A Salute to Louis XIV at Place des Victoires

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A little-visited but still quite scenic—and historic—site in Paris’s 1st Arrondissement is the Place des Victoires, a circular “square” that was created to honor King Loius XIV. Place des Victoires is a short walk from the more popular Palais Royal, but few tourists make their way to this locale. And that’s mostly because aside from a large statue of Louis in the center of the circle, there’s no real “sight” to see. That’s a shame, because the circle has delightful 17th century architecture and, for history buffs, roots stretching back to the French royal House of Bourbon, and links to the French Revolution and Napoleon Bonaparte. Continue Reading →

Off the Beaten Path: The Historic Square du Temple

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On the northernmost edge of the Marais is a fantastic public park that is quite literally an oasis in the midst of urban Paris—the Square du Temple. Because the Square is a considerable distance from any major tourist site, the garden and park is used almost exclusively by locals, particularly families living nearby. The park also provides a splendid view of the ornate Mairie du 3rd Arrondissement, the municipal offices for that district of the city. And for history buffs, the park occupies the site of a former fortified monastery of the Knights Templar and the infamous Tower of the Temple prison that served as the final “residence” of King Louis XVI before his execution. It’s well worth visiting, and is a short walk from the Musee des Arts et Metiers or from the Place de la Republique. Continue Reading →

Paris Is Home to Europe’s Largest Science Museum

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Cite des Sciences et de l’Industrie, one of the biggest museums in Paris—and, in fact, the largest science museum in all of Europe—is rarely visited by tourists, likely due to its location on the very outer edge of the distant 19th Arrondissement and the fact that there’s not much else to see in the blandly residential district. But that’s a shame, because the museum is terrifically entertaining and even offers occasional IMAX films and planetarium presentations in English (or with English subtitles). And more than 5 million annual visitors can attest to the universal appeal the sleek, modern and highly informative science center has for both adults and children alike. Continue Reading →

Tracing the History of the Famous Tarte Tatin

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A quintessentially French dessert is the tarte Tatin, what many Americans believe to be an upside-down apple pie. But it’s actually a bit more than that. And its origin, although never definitively proven, is akin to how a classic American dish—chocolate chip cookies—came about: by accident. Continue Reading →

E. Dehillerin: Copper Cookware And So Much More

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France is quite simply the center of the culinary universe. And the City of Light itself is home to world-class restaurants, top cooking schools, celebrity chefs and some of the finest culinary supplies stores on the planet. The very best of these renowned boutiques is E. Dehillerin. Founded in 1820, E. Dehillerin is ground zero for high-end culinary equipment, from dishes and serving utensils to cookware, knives and specialty tools, and draws in customers—both pros and amateur cooks—from all over the world, including current culinary superstars Robuchon, Paul Bocuse and Michel Troisgros, as well as the legendary Julia Child, who was a regular E. Dehillerin shopper for more than 50 years. And while there are thousands of products available, the shop’s signature items are its renowned copper cookware. Continue Reading →

Literary Left Bank: Home of Gertrude Stein

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Paris was teeming with writers and philosophers in the early 20th century, including many expatriates from England and the United States who were drawn to the City of Light’s bohemian atmosphere, cheap rents and free-flowing wine. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Arthur Koestler, Lawrence Durrell and many others made Paris—especially the Latin Quarter and Saint Germain des Pres neighborhoods on the city’s Left Bank—their home. But a strong coterie of female writers, editors, publishers and booksellers also thrived on the Left Bank. Perhaps the most famous of these were Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. And visitors to the Left Bank can see where the pair lived and worked at 27 Rue de Fleurus. Continue Reading →

Quintessentially French Dining On the Ile Saint-Louis

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Parisians and tourists alike have a love affair with the Ile Saint-Louis, the tiny sister island and next-door neighbor to the larger Ile de la Cite that marks the geographic center of Paris. To add to your quintessentially Parisian experience while strolling the island, be sure to stop in for lunch or dinner at the charming bistro L’Auberge de la Reine Blanche. This quaint eatery looks every bit as a Parisian bistro should—timeworn tables packed tightly together, oil paintings and copper cookware hanging on the walls, romantic lighting overhead and a gorgeous antique oak bar overlooking the entire scene. Best of all, the food is superb. Continue Reading →

‘Midnight in Paris’ Truly Captures the City’s Beauty

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There is simply no denying that Midnight in Paris, particularly the introduction scene, truly captures the City of Light in all its glory. Every time I watch the first few minutes of the movie, I start to mentally plan my next visit to Paris. Even in the rain! Read more to check out a YouTube video of the movie’s gorgeous introduction to the beauty of Paris. Continue Reading →

Rue Quincampoix: A Perfect Medieval Parisian Street

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One of the most enjoyable experiences in Paris is to wander along a medieval, cobblestone lane lined with ancient stone buildings and massive arched doorways that is so narrow that is seems barely able to accommodate a Smart Car, much less any other modern mode of transportation. Yes, you can certainly meander the City of Light’s many streets—particularly those in the twisty, turny Marais—to find your own favorite byways to stroll. Actually, one of the most popular tourist experiences is “getting lost” in Paris’s charming neighborhoods and stumbling across that perfect Parisian street on your own. But there’s a quaint, ancient lane that’s literally within a stone’s throw of a major tourist destination that somehow escapes most visitors’ attentions—and yet delivers wholly on that medieval Parisian experience: the tiny Rue Quincampoix just west of the Pompidou Center. And it’s well worth a visit. Continue Reading →

Golden Statue Near the Louvre Honors Joan of Arc

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Visitors to the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens are often surprised to stumble across a glittering gold statue of a soldier on horseback, seemingly guarding the posh Hotel Regina that overlooks the area. And many snap pics of the equestrian sculpture without ever really knowing that they’ve captured the likeness of Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc), a peasant from northeast France who became a commander in the French military and led several victories over the invading English forces during the Hundred Years’ War. Today, Jeanne d’Arc is a martyr of the Catholic Church and one of the nine patron saints of France. Continue Reading →