodexho Alliance)
Port de la Bourdonnais, 75007
Take a delightful cruise along the Seine ensconced in a comfortable glassed-in trimaran. A hostess adds commentary about what’s happening in town, including exhibits, festivals and special events. There are special programs for children, or for that special someone, a romantic dinner cruise.
14, rue de La Rochefoucauld
Tel. +33 (1) 48.74.3850
This gem of a museum may not be as well known as others but that’s the whole point. It is special because the artist himself, Gustave Moreau, established and designed it. Everything was built at his expense so his works are displayed the way he wanted. He died two years after finishing it in 1896. Seeing it now has a greater impact as the bathrooms are vintage and the library really fantastic; and of course there is the art with over 1200 paintings and 12,800 drawings.
The Catacombs, which form a veritable labyrinth beneath the very heart of Paris, were created in the galleries of the former quarries whose stone was used to build the capital. Situated twenty metres below ground, the equivalent of a five stroy building, the ossuary contains the remains of approximately six million Parisians, transferred there gradually between the late eighteenth and mid-nineteenth century. The constant temperature is 14C or approximately 57F. The average tour is 45 minutes.
Just one hour from Paris this wonderful town has two chateaus, a 36,000 acre forest with 600 miles of trails, charming timbered houses, cobblestoned pedestrian streets and offbeat museums. It is also where the treaty ending WW1 was signed and where 22 years later Hitler forced the French to sign their capitulation to the Nazi's.
Trains schedule for the one hour trip.
The Armistice Clearing
Route de Soissons
Tel. +33 188.8.131.52
There is an actual replica of the pullman car where the armistice ending WW1 was signed by Marshal Ferdinand Foch on Nov 11, 1918. The car is decorated with authentic mementoes.
The Museum of Historic Figurines
28, place de l'Hotel de Ville
Tel. +33 184.108.40.206
More then 42,000 lead figurines considered to be the best in France. The 200 square foot battle of Waterloo alone has about 12,000 pieces.
Chateau de Compiegne
Place du General de Gaulle
Tel. +33 44.38.47.02
This anti-Versailles modern neo classic Chateau is where Marie Antoinette and Dauphin met and the vast expanse of green was created by Napoleon for his second wife Marie Louise to remind her of her childhood home at Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna.
Chateau de Pierrefonds
Tel. +33 220.127.116.11
This stage set of a chateau was built in the 15th century by Philippe d' Orleans but demolished and rebuilt by Napoleon III. It is clearly the intrepretion of his architect, Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, of what a midieval castle should look like. It is said to be the castle that inspired Walt Disney's animated movie "Sleeping Beauty"
Where to dine:
La Palais Gourmand
8, rue Dahomey
Tel. +33 18.104.22.168
Traditional French cuisine served in an updated restaurant with an indoor terrace.. The prox-fixe menu is great value at 18.50 Euros.
L'Auberge du Daguet
Located 6 miles away in tiny village of Vieux-Moulin
Tel. +33 22.214.171.124
Small and cozy well regarded local restaurant offers a prix fixe of 36 Euros.
More Excursions from Paris:
7, Rue du Connectable
60500 Chantilly, France
Just one hour from Paris and 30 minutes from Charles de Gaulle airport is one of the most amazing Chateau’s in the world. Most visitors to Paris think of Versailles and do not realize that one of the greatest collection of paintings outside the Louvre resides here. There is so much to see, both indoors and out (the gardens are sublime) and if you want to spend the night it may not be in the Chateau but very close.
Check the website for more details.
Chateau Vaux le Vicomte
This magnificient Chateau is about one hour southeast of Paris. Built in 1661 and privately owned the chateau is well worth the visit. The French formal garden was designed by Andre Le Notre who also designed the Versailles gardens and covers 82 acres.
Where to dine in Paris can be and is often serious business for the "foodie". No where else is the combination of dining and theatre so evident, especially at those establishments that are deemed "Haute Cuisine". The best hotels usually have at least one restaurant of this calibre. All are well known by any reputable concierge or your travel agent.
While the following may not be "haute" they are all special and we have, of course, posted their respective websites for you to peruse. At the bottom of this page we've also listed some of Paris's more notable bistro/brasseries.
18, place Gaillon. 2nd
Tel. +33 (0)1 42.65.1516
While it's great to dine under the seascape ceiling by Emile Ruhlmann, it's even better to sample the Alsace cuisine of Chef Antoine Westermann who took over in 2006. Especially noted is the novel appetizer plate which is a combination of terrine of skate, scallop in creamy parsnip and lime juice and raw sardines marinated in citrus juice and honey.
