For Extreme Opulence, Visit the Opera Garnier

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If you want a glimpse of how Louis XVI may have lived, it’s not necessary to trek all the way to Versailles, the massive royal palace on the outskirts of Paris, a trip to which will take up an entire day of your visit to the City of Light. If you’re hoping to save some time and yet also experience over-the-top opulence and more gold leaf than Donald Trump’s infamous golden bathroom, head to Paris’s Palais Garnier. Typically called just the Opera Garnier, this gorgeous Beaux-Arts and Neo-Baroque palace was built on the border of the 2nd and 9th arrondissements in the late 19th century to host the renowned Paris Opera. And it’s perhaps even more spectacular than anything one might see at Louis’s former palace, even the oft-photographed Hall of Mirrors. Continue Reading →

Another French Holiday Cake – the Galette des Rois

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Visitors to Paris at this time of year—particularly those who pop into Parisian patisseries or even grocery stores like Franprix, Monoprix or Carrefour—will undoubtedly see a seasonal dessert for sale that is unique to Europe: Galette des Rois. Translated as the “Cake of Kings,” this circular (or, less often, rectangular) cake celebrates Epiphany, the Biblical story of the arrival of the three wise men /magi to the newly born Christ child. This holiday is celebrated on January 6 each year–12 days after Christmas, marking the end of the traditional “12 Days of Christmas” as immortalized in the classic holiday song). Continue Reading →

Turkey Day in Paris? Head to Thanksgiving

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Parisians don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. Nope, there’s no turkey. No stuffing. No candied yams. No cranberry sauce. No pumpkin pie. No, Thanksgiving is very much an American holiday, and with the exception of a few restaurants catering to U.S. tourists that offer a Thanksgiving Day meal, the holiday is virtually ignored in the City of Light. So, what do expats do when they want to cook up a big Turkey Day feast with all the trimmings? Or those visitors to Paris who are lucky enough to be in a rental apartment and who wish to prepare a scaled-down version of the grand holiday dinner? Those in the know head to Thanksgiving, a delightfully quirky Marais shop specializing in American foodstuffs. Continue Reading →

Why You Should Opt for the Croissant au Beurre

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Breakfast in Paris? It’s time for a croissant, bien sur! But don’t make the mistake that many visitors to the City of Light make when popping into one of Paris’s many fantastic boulangeries/patisseries and simply ordering “un croissant.” You’ll more than likely end up with a product made with margarine. And considering one of the hallmarks of a good croissant is a rich, buttery flavor, who wants a mouthful of fakery? Continue Reading →

Visiting One of Paris’s Most Unusual Churches

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Eglise Saint-Merri is arguably the most unusual church in the City of Light. As much a cultural center, gallery and concert hall as it is a Catholic house of worship, Saint-Merri is unique in all of Paris in that visitors are as likely to visit for a myriad of other reasons as they are to attend Mass. Possibly even more so. Continue Reading →

Angelina: Coco Chanel’s Favorite Hot Chocolate

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Have you ever daydreamed of sipping hot chocolate and sampling pastries in Paris with the legendary fashion designer and glitterati mainstay Coco Chanel? While that’s a lovely but unattainable fantasy, we’ve got the next-best, real-world option: paying a visit to Angelina, a world-famous patisserie-tea room on the Rue de Rivoli that was a favorite haunt of Madame Chanel—and of Marcel Proust, Audrey Hepburn and virtually every luminary in the haute-couture fashion design world throughout the 20th century. You’ll become an instant fan, too! Continue Reading →

L’Imprevu: Eclectic Les Halles Bar with Unique Drinks

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Have you ever wanted to join the cast of Friends at their favorite neighborhood haunt, quirky Central Perk? If you’re in Paris and in the Les Halles district, you’re able to do the next best thing—settle in for a cocktail, coffee or snack at L’Imprevu, an eclectic, laid-back venue that certainly delivers on its name, which translates to “unpredictable.” Continue Reading →

Viaduc des Arts: Shopping Below an Elevated Park

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Many visitors to Paris are familiar with the Coulee Verte Rene-Dumont, more commonly called the Promenade Plantee, a 4.7-kilometer long elevated park built atop a disused elevated railway line that runs roughly from the Place de la Bastille to the Bois de Vincennes on the eastern outskirts of the city. But equally recognizable—and even sometimes confused for the park above it—is the Viaduc des Arts, a rehabilitated arched bridge in the 12th Arrondissement that hoists only a small portion of the park, but is home to many ground-level shops, galleries and restaurants. And the shops—while typically pricey—are unique and well worth a visit. Continue Reading →

Authentic Bistro Fare at Historic Le Polidor

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Paris is arguably the culinary capital of the world. There are countless world-renowned restaurants in the City of Light that beckon to both locals and tourists. But many of these destination eateries are outrageously expensive (easily more than $100 per person, often significantly higher, even for lunch) and are typically visited only for very special occasions. Besides, many travelers to Paris prefer to dine at authentic French bistros and cafes, where the food is affordable and prepared in time-honored fashion, often from recipes hundreds of years old. For these seekers of authentic bistro fare, there’s a true—and historic—gem on the city’s Left Bank: Le Polidor. And you might just recognize it from Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris.” Continue Reading →

Unexpected Attractions In Paris

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Visiting Paris, you can quickly get caught up in all the things you’ve always wanted to see and do. Famous buildings and monuments, charming cafes and legendary shopping areas are often among the main draws. But it’s a big city that seems to get more entertaining by the year—probably because it’s always catering to fresh waves of tourists. For that reason, there are a lot of attractions in town that you might not necessarily expect to come across or enjoy. These can be fun to put on your list, though, as they make the trip feel a little less like you’re simply meandering through the front pages of a Parisian guidebook. Here are a few things to think about doing. Continue Reading →