52, rue de Longchamp,
Tel. + 33 (0)1.56.81.0880
The French-Japanese fusion food here is sublime. In keeping with the best of Paris restaurants, Hiramatsu is an exceptional example. There is only one seating so come prepared to enjoy an evening where every thing is beautifully presented and served. Advanced reservations are a must.
9, rue Duphot, 1st
Tel. +33 (0) 1 42.60.3607
The aquariums are by Lalique, the bathrooms furnishings by Majorelle and the egraved mirrors by Labourer. The private dining room for two, Prunier, is the ultimate romantic venue. This is a classic seafood restaurant and chef Olivier Guyon is amazing and, if all else fails, there is wine list comprising 170 varieties of Champagne.
Le Cafe Moderne
40, rue Notre-Dame-des-Victoires. 2nd
Tel. +33 (0) 1 53.40.8410
Although this is great for lunch it takes on a different character at night as it attracts more of a local crowd. The modern and contemporary design features art work that is changed frequently. Benoit Herault, the chef since 2005, has put together an elegant menu featuring fusion dishes such as pressed foie gras with leeks in hazelnut oil.
15, rue des Petits-Champs. 1st
Tel. +33 (0) 1 42.97.5385
Named after Maceo Parker, a great jazz and funk saxophonist, this restaurant attracts an international crowd that prefers traditional French cuisine. Vegetarians will be pleased as the menu offers inventive meatless choices.
2, place de l'Odeon. 6th
Tel. +33 (0) 1 43.26.0230
The location facing the Odeon Theatre is one that is preferred by many. At night it is one of those places that attracts showbiz people and similar types which makes for good people watching. Happily the chef, Denis Rippa, trained at Taillevent has made sure that everything is fresh especially the seafood. The most famous dish is carpaccio of wild sea bass with Meux mustard and herb-spread bread.
8 rue d'Anjou
This city of romance has another dining venue to celebrate an engagement or perhaps your current affaire! A series of drawing rooms in an 18th century town house have been beautifully transformed into combination art gallery/restaurant. There are fabulous paintings, Venetian chandeliers, satin drapes and had-painted silk wallpaper everywhere. Lunch which is a bargain at 35Euro pre fixe is more about business persons dining but dinner is another story. Then when all the candles are lit, and chef Geraldine Rumeau presents superb Japanese and French fusion, is the time you will want to be there with someone special. This is not a place to be seen but rather a repose with someone you want a private evening with.
Le Saut du Loup
107, rue de Rivoli
Tel. +33 (01) 126.96.36.199
Kill two birds with one stone! This marvelous restaurtant is inside the Museum of Decorative Arts. It has an outdoor terrace with views of the Louvre. Perfect in the warmer months.
58, rue de Saintonge
Tel. +011 188.8.131.52.28.85
Artist and fashion designer, Shinsuke Kawahara, is the brainchild of this minimalistic restaurant that successfully delivers outstanding French-Japanese cuisine.
La Cigale Recamier
4, rue Recaimier (7th Arrondissement)
Tel. +33 1 45 48 8658
We love this restaurant that specializes in souffles. Read the above Zagat review.
129 Avenue Parmentier (11th Arrondisement)
Tel. +33 1 43 57 4595
The pre fixe of 60 Euros per person is a bargain for the 5 course meal that changes daily. Reservations at least two weeks in advance or according to the New York Times, park yourself at the bar around 8:30PM and enjoy the wine, snacks and people watching while you wait for a table.
Parvis Gare St.-Lazare, Rue Interieure (8th Arrondisement)
Tel. +33 1 44 90 8080
A combination of classic and contemporary French comfort food. Mackerel terrine with horseradish sauce. Morels sauteed in vin jaune. Sole in an egg enriched fish fumet with mushrooms and mussels. Veal steak sauteed with morels and baby potatoes. Good people watching!
Le Vaudeville 29, rue Vivienne (2nd Arrondisement)
Tel. +33 1 40 20 0462
49, rue des Ecoles (5th Arrondisement)
Tel. +33 1 43 54 1367
L'Angle du Faubourg
195, rue du Faubourg (8th Arrondisement)
Tel. +33 1 40 74 2020
9. rue Lobineau (6th Arrondisement)
Tel. +33 1 43 26 7195
If your out late (very) this bistro in the St. Germain des Pres neighborhood serves breakfast starting at 5AM on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The bistro also serves lunch and dinner from the open kitchen. The food is good but most important it's an authentic Paris bistro you read about.
La Rotonde Montparnasse
105 Bouldevard du Montparnasse (6th Arrondisement)
Tel. +33 1 43 26 4826
Early 20th century vintage brasserie is the imagined and real. The decor, fringed lamps and tufted velvet booths, is charming if a bit outdated. The roast lamb in a velvety sage-scented sauce is wonderful. The st
eak tartare is also a favorite of returning diners.
43 Rue Godefroy Cavaignac (11th Arrondisement)
Tel. +33 9 80 75 32 08
The young hansdsome chef, James Henry, is from Australia and moved to Parisin 2010. He opened Bones in 2013 and received instant praise. The menu changes daily and he churns his own butter. (We like that and so do the French)
24 Galerie de Montpensier
This vintage couture boutique offers up the "little black dress" in all its Parisian glory. Vintage accessories, jewelry, and clothing are adorable. Be sure to check out Didiear Ludot’s own line of fragrance and jewelry.
28 place Vendome
This is the oldest and perhaps best known men’s boutique in Paris. Come for the excellent selection of silk ties and high quality pajamas and robes.
213 rue Saint-Honore
One of Paris's local department stores. Everything new and often avant garde
Louvre des Antiquaires
2 pl du Palais-Royal
This upscale antique market sells its wares behind the facade of an old grand magasin houses, and has 250 vendors. Excellent for shoppers or browsers, Lourve des Antiquaires is the place for Louis XV furniture, tapestries, porcelain, jewelry, model ships and tin soldiers.
Goumanyat & Son Royanume, 3
rue Charles-Frncois Dupuis, 75003
Having a dinner part and fresh out of Safron? Now, you can replenish your stock and other safron products as well. Pierre Gagnaire and Alan Ducasse are among the celebrity chefs who buy spices here.
135, rue Vielle-du-Temple (Marais)
Tel. +011 184.108.40.206.50.84
No ordinary lamp shop, founder Gaetane Raguet, has created among other things lamps whose shades are vintage photos of Paris and New York.
16 rue Royal
75 Avenue des Champs-Elysees
21 rue Bonaparte
Fpunded inn 1862 (16 rue Royal location) still remains one of the worlds best and certainly famous pastry shops. Macaroons like no other. New flavors are regularly introduced but standbys always include pistachio, blackcurrent violet, caramel with salted butter, coffee, bitter chocolate, red fruits and liquorice.
Put this number in your cell if you need to order a taxi in English.
My Secret Paris by Lisette
This wonderful blog by Lisette is a Francophile's dream but really useful for anyone going to Paris.
We put this website in for Paris but it actually is the site for all 32 French National museums. You will find a wealth of information such as current exhititions and dates, hours opened, and dates that are not.
Walking Tours of Paris
Paris is one of the worlds great walking towns. Turn a corner and see the most amazing architecture or all at once find yourself in an amazing garden. This site will help you not only find your own special Paris but also enable you to book a private guide.
Tel. +011 33.1.48.09.21.40
For as little as 10 Euros you can have two hour excursions that take you around different neighborhoods such as the Marais. A really great way to see and learn more about Paris.
Concorde Limousine provides cars and limousines to meet your business and luxury travel needs.
24 Avenue George V
Tel. +011 220.127.116.11.17.30
On the same street as Four Seasons George V this trendy cocktail lounge gets a great International crowd with a good mixed with locals.
11 Quai FranÁois Mauriac
Batofar is an interesting concept: a dance club embodied in a boat docked on the Seine. On warm summer nights, the DJs spin their tunes, ranging from rock to trance to rai, as the patrons dance and have fun.
2 Pl. du Palais Royal
Tel. +011 18.104.22.168.56.25
With cozy nooks to drink caipirinhas, guests can people watch all night in Le Cab a sleek, sexy club full of the beautiful people.
Au Pied de Cochon
6 rue Coquilliere ( Les Halles)
Tel. +011 22.214.171.124.77.00
Not a nightclub but a 24/7 restaurant that serves up the best onion soup (the one with the cheese on top) in Paris. The atmosphere is old world Paris in Les Halles. Always a good people watching!
La Belle Hortense
31, rue Vielle-du-Temple
Tel. +011 33.1.48.04.71.60
This wine bar in Marais is the perfect after dinner place to rendevous to if you're looking for a cozy kind of atmosphere with a mixed crowd.